Putin’s important speech deserves an answer

Vladimir Putin gave an important speech last week calling for respect for international law and strengthening of international institutions, and rejecting the U.S. claim to world leadership.

Putin_Valdaiclub.jpegAddressing the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, he expressed a willingness to co-operate with the United States and the European Union on the basis of equality and recognition of Russia’s legitimate interests.

The speech has largely been ignored in the U.S. press, but it deserves a response by President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry.

I do not admire President Putin, nor Putin’s Russia.  When I think of all the ways the United States is going downhill, the world “Putinization” comes to mind.

Russia is a country in which a corrupt government and a corrupt financial oligarchy interlock, the surveillance state is unchecked and independent journalists are persecuted and even killedOpponents of the regime have been murdered.  The United States has a long way to go before we catch up with the authoritarianism and corruption of the Russian Federation.

Having said all that, I also have to say that Putin’s statements and actions, are rooted in reality, which I can’t say that for President Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry.

In dealing with American statesmen, Putin seems like the only adult in the room.  He is like a Mafia don talking to a juvenile delinquent street gang.

Here are excerpts from Putin’s Oct. 25 speech, followed by links to the full transcript.

The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards.

This created the impression that the so-called ‘victors’ in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests.  If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition. [snip]

Maybe the United States’ exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?

Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.

A unilateral diktat and imposing one’s own models produces the opposite result.  Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.

rusam1Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil.  I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.   [snip]

Sanctions are already undermining the foundations of world trade, the WTO rules and the principle of inviolability of private property.  They are dealing a blow to liberal model of globalization based on markets, freedom and competition, which, let me note, is a model that has primarily benefited precisely the Western countries.

And now they risk losing trust as the leaders of globalization. We have to ask ourselves, why was this necessary?   After all, the United States’ prosperity rests in large part on the trust of investors and foreign holders of dollars and US securities.  This trust is clearly being undermined and signs of disappointment in the fruits of globalization are visible now in many countries.  

Russia is not going to get all worked up, get offended or come begging at anyone’s door.  Russia is a self-sufficient country.  We will work within the foreign economic environment that has taken shape, develop domestic production and technology and act more decisively to carry out transformation.

Pressure from outside, as has been the case on past occasions, will only consolidate our society, keep us alert and make us concentrate on our main development goals.

Of course the sanctions are a hindrance. They are trying to hurt us through these sanctions, block our development and push us into political, economic and cultural isolation, force us into backwardness in other words. But let me say yet again that the world is a very different place today.

We have no intention of shutting ourselves off from anyone and choosing some kind of closed development road, trying to live in autarky.  We are always open to dialogue, including on normalizing our economic and political relations.  We are counting here on the pragmatic approach and … business communities in the leading countries.

I have a few caveats about the speech.  Putin gave a whitewashed view of the Cold War era, which was not an era of respect for international law, either by the USSR or by the USA.  I would like justification for the change that the USA sponsored Islamic terrorists in Russia and Central Asia.  Is he charging that the United States supported the rebellion in Chechnya?

But I can’t deny the justice of his overall indictment of U.S. policy nor his call for negotiations and respect for international institutions and international law, which are in the best interest of Russia as well as the USA.

Even if I’m wrong about this, Putin’s speech still deserves a response by President Obama.  What are U.S. invasions, bombings and sanctions intended to achieve, other than to preserve the U.S. status as the world’s only superpower?


Vladimir Putin’s speech to the Valdai Discussion Club: New Rules or a Game Without Rules.  An official translation of the full speech and the complete question-and-answer session.

Putin’s speech at the Valdai Club – full transcript from the Vineyard of the Saker.  Translation of Putin’s speech by a pro-Russian blogger.

Vladimir Putin Is the Leader of the Moral World by Paul Craig Roberts.  Translation of Putin’s speech and some of the questions and answers.

Putin to Western elites: Play-time is over by Dmitry Orlov.  Translation of Putin’s speech, an executive summary and a link to the original Russian version.

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3 Responses to “Putin’s important speech deserves an answer”

  1. djgarcia94 Says:

    Very impressive. Did you read the op-ed he wrote last year about why the US should stay out of Syria?


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