So much rubbish has been written about Vladimir Putin over the past weeks that I was very pleased to receive an excellent rebuttal of some of the worst nonsense. It was written by Dr. Boyd Cathey, a former colleague of the late Russell Kirk, who has granted me permission to publish his solid, fact-based appraisal of Putin.
Dr. Cathey writes in response to an article by North Carolina Congressman, Robert Pittengeer:
This has got to be the most uninformed piece on the issue that I have read in weeks (and there have been many such ignorant pieces)! Pittenger cannot even sum up well the usual Neocon "talking points," much less understand what they have been writing, correctly.
Just one example to illustrate my point: Pittenger trots out the old saw that Putin, and let me quote, "clearly stated his objectives years ago when he said that the worst tragedy of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet empire."
Any decent researcher or honest journalist, any self-respecting congressman, who had minimum knowledge, would know just what Putin said and the absolutely necessary context. Putin, who was perhaps the chief reason why the August 1991 KGB coup against Russia's transition away from Communism, failed, was talking specifically about the break up of the Soviet Union (the original interview is in the volume First Person, and is quoted by Prof. Allen Lynch in his detailed study, Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft) in relation to the immense economic, social, cultural, and linguistic problems that the separation of fifteen constituent republics occasioned---many of which had been integrally part of older pre-Bolshevik Russia (prior to 1918) for hundreds of years. There had developed indelible economic ties and dependency, large overlaps in population (e.g., the fact that half of the population of Ukraine speaks Russian and 25% are ethnically Russian, or that a quarter of the population of Kazakhstan is Russian). A similar situation took place with the break up of the old Autro-Hungarian state after World War II...most of the newly independent states in the Balkans were incapable of economic and social security and economic success. More, huge groups of Germans, Hungarians, Poles, Bulgars, and Croats were left in areas then ruled by those new states (e.g., Sudetenland, overwhelmingly German, in Czechoslovakia; Transylvania, populated by Hungarians, in Romania). It was a recipe for disaster and future war---World War II, and the resultant millions of deaths that followed (thank you, liberal democracy! Thank you, Woodrow Wilson and Treaty of Versailles!)
Specifically, that model for disaster was what Putin was referencing, and he was exactly on target. He was NOT advocating the re-establishment of the Soviet regime, which he openly and has repeatedly condemned. No better source than Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the USSR, Jack Matlock, has written at length saying the same thing. Lastly, and again ironically, this statement by Putin, ripped out of context, was made at approximately the same time that Putin had gone to Poland to formally denounce Communist crimes and massacres (e.g. Katyn Forest, the gulags).
Pittenger states that Putin is a "bully" (I was expecting to read the term "thug" or perhaps "KGB thug," since these are the terms that the neoconservative press habitually enjoys using). Let me go back and just cite one or two examples of this ambitious "KGB bully" who wishes to "re-assert the power of the KGB" and "re-establish the Soviet Union."
First, Putin was NEVER the "head of the KGB," as Greta van Susteren and several Fox News "talking heads" repeatedly assert. He had a desk job in evaluating intelligence, as a Lt. Colonel, in Dresden, before coming back to Leningrad, to serve as Deputy Mayor to the very pro-Western, democratic Anatoly Sobchak (see Lynch, pp 27-39). Putin had, by then, resigned from the KGB.
There is an interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Der Spiegel, in which Solzhenitsyn--that staunch anti-Communist--fully understands this and expresses his strong support for Putin as president of Russia. [By the way, Putin and Medvedev arranged a state funeral for Solzhenitsyn in 2008, and both attended, and both praised the writer, whose works are now required reading in all Russian schools.] So, then, was the great and intransigent anti-Communist Solzhenitsyn "snookered" by that "KGB thug"?Read More at: http://www.staustinreview.com/ink_desk/archives/vladimir_putin_some_rare_and_welcome_common_sense