On September 12, 2013, Vladimir Putin wrote in the New York Times to the United States people and president, dissuading President Obama from launching a military strike against Syria, claiming that such action would do much to advance the cause of terrorists, and much to add to the devastation already extant in that country.
Today, it might seem to some of us, that it might be appropriate for President Obama to insert an op-ed piece in the equivalent news outlet in Moscow, addressing both Putin and the people of Russia.
All signs early in the investigation of MH17, the Malaysian commercial jet liner that was shot down over eastern Ukraine killing 298 people yesterday, indicate that the Buk missile that downed the plane came from the pro-Russian separations, under the tutelage of Putin, possibly having mistaken the commercial plane for a Ukrainian military aircraft.
The day before the tragedy, Washington had imposed sanctions on the same company that manufactures those missiles and their launchers in Russia. Immediately following the news of the plane crash, Putin first blamed the Ukrainians, then disavowed an responsibility for the incident, and then asked for an independent international investigation to determine where responsibility lies.
Who pulled the trigger, while a very complicated question in terms of determining the answer, remains open to speculation, and as the evidence mounts against pro-Russian separatists (really another form of non-state terrorist group with strong ties to Moscow and to Putin) it might behoove the United States president to take out that pen he so eagerly champions, along with his telephone, in his long-running Mexican stand-off with Congress, that make it possible for him to exercise some influence over American political actions, outside of the obstructionism from Boehner and his Republic cohorts in the House of Representatives.
In a public statement to the Russian people, Obama could unmask the details of his conversations with Putin, exposing the various forms and incidents of deception that are the stock and trade of Putin's diplomacy. Obama could also provide the kind of exculpatory evidence that would demonstrate the intimate enmeshment of Putin's government with the pro-Russian terrorists who serve as Putin's puppets in eastern Ukraine and the indisputable evidence that links both Putin and the terrorists to responsibility, both individually and collectively to the event.
Obama could also write in an op-ed in the Russian media, as outlined by the editor of The Interpreter on CNN just today, about the specific numbers and the balances held in the bank accounts held in western banks for, by or on behalf of Putin and his oligarchic cronies, and demonstrate the hypocrisy and the duplicity of the Russian leader who consistently argues in favour of bringing money into Russia, while simultaneously engaging in profiteering outside his own country. Trading activities of those accounts would also demonstrate Putin's hypocrisy and expose the chicanery with which he sells both his own political persona and his nation's strengths, both quite literally merely mists outlined in the imagination and the ego of the Russian president.
It is clearly an information war that is occurring before our eyes, in which Putin has demonstrated his capability to take the upper hand, while the White House, the Pentagon and the NSA and the FBI have so far preferred a more velvet or silk-like approach. Soft peddling on Putin's camouflaged truths, including his denial of any culpability in the downing of MH17, will only provide more time and space for the Russian propaganda machine to spread its disinformation whenever and wherever it chooses. Ramping up the muscle, the commitment and the determination of the United States government, under the leadership of President Obama can only enhance the reputation of the U.S. and the presidency, while at the same time limiting the strength and the resolve of the Russians to deceive and to obfuscate, and quite possibly generate an international theatre that represents a closer approximation to the truth than the one current being shown on global television screens.