Fairness and Accuracy in Media (Creative Commons 3.0)
President of Russia, Vladimir Putin at World Economic Forum
We're supposed to know by now that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a really bad guy--so bad that anything that he says is further proof of his screeching hostility to the United States.
The Washington Post reported (10/24/14) on a recent Putin speech with this blistering lead sentence:
Making clear that the Kremlin has no intention of backing down from the worst Russia/Western crisis since the Cold War, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Friday of trying to "reshape the whole world" for its benefit, in a fiery speech that was one of the most anti-American of his 15 years as Russia's paramount leader.
It's not hard to believe that Putin was highly critical of the US foreign policy, but what precisely did he say? The Post called it "a bitter distillation of Putin's anti-American rhetoric." The Post Karoun Demirjian> and Michael Birnbaum reported that the address was an
unsmiling, straightforward worldview that blasted the United States as taking advantage of its powerful post-Cold War position to dictate misguided terms to the rest of the world. Putin faulted the United States for a rise in global terrorism, a resumption of a global arms race and a general worsening of global security.
"It never ceases to amaze me how our partners have been guilty of making the same mistakes time and again," Putin said, accusing the United States of breeding terrorists by upsetting the established order in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.- Advertisement -
OK, so fiery anti-Americanism is the belief that the United States desires a unipolar world where it calls the shots. Does anyone doubt US elites think otherwise?
And the US, he thinks, bears some responsibility for fueling the global arms race. The United States is, according to some less than fiery and not particularly anti-American news outlets, the leading supplier of arms in the world ("US Arms Sales Make Up Most of Global Market," New York Times, 8/26/12; "US Doubles Down on Foreign Military Sales," Defense News, 7/19/14).
On the subject of nuclear arms, a key issue in US/Russia relations, the New York Times (9/21/14) recently reported on the US plan to increase its nuclear arsenal--a "nationwide wave of atomic revitalization" that could cost well over a trillion dollars.
And it's hard to argue with Putin's critique of US foreign policy accomplishments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya; those countries have suffered extreme violence and instability due to US military actions. Would there even be an ISIS without the US invasion of Iraq?
None of that should be mistaken as an endorsement of anything Putin or Russia has done. But if the Post means to show us that a foreign leader is a fiery, bitter anti-American, it might want to make a stronger case.
The news article, though, was nothing compared to the Post's editorial (10/27/14). Under the Web headline "Putinoia on Full Display," the paper blasted Putin for his
poisonous mix of lies, conspiracy theories, thinly veiled threats of further aggression and, above all, seething resentment toward the United States.
Again, that's a pretty serious charge. It's not hard to imagine a politician telling lies; which ones did Putin tell?
Protesters violently overthrew the elected government of Ukraine--but if you call it a "coup," the Washington Post will call you a liar