“Dear Vladimir – An American’s Response to President Putin’s Op-Ed”
Dear President Putin,
I have read your letter addressed to me and 314 million of my fellow Americans. This is my response.
You conclude by saying that America is not exceptional and allude to our American creed that we are all “created equal.” I agree with you that America is not exceptional. We have immense domestic problems. Since our foolish invasion of Iraq and our economic crisis, we seem to be a country that shoots itself in the foot. Yet, we are dealing with those problems. And it is HOW we are dealing with them that I believe is most relevant to the issue at hand.
We deal with them through protest, laws, journalism, civic engagement, and most importantly, voting in elections. Remind me, how exactly, Russia deals with its internal problems? You have elections, yes, but the outcome is never in doubt. Protesters are jailed, dissent is criminalized, journalists who criticize you are murdered, rivals flee the country, homosexuals are violently scapegoated to pander to the basest instincts of your country’s religious right.
I realize that America has been militaristic in the past decade. And it has at times seemed to pursue military action for purely profit-based reasons. However, we as Americans have protested this. To the extent we are able, we changed the script in our country. We have restrained our leaders to the best of our ability. Russia, in the recent past, has orchestrated a violent, ruthless crackdown in Chechnya, and invaded Georgia. You have nationalized Gazprom and used it to politically blackmail former Soviet bloc countries that aspire to democracy. Now you are supporting Iran and the Syrian dictatorship as they are slaughtering civilians by the tens of thousands.
Both of our countries pursue military objectives, seek profit and meddle in foreign countries’ affairs. The difference is that I vote and my vote has consequences. In your country, voting has no impact on anything. In my country, I blog about my political leaders, and often criticize them harshly. In your country, a blogger who criticizes you is likely to disappear. I go to protests. In Russia, protesters are savagely beaten and imprisoned.
Believe me, I can criticize my national leaders. But when I do, and if I am joined by enough of my fellow citizens, they have to listen to me. When Russians criticize you, you ignore or crush them. So when you, Mr. Putin, criticize my leaders, it strengthens my resolve to support them as they try to wade through the morass of the diplomatic standoff in the Middle East that you have been instrumental in creating. Thank you for your letter. It reminded me of why I voted for President Obama, and why I support him in his effort to reach an optimal conclusion to this crisis, even, and especially, if that means undermining you.
Sincerely, Marc Belisle
by Marc Belisle | Staff Writer | The Everlasting GOP Stoppers
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