Tuesday, June 10, 2014

L'integralite de l'interview de Vladimir Poutine le 4 Juin (Video)

Elkabbach rend compte de son entretien avec Vladimir Poutine

"Un entretien tout à fait libre", "des dirigeants français pourraient prendre de la graine"

Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, le journaliste de la radio française Europe 1 qui a participé avec son confrère de TF1 à la réalisation de l’entretien avec Vladimir Poutine, a livré ce mercredi matin ses impressions de l’interview.
Selon lui, il s’agissait d’un « entretien tout à fait libre. Cela peut être surprenant », a indiqué le journaliste.
Elkabbach a expliqué que les journalistes étaient obligés d’attendre pendant de longues heures à la résidence de Poutine à Sotchi, car avant cet entretien, Poutine préparait « sa rencontre avec François » (Hollande, ndlr), avec qui « il a une relation de confiance ». Cette longue attente n’était pas du tout une tentative du dirigeant russe d’intimider les journalistes, a souligné Elkabbach.
« Ni Poutine, ni son entourage n’ont cherché à connaître les thèmes des questions. Et j’en connais des dirigeants français qui pourraient prendre de la graine. L’entretien s’est déroulé de part et d’autre sans préalable, sans conditions et sans tabou. Vladimir Poutine a accepté de répondre à toutes les questions que nous lui avons posées avec Gilles Bouleau », a ajouté Jean-Pierre Elkabbach sur l’antenne d’Europe 1.
 Voir aussi, sur E&R :

Vladimir Putin’s interview with Radio Europe 1 and TF1 TV channel

During the recording of an interview with the French media. With Gilles Bouleau of TF1 TV channel (left) and Jean-Pierre Elkabbach from Radio Europe 1.

1/3 Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office
Full caption
  • Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office
  • Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office
  • Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office
In the run-up to his visit to France, Vladimir Putin gave an interview to Radio Europe 1 news programme author and frontman Jean-Pierre Elkabbach and anchor of the evening news on TF1 TV channel Gilles Bouleau. The interview was recorded on June 3 in Sochi.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Good afternoon Mr President. Good afternoon, President Putin. Thank you very much for agreeing to give this exclusive interview to Radio Europe 1 and the TF1 TV channel at your Sochi residence. On Thursday evening you will meet with President Francois Hollande in the Elysee Palace, and the next day you will attend the D-Day 70th Anniversary Commemoration. This will be your first trip to the beaches of Normandy, and you will be the first Russian President to attend the ceremony. What do you as a Russian citizen think about being invited to this exceptional ceremony?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This will be an important event for Europe and the rest of the world. We will pay tribute to those who prevented Nazism from enslaving Europe, and I believe that Russia’s attendance is a momentous event. The thing is that Russia and the anti-Hitler coalition countries, including France, were allies in that struggle for freedom, and my country played a vital and maybe even the decisive role in defeating Nazism. But we’ll never forget the French Resistance fighters and the French soldiers who fought side by side with us on the Soviet-German front, which is also called the Eastern front. I believe that this should not only remind us about our history, but also help to promote our relations now and in the future.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Of course, you and Russia will take your rightful place on the beaches of Normandy. You lived in the Soviet Union until you were 40, you saw its collapse, and now you are actively contributing to Russia’s revival. What would you like to see happen now? What are your goals? Is Russia’s strategy a path of dialogue or expansion and conquest?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, a policy of expansionism and conquest has no future in the modern world. We’re confident that Russia can and should be a partner with its traditional allies, in the broad sense, now and also in the future.
This is what we want, and this is what we will keep working towards. We see no other way to develop relations with our neighbours and all other countries.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Do you want to defend the Russian nation or to become the symbol of Russian nationalism and the Russian Empire? We remember what you said about the Soviet Union’s dissolution. You said that it was the worst geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. You also said that those who do not regret the collapse of the Soviet Union have no heart, and those who want to restore it have no brains. You have brains. What do you propose: Russian nationalism, or the restoration of the Russian Empire to its previous borders?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We will not promote Russian nationalism, and we do not intend to revive the Russian Empire. What did I mean when I said that the Soviet Union’s collapse was one of the largest humanitarian – above all humanitarian – disasters of the 20th century? I meant that all the citizens of the Soviet Union lived in a union state irrespective of their ethnicity, and after its collapse 25 million Russians suddenly became foreign citizens. It was a huge humanitarian disaster. Not a political or ideological disaster, but a purely humanitarian upheaval. Families were divided; people lost their jobs and means of subsistence, and had no means to communicate with each other normally. This was the problem.
