October 09, 2003

Putin's NYT Interview This Putin

Putin's NYT Interview

This Putin interview is a from a couple days back but there are some fascinating nuggets which weren't picked up in the blogosphere. As they say, read the whole thing (it's long though).

But here are some excerpts I found particularly intriguing.

Q.: Can it happen that America will get bogged down there for 10 years?

Mr. Putin: You are a dangerous person. You are taking from my stomach everything that I am trying to hide. I think that what the U.S. administration is trying to do now to internationalize the situation there is the right course, because such danger exists, of course. For the internationalization to take place, one has to take into account the interests of those who are going to be involved - first of all, the Iraqi people.

Yeah, I know. It's that lame (and predictable) New York Times quagmire question. But Putin's answer (employing an old Russian saying) is of interest. Maybe I'm naive, but I really don't think Putin has been infected by the Franco-German schandenfreude virus. So it's interesting to see him answer the "Q" Q thus. Sure, it's in his interest to tout internationalizing the effort and so on. But he's got a point--it helps our exit too, doesn't it?

But be careful how you internationalize! Putin touches on this a bit later.

"Mr. Putin:...But if you allow me, I would share few of my thoughts. Perhaps I will express aloud one thought of mine. It is not the answer to your question, it is just a conversation over tea. But this is something that deserves some thinking about. Of course, the more different types of contingents that are there, the broader the political base of support for the coalition forces will be. And this is very important, but there is nothing good in it from a military-technical point of view.

Even now these multinational, or I would call them, motley forces do not add anything good to the stabilization of the situation there. In order to act efficiently there, professionals are needed. There must be people who understand where they are, people who know the traditions of the local population and are capable of respecting these traditions, who are capable of finding and improving contacts, are capable of demonstrating their force and are capable of displaying big-heartedness. Today, according to information we have, these are poorly trained military formations, which think about fleeing as soon as possible, about being replaced as often as possible every three or four months. Then new untrained people come and commit the same mistakes for the third of fourth time.

Q.: What contingents ... The Polish? The Mongolian?

Mr. Putin: Different countries of the coalition. I will not name them. You know them better than I do. Some abuse alcohol. Some write slogans offending and insulting local people and cause multithousand rallies and demonstrations against the coalition forces. The third begin to sell weapons. In general, multinational forces are good politically, but there is nothing good in it from the military point of view. This is why I think that the Americans could very well be put at the head of the forces of the international coalition because unity of command is needed. But as of now, there is a political drawback here that the local people are not very enthusiastic about presence of the U.S. military. I think that in order to improve it, we need patience and coordination of all the forces."

Putin is on to something here too, I think. Just because Rummy can proclaim from the Pentagon podium that we've got 30 plus nations serving doesn't make it smart to have random Salvodorean and/or Mongolian contingents running about the Iraqi hinterlands. Who knows if any of them are slamming back the booze, insulting the locals, or selling arms? But I still think myriad contingents from a bunch of countries isn't the way to go...

Later, on Chechnya:

Q.: Did President Bush raise the question of Chechnya during the meeting at Camp David?

Mr. Putin: I informed him of the current status of affairs there.

Q.: But did he raise the question?

Mr. Putin: Well, I do not remember at this time whether he raised it, but we did discuss it.

I think Dubya did raise it. Good for him.


Q.: Which terrorist organizations?

Mr. Putin: From all Muslim world. Different fundamentalist organizations send their militants there. These organizations struggle against legitimate regimes in their own countries and in general oppose the entire civilized world in many regions of the planet: in Afghanistan, Iraq, in the Middle East, in our country, in other parts of the world. The coalition forces received two enemies at once both the remains of the Saddam regime who fight with them and those who Saddam himself had fought in the past - the fundamentalists. It is a difficult task to fight them efficiently. As for the weapons of mass destruction, in this respect we did not have any contradictions with the U.S. administration. We also thought that there might be weapons of mass destruction on the territory of Iraq. The question is what has happened to them? In this sense, it would be better if the armed forces and the special services knew in advance what was located where and would have seized these places during the first hours of the military operation. But if it did not happen, I would not like to blame or criticize anybody. I think we have to act differently. We have to unite efforts to do everything to neutralize these possible threats."
(my emphasis)

Yeah, it was just Dubya and Poodle Tony who thought Saddam had WMD, right?

Posted by Gregory at October 9, 2003 09:53 PM

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