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Welcome to the curious relationship between Bush and Putin

posted by zaina19 on July, 2007 as ANALYSIS / OPINION

vFrom: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 7/6/2007 9:55 AM
July 6, 2007
Friends, yet foes
Welcome to the curious relationship between Bush and Putin

Those who hate President George Bush with a passion that borders on the pathological, and those who mistrust Russia's Vladimir Putin with matching zeal, must wonder at the apparent friendship of the two men.

For friendship it seems to be. Neither panders to the other, both are open in their disagreements, yet each seems to genuinely, cautiously trust the other.

This makes some people uneasy, other people hopeful.

A growing number of people have lost confidence in Bush -- much of it deserved, not all of it related to the war in Iraq. As for Putin, from what is known of his background and methods, there's little reason for much confidence.

The bloom is off him. Usually he's described as being KGB at his core -- cold-eyed, hard hearted, determined to restore Russia to being like it was when it was the Soviet Union -- a world power able and eager to intimidate and dominate.

As one who opened the Toronto Telegram's bureau in Moscow during the Cold War days of Khruschev's overthrow by Kosygin and Brezhnev, I considered the Soviet Union as wicked, malignant, subversive and duplicitous, unable to be honest even when it served its purpose.

In those days I was at odds with many "experts" writing about Sovietism and Marxism from the protected confines of universities where (even in those days) the CIA was viewed as a greater menace than the KGB. Unilateral disarmament and goodwill were seen as the path to peace.


When the Berlin Wall came down and the U.S.S.R. imploded, these experts instantly changed direction. With neither a blush nor stumble, they adjusted to the new reality and continued expounding their meaningless "expertise." Some of them are still at it.

Although I admit to being a bit puzzled by it, Putin does not alarm me as his predecessors once did -- even Gorbachev, a remarkable man who never intended to dismantle communism, but sought to save it by giving it a human face. Communism is incompatible with humanity and freedom.

Putin is not a communist. He is a strong leader who seems to be "adjusting" democracy to rebuild what the Soviet Union once was -- without the destructive ideology. He personifies the reality that in Russia there is not the rule of law, only the law of rulers.

Putin is not bent on world domination as were predecessors, dating back to Lenin, but he wants Russia respected, paid attention to, influential. What leader doesn't want this for his country -- including Canada, which likes to pretend it has influence greater than its due. Like our military, which traditionally punches above its weight.

Differences between U.S. and Russian policies are real, but made less dangerous because of the friendship and "trust" between Bush and Putin. It's something to ponder in the coming U.S. election. Would Democratic contenders Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama have a similar relationship with Putin if they won? Doubtful. Putin knows politicians like Hilary; the temptation to exploit perceived weakness might truly endanger the world.

Putin's "compromise" of a "shared" anti-missile site in Azerbaijan in response to Bush's missile-defence plans for Poland and the Czech Republic, has possibilities, despite Iran being too close for the Azerbaijan site to give much warning.


Better if Bush could persuade Putin to co-operate in neutralizing Iran's lust for nuclear weapons, because Russia is on the Islamist terror hit-list because of Chechnya, which Bush discreetly avoids in talks with Putin.

Putin is tougher than Bush, because he hasn't the same restraints. He is calculating, but not a fruitcake like Kim Jong Il. Bush and he appreciate each other.

Being ex-KGB, Putin understands the West better than Western politicians understand Russia.

In the war against Islamic extremism and terror, Russia and the U.S. are natural allies -- if only they realize it.

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