QUESTION (via interpreter): And what about the future?
Do you want to restore the empire within the former borders or do you want to continue developing your country within your own borders?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We want to develop our country within our own borders, of course. But – and this is very important – like other countries in other parts of the world, we want to use modern policies to improve our competitive advantage, including economic integration. This is what we are doing in the post-Soviet space within the Customs Union and now also within the Eurasian Union.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Mr Putin, we are now talking about why a neighbouring country, Ukraine, is being torn apart by war. There is no other word for it. Now pro-Russian forces want to breach Ukraine’s borders. Who can stop them and what is your policy?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I wouldn’t call them either pro-Russian or pro-Ukrainian. They are people who have certain rights, political, humanitarian rights, and they must have a chance to exercise those rights.
For example, in Ukraine governors are still appointed by Kiev. After the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev last February, the first thing the new authorities tried to do was deprive the ethnic minorities of the right to use their native language. This caused great concern among the people living in eastern Ukraine.
QUESTION: You did not let this happen but are you saying that we are on the verge of another Cold War?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I hope we are not on the verge of any war. Second, I insist that people – wherever they live – have their rights and they must be able to fight for them. That’s the point.
QUESTION: Is there any risk of a war? Now, as we see tanks on their way from Kiev, many people in France are asking this question. Were you tempted to send troops to eastern Ukraine?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is an interview, which implies short questions and short answers. But if you have patience and give me a minute, I will tell you how we see it. Here’s our position. What actually happened there? There was a conflict and that conflict arose because the former Ukrainian president refused to sign an association agreement with the EU. Russia had a certain stance on this issue. We believed it was indeed unreasonable to sign that agreement because it would have a grave impact on the economy, including the Russian economy. We have 390 economic agreements with Ukraine and Ukraine is a member of the free trade zone within the CIS. And we wouldn’t be able to continue this economic relationship with Ukraine as a member of the free trade zone. We discussed this with our European partners. Instead of continuing the debates by legitimate and diplomatic means, our European friends and our friends from the United States supported the anti-constitutional armed coup. This is what happened. We did not cause this crisis to happen. We were against this course of events but after the anti-constitutional coup – let’s face it, after all…
QUESTION: But now we see so much tension in politics. Yet despite this, you will be in Normandy speaking about peace while Barack Obama keeps urging Europe to arm itself.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, we must always talk about peace but we should understand the causes and nature of the crisis. The point is no one should be brought to power through an armed anti-constitutional coup, and this is especially true of the post-Soviet space where government institutions are not fully mature. When it happened some people accepted this regime and were happy about it while other people, say, in eastern and southern Ukraine just won’t accept it. And it is vital to talk with those people who didn’t accept this change of power instead of sending tanks there, as you said yourself, instead of firing missiles at civilians from the air and bombing non-military targets.
QUESTION: But, Mr President, the United States and the White House claim they have evidence that Russia intervened in the conflict, sent its troops and supplied weapons. They claim they have proof. Do you believe that?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Proof? Why don’t they show it? The entire world remembers the US Secretary of State demonstrating the evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, waving around some test tube with washing powder in the UN Security Council. Eventually, the US troops invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein was hanged and later it turned out there had never been any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You know, it’s one thing to say things and another to actually have evidence. I will tell you again:  no Russian troops…
QUESTION (via interpreter): Are you saying the US is lying?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, it is. There are no armed forces, no Russian ‘instructors’ in southeastern Ukraine. And there never were any.
QUESTION (via interpreter): So you do not want to annex Ukraine and you never tried to destabilise the situation there?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We never did that. The Ukrainian government must now sit down and talk with their own people instead of using weapons, tanks, planes and helicopters. They must start the negotiating process.
