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This post, written by Jayne Lyn Stahl, originally appeared on Lady Jayne's Blog
While there was little that was novel in the Russian president's press conference two weeks ago, it wasn't so much what he said, but what wasn't reported, that deserves a closer look. Apart from the fact that most major international news organizations were onhand to question Mr. Putin, and one from the Wall Street Journal was among them, for the most part the mainstream media was missing in action, and conspicuously absent in covering either the conference, or Vladimir Putin's remarks. Indeed, apart from an editorial in The Washington Post, Information Clearing House, a few other notable alternative Web sites, and the Russian president's site, were the only ones to distribute the text of the conference.
Judging by the deafening silence, we can sure use cup of homemade Russian glasnost around here, especially given Rep. Henry Waxman's report today that more than half of nearly 90 White House officials who had e-mail accounts with the Republican National Committee have had e-mails disappear including, not surprising, those of Karl Rove. Somebody's trying really hard to cover some bones and, one might say, not without what the president calls "political theatre."
But, who would expect the Russian leader to be such a drama queen? And, anyone who thinks of Vladimir Putin as being as flamboyant as a card-carrying mortician is in for a surprise when they hear him say things like: "Am I a ' pure democrat'? Of course I am, absolutely. But do you know what the problem is? Not even a problem but a real tragedy? The problem is that I'm all alone, the only one of my kind in the whole wide world," and point to "torture, homeless people, Guantanamo, people detained without trial and investigation," as well as findings by Amnesty International that America is the number one violator of human rights worldwide. He further bolsters his claims when he says that Russia "has not abandoned its moratorium on the death penalty."
You can see why the mainstream media ducked when you hear him assert that the Russians didn't initiate withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and that while Russia is "disarming unilaterally...Europe is being pumped full of new weapons systems." Indeed, as he suggests, the Cold War is now over; it's now a virus!
Herein lies the crux of the undercoverage, Putin's revelation that "For the first time in history...there are elements of the U.S. nuclear capability in the European continent. It simply changes the whole configuation of international security." And, Congress is now actively looking into ways to rein in the Bush administration's production of a new generation of warheads, as well as trying to dramatically reduce funding for the so-called Reliable Replacement Warheads program. (WaPo) Yet, while both the House and the Senate are doing a tap dance for our tax dollars, nobody is putting nuclear non-proliferation back on the table. Monica Goodling makes for a better headshot, no doubt, than a Reliable Replacement Warhead does. Maybe it's time to learn something not just about glasnost, but about perestroika, too..
Jayne Lyn Stahl is a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and essayist; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. She currently resides in California.