Miruna Codeanu

Putin in NY Times: Political PR at its best

In cappuccino, espresso on September 12, 2013 at 6:30 am

It’s a regular morning, sipping my black tea (already had my morning coffee) and reading my daily newsfeed. Some news on the new Iphone, some declarations made by Zuckerberg, but it all fades around a headline: Putin in NY Times. What? Wait, wait, wait, rewind. Putin in NY Times. After Bashar al Assad’s interview to Charlie Rose, now Putin signs a column in the NY Times. Wow. These are some interesting times we live in. My first reaction: wow, this is definitely a hit, this is definitely a political PR lesson, the kind that will be featured in textbooks. It is fine and exquisite PR and diplomacy at its best.

Let’s talk about the public opinion on both countries. Russia is Putin’s undemocratic country, where people drink plenty of vodka, have plenty of car crashes, where people are sent to jail for expressing their opinion. The United States of America are a country led by an Afro American (a minority), a democratic land, the international guard dog of democracy, where people eat McDonald’s and people can freely express themselves. One day, the USA, being the guard dog of democracy, decide an intervention is needed in Syria. Russia does not agree. Obama and Putin meet and negotiate, but there are still disagreements.

Another day, an American citizen wakes up, opens the NY Times and reads a column signed by Vladimir V. Putin,  the president of Russia. It is not only the move itself, the step of writing for an american newspaper, it is also what’s written in it that will make it a historical step. It is assertive and challenging at the same time, leaving Obama with no alternative. It debuts with the historical common background: the good and the bad times spent together, reminding the American people that the Russians helped in the defeat of the Nazis. So, the comparison between Bashar al Assad and Hitler gassing its own people falls. You can’t accuse the Russians for supporting a genocide, they are against that, “we fought WWII against the Nazis together, remember?” says Putin. It goes on, reminding the US that they are both guarding human rights, but UN, and US veto-ing UN would be attacking an international organization that is the legitimate guard dog of human rights. “Bashar al Assad is not fighting its own people, they are fighting terrorist, and you were against them too, remember?” Putin brings the issue of terrorism at a very delicate moment: 11 September, the day the US declared war to terrorism. It is like saying “Why do we fight, we fought Nazis together, we’re against terrorist together, and my buddy, Bashar al Assad is doing the same thing” and it is absolutely brilliant. Putin is placing Russia as an opponent of terrorism, along with the US on September 11. No American representative, could possibly contradict Putin and actually be on the side of Assad’s opponents, the same people they accused for September 11-the terrorists. You cannot possibly oppose fighting terrorism on September 11. Auch, US representatives.

Putin goes on: Russia is advocating peace and dialogue by the International law, auch again. Yes, Putin is suggesting that the intervention in Syria would be disobeying the decision of the Security Council and may even lead to dissolving the UN. That is a beautiful diplomatic declaration: Putin is reminding Americans of the values they’ve been promoting throughout the world. There’s also a subtext, the intervention in Syria against the decision of the Security Council will be qualified as an aggression, which translates as: “if you attack Syria, we will have to respond. We don’t want to use force, but we will if you force us.” It goes on by holding the door open for Obama and dialogue “It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.” You probably know the usual closure for American presidential speeches: “God bless you. God bless America.” Yes, Putin, used that one too, but differently, to his advantage: “We are all different. but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” 

Oh my Obama, this will be a tough one. You must respond, because Putin endorsed and shared all the values you preach. You must do it in the same elegant manner he did it. You cannot, under any circumstances, launch accuses against Putin or Russia. You have to answer, and, I’m afraid, you must accept the door-trap Putin opened for dialogue, at least, for the time being. Chapeau, Putin and advisers, I bow (and I rarely do that).

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  1. […] when Putin wrote an editorial in The New York Times? I thought it was genius and I still do. I am however, still a bit puzzled Putin didn’t answer the Ice […]

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