I’m not quite sure what to use as an introductory statement to this comment: a leopard doesn’t change its spots; or a zebra its stripes; or a snake always crawls on its belly. It’s one of those and whichever is more applicable then it fits the New York Times, the home of Walter Duranty who won a Pulitzer Prize pimping for Josef Stalin. Now a new Russian lover has appeared on the scene: Tom Friedman who penned an article in praise of the Russian people. And as you know, to praise the Russians means you have to figure out a way to excuse them when their country commits its dastardly acts.
Friedman’s article suggests that the U.S. must first clean up its act before it preaches to others. Friedman writes the US must become: “not just the world’s cleanest dirty shirt when it comes to our economy and not just the best democracy money can buy when it comes to our politics.” In other words until we reach perfection it is best we do nothing.
This is a line right out of Putin’s playbook where he suggests our invasion of Grenada was equivalent to his invasion of Crimea; or that the backing of Kosovo independence is similar to that of the Crimea. This is the same Putin who denies Russian troops have invaded Crimea pretending somehow that there existed in Crimea a force of 25,000 or more men who bought their uniforms in Eastern Europe and commandeered Russian tanks, trucks and helicopters.
Friedman in his article tells us how Obama is some kind of genius in sitting back while Russia invades Crimea, and buttresses the nasty Assad in power in Syria. He’s quick to point out “I vehemently opposed NATO expansion because I held the view then, and hold it today, . . . “
As for opposing NATO expansion, keep in mind that the conditions that created NATO, that is the threat to Western Europe from Russia are all back on the table with Putin’s new aggressiveness. What would Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania be feeling without the guarantees from NATO. Those countries seeing Russia move against Ukraine on such phony pumped up charges that would make a henchman of Stalin blush would have to place themselves on a war footing knowing that they could be next. Friedman opposed NATO expansion but it is probably the only thing that is making Putin hesitate before attacking more countries.
Friedman said he opposed NATO expansion because: “there is no big geopolitical problem that we can solve without Russia’s cooperation.” Isn’t it the exact opposite? There’s no problem we can solve with Russian’s involvement because they undermined us as in Syria and now in Ukraine. Surprisingly, in the next two or three sentences Friedman admits this.
Friedman continues that all things are possible with Russia’s help but that “requires a Russia that does not define its greatness by opposing us and recreating the Soviet empire, but by unleashing the greatness of its people. It is increasingly clear that that will never be Putin’s Russia, which stands for wholesale corruption, increasing repression and a zero-sum relationship with the West. Putin is looking for dignity for Russia now in all the wrong places — and ways. But only Russia’s people can replace Putinism.”
Here’s the absurdity of his suggestion: Friedman says we need Russia’s cooperation to solve problems but not the Russia as it exists in the present moment. But isn’t it in the present moment when we need to solve the problems. If we wait until Putin the dictator is finally replaced which may be decades hence, who can believe there will be any change in the Russian attitude or behavior. As for the greatness of the Russian people, they overwhelmingly support Putinism.
How pollyannaish is Friedman whose prescription for dealing with Putin’s attack on an independent country is to wait until he is replaced. I couldn’t imagine in the late 1930s if he wrote about the greatness of the German people and told us to sit back and wait until they replace Hitler. If we followed the wisdom of Friedman with no NATO expansion and to sit on our hands waiting for Putin to be replaced; all of the old Soviet Empire would be put back in place. It’s hard to get the poison of Duranty’s pro-Russian dictator mentality out of the NY Times.