Noam Chomsky - The Crimes of U.S. Presidents Chomsky goes through some of the crimes of the post-war presidents. From 2003.
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Recently, on "Democracy Now," Amy Goodman interviewed a Yale history professor, Timothy Snyder, about the Ukraine War. He was commenting on his New Yorkerarticle"The War in Ukraine is a Colonial War."
That was his argument: As if we had to guess Putin's end game in Ukraine, the good professor opined that it probably is to annex Ukraine and afterwards who knows what other country. Putin's an imperialist, Snyder charged. Like Hitler, he's after land and soil.
The colonizer must therefore be stopped, Dr. Snyder concluded, and be brought by force of arms to acknowledge Russia's total defeat. Turning just war theory on its head, Snyder's point came across as: war is the first resort; negotiation comes only after your enemy has been militarily defeated and is forced to accept the winner's terms without reservation.
That kind of support for what has prevailed in America as "the official story," especially coming from a fellow academic who should know better, struck a fraying nerve within me. I mean, to my understanding, it's not the function of academics (nor for that matter, of news media such as "Democracy Now") to lend support to the approved narrative. It is rather to test the received account against documented reality.
So, I decided to find out once and for all (1) who Vladimir Putin is, (2) the detailed background of the Ukraine conflict, and (3) what the Russian president's intention might be in his "special military operation."
No need, I found, to speculate on any of that. It's all quite well recorded - for instance (1) in Oliver Stone's four interviews (each an hour long) with the Russian president, (2) in the film "Ukraine on Fire" (counterpointed by "Winter on Fire"), and (3) in Putin's two long pre-war speeches (one delivered last February 21st, the other just after on February 24th).
Reviewing that material quite carefully has convinced me that as a national leader, Putin stands head and shoulders above any others I can think of. His reasons for initiating his "special operation" are defensible historically, legally, and according to U.S. precedent.
Putin as Statesman
Before mounting the "Putin Bad" bandwagon, be sure to view Oliver Stone's "The Putin Interviews" on Showtime. They're the product of 12 conversations between Stone and Mr. Putin over two and a half years between July 2015 and February 2017.
I found the interviews revealing a man who is difficult to dislike. He is charming and humorous. He drives his own car, is a judo enthusiast, plays hockey, and rides horses. He describes himself as a "cautious optimist" who believes, he says, "there is always hope until the day they put you in the ground."
Born into a working-class family in 1952, his father was wounded in what Russians call "The Great Patriotic War," when the United States and the USSR were allies against Nazi Germany.
From an early age, young Vladimir studied judo, whose practice, he says, summarizes his theory of life: be flexible and disciplined; think ahead. (For political leaders, he adds, that means planning 25 to 50 years into the future).
Movies and books made Putin, who studied law in the university, an admirer of the KGB as a patriotic organization. He joined up and was assigned to East Germany. Life there, he remembers, was not dismal, but "frozen in the 1950s."
Then came Mikhail Gorbachev's presidency (March 1990 - Dec. 25, 1991). Gorbachev's "reforms" made everything fall apart. (Putin does not particularly admire him.) Social programs were destroyed. Millions lost their previously guaranteed rights and fell into poverty. Oligarchs criminally seized property belonging to the Russian people and became instant billionaires. Overnight, 25 million people lost their nationality and became displaced.
Though opposed to communism, Lenin, and Stalin, Putin recalls that succession of events "one of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th century." The country moved towards civil war.
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