American Lessons Putin Could Use in Ukraine

Translation of Marko Maunula‘s column “Avoin kirje Vladimir Putinille” that was published on the website of Suomen Kuvalehti on July 19, 2014.


Honorable President Putin,

In general, it is a very bad idea to give political and military support to a mixed troupe of adventurers, fanatics and other troublemakers. If you don’t believe me, ask the Americans.

The Shah of Iran and President Nixon on 21 October 1969 outside the White House

The United States and the Great Britain supported the coup that toppled the government of the previous Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. That removed a very popular man from power and strengthened the rule of the Shah. The US support for the tyrannical Shah and his reign of terror fueled the hatred towards America by the Iranian people. Consequently, it helped Islamists to seize power in the 1979 revolution.

The US broke its ethical principles when it opposed the unification of Vietnam contrary to the Geneva Accords. This was because it knew communist national party would win the planned elections. The end result of this was a war whose cost was hundreds of thousands of lives, rise of global anti-americanism and propaganda weapons handed to totalitarian communists and other US haters which have continued to be wielded until now.

When the Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan, the US began to arm the Afghan resistance and the so-called Mujahideen. Much of the training and materiel offered by Americans ended helping the Afghan Arabs that came from various countries to fight with fellow Muslims against the invaders. They learned to fight against the Soviets as volunteers and returned to their home countries radicalized and dedicated to spread the gospel of militaristic Islam. Al-Qaeda was born around the networks thus created, and after the Soviet Union came down they turned their weapons against the US and the West.

After the islamistic revolution in Iran Americans made a decision to support Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the war he was waging against Iran.
There is certainly no one who needs to be reminded how the Iraq-US relations developed from 1990 onward.


I could bring out other sins by the US, but the lesson should be quite clear by now: Every time when it has acted against its own high ideals, that has eventually damaged also America. Highly ethical, ideological and consistent foreign policy eventually leads to the best results, even if the ugly realpolitik is very tempting.

I believe that you are capable to learn not only from the mistakes of the US but also from those of the Soviet Union you used to serve. The fall of the Soviet Union was not only because of the economy or bad stewardship, but also because of the serious moral crisis. This crisis was caused, in part, by the suppression of the uprising of 1953 in the Eastern Germany, the Soviet intervention in Hungary 1956, the building of the Berlin wall, the tanks in the streets of Prague in 1968, involvement in Afghanistan in 1979…


Now, after the death of 298 civil casualties on the Malaysian plane shot down, how good does the idea of arming and supporting pan-Russian fanatics, badly organized and unruly catalysts for civil war and other warmongering nutcases really look like? Your PR damage because of Southern Ossetia was relatively limited, but now the whole Russia is threatened with a trade blockade but also with infamy and status as a pariah state.

You can defend your actions by calling “but look at America!” In that case it would serve you well to remember that the US has mostly learned from its mistakes and has admitted the wrongdoings – and, on occasion, extended an apology! You could, for instance, make a comparison between the Iraq policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Your second option is that you blame the downing of that plane on Ukraine, CIA, Jews, NATO or anybody else than the heavily armed “adventurers” you support; this is exactly what so many people on the internet do as “putinists” and paranoid people living in their fantasies warning against russophobia.

There is a third option. It is that you withdraw your support from the separatists, begin to adhere to the laws and regulations of the international community and start acting like an ethically strong and consistent state. This includes an open, democratic and even painful re-evaluation of your actions.

What would you think is the best option for Russia and its people in the long run – and also for the whole world?


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