QUESTION(via interpreter): The new Ukrainian president was elected on May 25 through a democratic vote. Do you recognise Mr Poroshenko as a legitimate president?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I’ve already told you and will say it again: we will respect the choice of the Ukrainian people and we will cooperate with Ukrainian authorities.
QUESTION (via interpreter)In other words, if you meet him on 6 June on the beaches of Normandy, and if President Hollande helps to make this meeting possible, will you shake hands with him? Will you talk with him?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, I don’t plan to evade anyone. President Hollande kindly invited me as the representative of Russia to attend this commemoration, even though the event it will commemorate was tragic. I was pleased to accept his invitation, and I’m grateful to the President for inviting me. There will be other guests, and I’m not going to avoid any of them. I will talk with all of them.
QUESTION (via interpreter)But will you meet with Poroshenko? You said you would only work with him on the condition that he would not totally yield to US influence.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I didn’t say that he shouldn’t yield to US influence. He is free to accept any influence he wants. Ukrainians voted for him, and he is free to develop a policy. If he chooses to accept anyone’s strong influence, let him. But I wouldn’t…
QUESTION (via interpreter)Do you recognise Ukraine’s sovereignty and its neutral stance with respect to relations between Russia and the West?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, we recognise its sovereignty. Moreover, we’d like Ukraine to act as a sovereign state. Joining any military bloc or any other rigid integration alliance amounts to a partial loss of sovereignty. But if a country opts for this and wants to cede part of its sovereignty, it’s free to do so. Regarding Ukraine and military blocs, this is what worries us, because if Ukraine joins, say, NATO, NATO’s infrastructure will move directly towards the Russian border, which cannot leave us indifferent.
QUESTION: Mr President, Russian troops annexed Crimea recently. Will you ever give it back?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It’s a delusion that Russian troops annexed Crimea. Russian troops did nothing of the kind. Frankly...
QUESTION:  But Crimea has been included on the map of Russia, the kind of maps we used in school. It’s part of Russia now. What was it, annexation or reunification? Which word should we use?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: If you’ll let me finish, I think you’ll see what I mean.
Russian troops were in Crimea under the international treaty on the deployment of the Russian military base. It’s true that Russian troops helped Crimeans hold a referendum on their (a) independence and (b) desire to join the Russian Federation. No one can prevent these people from exercising a right that is stipulated in Article 1 of the UN Charter, the right of nations to self-determination. 
QUESTION: In other words, you will not return Crimea [to Ukraine]? Crimea is Russia, is that it?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: In accordance with the expression of the will of people who live there, Crimea is part of the Russian Federation and its constituent entity.
I want everyone to understand this clearly. We conducted an exclusively diplomatic and peaceful dialogue – I want to stress this – with our partners in Europe and the United States. In response to our attempts to hold such a dialogue and to negotiate an acceptable solution, they supported the anti-constitutional state coup in Ukraine, and following that we could not be sure that Ukraine would not become part of the North Atlantic military bloc. In that situation, we could not allow a historical part of the Russian territory with a predominantly ethnic Russian population to be incorporated into an international military alliance, especially because Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia. I am sorry, but we couldn’t act differently.
QUESTION (via interpreter): So, Francois Hollande has invited you to France, to Paris and Normandy. You know him very well. Can you move further forward, and can you describe your relations as confidential?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, I think so.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Do you think so, or are you sure?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I’ve always thought so. I see no reasons to think otherwise. We have very good interstate relations, but we have much to do yet to promote our economic ties.
But our personal relations have always been trust-based, which helps in work as well. I hope it will stay this way.
QUESTION (via interpreter): You are talking about trust-based relations – both in defence and the economy. You have paid over a billion euros for two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, and Russian naval officials are to visit Saint-Nazaire in a few days. Have you given them special permission to go to France?
VLADIMIR PUTIN:  Yes, of course. I believe we are living in a civilised world and we will all continue to fulfil our obligations and contractual commitments. I’ve heard a lot of talk about these ships going to Russia and some people believe that Russia shouldn’t get them. You know, here in Russia we had a lot of opposition to this contract. France is entitled to decide against selling the ships, but in that case we should get out money back. This would mean that out countries won’t have an opportunity to develop ties in the defence sector – but overall we are ready to expand our cooperation and even to place new orders, if our French partners are interested.    
