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Monday, April 28, 2008

Annals of Neo-Soviet Hypocrisy

In a letter to the editor of the Washington Post commenting on their April 22 editorial on Georgia which we've previously published Natalie Mason Gawdiak, an editor with the Law Library of Congress, states:

It's nothing less than droll how Russian President Vladimir Putin oscillates [editorial, April 22] between trying to impress the world with the fiction of his and Russia's supposed urbanity and lashing out with such brutish tactics as the shameless attempts to undermine the political stability of two smaller neighbors, Georgia and Ukraine, knowing that he can blackmail his country's weak-kneed European gas customers, such as France and Germany, into rejecting even the idea of NATO's eastern expansion.

Russia would love to be admired on the level of a European civilization, yet Mr. Putin's actions, like those of the demagogues of old, send Russia's pretensions of passing for a civilized nation hurtling back to the Stone Age. Likewise, the hesitancy of NATO members in this instance sends a similar message to students concerned with what we like to call "international law": If your country has lots of oil or gas, you can wear a nice suit over your bearskin loincloth, and you and everyone else can pretend that you really aren't a caveman who likes to beat up the neighbors with a big club.
This is neo-Soviet hypocrisy laid bare with few words wasted. Indeed, it's simply breathtaking how Putin can complain about the West viewing Russia as "a little bit barbaric" (as he did for instance to Time magazine) and yet continue to behave like such a caveman in dealing with all of Russia's neighbors abroad and the entire population of his own country.

The letter has been translated into Russian and published on a Russian website.

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