Cliff, as I implied in my earlier post I’d agree with much of your criticism of Putin, but (greatly helped by the high oil price) there’s no doubt that he has gone some way to rebuilding that sense of national pride (certainly visible on a recent trip I made to Moscow – admittedly Russia’s most privileged spot) which is essential if the country is to function effectively. There’s also no doubt that, due to a number of factors, certainly including the oil price but also due to some of what Putin is doing, that Russia is making real economic progress. There’s a long way to go, but without economic progress, there will be no social stability.
What matters though is what, exactly, the Vice President thought he was doing. Yes, if Ahmadinejad were to get nukes, Putin must get some of the blame, and that is exactly why now is not the time to be lecturing him on his internal politics. The West needs him on side. Diplomacy should be about the furthering of the national interest. Nothing more. Nothing less. Sometimes standing on a pulpit preaching democracy can be in the national interest, but this time, it wasn’t. We need Putin against Ahmadinejad. Insulting him won’t help do that.
If you think I’m wrong, what do you think that Cheney achieved by that speech?