Thursday, March 6, 2014

Putin's Account of Events in Ukraine Has Better Ring of Truth Than Kerry's

The bitter truth seems all that's left US now.

The bitter truth, especially difficult for many Cold War survivors, is that Putin’s account of events in Ukraine is more accurate than Kerry’s and Obama’s and the New York Times’. The Russian leader finally shared his thinking during a press conference in Moscow Tuesday. The Times reported it well enough, even as it included in its language all the signals necessary to persuade readers without apparent persuasion that they did not have to take Putin seriously.

. . . In Ukraine, we have the Victoria Nuland, “F the EU” tape, of course. This is the strangest of all. Amid all the tumult of the past couple of weeks, as the very people Nuland and her ambassador in Kiev were cultivating rose to the top, not a single mention of the tape and the red-handed evidence of American malfeasance. The coverage is all about the unjust intimidations of the Russian Bear, the silent, beady-eyed Putin being the perfect personification of the beast.

The media performance gives so astonishing an appearance of conspiracy at this point that you start to wonder if these people, correspondents and editors alike, are somehow getting dressed in the same locker room every morning. Please use the comment box if you can otherwise explain why not one correspondent finds it useful to cite prima facie evidence of American provocation on Putin’s doorstep.

(It is possible some are filing well from Ukraine and getting politically motivated edits in the newsroom. I know it happens because it happened to me, more than once, when I filed for the International Herald Tribune, a Times property.)

I continue to view ours as a significant moment in post–Cold War history. One way hegemony is sustained is via the maintenance of a powerfully orthodox perspective on events. This has been among the West’s core strengths for half a millennium, and it is crumbling.

I light no candle for Putin, and Moscow’s perspective on Ukraine is flawed. But it has the virtue of leaving less out than what emanates from Washington. It is more complete, accounting for his advance into Crimea as response to a covert program hidden from the people whose taxes paid for it.

Another thing to consider: The government that gave Americans the Monroe Doctrine and makes them live by it after two centuries may condemn Putin’s intrusion into Ukraine, and it is one. Compare it, however, to Obama’s. Hundreds dead in Kiev, to Russia’s no-shot-fired operation. Or think of Egypt: A blood bath after the generals got their go-ahead. Or Iraq, and one hardly need explain.

We have emergent perspectives that start to counter the West’s hegemony over human consciousness, then. This is big stuff, the stuff of historical turns.

I'm pausing my retching at my country's well-publicized folly momentarily in order to bring my readers this actual reporting about its most recent foreign policy outed dénouement.

We also witness an example of the American narrative’s near-exhaustion. When the American story comes over as hollowly as Obama’s and Kerry’s — read the quotation atop this column again — you have to figure that these guys are tired. Remember how dumb and uninspired the later, post-Khrushchev Soviets sounded as they rote-repeated the nation’s worn-out pieties? Hold the thought and rotate it 180 degrees.
As things now stand, we can also observe the limits of American power as these limits gradually close in on Washington. Enough has been said across the spectrum about how little the U.S. can do to get Putin to back off in Ukraine. Now, as Putin makes known he is prepared to accept a constitutional referendum in Ukraine with elections to follow, it is obvious he is about to take charge of a situation that, supposedly, had left him in defeat just days ago. He may not be the nicest man you have met, but he is magnitudes more the statesman than Obama, Kerry and indeed any of their West European counterparts.

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