Meek White House Reaction to Putin’s “Nazi” Remarks

With the world’s headlines stating the obvious, “Putin compares US to Third Reich,” the Bush White House has decided to meekly swallow the insult whole.

“Moreover, in our time, these threats are not diminishing,” Putin said. “They are only transforming, changing their appearance. In these new threats, as during the time of the Third Reich, are the same contempt for human life and the same claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world.”

The Kremlin press service declined to clarify the statement, saying Mr Putin’s spokesman was unavailable because of the Victory Day holiday, the report said.

But Director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei A. Markov, who works closely with the Kremlin, told the paper that Mr Putin was referring to the US and NATO. “He intended to talk about the United States, but not only,” Mr Markov told the Times in reference to the sentence mentioning the Third Reich.

It has been clear for some time that nothing Putin says or does is too much for the Bush administration to take. Yesterday Bush phoned up his good buddy Vladimir. Showing that it is possible to be diplomatic to a fault, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeated the same “concerns” she’s been expressing for years.

“It’s even more difficult when one looks at what is happening domestically in Russia where I think it’s fair to say that there has been a turning back of some of the reforms that led to the decentralization of power out of the Kremlin,” she said.

“I think everybody around the world, in Europe, in the United States, is very concerned about the internal course that Russia has taken in recent years,” Rice said. She said “the concentration of power in the Kremlin has been troubling,” especially since Russia is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

While relations are complicated, Rice said the two former enemies remain on speaking terms, noting that President Bush and Putin continue to have a personal friendship. “One of the good things about President Bush’s very good personal relationship with President Putin is that he can raise those issues and we can talk about them,” she said.

Yes, it would be quite unfriendly for an American president to speak about democracy and freedom in public. That is, democracy and freedom anywhere other than Iraq. And we’re much more than troubled and concerned, by the way. The Russian pro-democracy opposition is being banned and beaten and the man who sits in Ronald Reagan’s old office won’t do more than make a phone call after being called a Nazi? “Concerned”? How about “appalled” or “disgusted” or, even better, how about standing up for global democracy — and yourselves?

Rice is on her way to Moscow next week ahead of a meeting between Bush and Putin. We wonder if she will remain “troubled” if Russian security forces attack peaceful demonstrators while she watches. Since Bush has again declined to say anything in public, Putin has every reason to believe the US could not care less about the Russia’s return to authoritiarianism.