If you know what’s good for you, America, you will reelect President Barack Obama — says the proud KGB spy and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
In his first major interview since returning to power for a third term, Putin chose to speak to Russia Today, the Kremlin’s answer to Voice of America. Responding to a question about the problem of U.S. missile defense in Eastern Europe, Putin had this to say about his American counterpart:
Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current president Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes. But this isn’t just about president Obama. For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere. I met him recently on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it, will they let him do it?
The “they” he was referring to are, of course, conservative Republicans.
Regarding Mitt Romney, Putin was brutally frank. He called him “obviously wrong” and declared that “such behavior on the international arena is the same as using nationalism and segregation as tools of U.S. domestic policy.” In other words, Romney is frightening, a Nazi. Obama, by contrast, is an honest and sincere statesman.
However, Putin’s delight with Obama is hard to understand in light of his subsequent comment, apparently directed at Obama: “Some people want to use militants from al-Qaeda or some other organizations with equally radical views to accomplish their goals in Syria.” He called this policy “dangerous and very short-sighted.” He said that Americans were likewise short-sighted when they gave support to the rebels in Afghanistan against the forces of the USSR, thus creating al-Qaeda only to see it turn against them.
Presumably, however, this behavior is still not as objectionable to Putin as a Mitt Romney presidency.
In Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, he stated:
President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro’s Cuba. He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone. We will honor America’s democratic ideals because a free world is a more peaceful world. This is the bipartisan foreign policy legacy of Truman and Reagan. And under my presidency we will return to it once again.
In regard to “flexibility,” Romney was referring to Obama’s “hot mic” moment: whispering to then-president Dmitri Medvedev, Obama asked him to tell Putin that after reelection he would have more leeway to submit to his desires.
So: Romney wants to return to the era of Reagan, when Putin’s beloved USSR was obliterated. It’s hardly surprising that Putin is delighted with Obama and wants to see him returned to power.
If Putin’s preferences are not enough to raise concern regarding a second Obama term — a repressive dictator preferring Obama — then consider this: in the interview, Putin also appears to be deranged.
When asked about the prosecution of the Pussy Riot performance artists, Putin made one of the most extraordinary declarations by a world leader in human history. He trashed Pussy Riot as homophobes, xenophobes, and anti-Semites, and then as pornographers who engage in public orgies. Then he stated:
You know some fans of group sex say it’s better than one-on-one because, like in any teamwork, you don’t need to hit the ball all the time.
Putin also rallied to the defense of international outlaw Julian Assange, a Russia Today employee, calling his trial “politically motivated” and an “evident double standard.” So shut up about the fact that Putin has railroaded his two leading political rivals into prison.
Putin knew his remarks were to be broadcast to the Western world, yet he chose to speak like a street hooligan. The reason for this is simple: Putin knows he now has unchecked power for life. Indeed, he just changed the rules so that he can serve until the age of 70, giving rise to what the Moscow Times called “Brezhnev-style gerontocracy.” Just like Brezhnev, Putin can do whatever he wants, and he’s enjoying the privilege.
And it’s all thanks to Obama, who obligingly helped Putin maintain the Potemkin “presidency” of Medvedev long enough for Putin to consolidate his return to power. So now, of course, Putin would like nothing more than to return the favor.