Monday, July 02, 2007

Push Butin

Asia Times Online has a great article about an encounter that probably never happened, here's an excerpt:

"Bush: Vladimir, I don't get what you are driving at. Americans just don't think that way. We're trying to help Muslim countries build democracy so the Middle East can be at peace.

Putin: I don't want to throw cold water on your idea, George, but it doesn't seem to be working out too well in Iraq, or Palestine, or Lebanon, does it?

Bush: Vladimir, I just don't get you at all. If you are so concerned about the Muslims, how come you are making it so hard for us to put sanctions on Iran?

Putin: Did it ever occur to you that you have an insignificant number of Muslims to answer to - and half of them are native-born American blacks who never vote Republican? I have millions of Azeri Shi'ites attending mosques supported by Iran. I don't have the luxury to rap the mullahs on the knuckles and hope they stick their hands back in the pockets. Read what Niccolo Machiavelli had to say on the subject: never inflict a minor injury upon an opponent. Men will avenge themselves against minor injuries, but they can't avenge themselves against major injuries.

Bush: You're not telling me to inflict a major injury on Iran, by any chance, are you, Vladimir?

Putin: If anyone is going to do it, George, it's going to be you - you or the Israelis. I simply can't afford to - at least not for the moment, certainly not until after our presidential elections next March. Maybe you won't have to. Iran is weak. There's still an outside chance that someone reasonable like Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani might replace that lunatic Mahmud Ahmadinejad as president. But there's one thing you can count on: nobody hates the idea of an Iran with nuclear weapons more than we do. Our "near abroad" shares a border with Iran.

Bush: So when push comes to shove, Vladimir, you're going to let me do the dirty work and keep your hands clean?

Putin: Remember, I've got elections six months before you do, and a different kind of succession problem. Your democracy has been around for more than 200 years. We're barely adolescents. I need someone to follow me who's hard and sly enough to prevent Russia from flying apart. We can be tough when we have to be. Or haven't you heard of Chechnya?

Bush: You're not taking into account how tough my problem is - unless I can settle the Iran problem, there's no way I can get US troops out of Iraq without a full-scale war between Shi'ites backed by Iran and Sunnis backed by Saudi Arabia.

Putin: Well, you're on your own there. Don't blame me for that.

Bush: Vladimir, I was hoping we'd come out of this discussion with an understanding of at least one point: Why are you so upset about our putting anti-missile systems into places like the Czech Republic? You know that we can't defend Europe against a Russian missile attack.

Putin: George, it's not just about the missiles. It's about your lily-pad bases in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and elsewhere in our near abroad. It's about fomenting those pointless color revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. You aren't going to get democracy in these places - it's silly presumption. All you will do is foster the centrifugal forces that threaten to tear apart the Russian Federation. Don't you get it, George? We are only three-quarters Russian, and in a generation we might be only half Russian. We haven't recovered from the beating you gave us in the 1980s. Half of adult male deaths in Russia are due to alcoholism. Our women have 13 abortions for every 10 live births. We're fighting for our life. We are not going to let what remains of Russia be torn to pieces.

Bush: Do you think we can find some kind of common ground over Kosovo?

Putin: That's where you are really playing with fire, George. You are proposing to dismember Serbia to add a province to Greater Albania, and you will set a precedent for every breakaway minority that wants to leave Russia. We can't possibly accept this - and I warn you that if you insist on this dangerous and reckless course of action, we will do precisely the same for disputed territories in the near abroad, starting with South Ossetia.

Bush: But Vladimir, how are we going to convince the Muslim world that we can partner up with them for peace if we don't respect the wishes of an overwhelming Muslim majority in Kosovo?

Putin: I hate to put it this way, George, but I think I could teach you a lesson about how to gain influence among Muslims. You aren't particularly popular among Muslims at the moment.

Bush: Okay, you don't have to rub it in. How do you propose to gain influence among Muslims?

Putin: Do you know how many civilians died in Chechnya when we suppressed the rebellion there? No one knows exactly, but the number is around 100,000. We know that half a million Chechens lost their homes. That's half the country. We've been killing Muslims for 300 years. That's why they respect us.

Bush: Vladimir, what you are saying is horrible. The American people will never see the world that way.

Putin: The American people don't have to. They are sitting comfortably in their own continent and think it's a great disaster when a few thousand people are killed in an office building. I'm not suggesting that you go out and explain to your voters that things might be very different in other parts of the world. But I am warning you: we have a tough enough job on our hands. Don't make it harder for us, or you will be sorry."

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