GMA News Online

Putin and Obama: A comparison of the dove and the hawk 

October 5, 2013 3:11pm
Editor's Note: On October 2, The Independent UK reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World. The piece below was published on September 18. 

Its bedazzling that the person that was largely portrayed as the “bad guy” turns out to be the “good one” who stopped, in an undeniable sense, the possible eruption of World War III.
Jose Mario De Vega
How can we explain the irony of a former KGB director who successfully denied before the international community a so-called Nobel Prize winner from striking Syria with military might? Not only did the Russian president shame and smash, before the bar of global public opinion, the American president, on the question of the impropriety and inappropriateness of bombing Syria; the former has also shown, in a clear and comprehensive manner, what the world has already known a long time ago, and that is the irrefutable fact that America is not what it says it is to the planet.
What President Putin did a couple of days ago [Sept 12] was really amazing!
Indeed, “millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan 'you’re either with us or against us.'”
I am wondering now who is the true hawk and the genuine dove? Who between these two individuals are for peace and for war. Who is for naked aggression? 

Not a fan
I am not a fan of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, I firmly consider him an authoritarian leader bordering on being a tyrant. We all know the state of human rights violations and disrespect for political expression in the former Soviet Union.
Admittedly, it is very hard to believe President Putin is a virtuous man and a man of good will. Especially with the way he dealt with the Chechens and other minorities with an iron fist; not to mention, more importantly, his Macheviallian method of choking all kinds of freedoms and civil liberties in Russia.
Specifically, I will not forgive him for his inhumanity in the case of punk band Pussy Riot. Nonetheless, to quote from the interview of Aleksandr Buzgalin, Professor of Political Economy at the Moscow State University, in “What’s Putin’s Interest in Syria?” on September 13th:
“I want to say that I want to talk about the interests of Russian people and not about interests of Putin and his colleagues about Russian authorities because, really, we very often have big contradictions between these two actors of our social and political life.
“But now I think Putin made something positive. It’s not typical for his internal policy, but for foreign policy this time it’s more or less a progressive step. Why he did it, of course, it’s better to ask Mr. Putin, not me. I am not president of Russia still. But my command will be following. I think Russia is trying to show that our country is one of the important geopolitical actors, players, and we really want to have our presentation in central, this key region of world conflicts and to play our own role. This is, I think, real geopolitical interests of our authorities.
“Also, there are some important reasons, much more important reasons. This is, first of all, peace and absence of war, absence of killings, and killings of thousands and thousands of people, which already started and which can become terrible catastrophe if the United States will use modern weapons and Russia will participate in this conflict from another side. It’s really a terrible threat which can be compared to the Vietnam War, or even more dangerous because Israel is nearby. And this is also very important agent, actor of these conflicts.
“So, from my point of view, Russian now is realizing its geopolitical interests. But these interests are more or less adequate, or better to say more adequate for peace in the region than geopolitical interests of the elite of the United States and President Obama.
“And I completely agree with United States citizens, majority of citizens, as I understood, who don’t want to have a war in this region. And this is the interest of our people.
“Why Obama did not express interests of majority of Americans and Putin this time expressed interests of not only Russians, but I think majority of other people in the world? This is an interesting question. But Russia sometimes can play a positive role in world politics, in spite of the fact that I want to stress again in internal policy our president and our prime minister are realizing not the best variant, definitely not the best variant of economic and social policy.”
Indeed, I am critical of President Putin and Russia’s ultimate motive in resolving this issue of paramount universal importance yet, having said that, I would like to state for purposes of the record that on the specific issue of handling Syria, there is no shadow of doubt that I am on his side!
I commend President Putin in his efforts to derail the American plan of bombing Syria. I also subscribe to his stern criticism of America’s ideology of exceptionalism, militarism and unilateralism.
As President Putin said directly to the American people in his op-ed piece published by the "New York Times", “A Plea for Caution From Russia: What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria” on September 11th: 
“My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is 'what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.' It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

Welcomed Obama
On the other hand, though critical, I welcomed the election of President Obama. I joined the American and the majority of the international community in his assumption of power in the US five years ago.
I am one of those millions of people who believed that this US president will return America to its old path, yet, year by year (he is already on his second and last term) I am getting pissed off and utterly disappointed with him.
Sad but true, but the so-called “change” that he consistently and persuasively proclaimed that we can believe in — turns out to be even worse than Dubya!
This US president has grimly made the so-called American Dream into the worst American Nightmare ever! This guy, is no different from his predecessor. 
Hence, late 2011, I completely junked this fellow. He kept on saying that the US must intervene in Syria to defend international law, yet they will do so without the sanction of the United Nations and again, disrespecting and bypassing its Security Council.
The question here is: what is the moral ascendency and the legal right of the US to do so, if they are the number one violator of said international law? How can they enforce or implement said law, when they do not respect it and do not abide by its force?
I do not know whether Obama still remembers his pledge to end the wars that he inherited from Dubya. They have yet to settle the on-going war in Iraq and Afghanistan plus the continuous drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, and now, they are so agitated and so eager to intervene on Syria.
It defies the law of logic to say the least. Does the US know the dire repercussions and the deadly consequences of their latest intended military adventure?

Folly and madness?
I concur with President Putin’s analysis that:
“The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”
Indeed, if the US proceeded with their folly and madness, the consequences are blatantly grim. The Syrian attack will lead to a regional war and said war might lead to another world war to the prejudice of humanity as a whole.
The people of the world must stand up as one; in preventing at all cost the eruption of this war. War is against the interest of humanity; hence we all must declare war on war. – KDM, GMA News

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega is a Philosophy lecturer at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and the author of "Dissidente."  This piece was originally published on September 18 in HR Online, when the US was still advocating military intervention in Syria. We are re-posting it here with the author's permission.  



Go to comments

We welcome healthy discussions and friendly debate! Please click Flag to alert us of a comment that may be abusive or threatening. Read our full comment policy here.
Comments Powered by Disqus