In a throwback to the days of the Cold War, when the two superpowers clashed over international affairs impinging on their self-proclaimed territories, US senator John McCain has delivered a stinging rebuke to Vladimir Putin’s article in the New York Times. Though the US Vietnam war veteran’s choice of the media to strike at the Russian strongman’s rule has been questioned and is definitely less effective, it would make the Kremlin realise it is not easy to get away with rebuking the world’s sole superpower.
McCain, considered a hawk, had supported the idea of launching strikes on Syria after the world awoke to the use of chemical weapons in the over-two-year-old conflict that has jolted the Middle East. Russia and the United States have agreed on letting another strongman, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, do away with his chemical arms stockpiles after a lot of bad blood in the aftermath of a sarin gas attack on August 21 in which hundreds of Syrians were purportedly killed. The UN investigation has revealed that the chemical agent sarin was indeed used in the attack.
In his op-ed piece in the New York Times, Putin took on the United States in multifarious ways. He wondered if the United Nations would suffer the fate of its predecessor, the League of Nations, if it is bypassed. Russia has vetoed UN resolutions against the Assad regime and staunchly opposed the plan of punitive US strikes on Syria.
McCain’s riposte on the pravda.ru website is more stinging than what Putin told Americans in the NYT piece. The US senator tears into the dictatorial style of rule of Putin, calling on Russians to understand that he rules for his convenience and not theirs. “I believe you should live according to the dictates of your conscience, not your government. I believe you deserve the opportunity to improve your lives in an economy that is built to last and benefits the many, not just the powerful few,” says McCain.
The Republican lawmaker, who was a contender in the US presidential elections in 2008, chides Putin for siding with tyrannical regimes of the likes of Syria. McCain, in a rhetorical flourish, claims in the article that instead of being anti-Russian he is pro-Russian, and goes on to say that he makes that claim because he respects Russians’ dignity and their right to self determination.
McCain also accuses Putin of destroying Russia’s reputation instead of enhancing it. The Russian leader yesterday again came out in favour of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is infamous for his wayward lifestyle.
Wounded as Putin will be by the acerbic remarks of McCain, it is for the world to see how he reacts. In letting himself be provoked by the fusillade against him, Putin is more likely to harm his already sullied image as a ruler who doesn’t value free speech and liberty.•