Here is the Reuters article with the usual Reuters spin. (One needs to look no further than the title of the article, to see why the world is not as enamored with the long-time news agency, as it once was. Note that the title claims Putin says one thing. But in none of other articles I have read, does it say what Reuters says, nor does the article have this phraseology in quotes anywhere, directly attributing it to Putin. However deceptive the type editor wanted to be with this ruse, it still does not negate the fact that Putin did turn up the heat on the rhetoric in his speech.)
Here is one sample, listed in the article:
Attacking the concept of a "unipolar" world in which the United States was the sole superpower, he said: "What is a unipolar world? No matter how we beautify this term it means one single center of power, one single center of force and one single master."
"It has nothing in common with democracy because that is the opinion of the majority taking into account the minority opinion," he told the gathering of top security and defense officials.
"People are always teaching us democracy but the people who teach us democracy don't want to learn it themselves."
This, within itself, is mildly amusing, to say the least. Comrade Putin is presenting himself to be an authority on democracy, yet he is the one that has need of a lesson.
Consider that during Putin's tenure, Russia has shut down an independent media outlet that one time exercised freedom to criticize the Russian government. (For a list of this and other acts directed against Russian media, take a look at this.)
One must also consider that under the Putin regime, Russia wrested Yukos Oil from it rightful owners. More recently, there has been a lot of speculation that Putin had a hand in the poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy and the gunning down of Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya.
So, forgive me if I do not seem too impressed with Putin's claims, right now. He (like many others in the world arena that claim some kind of moral superiority when condemning America) is part of a growing problem that threatens democracy much more so than any invading force that uprooted a brutal despot (cut in the mold of one of Putin's predecessors, Stalin). Furthermore, there is strong suspicion that he is an enabler to those that want to impose their wills on others. He has showed a continued willingness to do business with a nation that seeks nuclear weaponry, while calling for the complete annihilation of certain nations.
Now let me say, I rarely have an audience with Mr. Putin, like Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates does. And because of this, I am relegated to criticizing him in this forum. However, Mr. Gates had his chance later on. Here is some of what he had to say in response to Putin's remarks:
"As an old Cold Warrior, one of yesterday's speeches almost filled me with nostalgia for a less complex time. Almost," Gates said. Then, as the audience chuckled, the defense secretary said he has accepted Putin's invitation to visit Russia.
"We all face many common problems and challenges that must be addressed in partnership with other countries, including Russia," said Gates. "One Cold War was quite enough."
Ah, but if only we did live in that less complex time, today. But sadly, we do not. And the last thing we do need is a former KGB agent turned world leader, chiding us on how well we practice democracy. That especially goes, when the one doing the chiding has worked feverishly to push back Russia 15 years, in terms of operational and functional freedoms.
What we do need is a strong consensus and committment, so that nations like Iran and North Korea will not be allowed to create a unstable political environment, for the rest of the world. We do not need another Cold War, with all of its grandiosity.