Osama Bin Laden: When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse. -- Transcript of Osama bin Laden videotape - December 13, 2001
The recent resurgence of Russian military posturing coupled with their invasion of Georgia last year ought to give some pause. Putin has effectively sold Russia's physical and industrial resources to his friends and now runs the world's largest criminal state. He can operate much more effectively as he has none of the drag of a communist system, but retains the desire to play a dominant role in the world. -- BLACKFIVE: Russian fists clenching
Early in August, Vladimir Putin went on vacation. It wasn't like the ongoing vacationfest of Martha's vineyard that has so tuckered out President Obama that he needs to flee to Camp David. Pictures taken on Putin's much more rugged vacation were published in Russia and around the world. In the US and Western Europe these images were greeted with almost universal derision.
The slumbering and addled Western press promptly had a field day with the images. Of course, in their rush to evoke sardonic laughter, they missed the point of the pictures. Instead of seeing these propaganda photos for what they were -- an evocation of Putin as a new Russian "Man of Steel" -- our feminized media saw them as grist for their always ambiguous position on "gayness." (Sometimes, it's GRRRreat!, and sometimes it's not. Depending.)
The London Times, its staff no strangers to catamites, led the chortling pack with: Bare-chested Vladimir Putin strikes a macho pose - Times Online August 5
Photographs were published yesterday showing the Russian Prime Minister stripped to the waist riding a horse through rugged terrain during a brief holiday in the Siberian region of Tuva. Wearing only green fatigues, his eyes hidden behind reflective sunglasses, Mr Putin also showed his gentler side as he fed the horse from his hand after the ride.
Mr Putin, who will be 57 in October, showed off a set of rippling arm muscles as he demonstrated his butterfly swimming stroke. The photos will inevitably trigger mass swooning by women all over Russia — as well as unfavourable comparisons of their husbands to Mr Putin’s manly physique. They will also confirm the Russian Prime Minister’s status as a gay icon.
Others in the press followed suit and the virus leaked into the blogosphere where it was summed up by the Fake Steve Jobs having a fake epiphany:
And Putin? When you get done playing Brokeback Cossack, could you please friggin send me an email? Also, can I just point out that when guys like you start working really hard to show how tough and macho they are, we all know what it means? Not that there's anything wrong with that. But anyway. Put on some clothes and get back to ruining the lives of your people. Okay? You daft old queen.
Vladimir Putin a daft old queen? Vladimir Putin, the son of a mother who was a factory worker and a father who was part of the NKVD? Vladimir Putin, the grandson of a man who was a cook for Josef Stalin and Vladimir Lenin? Vladimir Putin of the KGB? Putin, who has held supreme power in Russia for 10 years with another 10 in the offing? That man, "a daft old queen?"
Well, as a good friend of mine is wont to say, "Isn't pretty to think so."
Lost on the western media and assorted schmos from the blogosphere is the obvious fact that these macho pictures of Putin were not released for their amusement, but for Putin's benefit. And, in the current international climate, they benefit him quite a bit. They benefit Putin and Russia because, for most of the world unblotched by the the crippling "sophistication" of the West, Putin is compared, inevitably, to Barack Obama. And when that happens, it's like comparing a Wild Mustang to My Little Pony.
Obama and his fans.
Putin and his fans.
Putin and his Russian associates know the value of image probably as well, if not better, than the much-vaunted "handlers" of Barack Obama. And where "cool" and "smooth" may play well in the liberal enclaves of America, they are losers in the tougher places of the world: Iran, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Stans, and everywhere else Russia and Putin continue to be engaged in "The Great Game."
In those realms, it really is the Strong Horse that, through fear, wins the allegiance of countries essential to the future energy supplies of the world. During the Bush years, the President's image was such that none of the various leaders of these countries could actually know what he might or might not do. It was the Bush cowboy image that, by and large, kept a lot of the countries of "The Gap" in Thomas Barnett's concept of The Pentagon's New Map, off balance and out of play.
Today we've seen months of apology, vacillation, drift, and weakness signaled by President Obama, in word, deed, and image. The problem with Obama when it comes to maintaining balance in the world is that he both sounds weak and looks weak. The only thing more dangerous in this current era than an American president that is too aggressive is one that is too weak. This is, indeed, what is being projected from the Obama White House.
To emphasize this perception, Putin wisely put into play a series of photo-ops to underscore how strong and vital he, and by extension, Russia has become. It's playing for the hearts and minds of the weaker countries of the world. With the exception of the morally and spiritually weak nations of the west, it's a winning campaign.
In the Great Game, letting Russia seem strong and America seem weak is a losing proposition for the West and a winning one for Russia.
Vladimir Putin, that "daft old queen," underscored this last week: Putin defends rebel regions' independence one year on August 26
At a meeting in Moscow with South Ossetia's President Eduard Kokoity, Putin said he was unconcerned that only Nicaragua had followed Moscow's lead in recognizing their independence and warned that Russia would repel any new Georgian attack.
"Just because a large number of states have not recognized their independence doesn't harm them," Putin told reporters. "Russia's recognition was enough."
Putin hinted that, unlike Russia, most countries would not dare make such a decision.
"Not many members of the international community use their sovereignty in the full sense of the word and are under the influence of one superpower -- the United States -- and carry out its will," Putin said.
He said such a situation would change because "no one wants to be a vassal."
"No one wants to be a vassal...." especially a vassal of My Little Pony.
Related Essays:Posted by Vanderleun at August 31, 2009 2:01 PM