I Watched Putin’s Speech So You Don’t Have To!
But, you can if you want
First hot take: it’s depressing how many commenters on YouTube thought Putin “was making a lot of sense.” Now, I’m not sure if those were propaganda trolls, or if a significant number of English speaking people actually believe Putin. You can see the comments and decide for yourself, OR watch below to see if Putin can seduce you to his worldview:
Much of Putin’s early speech focused on the US and how badly we’ve fucked up internationally. And.. yeah, that part was hard to watch because he was right. In particular, he railed on the US for using fake “weapons of mass destruction” to justify the invasion of Iraq and the whole time I was thinking… damn you, George W Bush! We’re still paying for your fucking crimes!
Frankly, I expect this part to be an emotionally compelling point for large segments of the world that harbor resentment at US interference and warmongering. Putin claimed, effectively, that the US had destabilized the middle east and crated a hot bed of terrorism and… I expect that claim to resonate. So, it was pretty frustrating to witness that.
Of course, Putin is a master propagandist and he is looking for allies on the world stage. So, casting his invasion as a punch against the US rather than against the Ukraine was a savvy move. It’s worth pointing out, of course, that he’s not invading the US, he’s invading the Ukraine so naturally, he’ll need a bit of magical logic to connect those dots.
And, NATO was the magic logic connection. Putin claimed that NATO was an imperial arm of the states that is used to impose US values upon the world (some of which are against nature, in his opinion.) He claimed that NATO was “bringing its armies” closer and closer to Russia, and that Russia had no choice but to retaliate to that threat. Now… it’s worth pointing out, that NATO is an alliance of nations, and doesn’t actually have its own army. Rather, each country retains its own army, and they will work together on operations. In fact, the way Putin speaks of NATO is rather odd; it’s as if he thinks of NATO as its own country.
Indeed, I would wager that — given who he is — he may not be able to fully grasp the concept of an alliance, or that people can remain culturally independent while agreeing to co-protect each other from external aggression. Consequently, he seems to imply that NATO could invade Russia, but… that doesn’t really make sense to me. After all, which nation would Russia’s land go to? It can’t just go to “NATO” because NATO isn’t a country. All in all, the idea of being the “aggressor” vs the “defender” seemed very mixed in his mind, and because he can’t differentiate it for himself, he seem to think other people will not differentiate either.
Moving on — one of my favorite parts (in a sad way) of the speech was when he accused the US of becoming an “Empire of Lies”:
“US politicians, political scientists, and journalists write and say that a veritable ‘Empire of Lies’ has been created inside the United States in recent years. It is hard to disagree with this — it is really so.”
On the one hand, I suppose that’s correct, but on the other hand — Russia installed the original Emperor of Lies himself! Russia regularly launches massive, social media misinformation propaganda campaigns against the US! The fucking gall, to blame the US for the problems his regime is causing… man. It’s giving me flashbacks to my abusive exes. However, all his supercilious judgement got me thinking… if Trump thinks he’s going to get any special treatment in the Russian hegemony for kissing Putin’s ass, he’d better thing again. I’d wager Putin considers Trump to be a disposable idiot, useful for furthering Russia’s means, but able to be sacrificed when necessary.
Another interesting part, was he went to great lengths to talk about his intention for preserving human rights, and to also reassure the world that Russia respects and accepts the national sovereignty of former USSR members.
Which… is sort of like if you came home, and your boyfriend said “I definitely am not cheating on you, like, not at all. I was out last night with the boys — see this picture I took with Mark? That proves I was sooooo out with the boys last night, and definitely not at your sister’s place fucking her while your brother in law was out of town.”
Like… I think Putin is extremely bitter about the breakup of the USSR, and if he is allowed to get away with occupying and taking over the Ukraine, he will continue to try to occupy and conquer all of the previous members of the USSR. If he succeeds in that, he may even consider extending into other parts of Europe if he can get away with it.
Look; dictators always say the same thing. “I not going to take over the world, noooo, no. I have no interest in that.” But, deep down, they’re all megalomaniacs who want to take over the world. So, if he can he will, and if he can’t, he’ll go as far as he can.
Putin then goes on to pull out a little bit of “undermining propaganda” — aka, a type of propaganda where you’re claiming to be doing one thing, while actually doing the opposite. He claimed to want to guarantee freedom for people with a few choice quotes:
“Freedom guides our policy, the freedom to choose independently out future and the future of our children” …
“We believe that all the peoples living in today’s Ukraine, anyone who wants to do this, must be able to enjoy this right to make a free choice.”
And I was just thinking, as much as he denigrates the US and our morals, he sure uses the same language we do when looking to start a war. I mean, simply stated, the Ukrainians clearly do not think he’s bringing them freedom; invading a sovereign democracy is not bringing them freedom.
It’s actually interesting that he resorted to this type of propaganda, because it’s somewhat less necessary in totalitarian states. In a totalitarian state, you don’t necessarily need to hide the fact that you’re producing propaganda the same way you do in a democracy —so you don’t need to pull this “opposite day” bullshit. That implies to me, much of the “freedom” propaganda was aimed toward the world at large and not at Russians. I’d guess Russians aren’t too fussed about bringing freedom to the Ukraine. I think, his real target, is likely members of NATO he’s hoping to eventually convert to his side.
After all; guaranteeing freedom is the point of NATO. Putin’s effectively trying to be a NATO competitor, by saying, hey Russia is committed to freedom too! If you abandon NATO and join us, Russia will guarantee your freedom instead! Given his history, I think most countries will find that a tough sell.
Then, just in case the rest of his argument wasn’t compelling, he pulled the classic “there be NAZIs in there, we must attack THE NAZIS” when referring to the Ukrainian government. Which like… the president of the Ukraine is Jewish. I’m PRETTY SURE he’s not a Nazi. And at that point, I was just like, come ON now Putin, you were on such a roll with your “Weapons of Mass Destruction” shade, and now you just sound a middle rate right wing news pundit.
OBAMA’S A NAZI! BIDEN IS A NAZI!
Yeah, yeah. We’ve heard it before, and honestly, Ann Coulter wore it better.
Putin then goes on to offer that any military personnel who leave immediately will be able to go home to their families, which sort of sounds nice but is actually a threat. We will kill the ones who stay, is the unspoken bit.
However, he soon moves away from unspoken threats into articulated threats, by assuring outside parties that anyone who stands in his way will see “consequences such as you have never seen in your entire history.” And, that’s a bit of a dramatic way to say “nukes,” but dictators are always drama queens.
Then finally, he wraps up by assuring his fellow Russians that the US military power is “all brawn and no brains,” (which, incidentally, also happens to be my favorite kind of Tinder date.) However, this line implies a certain respect for US military might, which is consistent with his “strong man” persona.
So; what do we make of all this? Honestly, God, I don’t fucking know. My main takeaway, however, is that democracy is currently under severe threat, and our primary goal for the next… few years? decades? must be preserving, or restoring, democracy and the power of the people.
(I did a YouTube video on democracy under threat from Russia if you’re interested in that side of it.)