Just who is Russian President Vladimir Putin— the man who dared to brazenly lecture America on her identity of exceptionalism–and who would he have us believe he is? Up until the New York Times op-ed piece, Putin had been reported by conservative media sites as a man who thinks much like those of us on the Right do.
Putin sounds fiscally conservative, “Any fourth grade history student knows socialism has failed in every country, at every time in history”, said Putin. “President Obama and his fellow Democrats are either idiots or deliberately trying to destroy their own economy.”
Putin also appears to be a social conservative at times. He attends the Russian Orthodox Church on Sunday. He recently signed a law that bans the adoption of children by same-sex couples from foreign countries where “non-traditional sexual relations” are legal. He signed another law prohibiting the use of media and the Internet to propagate pro-gay information and from holding pro-gay rallies anywhere in Russia—for the sake of the children.
To overcome the declining birthrate, Russia celebrates a Day of Conception. In his 2006 State of the Nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the demographic crisis the most urgent problem facing Russia and announced efforts to boost Russia’s birth rate, including cash incentives to families that have more than one child. Workers are given the day off and told to have sex. In contrast the American Left, supported by the government, promotes abortion under the guise of women’s healthcare, while Putin sees the decline in pregnancies and birth as a national crisis. On the Right, we can interpret this as a respect for life—a moral value. But what if that is not the primary motive? What if this is statecrafting? Putin loves Russia and is concerned for her continuance. Policies can be viewed as values and those values can be attributed to those on the Right, when in reality they may not be noble but nationalistic.
The Leftwing media purports that Putin is portrayed in a favorable light by the Rightwing media because Putin fearlessly chides President Obama. The Left is insinuating the Right is embracing the adage: “The enemy of our enemy is our friend”. MediaMatters.org accuses the Rightwing media of being in love with Putin, documenting the favorable coverage and concluding that conservatives have made Putin a star.
We’ve certainly been supplied with enough media pictures of barechested Putin riding horses, carry a gun, and wrestling a bear. Often called stagecrafting, Putin has managed that impression since he was a youth. As an adolescent, and even before, Putin perceived that dominance was crucial and intentionally behaved as a thug. The Newsweek Magazine article, Portrait of the Young Vladimir Putin, quotes a friend of young Putin who shared, “If anyone ever insulted him in any way, Volodya would immediately jump on the guy, scratch him, bite him, rip his hair out by the clump—do anything at all never to allow anyone to humiliate him in any way.” Russian journalist Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face highlights tales mentioned in an article for Business Insider, revealing Putin suffers from simple kleptomania to the more exotic pleonexia: “the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others.” One example was where Putin literally walked away with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s 2004 Super Bowl ring during a visit to Russia in 2005.
Even more egregious behavior can be traced back to 1991. Putin was appointed head of the Committee for External Relations of the Saint Petersburg Mayor’s Office, with responsibility for promoting international relations and foreign investments. That year Putin was investigated by a commission of the city legislative council. The commission deputies concluded that Putin understated prices and permitted the export of metals valued at 90 million deutschmarks, (93 million dollars), in exchange for foreign food aid that never arrived. In Gessen’s book, she writes that many believe that the drive specifically, and illegally, ultimately enriched Putin with wealth ranging from $40 billion to an incredible $70 billion.
Putin, while not focused on education in his early years, later graduated from the International Law branch of the Law Department of the Leningrad State University in 1975. His 1997 doctorial thesis was titled “The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations“, arguing that Russian economic success would depend on creating national energy champions. The concept of National Champions has since been implemented in present day Russia by Putin making the concept a central axis of his policy. Unlike the philosophy of America’s free markets where individuals and corporations create their own ideas and mission, are privately owned, and managed, the state closely regulates and develops the natural resources and asset segments by “creating companies with close links to the power vertical, making the firms big enough to compete with multinationals.” Most National Champion companies are likely to be 50% or more owned by the Russian government. Under Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, oligarchs emerged as well-connected entrepreneurs. However because of the corruption, they were very unpopular and were considered to be a cause of the national chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. The more powerful oligarchs who challenged Putin wound up in prison and lost their fortunes. Some are still prison.
Over the first two terms of Putin’s presidency the Federal Security Service (FSB), helped to consolidate political power, constructing a type of corporate state. Corruption is still rampant in Putin’s Russia, placing 133rd out of 176 in the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International. Under the present Russian system, senior government officials are put in control of Russian companies.
Russia is said to be a democracy, operating under the structure of a federal semi-presidential republic. Yet, Putin’s last election was steeped in accusations of election fraud. Transparency is lacking. Putin’s control and governance appears reflective of his training in the intelligence and counterintelligence fields.
During the 1970s and 1980’s Putin had approximately 17 years as a mid-level agent in the Soviet KGB’s foreign intelligence wing. Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin referred to himself as a former KGB officer. Putin revealed his frame of mind with this rebuttal, “There is no such thing as a former KGB man”. Then, in comments to a Moscow writes’ group, Putin said he could not read a book by a Soviet defector saying, “I don’t read books by people who have betrayed the Motherland.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, when interviewed by Newsmax TV commented on the Putin’s New York Times op-ed letter, warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motives “in becoming involved in Middle Eastern diplomacy are far from altruistic”. He added, “He is a Russian nationalist. He wants to re-establish Russia as a great power—and I guarantee you that whatever he does, he’s doing with Russian interests at heart. He’s not trying to help Obama. He’s not trying to help the international chemical warfare convention. He’s thinking like a Russian.”