QUESTION (via interpreter): Despite external pressure, you have asked France to supply these assault ships – and if France does it you may place other orders as well, right?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We expect our French partners to fulfil their contractual obligations, and if everything goes as we agreed, we will not rule out the possibility of further orders – and not necessarily in naval shipbuilding; they may concern other sectors as well. Overall, our relations in this area are developing well, and we would like to continue strengthening them – in aviation, shipbuilding, and other sectors. We have successful cooperation experience in space exploration, at the Guiana Space Centre near Kourou.     
QUESTION (via interpreter): Do you think France is a sovereign and independent state whose opinion is respected? What do you think of Germany? You speak with Angela Merkel in both Russian and German, while François Hollande doesn’t speak Russian and you don’t speak French. Do you have a common language of communication?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The fact that I don’t speak French and Mr Hollande doesn’t speak Russian is not a barrier for us. It does not prevent us from speaking a common language, and we understand each other well even via an interpreter.
Speaking of the level of sovereignty, I will say it again – any country that becomes a member of a military alliance gives away some of its sovereignty to a supranational body. For Russia, this would be unacceptable. As for other countries, it has nothing to do with us. They have to decide such matters for themselves. In this regard, I think of the Gaullist tradition and General Charles de Gaulle, who protected France’s sovereignty. I think this deserves respect. And there’s another example: François Mitterrand, who spoke of European confederation, with Russia as its member. I think this opportunity still exists and we will have it in the future.
QUESTION (via interpreter): My next question concerns the United States. You will meet with Barack Obama in a few days, you will sit a few metres away from him. But he doesn’t seem to be willing to speak to you. What will this meeting be like and how will relations develop between the world’s richest country and its largest country? How can you avoid speaking to each other when there’s a real need for this since the war is not too far off?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, you’re exaggerating about the war being not far off. You seem to be feeling aggressive. Whatever gave you this idea, and why are you determined to frighten us all? As for... 
QUESTION (via interpreter): Because Ukraine is near Russia.
QUESTION (via interpreter): And this is where the war is going on. When he mentioned the war, he said it is not far off.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is a punitive operation launched by Kiev’s government against the country’s own citizens. It is not a war between states, it is something entirely different. As for...
QUESTION (via interpreter): Do you think it should be stopped immediately?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think Mr Poroshenko, who has no blood on his hands so far, has a unique chance to halt this punitive operation now and start a dialogue with people in southeastern Ukraine.   
As for my relations with Barack Obama, I have no reason whatsoever to believe he is not willing to talk to the President of Russia. But ultimately, it is his choice. I am always ready for dialogue, and I think that dialogue is the best way to bridge any gaps. We have been in contact until now, we have talked on the telephone regularly.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Russia and the United States are experiencing some problems. Are these problems between two powers or between two people, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Problems between countries always exist, especially between such big countries as Russia and the United States. There have always been some issues, but I don’t think we should go to extremes. At any rate, it wouldn’t be our choice. I’m always willing to talk to any of my partners, including President Obama.
QUESTION (via interpreter): So you are willing to talk and you regret what is happening? But don’t you think the United States is trying to surround Russia, to make you weaker as a leader and perhaps isolate you from the world? You are being very diplomatic now but you know the facts.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Facts? You’ve said it yourself: Russia is the biggest country in the world. It would be very difficult to surround it, and the world is changing so fast that it would basically be impossible, even in theory.
Of course, we can see attempts by the United States to pressure their allies by employing their obvious leadership in the Western community, in order to influence Russia’s policy.
