An Associated Press dispatched on June 29 titled, “Putin says liberalism ‘eating itself,’ migrant influx wrong” is worth the reading. The Russian strongman chose to speak at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on a range of issues. There is sense in listening to and thinking about, even implementing, some of his recommendations.
First, he said that the current American president’s election victory was driven by growing disenchantment with liberal policies. To quote the Russian leader directly, “The liberal idea has started eating itself. Millions of people live their lives and those who propagate those ideas are separate from them.”
Translation: some liberal ideas, such as open immigration, leave liberal politicians out of step with ordinary citizens.
Regardless of where one stands on the immigration debates across the United States and Western Europe, there is commonsense wisdom to Mr. Putin’s words. Even earlier immigrants agree with him. Similar wisdom is required relative to Guyana’s own troubling matters.
Second, Mr. Putin shared that it was appropriate to “turn the page” on relations with the US. Again, that represents good sense, and is practical and progressive. Hopefully, the respective leaders can join hands to work on thawing the deep chill that has come to characterise affairs between the two powers – the first a global one and the other a bona fide superpower.
Testy talk of a new Cold War and a return to 1962 through a parallel Cuban Missile Crisis should be removed from either official or public conversations. To this end, the Russian leader stated that there was mutual agreement with the US president on “continuing discussions for a possible extension of the New Start nuclear treaty” beyond its expiration in 2021. That is comforting; when an extension is signed. A page turned towards mutual agreement is needed in political Guyana.
Third, Mr. Putin, in the broad range of issues covered in his press conference, dived into the heaving waters of LGBT rights. He is on record as being “critical” of the Western drive for LGBT rights. The Russian is accused of duplicity, as supported by his country’s censoring (or “ban”) of what was termed “propaganda” material in LGBT culture aimed at cultivating children, or “aggressive proselytizing” among the young. Mr. Putin’s word has a certain ring, “Let a person grow up first before making a choice” and “that our attitude to the LGBT community is utterly calm and unbiased.”
On the other hand, he went to lengths to point out that “this part of community aggressively enforces its views on others.” There is an unreasonable ring to Mr. Putin’s positions. In the next instance, there are confirmed reports from international human rights group that, in Chechnya, more than 100 gay men were arrested and subjected to torture, with some of them killed. And further that the country’s “gay propaganda laws” has exacerbated hostility to LGBT people.
LGBT citizens in Guyana can identify with such hostility and physical brutality, as just a few days ago, a known gay rights activist was pummeled mercilessly in public. Like spirited and sustained resistance against domestic abuse, LGBT rights, attract some support, but a cultural mountain blocks concrete progress.
There was a smattering of comments, all positive, with regards to the Ukraine and the seizure of its naval vessel and crew, and about encouraging the development of bilateral economic ties. Those are the kinds of ties that fuse towards meaningful and robust relationships, which are able to withstand misunderstandings, disagreements, and tensions. Economic ties serve as a basis for mutually rewarding and reciprocally respected positions, and aid in uncorking bottlenecks in stressful situations.
Vladimir Putin attracts much suspicion, especially in the Western press, with Americans leading the charge. In their minds, this Russian Bear never hibernates, and bears watching. For his part, Mr. Putin has shown solid skills in the arts of political public relations and engagement. Alternatively, is it, like Guyana, merely political theatre?
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