I think I am developing an unhealthy interest in Vladimir Putin. I can’t help it but the guy is just so danged interesting. Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a full fledged man crush.
So, the news today that he did a bit of verbal jujitsu on Michael Dell at the Davos conference was pretty entertaining.
“First up: Dell. He praised Russia’s technical and scientific prowess, and then asked: “How can we help” you to expand IT in Russia. Putin’s withering reply to Dell: “We don’t need help. We are not invalids. We don’t have limited mental capacity.” … And, in a final dig at Dell, he talked about how Russian scientists were rightly respected not for their hardware, but for their software. The implication: Any old fool can build a PC outfit.”
Dell should just be happy that Putin didn’t walk over and snap his neck like a twig. Remember Michael…Once a Chekist, always a Chekist.
Of course, Putin didn’t let it go at that. In a bit of passive-aggressiveness Putin said this in his speech:
“In the last few months, virtually every speech on this subject started with criticism of the United States. But I will do nothing of the kind.”
Note: This is kind of like when you hear someone begin a statement with the phrase “No disrespect, but…” which really means “I’m about to say some terrible things about your momma and express my desire to kick your dog.”
So now that Vlad has clearly said he won’t be joining in on the criticism of the U.S., where will he take us?
“I just want to remind you that, just a year ago, American delegates speaking from this rostrum emphasised the US economy’s fundamental stability and its cloudless prospects. Today, investment banks, the pride of Wall Street, have virtually ceased to exist. In just 12 months, they have posted losses exceeding the profits they made in the last 25 years. This example alone reflects the real situation better than any criticism”
But that’s not all. Here are some of his comments I thought were perticularly interesting as well as what I thought he was trying to say (in parentheses).
“The entire economic growth system, where one regional centre prints (I think he means us.) money without respite and consumes material wealth, while another regional centre (Could he be talking about the Chinese?) manufactures inexpensive goods and saves money printed by other governments, has suffered a major setback. I would like to add that this system has left entire regions, including Europe, (read: I really mean Russia but Europe too since how else are they suppossed to pay their gas bill?) on the outskirts of global economic processes and has prevented them from adopting key economic and financial decisions.”
“Excessive dependence on a single reserve currency is dangerous for the global economy. Consequently, it would be sensible to encourage the objective process of creating several strong reserve currencies in the future. (If you guys want, I guess we could use the ruble.)
“Consequently, it is important that reserve currency issuers must implement more open monetary policies. Moreover, these nations must pledge to abide by internationally recognised rules of macroeconomic and financial discipline.” (Suck it America!)
“This means that a system based on cooperation between several major centres must replace the obsolete unipolar world concept.” (See previous translation.)
“I am convinced that we can build a more equitable and efficient global economic system. But it is impossible to create a detailed plan at this event today.” (I have not yet completed construction of my death ray which I will then use to shake you down for great gobs of cash.)
The only way to ensure truly global energy security is to form interdependence, including a swap of assets, without any discrimination or dual standards. (I have Gazprom brochures available after my talk. Converting to natural gas is easy and cheap!)
“We are developing the infrastructure of our oil pipelines…It does this direct to consumers – via our ports on the Baltic Sea. Transit risks are completely eliminated in this way. (Suck it Ukraine!)
“Addressing you here today, I cannot but mention the effects of the global crisis on the Russian economy. We have also been seriously affected. However, unlike many other countries, we have accumulated large reserves. They expand our possibilities for confidently passing through the period of global instability.”(Yeah, we’ve still got a lot of fuck you money and we’re going to spend it.)
“The world has lately come to face an unheard-of surge of violence and other aggressive actions, such as Georgia’s adventurous sortie in the Caucasus, recent terrorist attacks in India, and escalation of violence in Gaza Strip. Although not apparently linked directly, these developments still have common features.” (Note to self: Still not a good time to invest in Georgian vacation home.)
“First of all, I am referring to the existing international organisations’ inability to provide any constructive solutions to regional conflicts, or any effective proposals for interethnic and interstate settlement. Multilateral political mechanisms have proved as ineffective as global financial and economic regulators.” (Hey, all you puny republics out there: NATO and the UN didn’t save Georgia and they won’t save you so you better get in line.)
“Frankly speaking, we all know that provoking military and political instability, regional and other conflicts is a helpful means of distracting the public from growing social and economic problems. Such attempts cannot be ruled out, unfortunately. To prevent this scenario, we need to improve the system of international relations, making it more effective, safe and stable.”(So get the hell off my front porch, NATO!)