Two leading political figures, the EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, and US President Donald Trump, have come under fierce attack from anti-Russian politicians and the media this week, for the ‘crime’ of following diplomatic protocol and congratulating Russia’s President Putin on his re-election.
Congratulations on your re-election, President #Putin. I have always argued that positive relations between the #EU and #Russia are crucial to the #security of our continent. Our objective should be to re-establish a cooperative pan-European security order. pic.twitter.com/PiEGg56DBN— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) March 20, 2018
Let’s start with Juncker first. The middle-of-the-road Luxembourgian politician, one of the few western politicians who you could actually imagine sitting down and having a drink with, sent a friendly letter to President Putin in which he said: "Our common objective should be to re-establish a cooperative pan-European security order.’ He also stated:
"I have always argued that positive relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation are crucial to the security of our continent,"
Which sane individual could possibly disagree with that?
Ashley Fox, the leader of the Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament, called Juncker’s letter ‘disgraceful’.
"…His failure to mention Russia's responsibility for a military nerve agent attack on innocent people in my constituency is nauseating’ Fox said.
Well, perhaps the reason Juncker didn’t mention ‘Russia’s responsibility for a military nerve agent attack on innocent people’ in Salisbury is because it has yet to be proven. We’ve had plenty of allegations, but as yet no real proof. Britain may have discarded due process when it comes to blaming others, but clearly Jean-Claude Juncker, to his credit, hasn’t. Of course, Fox got the obligatory ‘appeasing’ word in too in his attack. For neocons, it’s always 1938, and the ‘Official Bad Guy’ is always likened to Hitler.
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston also joined in, branding Juncker’s letter ‘shameful’. What is ‘shameful’ is MPs like her stating something as a fact, when it’s only a theory. Last week on Twitter. Wollaston declared ‘Russia has unleashed a nerve agent here in Britain’.
Seriously, why is @bbcquestiontime giving a platform to RT, a mouthpiece for Putin? Russia has unleashed a nerve agent here in Britain & 3 people, including a police officer, have been fighting for their lives. Hope other panellists walk out in disgust https://t.co/ndFtxGYRbm— Sarah Wollaston MP (@sarahwollaston) March 14, 2018
As a doctor, she really ought to have read the letter to The Times from Dr Stephen Davies, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Salisbury NHS, who declared, in correction to a report which has said 'Salisbury poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment',: ‘May I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed’ treatment.’
3. Ни один из них не имел симптомов отравления и не один не нуждался в лечении.Ни в одном анализе крови не найдено отклонений. Ни один член общественности не пострадал от воздействия химических агентов.— Ластик и Абырвалг (@ValLisitsa) March 17, 2018
Подписано: Стивен Дэйвис. Врач-консультант скорой помощи больниц Солсбери. pic.twitter.com/tKwTjYP8nt
Poor old Jean-Claude Juncker, who hasn't peddled any conspiracy theories, must feel like a hunted man at the moment.
The very important Laura Kuenssberg, political editor of the BBC shouted a question to him over his letter. The EU President replied: “I wrote the same letter as Mrs Merkel – ask Mrs Merkel if it was the right thing to do.”
Juncker was also taken to task by The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland who said the right response of the EU to Putin’s election victory ‘should be condemnation not congratulation’.
It’s just as well these censorious Establishment gatekeepers weren’t around in the 1940s., when British politicians were writing friendly letters to Joseph Stalin. ‘I reciprocate your cordial wishes for the New Year. May it shorten the agony of the great nations we serve and bring about a lasting peace on our joint guarantee’ Winston Churchill wrote to Stalin on 5th January 1945. No doubt if Fox, Wollaston and Kuenssberg had been around then, and found out about the communication, they’d be berating Churchill for wishing the Soviet leader a happy new year.
‘Stalin didn’t win a free election- you shouldn’t send him your best wishes’!, they’d all be crying. And with such an attitude the Allies may well have lost the Second World War. Of course, Putin cannot be compared to Stalin. Russia today has a multi-party system. Yet the Russophobia is far, far worse than it was in Uncle Joe’s time.
Donald Trump – like Juncker- also came under neo-con and ’liberal’ attack for telephoning Putin to say ‘well done’ on his election win.
"I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing……., the US President tweeted.
I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing…….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2018
Again, which sane individual could disagree with the Donald on this one- namely that getting along with Russia (and others) is a ‘good thing’?
But quite a few public figures in the US didn’t see it that way. ‘So Donald Trump held a call with Vladimir Putin but didn't bring up: — Election meddling — The poisoning of Russian natives on British soil — The sham Russian election’ tweeted tv host Joy Reid.
So Donald Trump held a call with Vladimir Putin but didn't bring up:— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) March 20, 2018
— Election meddling
— The poisoning of Russian natives on British soil
— The sham Russian election
Someone should ask @SHSanders45 if the idea of a Trump Tower Moscow or ending U.S. sanctions on Russia came up.
All three of her statements are unproven. But what the hell. When you’re bashing Russia these days, who needs little things like ‘proof’?
Trump calling Putin to congratulate him is unpresidented. How does it look when you congratulate the leader of a country that’s just attacked us? Would Lincoln have sent a telegraph to Jefferson Davis? Would George Washington have penned a letter to King George III? Fuckin idiot.— Cyrus McQueen (@CyrusMMcQueen) March 21, 2018
'Trump calling Putin to congratulate him is unpresidented. How does it look when you congratulate the leader of a country that’s just attacked us?’ tweeted comedian Cyrus McQueen. Russia attacked the US? I must have missed that one. Perhaps it happened during the commercial break.
A little thing: Trump speaks of “President Putin,” and then of “Obama” and “Bush” and “Clinton.” Putin gets the honorific; the American presidents don’t. https://t.co/Pvj7pe61C1— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) March 21, 2018
Iraq War cheerleader Bill Kristol took Trump to task for referring to ‘President Putin’ but not ‘President’ Obama (or ‘President’ Clinton or ‘President’ Bush). ‘Putin gets the honorific; the American Presidents don’t’, he tweeted. Perhaps it was because of the character limits, or perhaps The Donald thought a tweet with too many ‘Presidents’ in it wouldn’t read well. Or perhaps it’s because Obama, unlike Putin, is no longer a President. But let’s see something sinister in it, shall we?
TV host Rachel Maddow talked of Trump’s ‘love-affair’ with Putin. Yup, if you write a letter to congratulate somebody, you’ve just got to be in love with them, Rachel.
And of course, there was John McCain, Russophobe extraordinare. “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections," Mr Angry from Arizona thundered.
We’d better not show the Senator copies of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s war-time letters to the very un-elected and genuine dictator Joseph Stalin-which began ‘My Dear Mr Stalin’, or else he’d probably explode. Or indeed remind him on the US Republican politician who declared in 2014, about a very undemocratic regime: ‘Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar!’The name of that politician? Why, it’s John McCain.
The truth is that observing diplomatic niceties are absolutely essential if the greatest powers in the world are to work together. Russia is not the enemy of the US, the UK, or the EU, no matter how many times neocons tell us that it is. Juncker and Trump did the right thing this week and ought to be applauded for sticking to the protocol: it’s those attacking them – and who are fanning the flames of a new potentially catastrophic Cold War, who are the problem.
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