MARX ON MONDAY
Kevin Marx – a view from the left
I was in St Petersburg last week and had gone to see the famous Winter Palace lit up at night when I was approached by a gang of skinheads clearly looking for trouble.
“Give me your wallet and your camera,” one of them demanded.
“No,” I refused, “come and get them if you want them.”
They did. I was attacked by six of them and was taking a fearful beating, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark figure dashing towards the melee. Seconds later the attack on me stopped, and the skinheads turned their attention to the newcomer. They all rushed at him and he dropped the first with a backward roundhouse kick, the second with a spinning backfist then two more at the same time with a jumping double kick. A skinhead came up behind him and put his arm around his neck and the man dropped to his knees and threw his attacker over his shoulder. The skinheads had had enough and fled, leaving my savior alone with me.
“Are you alright?” He asked in heavily accented English as he helped me from the floor.
“Yes – thanks to you,” I replied, and then gasped as I realized that my rescuer was none other than Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.
“I apologise on behalf of the whole of Russia that you should be attacked like that,” he said, “crime in St Petersburg is very rare, unlike in its American namesake in Florida which is much smaller but has much more crime.”
“No apology required,” I said, “where on earth did you learn all those martial arts moves?”
“I think a man should be strong,” Putin replied, “I have a seventh Dan black belt in Karate and a sixth Dan red and white belt in judo, and I never wear mom jeans.”
“By strong do you mean a brutal dictator?” I played Devil’s advocate.
“I know that is how I am portrayed in the West,” Putin laughed, “but in fact I am committed to democracy. I have introduced video cameras at poll booths to oversee free and fair elections and have massively improved human rights. I also pass laws through Russia’s elected assembly as democratic leaders should, rather than behaving like a dictator and ruling through executive orders like President Obama, and I have an approval rating of between 81% and 62% during my terms as President, compared to Obama’s 40%.”
“Why do you think that is?” I asked.
“Because of my handling of Russia’s economy,” Putin replied, “under my presidency wages have tripled, unemployment has halved, GDP has grown by 72% and taxes have fallen to a flat income tax of 13%. It’s a record I’m proud to compare to President Obama’s.”
“What about you banning homosexuality,” I challenged him, “how does that square with you improving human rights?
“I have not banned homosexuality,” he sighed, “I am a committed Christian and I believe that homosexuality is a sin. I also believe strongly in the maxim that you should hate the sin but love the sinner. I have banned propaganda, and I make no apology for it, particularly aimed at children, that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle choice. But engaging in homosexuality is not a crime in Russia, nor will it ever become one whilst I am President.”
“What about your invasion of Crimea?” I pressed him, “Hilary Clinton has compared you to Adolf Hitler.”
“American liberals always fall foul of Godwin’s law,” Putin replied, “in my view such a comparison is an insult to the victims of the holocaust. I have sent troops to Crimea. Ukraine is in crisis. 58% of Crimeans are ethnic Russian, compared to only 24% being ethnic Ukrainian. I see it as my moral duty to protect Crimea’s ethnic Russians.”
“President Obama has said that you are on the wrong side of history in the Ukrainian conflict,” I informed him.
“What does he mean by that?” Putin looked puzzled.
“I don’t know,” I was forced to concede.
“The American President Neville Chamberlain,” Putin began.
“Neville Chamberlain?” I interrupted him.
“Sorry Barack Obama,” Putin corrected himself, “I always get those two mixed up, according to South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey, Obama is a weak and indecisive President that invites aggression. He needs to grow a pair.”
“But Obama has said that it is a breach of international law for Russia with impunity to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles that are recognized around the world.”
“So what is he going to do about it?” Putin scoffed scornfully.
“He is not coming to June’s G-8 summit in Sochi,” I informed him.
“That’s a pity,” Putin smiled, “I was looking forward to seeing him in his mom jeans. Still, we’ll just have to bear his absence as best we can. On the other hand, with the way he is handling the US economy, America may not be in the G8 by June.”
“Obama has also deployed twelve F-16 fighters to Poland to show you that he means business,” I warned him.
“That will make the pilots of Russia’s 1,250 fighter jets shit themselves,” Putin laughed.
“Would you still have invaded the Crimea if America had a different President?” I asked him.
“That depends,” Putin replied, “if it were Hilary Clinton, after her performance at Benghazi, I might even have invaded America itself.”
“What about Sarah Palin,” I put it to him, “she said Vladimir Putin is viewed as a man who “wrestles bears and drills for oil,” while Obama’s “potency” is one of “weakness” and said Obama is viewed as a man who “wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.” And warned him as long ago as 2008 that because of his weakness you would invade Ukraine, but President Obama dismissed her comments as strange and far-fetched.”
“With Obama as President I can do what I want without fear of consequence,” Putin laughed, “I am free to invade the Crimea whilst Obama equivocates and bloviates and struts around in his mom jeans.”
“And if Sarah Palin was President?”
“If Sarah Palin was the American President,” Putin blanched, “I would withdraw Russian troops from the Crimea immediately.”