Russia’s policy is based solely on its national interests. Of course, we take the opinions of our partners into account but we are guided by the interests of the Russian people.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Mr President, it is very convenient that you are meeting with Mr Obama on June 6. Perhaps, it would be worse if you were meeting with Hillary Clinton. Only a few days ago, she said that what Russia is doing in Eastern Europe resembles what Hitler was doing in the 1930s.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It’s better not to argue with women. But Ms Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements. Still, we always met afterwards and had cordial conversations at various international events. I think even in this case we could reach an agreement. When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Women must be respected, of course, and I’m sure you respect them. Do you think she went too far? There is a lot of mockery and cartoons in the media – including those showing you. What was your first reaction? Were you angry? Did you want to get back at her or laugh? We have never seen you laugh.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Someday I will indulge myself and we will laugh together at some good joke. But when I hear such extreme statements, to me it only means that they don’t have any valid arguments. Speaking of US policy, it’s clear that the United States is pursuing the most aggressive and toughest policy to defend their own interests – at least, this is how the American leaders see it – and they do it persistently.
There are basically no Russian troops abroad while US troops are everywhere. There are US military bases everywhere around the world and they are always involved in the fates of other countries even though they are thousands of kilometres away from US borders. So it is ironic that our US partners accuse us of breaching some of these rules.
QUESTION (via interpreter)But you have taken some decisions regarding your defence budget. Are you as President taking any special decisions on security and defence now, because the general environment is more risky?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding the defence budget. I’d like to say, for reference’ sake, because only the analysts know this, that the defence budget of the United States, which we talked about only yesterday, is larger than the combined military budgets of every country in the world – every country – combined. So who’s pursuing an aggressive policy?
As for our [defence] budget, it has hardly grown in terms of percent of GDP, barely by one-tenth of a percent. But we want to rearm our army and navy based on modern, advanced technology, by reducing quantity and improving quality. We have a relevant rearmament programme, and it was not adopted yesterday or in response to the Ukrainian crisis. It has been our policy, which we will continue to implement.
QUESTION (via interpreter)Mr President, Syrian leader Bashar Assad has been re-elected president without much effort. Can you influence him? Can you ask him to order his army to stop its atrocities, to stop fighting their own people?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: All sides are guilty of atrocities there, but primarily the extremist organisations that are thriving in Syria. We are mostly worried about…
QUESTION (via interpreter)Religious, Islamic [organisations]…
VLADIMIR PUTIN: …those organisations that are directly connected with Al Qaeda. There are many of them there, which no one tries to deny any longer. It’s a general fact. But we are mostly worried that the wrong action could turn Syria into another Afghanistan, a completely uncontrollable spawning ground for the terrorist threat, including for European countries. All the terrorists who are operating there now would eventually move to other countries, including in Europe.
QUESTION (via interpreter)We don’t quite understand why you, Vladimir Putin, the man who wants to modernise Russia, support a person who is killing his own people, who is covered in their blood. How can this be?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I’ll explain very simply and clearly, and I hope that the majority of the French people who are watching and listening to this interview will understand me. We very much fear that Syria will fall apart like Sudan. We very much fear that Syria will follow in the footsteps of Iraq or Afghanistan. This is why we would like the legal authority to remain in power in Syria, so that Russia can cooperate with Syria and with ours partners in Europe and the United States to consider possible methods to change Syrian society, to modernise the regime and make it more viable and humane.
QUESTION (via interpreter)I’d like to ask you about your country, Russia. How would you describe its current political regime? Some describe it as a democracy, while others argue that Russia is so huge that it needs an iron hand. How does Vladimir Putin define the Putin regime?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The current regime is not connected to any particular person, including the incumbent President. We have common democratic state institutions, although they reflect Russia’s needs. What are they? The overwhelming majority of Russian citizens tend to rely on their traditions, their history and, if I may say so, their traditional values. I see this as the foundation and a factor of stability in the Russian state, but none of this is associated with the President as an individual. Moreover, it should be remembered that we only started introducing standard democratic institutions recently. They are still in the process of evolving.
QUESTION (via interpreter)Can a person stand in opposition to the authorities in Russia without fear of losing his ties and reputation, without being punished?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We have many opposition parties, and we have recently liberalised the procedure for registering political parties. We have dozens of parties that participate in municipal and regional elections.
QUESTION (via interpreter): But is it possible to be a personal opponent of Vladimir Putin without exposing oneself to risks?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: If you listen to some of our radio stations and watch some TV shows, I assure you, you are unlikely to find anything similar to this kind of opposition in France.
