The disarmingly simple Putin Principle in foreign policy
by Don Hank
One of the cardinal points raised by Sun-tzu in his “Art of War” is the proposition of knowing the enemy. I will take that a step further and say that sometimes knowing the enemy leads to the discovery that he is not the enemy after all. And one further step: to the discovery that one is one’s own enemy.
The US government is the classic example.
There seem to be an alarming number of people who actually believe that hoax email making its rounds claiming that Hillary’s emails have been hacked by Russia.
First off, the story originated with a well-known hoaxster with the pseudonym Sorcha Faal, who specializes in these Russian fairy tales.
Secondly, if Americans do not have the ability and resources to hack into Hillary’s server, how in heaven’s name would they be able to hack into the Kremlin server?
The Kremlin is not run like the Washington government. No official would dare to let down his guard enough for a Westerner to hack into Kremlin emails. The offender would not get a smack on the wrist, the way Hillary did. Russians are serious about their government. Sadly, Americans have degenerated to the extent that very few care any more or believe that any government could possibly be serious about protecting its people. Why would any government be more honest than ours?, they reason.
The whole idea behind this fake story is that the Kremlin wants to interfere in our elections.
Nothing could be further from the truth. You will recall that when Putin was asked his opinion of Donald Trump, he ventured to say that Trump was clever (Trump later expanded this compliment claiming Putin had called him a “genius”), but in his very next breath, Putin made it clear that Russia has a policy of non-interference in the affairs of other countries. He was thereby establishing an unmistakable contrast between Russia and the Washington government.
I will attempt in a few lines here to explain a somewhat complex cultural and political situation in Russia as well as the mind of President Vladimir Putin.
One of the most important things you need to know about Putin is that he is serious about government business. Unlike our demented officials, he does not play irresponsible games. I am just now reading his biography, and recently came across an anecdote about his early days in the KGB school in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg (BTW, Putin was not a spy, but rather an intel analyst). A few of his class mates — senior classmen — were discussing a certain hypothetical order that they might receive in the field.
When it came his turn to add his opinion, Putin said “that order is illegal.” Their attitude was “so what? It is an order.”
He said, “it is still illegal.”
That brief anecdote speaks volumes about who Vladimir Putin is and why he is respected in his own country (his popularity is still in the 80% range) and. increasingly, abroad.
Now, taking this further, Putin saw many years ago that the Washington government lies and cheats. It makes its own laws as it goes and enforces laws that are not on the books. All illegal in the international sphere. (Example: James Baker promised Gorbachev that the US would never encroach on Russian borders. Once an agreement was reached with Russia regarding relations with the US, the US broke that promise, and it is still doing so, with NATO building up heavy forces along Russia’s western border). Americans have been brainwashed into believing that lawless behavior in Washington is a good thing because America is “exceptional.” But this slipshod attitude toward the serious matter of international law – which, after all, governs the circumstances that lead to either war or peace – has led to the near-total destruction of Kosovo (in case you missed these, see: http://laiglesforum.com/so-youre-fond-of-nato-eh-mr-cruz-check-out-these-videos-of-nato-in-kosovo/3690.htm and http://laiglesforum.com/look-whats-happening-in-the-european-region-that-nato-defended/3786.htm), Libya, Syria and Ukraine.
Putin discovered long ago that the US was on the wrong track and set about to develop a strategic policy for his country that would restore legality to geopolitics and so impress the rest of the world that they would eventually trust Russia more than any other country. I like to call this policy the Putin Principle. The Kremlin calls it soft power.
It is the iron-clad implementation of this simple principle that led to Russia’s policies in Ukraine (particularly in the former Ukrainian territory of Crimea) and Syria.
The Western press and political class has brainwashed an astounding number of Westerners into believing that Russia is promoting lawlessness in these regions when in fact, even in its military operations, it is respecting sovereignty of nations and ethnic groups and their territories.
The West claims in unison that the accession of Crimea to Russia was an “annexation,” whereby Russia simply snatched territory in a selfish expansionist move. And yet no serious party in this same Western world protested the referendum in Scotland or claimed it was illegal. The US and Europe were all prepared to accept whatever the outcome might be, including Scotland’s separation from the UK, based on the principle that Scotland had a right to sovereignty, even though it was technically part of the UK. And once that vote became official, the Crimean people were free to accede to Russia.
Yet what was perfectly legal in Scotland was “aggression” in Crimea, even though over 90% of Crimeans (the vast majority of whom are Russian speakers and consider themselves Russian) voted in this referendum to break away from Ukraine – and for the same reasons that many Scots (just short of a majority) wanted to break away from the UK, namely, cultural identity.
Thus, by our own Western logic as applied to Scotland, what the Crimeans did was legal and not in any way reprehensible.
Russia simply accepted the will of the Crimean people and honored their sovereignty. But of course, Russia is illegal by definition in the West.
Likewise, in Syria – in contradistinction to the US, which waded into an internal conflict without any invitation from the Syrian people – Russia entered the conflict only when the duly elected president of Syria invited it to do so. In fact, it made a similar offer to the Iraqi government but stayed out of that conflict when the Iraqis declined the offer, choosing instead to allow the US to pretend to fight ISIS there and create one of their trademark messes.
The “exceptional” US government went into Syria illegally while Russia entered as an invited guest. The US was exceptionally lawless. Yet it accuses Russia of “expansionism,” just as England – the most expansionist country that ever existed, touting an empire on which the sun never set – had once accused Russia of expansionism during the conflict with Turkey in the 19th Century.
Thus the West has always written its own laws as it goes, based on nothing but bare-faced propaganda.
Note that Putin not only wants to apply this more-righteous and in fact, more common-sense international policy of strict adherence to international law to Russia but at the same time, to use this higher virtue as an arm of soft power by contrasting it with the West’s ad hoc law of the Wild West. He and his government, often via the mouthpiece of foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, use every opportunity (eg, UN speeches, speeches before the Valdai Club, press conferences, interviews, RT) to drive this concept home.
The American public will perhaps be the last to grasp this simple concept, not because they are stupid but because they have been brow-beaten into feeling that facing the truth about foreign affairs is somehow unpatriotic. But elsewhere, including in Europe, there are high ranking actors who seem to understand it. And they respect Russia for what must be called a superior approach to geopolitics. After all, ISIS would not be a threat if the Russian principle had been applied in the West.