Thursday, September 19, 2013

McCain's Op-Ed in Pravda -- The Other Side of the same Coin

After Putin’s bashing op-ed in the New York Times last week, Senator McCain was so distressed, he decided he absolutely had to respond. I missed it somehow, but apparently, he threatened to publish his response in Pravda (because, just in case you didn’t know, Pravda is a widely-read and highly-regarded newspaper in Russia, as the New York Times is in the US. Or so he thinks..?).

I was amused by his suggestion, taking it as mere demagoguery… but clearly, he wasn’t kidding. Neither was Pravda’s editor, who took him up to the challenge and offered to publish his response.

It came out earlier today, both in Russian and in English (since, you know, he’s also targeting the international audience) and makes for a fun read. It really feels like watching an international boxing match (just substitute Rocky and Drago with McCain and Putin… though I am aware that this analogy can’t go far). And in terms of public diplomacy, it is yet another disaster.

Image from: Foreign Policy

Friday, September 13, 2013

Jon does not disappoint

So... as I predicted in my yesterday's post, Jon Stewart did really provide some awesome commentary on Syria, Obama's foreign policy, and Putin's op-ed. Sharing a short clip here, since I can't embed the full episode. But you can watch it in full here (and I highly recommend that you do).


Thursday, September 12, 2013

A more satirical take on US-Russia relationship

If my previous post upset, infuriated, or caused any anxiety to you, here's a lighter take on Russian diplomacy and the US-Russia relationship. I'm sure there will be more gems coming from Jon tonight on that op-ed note, but for the time being...


... and the intro to yet another great piece by The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz:

Modern Love
by Vladimir V. Putin

Putin's Op-Ed, Syria, & the New World Order

The proverbial has hit the fan over Syria these couple of weeks. Everyone involved -- directly and indirectly -- is deep down in it, yet very few -- if any -- can really provide any accurate assessment as to what's going on there, on the ground, despite of what they'd have you believe. So instead, the focus is on haughty politics, war mongering, theatrical diplomacy, and well... (let's call things what they really are) political score-keeping within the US.

In the midst of all this, Putin came up with yet another idea of giving a piece of his mind to the American public. Directly. This time, in a form of a  New York Times op-ed. "Sovereign" public diplomacy, if you will. Nonetheless, it was a deliberate attempt at trying to make the Russian case to the American public, and weigh in on what seems to be an increasingly sloppy debate in this country.

Image from Breitbart

As an attempt at public diplomacy, the op-ed did very little. If anything, it did the exact opposite. The op-ed managed to succeed in getting intense coverage and scrutiny by Americans of every creed and political conviction, most of it -- even when justified -- simply hateful. And perhaps for a good reason.

Some suggest that he has no moral authority or credibility to be lecturing the US on matters of human rights, given his own record on the matter. Others point out that he's being hypocritical, when talking about the need to stick with the UN, criticizing his administration's obstructionist stance on many of the issues that actually do get to the UNSC. Some laugh at his insistence on non-interference and the principle of "sovereignty", reminding each other of "Georgia 2008" or even his current support of the Assad regime. While others call him an outright liar for claiming that poison gas "was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces" (while, we're all still waiting for actual evidence that counters his claim to materialize).

Most of those are great objections. If you're looking at it from the American/Western perspective, that is.

Which brings me to the central point here: "exceptionalism". That final paragraph - Putin's punch line - clearly didn't go down well. He touched something sacrosanct, something no foreigner has the ability to grasp or the legitimacy to criticize. Especially not when you're the leader of a country which has served as a contrast point to American identity for almost a century now. And yes, a lot of the hysteria - when you boil it down to its essence - is precisely over this.