QUESTION (via interpreter): There have always been periods of strict order and authoritarian power in Russia. But in the age of the Internet, can a country develop by restricting freedoms?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It is impossible and we are not restricting the Internet. We have certain… You know, whatever we do, someone tries to find something that goes against democratic principles, including the Internet. Are there any restrictions in Russia? I don’t believe so. Some of our opponents say there are unacceptable restrictions. What kind of restrictions do we have? For example, we have banned the promotion of suicide, drugs and pedophilia. These are our restrictions. What’s wrong with that?
QUESTION (via interpreter): And homosexuality. It is not pedophilia, it’s a different story.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: That’s not true, we did not ban homosexuality. We banned the promotion of homosexuality among minors. You see, these are two different things. In the United States, since we talked about it, homosexuality is illegal in some states. We impose no criminal liability whatsoever. We banned only promoting homosexuality among minors. It is our right to protect our children and we will do it.
QUESTION (via interpreter): We would like to talk about the end of your term in 2018. We would like to talk about labour camps. We find such things surprising in the West. For example, Pussy Riot were sentenced to a term in labour camps, and it wasn’t just an ordinary prison. Will you close those camps by the end of your term?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: These are not camps. These are places where the inmates’ freedom is limited but they can live a more or less normal life. These are not prisons where people are not allowed to work.
Prisons where people can’t even work is the worst punishment you can think of. And I don’t think we should put all convicts in such facilities where people are deprived of their freedom. I think it is much worse than what you are describing.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Who convinced you that you are carrying out a special mission for Russia?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Why do you think that I believe I’m carrying out a special mission? I have the trust of my voters. Over 63% of Russian citizens voted for me. I believe I hold a national mandate to carry out domestic and foreign policy, and I will fulfil my obligations under this mandate.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Do you have a role model in the Russian history? Are you guided by Soviet or Russian politics?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have great love and respect for Russian history and culture. But the world is changing and Russia is too. Russia is part of the modern world, not the world of the past but the modern world. And I believe it has an even greater future than some other countries that can’t take care of their young people, of the new generations, of their children, and believe that they can just let things slide.
QUESTION (via interpreter): And the last question, Mr President. In 2013, Forbes rated you as the most powerful person in the world. Were you flattered by this title?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, I’m an adult and I know what power means in the modern world. In the modern world, power is mainly defined by such factors as the economy, defence and cultural influence. I believe that in terms of defence, Russia is without any doubt one of the leaders because we are a nuclear power and our nuclear weapons are perhaps the best in the world.
With regard to cultural influence, we are proud of the Russian culture – literature, the arts and so on.
As for the economy, we are aware that we still have a lot to do before we reach the top. Although lately, we have made major strides forward and are now the fifth largest economy in the world. It is a success but we can do more.
QUESTION (via interpreter): We don’t know yet how Vladimir Putin’s era will go down in history. What would you like to be remembered for? And would you like to be seen as a democrat or an authoritarian leader?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would like to be remembered as a person who did his best for the happiness and prosperity of his country and his people.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Thank you very much. Have a good trip to France, Mr President. Good-bye.

Refuting President Obama’s Lies, Omissions and Distortions

An Open Letter to the Graduates of West Point

obamadoublespeak (2)
On May 2014 President Obama delivered the commencement address to the graduates of United States Military Academy at West Point.  Beyond the easy banter and eulogy to past and present war heroes, Obama outlined a vision of past military successes and present policies, based on a profoundly misleading diagnosis of the current global position of the United States.
His presentation is marked by systematic lies about past wars and current military interventions.  The speech’s glaring failure to acknowledge the millions of civilians killed by US military interventions stands out. He glosses over the growth of NSA, the global police state apparatus.  He presents a grossly inflated account of the US role in the world economy.  Worst of all he outlines an extremely dangerous policy of confrontation with rising military and economic powers, in particular Russia and China.
