Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletins

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An Editorial 2006-04

July 15, 2006

A Commentary about the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg

Putin Leading Bush in Global Dance

Russian Leader Appears to Have the Upper Hand 


A Global Dance

Putin and Bush in St. Petersburg (a China Daily photo, 7/15/06)


SCOTTSDALE, July 15, 2006 - The cat's out of the bag.  Thanks to a photo published today by China Daily, the world can now see clearly who is leading in the global minuet: the shorter dance partner appears to have the upper hand in a picture that's worth a thousand words.

Despite cooler U.S.-Russia relations (see "Tricky Dicky II [Cheney] Is Back," May 2006), the leaders of Russia and America sought to project an image of harmony, playing down differences over Russia's commitment to democracy, possible sanctions on Iran and how to react to fighting between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah, and the failure to reach an agreement on Russia's admission to the WTO (World Trade Organization).  

Referring to each other by their first names, Bush was at pains to protect Putin from his own administration's charges that the Kremlin leader was backsliding on democracy, the Reuters reported from St. Petersburg, where the two leaders met yesterday and today in advance of the G8 Summit.

"I fully understand ... that there will be a Russian-style democracy. I don't expect Russia to look like the United States. As Vladimir pointedly reminded me last night, they have a different history, different traditions," Bush said.

"We of course don't want to have a democracy like the one in Iraq, to be honest," quipped Putin, showing his dry sense of humor.  The press core roared with laughter.

But the TV viewers might have also rolled their eyes in disbelief at the sight of a president with an approval rating of 36% lecturing on democracy the one who is liked by 77% of his voters.  

But Nikolas Gvosdev, senior fellow at Washington-based think tank The Nixon Center, said the jovial presidential news conference broke little new ground.  Standoffs continued on bilateral trade, the North Korea and Iran, and there were signs of disagreement over the Middle East.

"All of these factors indicate that the St Petersburg summit is not going to produce major breakthroughs that demonstrate either how relevant the U.S.-Russia partnership is for global security or the real utility of the G8 summit process itself," he said.

Putin's main hope for the summit is to display his nation's new-found self-confidence as it rides an economic boom as a top oil and gas exporter, and to rid itself of the image of being an outsider in the group.  The setting for the summit -- that will also bring together the leaders of Britain, Japan, Canada, Italy, France and Germany -- in a lavishly restored 18th century palace off the Gulf of Finland underscores that revival.

The annual G8 meeting has in the past drawn sometimes violent anti-globalization protests. But tight restrictions and heavy policing ensured that in Russia's second city they were a far cry from those at previous summits.

How tight?  Citing security reasons, Putin's officials reportedly moved out the residents of the inner city (shown above during fireworks celebrating the end of the school year in late May). 

"It is a sort of a forced vacation," one Russian source told TiM.  "They are put up at various government resorts outside the city.  It's quite disgusting."

Still, some token demonstrators were allowed, as they are at western summits.  About 300 protesters, heavily outnumbered by Russian police, marched through the city center to protest against Russia's joining the WTO, and what they said were moves by Moscow to serve Western interests.

They shouted "Outlaw the G8" and "Russia without Putin". There were no serious clashes, but after scuffles police detained more than 20 protesters who veered off the set route.

A mere 100 anti-globalization protesters turned out for a rally in a suburban sports stadium that authorities had made available to them far from the G8 proceedings.  Which also goes to show us how much ordinary St. Petersburg citizens care about G8 Summits.  About as much as the folks in New York or St. Petersburg, Florida, do: 

"How did the Yankees do last night?"  

"Oh, they had the night off?"

"And they did what? They went to a Russian ball?"

"And had a ball there?"

"But of course, they would have a ball at a Russian ball.  They are the Yankees.  That's what they do.  They play ball.  Hard."

"But the Russians are leading? Strange... those tricky Russkies.  First, the Cubans hijack America's favorite pastime, and now they.  Wonder who put in Putin to manage their team?"

"The president of the American League West?"  

"Hm... Guess they're all the same.  It's all about money.  Nobody gives a damn about the fans anymore."

"They never did?  Maybe you're right... When's the next game?"

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Also see... "Tricky Dicky II [Cheney] Is Back," May 2006), Putin Responds; Washington Coddling Up to China; plus... "Cheney Nominated: Weep Mankind!" (Jul 26, 2000) (or should it be "Veep Mankind?" J);  "American vs. Serbian 'Demo Farce'," Aug 2000); "Bush League All-Stars," Feb 2002), or click on the links to see other articles on global;  and Russian affairs...

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For additional articles on Russia or Putin or Cheney, click on and type their names as keywords.

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