Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Putin's speech

In Putin's state of the country speech, he said the following which has gotten some play in the blogs:

Let me remind you again of how modern Russian history began. First of all, it should be acknowledged, and I have spoken of this before, that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. And for the Russian people, it was a real drama. Tens of millions of our citizens and fellow-countrymen found themselves outside the Russian Federation.

I am not one who thinks that Putin is moving the country back toward a Soviet styled state. I think he is not in as much control of things as the West tends to think. But I do think the Kremlin acts like it has no sense some times. I think it comes from insularity. They get the information that reinforces their own biases and worst instincts because they have cut themselves off from other sources of information.

In any event, when I read this I was amazed at it because it sounded like some of what was said before Hitler invaded the Sudetenland and Austria. It was the ethnic Germans he was looking to protect, he said, though his real intentions were something much larger and much worse.

Does this signal anything as sinister? Maybe not of the same order of magnitude but anything that might be short of that, I really don't know. At the very least, Putin is pandering to nationalism. But stoking a fire like that can create consequences that maybe even Putin would not want. If he can manage democracy, however, maybe he and his people think that managing nationalist sentiment will be the same kind of deal.

Does he think that this will make his neighbors comfortable, those with ethnic Russian populations, especially at a time when Hitler and the consequences of the war are on the minds of so many people?

And Bush got grief for using crusade language when referring to the Middle East.

I just think it is one of a number of stupid things to have come from the Kremlin recently.

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