Distorting the Past:  Defeats and Retreats Converted into Victories
One of the most disturbing aspects of President Obama’s speech is his delusional account of US military engagements over the past decade.  Obama’s claim that, “by most measures America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world”, defies belief.  After 13 years of war and occupation in Afghanistan, the US has failed to conquer the Taliban and is leaving behind a fragile puppet regime on the verge of collapse.  The US was forced to withdraw from Iraq after causing the deaths of hundreds of thousand of civilians, the displacement and wounding of millions and the ignition of a sectarian war, which has propelled a pro-Iranian regime to power in Baghdad.  In Libya, the Obama pushed NATO to destroy the entire country in order to overthrow the secular Gadhafi government, thus undermining any possibility of reconciliation among opponents.  He has brought bands of Islamist terrorists to power who are profoundly hostile to the United States.
Washington’s effort to broker an accord between Palestine and Israel is a shabby failure, characterized by Obama’s spineless capitulation to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s goal of grabbing more Palestinian land for new  “Jews only” settlements – paid with American tax money.  Obama’s craven pandering to the Jewish power configuration in Washington does little to bolster his claim to lead the world’s “greatest power”…
You have heard lectures on the world economy at the Academy: Surely you know that China has displaced the US in major markets throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa.  While China is a major economic challenge, it is not an expansionist military power.  It does not possess thousands of overseas bases or Special Forces troops operating in seventy-five countries; it does not pursue military alliances and does not invade countries thousands of miles from its borders.  Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ is a provocative expansion of US military power off China’s coast contrary to his public claims of “winding down” overseas military operations.
Obama speaks of defending “our core interests” by military force yet he provokes China over a disputed pile of rocks in the South China Sea, undermining the “core interests” of the 500 biggest US corporations which have invested billions of dollars in the most dynamic economy in the world and of the biggest American exporters to our second largest trading partner.
Obama refers to fighting “terrorism” yet his policies have encouraged and promoted terrorism.  Washington armed the Islamist terrorists who overthrew the secular Gadhafi government and plunged that country into chaos.  Obama backs the Islamist terrorists invading and attempting to overthrow the secular regime Syria.  He provides 1.5 billion dollars in military aid to an Egyptian military dictatorship terrorizing its democratic, civilian political opposition, assassinating and imprisoning thousands of dissidents.  In February, the US backed the violent overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine and supports the Kiev regime’s bombing of pro-democracy, pro-federation civilian populations in the Southeast, a majority of whom are ethnic Russians.  Obama’s “anti-terrorism” rhetoric in nothing but a cover for state terrorism, closing the door on any peaceful resolution of overseas conflicts and spawning scores of violent opposition groups in its wake.
Obama brags about “our success in promoting partnerships in Europe and in the world at large”, yet his bellicose policies toward Russia have created deep rifts between the US and the leading countries of the European Union.  With its multi-billion dollar trade agreements with Russia, German opposes harsh sanctions and provocations against Moscow, as do Italy, Holland and Belgium.  In Latin America, the US-controlled Organization of American States is a toothless relic amidst growing regional organizations which exclude the US.  Where are Washington’s “partners” in its hostile campaign to overthrow the government in Venezuela and blockade Cuba?  Washington’s efforts to forge an Asian economic bloc, excluding China, has run aground against the deep and comprehensive ties linking South Korea, Taiwan and Southeast Asia to China.
Wherever you look, Washington’s closest ‘allies’ are the least dynamic and most repressive:  Israel, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in the Middle East; Egypt, Morocco and Algeria in North Africa; Colombia in Latin America; the Philippines in Asia; and motley groups of sub-Sahara despots and Kleptocrats squirreling away billions of dollars into New York and London bank accounts while starving their countries’ budgets on health and education.
Obama’s diagnosis regarding the position of the US in the world is fundamentally flawed:  He ignores the military losses from unwinnable overseas adventures and understates the decline in US economic power.  The growing divisions among former regional allies have no place in his speech.  Above all, he refuses to acknowledge the profound disenchantment among most Americans with Washington’s foreign military and trade policies.  The flawed diagnosis, the deliberate distortions of current global realities and the deep misreading of domestic public opinion, cannot be overcome by new deceptions. Bigger lies and more extensive foreign military interventions mean that newly commissioned officers will serve as cannon fodder for policies deeply unpopular with our people.
Obama:   Political Desperado in Search of an Imperial Legacy
Obama has marked a new phase in his escalation of a military-centered foreign policy.  He is presently engaged in a major build-up of air and ground troops and provocative military exercises in the Baltic States and Poland…all of which are directed at Russia, raising the specter of a ‘First Strike’ strategy against a major nuclear power which poses no threat to our nation.
