By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
We as a nation are discussing ways to isolate and treat mental illness in society. How do we identify those who are mentally ill and get them help? These questions are also relevant on the world stage, as Russian President Vladimir Putin poses as the savior of the world.
You know that moral confusion is taking hold in society when a conservative website hails Vladimir Putin for his “moral clarity” in the War on Terror, and compares him to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet, Dr. Robin McFee, who generally focuses on Weapons of Mass Destruction preparedness as well as medical matters, writes that Putin, who has invaded Ukraine and is now backing the Assad dictatorship in Syria with troops and weapons, “has emerged as the go to global statesmen [sic] on the world stage” because he gave a U.N. speech describing chaos in the Middle East resulting from President Obama’s policies.
Both Obama and Putin have created instability in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean that one is a statesman and the other is not. It may mean that they are both working in tandem to reduce American influence in the region, just as they partnered on behalf of a nuclear deal with Iran.
Regarding their U.N. speeches, McFee wrote, “Both Netanyahu and Putin shared a refreshing moral clarity, presenting an unvarnished snapshot of the world as it is, the threats awaiting us, and gave an unfiltered insight into the challenges they face, as well as approaches each will take in the protection of their respective nation’s interests and sovereignty.”
The idea that Putin is a leader we should admire is a notion that is nonsensical on its face. He gave asylum to NSA defector Edward Snowden, who still lives in Russia. In a recent edition of The Intelligencer, the journal of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), Peter Oleson writes about how Snowden’s disclosures have facilitated the activities of the Islamic State—a group that Putin claims he opposes—along with other American enemies and adversaries.
Oleson, a former assistant director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who served as senior intelligence policy advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense Policy, writes, “The damage to US intelligence has been extensive. Snowden leaked the identities of over 1,000 targets of US intelligence and 31,000 files revealing what US policymakers want intelligence to provide (i.e., a list revealing what the US doesn’t know). His releases contain sufficient detail to identify US and allied intelligence officers. He revealed previously secret details of the US intelligence budget.”
He goes on, “Perhaps even more significant is the exposure of specific sources and methods and techniques US intelligence uses. Snowden has exposed how the US tracks terrorists via e-mails, social media, and cell phones.”
These are some of the same terrorists running wild in the Middle East that Putin says he opposes.
Indeed, Oleson notes that “The MI-5 head warned that the Snowden leaks undermined British security as concerns grow over British Islamists fighting in Syria. He also revealed the hacking techniques of NSA’s Tailored Access Office, the group that focuses on difficult electronic targets. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has altered his communications to avoid detection. Electronic eavesdropping techniques used against Al Qaeda in Iraq no longer work.”
Summarizing the damage Snowden has done, Oleson concludes that Snowden is a traitor to the United States and quite possibly a spy.
There are other reasons to categorically reject the notion that Putin is a statesman who sees the world like Israel’s Netanyahu. The Russians created the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to destroy Israel. Israel has been terrorized by Soviet/Russian trained terrorists for decades.
But Putin, a former KGB colonel, wanted the world to forget this record of backing international terrorism when he spoke to the U.N.
McFee approvingly quotes Putin as saying in his U.N. speech, “We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted. This may result in the global terrorist threat increasing dramatically and engulfing new regions, especially given that Islamic State camps train militants from many countries, including the European countries.”
She then adds, “Beyond a few glaringly obvious issues, like Russian influence in Iran, and criminal money laundering, nevertheless, Putin highlights important facts.”
“Russian influence in Iran?” Is that how Russian sponsorship of the Iranian regime and its nuclear weapons program is best described?
Relegating “Russian influence in Iran” to a throwaway line ignores the terrorism this alliance has meant for the Middle East and the world. It is the Iranian relationship with Syria and Russia that Putin is determined to support in the Middle East. Iranian-supported terrorist groups are just as lethal as the Islamic State, and Netanyahu knows it. That’s why he has pleaded with Putin, to no avail, to look the other way when Israel bombs Syrian and Iranian supply lines for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The fact that Putin invaded Ukraine, and that his separatist forces brought down a civilian airliner over areas they control, should also disabuse us of any notion that he is a moral statesman on the world stage. Of course, Putin also kills journalists and opposition figures. But particularly gruesome ways of killing, such as the poisoning of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, are reserved for those who spill secrets about Putin and his KGB comrades. Litvinenko disclosed Russian training of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
McFee’s praise for Putin’s “moral clarity on radical Islam at the U.N.” ignores the evidence that the Russians have their fingerprints all over the activities of the Islamic State, not only through facilitating Snowden’s disclosures but through the provision of actual manpower.
The Homeland Security Committee’s recent report on foreign fighters in the Islamic State lists Russia as number four among the top 10 countries of origin. Russia has supplied 1,700 fighters. The United States isn’t even in the top 10. Russia has done little to stop this flow of people to the Islamic State, suggesting that some are leaving under the watchful eye of Putin’s intelligence services. One Islamic State military commander is, in fact, considered a Russian plant.
Russia may not control every faction of the Islamic State, but it’s a sure bet that Putin’s intelligence operatives are in charge of at least some of them. It is significant that initial Russian airstrikes were determined to be hitting opponents of Assad, not Islamic State fighters.
As we have seen by the intervention in Syria, the Islamic State serves Russian interests by giving Putin the opportunity to act decisively on behalf of the Syrian regime, which also benefits Iran. Putin comes out on top no matter which side wins and looks like a statesman in the process. At least he looks that way to some.
It’s time to face reality: Putin is a bloodthirsty killer whose only concern is building up Russian power and damaging the interests of the United States. Disgust for Obama should not blind people to that fact.
It’s time to identify Putin as not only mentally unstable, but so bloodthirsty that he constitutes a threat to the Middle East, America and the world. Putin’s nuclear weapons buildup is so alarming that our top generals have called Russia an “existential threat” to the United States.
We’ve identified the problem. So who among the presidential candidates has a plan to rid the world of this lunatic before thousands, or even millions, of Americans die?