He's Back! Putin Gearing Up for His Hundredth Term as President
Well, that's it, then. Russia has gone completely insane. If Gordon Hahn has anything to say about it, however, you ain't seen nuthin' yet.
Last week, a top figure in the Russian Orthodox Church stated: "This is a genuine example of kindness and morality in politics that citizens in the majority of countries, including those that try to lecture to us, can envy."
He was talking about Vladimir Putin's announcement that Putin would return to power as president for life. Putin is a proud KGB spy who is likely the murderer of numerous Russian journalists and opposition political figures with names like Starovoitova, Litvinenko, Politikovskaya, Yushenkov, Shchekochikhin, Girenko, Klebnikov, Kozlov, Estemirova, and Markelov.
The priest asked plaintively: "When in the history of Russia has top government power been handed over so peacefully, properly, honestly and friendly?"
It's hard to understand what he meant by "honestly," since both Putin and the current president, Dmitri Medvedev, openly admitted that they decided for Putin to return to power many years ago and told nobody. When asked a few months ago, however, about whether the decision had been made, they lied shamelessly and said they still needed to talk about it some more. And for the past four years, they've held out Medvedev as a new kind of president for Russia.
Regardless, the Kremlin's lackeys throughout the West -- starting with those who work with the infamous Valdai Discussion Club, which the Kremlin funds to bribe Westerners into agreeing with Kremlin policy -- were soon repeating this mantra of Medvedev peacefully surrendering power in the manner of a Russian George Washington.
One of the most malignant of Putin's henchmen, Gordon Hahn, immediately came out with a piece on CNN headlined "Don't panic over Putin." It was decorated with a photograph of Medvedev and Putin looking at their watches. Time for a change. Get it?
The image was appropriate, since both men have been repeatedly outed for sporting absurdly costly timepieces that their declared incomes would never support. Further, a recent report in the Russian press revealed extensive personal corruption by Putin while serving in the government of St. Petersburg -- charges that the Kremlin will not allow to be investigated. Hahn didn't care to mention any of that, though.
Samuel Charap, director for Russia and Eurasia at the Center for American Progress and a member of the Working Group on the Future of United States-Russia Relations, writes of Putin's return: "Mr. Putin may well continue Mr. Medvedev's modest reforms, or even push through a more comprehensive program, but that will not undo the damage his return has done to Russia's post-Soviet political transformation. By weakening Russia's political institutions, curbing pluralism, and threatening ties with the West, Mr. Putin's return has made the system he controls more brittle."
Editorials in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the LA Times have all condemned Putin's return in excoriating language.
That's some pretty heavy stuff, so Putin's minions like Gordon Hahn have to scurry pretty furiously to put up some type of smokescreen.
Hahn begins like this: "The return of Putin to the presidency will not necessarily be followed by a reversion to the harder line policies of Putin's two previous presidential terms." Not necessarily? Is that really the best assurance we can get? Pretty scary stuff. Would you be willing to bet your life on that analysis?
Hahn argues: "It is important to remember that Medvedev's policies have been, for the most part, Putin's as well." So we are supposed to take comfort from the fact that Putin never really left office; that Medvedev was not his own man; that Medvedev's presidency was a sham; and that by the end of Putin's next two terms, he will have held power for twenty-four uninterrupted years -- longer than Brezhnev, longer than Tsar Nikolai II.
Next Hahn tells us that Putin may implement sweeping liberal reforms, but Putin needs to become a dictator to do so. Hahn tells us that only Putin can implement liberalism, in the same way that only Nixon could have gone to China. So the people of Russia fear democracy the way Americans feared Chinese dictatorship. That's comforting.
Is there even one example in the history of the world in which a president for life implemented liberal reforms that, by their very definition, undermined his authority...and did so by murdering those who advocated such reforms? Hard to think of one.
Hahn tells us that Putin's decision will make Russia's next election cleaner because "his popularity ratings exceed Medvedev's, diminishing the need or electoral cheating." So we should accept Putin because if Medvedev ran, Putin would have to cheat even more than for himself to achieve a victory. It's really amazing how blithe Putin's adherents are willing to be about electoral fraud in Russia. They embrace it the way 50 Cent embraces his love for Middle Eastern dictators.
Then Hahn actually starts raving. He writes: "The reaction to Putin's candidacy and subsequent firing of Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin are harbingers of the kind of instability the decision to rearrange the Putin-Medvedev tandem itself could spark both within the elite and subsequently in society at large." So Russia is such a mess that it could collapse at any minute, and only Putin the superhero has any chance of saving it. That sounds like support for the argument that we should panic, not remain calm, doesn't it?
Hahn writes: "Putin in the presidency may be seen as an insurance policy in the event the power ministries are needed to maintain order; Putin is more likely to be willing to call on them, and they in turn are more likely to remain loyal to Putin rather than Medvedev." In saying this, Hahn obliterates his thesis that Putin will reform. He proves, quite to the contrary, that Putin is likely there to launch a brutal crackdown.
This kind of "logic" is very familiar to those who study Soviet propaganda. Under that school of thought, it does not matter if you lie or even contradict yourself -- not as long as you do it often, stubbornly refusing to acknowledge it, and back it up with the threat of force.
As to that, Hahn concludes his essay with a direct threat aimed at Washington, D.C., demanding that the U.S. continue its policy of shameless appeasement and reelect Barack Obama to a second term. He writes:
Putin's greater distrust of the West and great power orientation could make relations with the West testier and threaten the Obama Administration's 'reset' policy. This would be especially true if a new U.S. administration takes a harder line vis-à-vis Moscow on issues like Russia's authoritarian order and violations of human rights, nuclear cooperation with Iran, the Georgian impasse, arms control and missile defense.
This kind of threat is also very familiar to those who've studied the Soviet mindset. Putin surely does love Obama, who led the way in helping Putin bring off the Medvedev farce, blunting opposition and paving the way for his return to power. As soon as Putin made his announcement, the Obama administration immediately announced its intention to play ball.
And now Putin's minions are telling America they'd better reelect Obama, or else. Because, when all is said and done, the Putin government is a mafia regime, and it relies on blunt trauma just like any other criminal enterprise. The policies of the Obama administration have mightily helped this mafia regime to consolidate power and establish a neo-Soviet state in Russia.