Cheney is right about the Russians
By Jim Kouri
There is so much to write about the Russian government, it's difficult to be pithy and comprehensive at the same time. However, let's just review a few recent news stories regarding our "friends" the Russians:
So what was the big news story last week? The Russian anger over Vice President Dick Cheney's accusation that President Vladimir Putin's government is actively restricting the freedom of its own people while using its energy resources as "blackmail" to inhibit democracy in other countries.
Putin's spokesman responded angrily stating it isn't using energy (oil, natural gas) for political leverage and that the US get used to Russia's more active role in geopolitics.
The US news media appear to be quaking in their shoes. For instance, USA Today wrote, "Washington's strongest rebuke of Russia yet comes at a tense moment in US-Russia relations as the White House pushes for Kremlin cooperation on Iranian nuclear issues and many Russians say their country has returned to a Cold War footing."
However, Cheney isn't backing down. Last week in Lithuania Cheney said, "In Russia today, opponents of reform are seeking to reverse the gains of the last decade."
"In many areas of civil society -- from religion and the news media to advocacy groups and political parties -- the government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of her people," he claimed during a conference.
The blunt VP pointed to Russia's difficult relations with three neighbors: Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Experts on Russian politics and society have noted that Moscow punishes gas customers, such as Georgia and Ukraine, which follow a democratic path, while subsidizing the energy supply to autocratic allies such as Belarus. The bad guys get the energy, the good guys get the shaft.
"No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation," Mr. Cheney said.
"And no one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements."
The VP's comments regarding territorial integrity were clearly aimed at Moscow's support for separatist movements in Georgia and Moldova.
Moscow's reaction was quick and bitter. "We cannot accept some statements today by Mr. Cheney," responded Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has a right to defend its own interests, Mr. Peskov told USA Today, "The energy sources that Russia possesses must be used for our own people, not to help development of democracies in neighboring countries." The West also confuses the actions of Russian companies with Moscow's policy, the Kremlin spokesman added.
The argument between the two former Cold War adversaries was ostensibly about Russia's energy policy and the democratization of former Soviet states, but tensions have been rising between the two countries on many other fronts in recent months, including the revelation the Russia sold Iran a state-of-the-art defense system designed to counter aircraft or helicopter attacks. The Russians are also believed to have sold Iran advanced missile technology.
Many Americans wondered what the United States appeared so reluctant to openly criticize Russia as the US tries to encourage support at the UN for action against Iran's nuclear program. Russia refuses, however, to turn against one of its major trading partner, especially in the lucrative business of weapons sales to Iran.
Russia hosts the Group of Eight summit in three months, marking its first presidency of the prestigious club of countries, but some prominent US politicians have called for a boycott of the event to protest against Kremlin policies they describe as autocratic, according to the BBC.
However, some of political leaders -- those on the left -- are fearful a boycott by the US will have serious repercussions. Their response to Cheney's comments is similar to that which President Ronald Reagan received when he called the Soviet Union "The Evil Empire." How can the US call the Russians "evil?"
In fact, reading The Nation's column on Cheney is proof the left believes the US is evil -- that is Bush is evil and Cheney is evil -- not Russia. Oh how they miss the good old days of Stalin and his ilk, especially the New York Times which became Stalin's and the Soviet Union's biggest cheerleader.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com. He's also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri's own website is located at http://jimkouri.us.
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