Vladamir Putin: “The world's most popular leader”?
By Mike Whitney
" -- -- -
On Sunday, Russians will vote in their country's parliamentary
elections. The results are a foregone conclusion. Putin's party,
United Russia, is expected to win in a landslide. The only
question is whether the margin of victory will exceed 70%. If it
does, then Putin will continue to be the most powerful player in
Russian politics even after he steps down from office next year.
Vladamir Putin is arguably the most popular leader in Russian
history, although you'd never know it by reading the western
media. According to a recent survey conducted by the Wall Street
Journal, Putin's personal approval rating in November 2007 was
85% making him the most popular head of state in the world
today. Putin's popularity derives from many factors. He is
personally clever and charismatic. He is fiercely nationalistic
and has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of ordinary
Russians and restore the country to its former greatness. He has
raised over 20 million Russians out of grinding poverty,
improved education, health care and the pension system,
(partially) nationalized critical industries, lowered
unemployment, increased manufacturing and exports, invigorated
Russian markets, strengthened the ruble, raised the overall
standard of living, reduced government corruption, jailed or
exiled the venal oligarchs, and amassed capital reserves of $450
If there's a downside to Putin's legacy, it's hard to see.
Russia is no longer “up for grabs” like it was after the fall of
the Soviet Union. Putin put an end to all of that. He reasserted
control over the country's vast resources and he's using them to
improve the lives of his own people. This is a real departure
from the 1990s, when the drunken Yeltsin steered Russia into
economic disaster by following Washington's neoliberal edicts
and by selling Russia's Crown Jewels to the vulturous oligarchs.
Putin put Russia's house back in order; stabilized the ruble,
strengthened economic/military alliances in the region, and
removed the corporate gangsters who had stolen Russia's national
assets for pennies on the dollar. The oligarchs are now all
either in jail or have fled the country. Russia is no longer
Russia is, once again, a major world power and a force to be
reckoned with. It's star is steadily rising just as America's
has begun to wane. This may explain why Putin is despised by the
West. Freud might call it “petroleum envy”, but it's deeper than
that. Putin has charted a course for social change that
conflicts with basic tenets of organized greed, which are the
principles which govern US foreign policy. He is not a member of
the corporate-banking brotherhood which believes the wealth of
the world should be divided among themselves regardless of the
suffering or destruction it may cause. Putin's primary focus is
Russia; Russia's welfare, Russia's sovereignty and Russia's
place in the world. He is not a globalist.
That is why the Bush administration has encircled Russia with
military bases, toppled neighboring regimes with its comical
“color-coded” revolutions, (which were organized by US NGOs and
intelligence services) intervened in Russian elections, and
(threatened) to deploy a nuclear weapons system in Eastern
Europe. Russia is seen as a potential rival to US imperial
ambitions and must be contained or destroyed.
In the early years of his presidency, it was believed that Putin
would comply with western demands and accept a subordinate role
in the US-EU-Israel centric system. But it hasn't worked out
that way. Putin has wisely resisted integration and consistently
defended Russian independence.
The triumphalism which swept through Washington after the fall
of the Berlin Wall has been replaced with a palpable fear that
Russia's power will continue to grow as oil prices increase. The
tectonic plates of geopolitical power are shifting eastward.
That's why the US has joined in “The Great Game” and is trying
to put down roots in Eurasia. Still, it's easy to imagine a
scenario in which America's access to the last great oil and
natural gas reserves on the planet--the three trillion barrels
of oil and natural gas located in the Caspian Basin---could be
completely blocked by a resurgent Russian superpower.
The most powerful of the Washington think tanks, the Council on
Foreign relations, recognized this problem early on and decided
that US policy towards Russia had to be reworked entirely.
John Edwards and Jack Kemp were appointed to lead a CFR task
force which concocted the basic pretext for an all-out assault
on the Putin. This is where the idea that Putin is “rolling back
democracy” began. In their article “Russia’s Wrong Direction”,
Edwards and Kemp state that a “strategic partnership” with
Russia is no longer possible. They note that the government has
become increasingly “authoritarian” and that the society is
growing less “open and pluralistic”.
Kemp and Edwards provided the ideological foundation upon which
the entire public relations campaign against Putin has been
built. And it is quite an impressive campaign. A Google News
search shows roughly 1,400 articles from the various news
services on Putin. Virtually all of them contain exactly the
same rhetoric, the same buzzwords, the same spurious claims, the
same slanders. It is impossible to find even one article out of
1,400 that diverges the slightest bit from the talking points
which originated at the Council on foreign Relations.
Readers should check this out for themselves. Its interesting to
see to what extent the media is nothing more than a propaganda
bullhorn for the national security state. Putin's personal
approval ratings already confirm his enormous popularity, (85%)
but the media continues to treat him like he's a tyrant. It is
In most articles, Putin is disparaged as “anti democratic”; a
charge that is never leveled at the Saudi Royal family even
though women are forbidden to drive, they must by fully-covered
at all times, and can be stoned to death if they are found to be
unfaithful. Also, in Saudi Arabia, beheading is still the
punishment of choice for capital crimes.
When Saudi King Abdullah visits the US, he is not heaped with
scorn for his regimes' repressive treatment of his people.
Instead he's rewarded with flattering photos of he and George
Bush strolling arm-n-arm through the Crawford sage.
Why is Putin blasted for “rolling back democracy” when American
stooge, Mikhail Saakashvili, arbitrarily declares martial law
and deploys his truncheon wielding Robo-cops to beat protesters
senseless before dragging them off to the Georgia gulag? The
pictures of Saakashvili's bloody crackdown appeared In the
foreign press, but not in the US where the media had all its
camera lenses focused on Garry Kasparov (contributing editor to
the Wall Street Journal and right-wing loony) as he was led off
to the Moscow hoosegow in handcuffs for protesting without a
Poor, abused Garry.
What American wouldn't prefer a leader who stuck up their
national interests rather than the interests of global Capital?
Has Putin repealed habeas corpus, due process and the
presumption of innocence? Has Putin abducted innocent suspects
from the streets of foreign capitals and taken them to black
sites where they've been tortured, water-boarded and sometimes
killed? Has Putin initiated war's of aggression on defenseless
countries killing and maiming a million or so civilians on “a
pack of lies”? Has Putin created 4 million refugees and a
humanitarian crisis which is likely to erupt into a region-wide
Those aren't Vladamir Putin's Daisy Cutters and cluster bombs
falling on Samara, Falluja and Tal Afar. That isn't Putin's
armada in the Gulf off the coast of Iran. Those aren't Putin's
intelligence agents and mercenaries executing covert operations
in Mogadishu, Beirut and Islamabad.
Putin's crime is that he rejects Washington's “unipolar” world
model. As he said in Munich:
“The unipolar world refers to a world in which there is one
master, one sovereign; one center of authority, one center of
force, one center of decision-making. At the end of the day this
is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but
also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from
within.… What is even more important is that the model itself is
flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral
foundations for modern civilization.”
"We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic
principles of international law....We are witnessing an almost
uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in
international relations, force that is plunging the world into
an abyss of permanent conflicts. I am convinced that we have
reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about
the architecture of global security.”
Well said, Vladamir. Good luck in the election.
Click on "comments" below to read or post comments
Be succinct, constructive and
relevant to the story.
We encourage engaging, diverse
and meaningful commentary. Do not include
personal information such as names, addresses,
phone numbers and emails. Comments falling
outside our guidelines – those including
personal attacks and profanity – are not
See our complete
use this link to notify us if you have concerns
about a comment.
We’ll promptly review and remove any
Send Page To a Friend
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of
this article nor is Information ClearingHouse
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)