President Barack Obama, deeply unpopular at home, is propelled by a mania for global military escalation.  He is expanding naval forces off China’s coast. He has dispatched hundreds of Special Forces to Jordan to train and arm Islamist and al Qaeda mercenaries invading Syria.  He promotes Kiev’s brutal crackdown on civilian protesters in the Eastern Ukraine by increasing US military aid and training.  He has dispatched hundreds of US forces throughout Africa.  He has just allocated $1 billion for military expansion along the European frontiers with Russia and another $5 billion to boost the capacity of despotic regimes to repress popular insurgencies under the pretext of “fighting terrorism”.
Obama’s ‘vision’ of US foreign policy is clearly and unmistakably colored by his readiness to pursue highly dangerous military adventures.  His tactic of launching Special Forces’ operations in all corners of the world, his increasing use of mercenaries and proxies is a throw-back to 19th century colonialism.  Sending client regime troops from one oppressed country to conquer and pillage another marks a regression to  brutal old-style empire building.  No one is deceived when Obama declares that “American leadership is indispensable for world order”.  His Washington-centered new world order is unraveling.  Disorder and misery are the consequence of relying on naked military intervention to delay the inevitable – the decline of a uni-polar world is a fact.
The Obama Administration’s involvement in the violent coup in the Kiev is a case in point:  As a consequence of placing an oligarch, the so-called ‘Chocolate Billionaire’ to head a junta infested with neo-fascists, Ukraine is falling apart, cities in the east are being bombed and the economy is in free-fall.  A massive humanitarian disaster threatens the stability of Europe if hundreds of thousands of people are displaced by the brutality of civil war in Ukraine.
Obama’s unopposed air war against Libya utterly destroyed that nation and has created a Hobbesian world where bloody warlords fight brutal jihadists over shrinking oil sales.   In Syria, US-sponsored ‘rebels’ have devastated the economy and the social fabric of a complex secular society.  Al Qaeda-linked terrorists have recently kidnapped hundreds of secular high school students heading for their final exams in Aleppo in order to prevent any recovery and reconciliation in that brutalized nation.
No major country in South America follows US ‘leadership’ on Cuba and Venezuela.  Even in the United States, outside of a few enclaves of fanatics in Florida, very few American citizens back Obama’s hostile policies to Cuba and Venezuela.
Obama’s duplicity, of talking peace while preparing wars, has been exposed.  And now this same president is preparing to commit you, newly commissioned officers of the US Army, to overseas military adventures against the interests and wishes of  the majority of your fellow Americans.
Obama will send you to war zones where you will face popular insurgencies, supported by masses of working people.  While propping up corrupt oligarchs and defending foreign capital, you will be despised by the local populations.  You will be ordered to ‘defend’ an Administration which has pillaged  our national Treasury  to bail out the 15 biggest banks in the world, banks which paid $78 billion dollars in fines, between 2012 – 2013, for fraud and swindles while their CEO’s received obscene bonuses, wealth and immunity .  You will be told to sacrifice your lives and limbs fighting wars for the State of Israel in the Middle East – an Israel which bombed the USS Liberty (among other incidents) – killing and maiming hundreds of American service people with impunity.  You will be sent to command bases in Poland and to direct missiles at Russia. You will be sent to the Ukraine to train neo-Nazis in the ‘National’ Guard to kill their own compatriots.  You will be expected to subvert the loyalties of military officers in Latin American, hoping to provoke military coups and convert independent progressive governments into neo-liberal puppet states – ripe for pillage and mayhem.
Obama’s plans for you do not resonate with your ideals and hopes for a prosperous America dedicated to democracy, freedom and peaceful development at home.  You face the choice of serving a political desperado, contemptuous of our Constitution and intent on launching unjust wars at the behest of billionaire swindlers and armchair militarists in Washington, or refusing to participate as muscle-men for bloody empire and joining the majority of the American people who believe that America’s ‘leadership’ should be directed at redistributing the wealth and power of an unelected oligarchy which currently runs this country.  Who will you choose to serve?
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