Media coverage of Russia during the Olympic Games has proven to be extremely inaccurate, from the gross exaggerations about the effects of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law to NBC’s claim in a report for the Olympics opening ceremony that Soviet communism was a “pivotal experiment”—and not a tragedy—in the country’s history.
The topic of homosexual rights has dominated most of the coverage. Fareed Zakaria made the false claim on CNN that homosexuality has been “criminalized,” or outlawed, in Russia, while Megyn Kelly of Fox News insisted that Russian President Putin is somehow guilty of “homophobia” because he signed a law prohibiting the recruitment of children to the homosexual lifestyle.
By any objective standard, the Russian response to America’s export of homosexuality under Obama is understandable, not objectionable; and it doesn’t constitute “homophobia.” They passed a law to keep homosexual propaganda from children. But this does not mean that Russia is on the right course and should be applauded by conservatives.
The narrow focus on gay rights, which is the intense concern of many in the U.S. media, misses the big picture—that Putin is posturing globally as a pro-family values champion willing to confront America’s dying and decadent culture. Some conservatives are so disgusted by the course Obama has put America on that they seem willing to suspend their critical thinking abilities and embrace Putin as sincere.
What is happening in Russia is truly extraordinary, and the Olympics are clearly part of it. Putin wants to be seen as presiding over a new and modern Russia. Not only is it one of the five largest economies in the world, Russia has assumed the presidency of the Group of Eight nations for 2014 and will host the 40th G8 Summit in Sochi in June.
On a political and religious level, Putin seems determined to transform Russia into a theocracy incorporating the KGB-dominated Russian Orthodox Church into the affairs of state. The church was one of only two Soviet-era institutions that survived the communist collapse. The other was the KGB, now called the FSB.
Putin, who has made a public show of appearing to be a Christian, understands that the church and its constituents, who are “social values” conservatives, are the key to him maintaining and expanding his power, domestically and even internationally.
By making “gay rights” into the cutting edge of U.S. foreign policy, Obama simply plays into Putin’s hands, enabling the Russian ruler to come across as an authentic and legitimate leader who puts the national interests of Russia ahead of the rights of sexual minorities.
Our media would be well-advised to report what Putin is actually telling his citizens. In his December 10 “Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly,” Putin declared his support for conservative and traditional values, saying, “Today, many nations are revising their moral values and ethical norms, eroding ethnic traditions and differences between peoples and cultures. Society is now required not only to recognize everyone’s right to the freedom of consciousness, political views and privacy, but also to accept without question the equality of good and evil, strange as it seems, concepts that are opposite in meaning. This destruction of traditional values from above not only leads to negative consequences for society, but is also essentially anti-democratic, since it is carried out on the basis of abstract, speculative ideas, contrary to the will of the majority, which does not accept the changes occurring or the proposed revision of values.”
Coming from a former KGB officer who is accused of killing dissidents and journalists who examine his regime and his secrets too closely, these comments are something to consider for their sheer audacity. A former KGB officer has become a global spokesman for family values? The record, of course, shows that he cannot be taken seriously in terms of his devotion to democratic values. However, he obviously understands the power of propaganda.
His audience, which does not want to see Russia humiliated on the world stage, is lapping it up. He went on, “We know that there are more and more people in the world who support our position on defending traditional values that have made up the spiritual and moral foundation of civilization in every nation for thousands of years: the values of traditional families, real human life, including religious life, not just material existence but also spirituality, the values of humanism and global diversity.”
Indeed, the “people in the world” who support him can be found in the World Congress of Families, scheduled to hold a major conference in Moscow this September. High-profile American conservative organizations such as CBN, Focus on the Family, and the National Organization for Marriage are members of the group.
Putin went on to quote Nikolai Berdyaev, a Russian religious and political philosopher, as saying that “the point of conservatism is not that it prevents movement forward and upward, but that it prevents movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.”
Say what you will about Putin; but he has a vision for his country that is enticing to the Russians and draws a contrast with the West, which is suffering through a period of decline and decay under Obama. The year 2014 has been declared the “Year of Culture in Russia,” and Putin says “It is intended to be a year of enlightenment, emphasis on our cultural roots, patriotism, values and ethics.”
In contrast to Obama, who embraces and promotes every deviant and perverted lifestyle choice, Putin sounds very appealing. But appearances can be deceiving, and American conservatives eager to embrace this kind of “conservatism” would be wise to stop and examine what is really going on in Russia. The evidence indicates it is a clever ruse to mask the emergence of a resurgent Russia, built on the Soviet “experiment.”
In their 2010 book, The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB, Russian investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write:
The security service and the Church have been moving closer in recent years. In December 2002, the Cathedral of St. Sophia of God’s Wisdom was reopened just off Lubyanka Square, a block away from the FSB headquarters. Patriarch Aleksey II himself blessed the opening of the cathedral in a ceremony attended by then FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev. Despite having been a target of the KGB in Soviet times, the Russian Orthodox Church has always been closely connected with the state. The Russian Tsar was the head of the Church. Russia’s brand of orthodoxy is based on the concept that Moscow is ‘the third Rome’ (after ancient Rome and Constantinople) and on a belief in Russian uniqueness. Being ‘unique,’ Russia sees itself as surrounded by numerous enemies that the FSB must combat. In this vein, the Russian Orthodox Church is always suspicious of Catholic expansion. As recently as 2002 five Catholic priests were expelled by the FSB from Russia, some of them accused of espionage. The FSB helps to protect the Orthodox sphere of influence against Western proselytizing, and in return the Church blesses the security service in its struggle with enemies of the state.
The evidence suggests this religious and political philosophy has been accepted by Putin and his top allies, especially Vladimir Nakunin, who runs the Russian railroads and is a former KGB officer himself. He is one of the KGB veterans who, along with Putin, have stolen about $30 billion from the $50 billion cost of the Olympic Games.
Some experts point to the work of Russian Orthodox thinker and nationalist Gennadii Shimanov, a founder of what could be called the Russian New Right. His analysis of the origins of Soviet communism is echoed by thinkers associated with Putin and his United Russia political party today.
Shimanov wrote, “the Soviet system can no longer seriously strive toward the specter of Communism” but “cannot yet abandon the grandeur of its tasks” and must fulfill Russia’s destiny in becoming “God’s instrument for constructing a new Christian world.” He concluded, “Only the Soviet system, having adopted Russian Orthodoxy…is capable of beginning THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD.” (emphasis in original)
As The New York Times described it in a 1978 article, he advocated “an ideological state united with the church, not with the Communist Party, as an authority.” This kind of thinking influenced Russia’s intelligence elite during the time Putin served as an officer in the KGB, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He became head of the FSB in 1998.
Putin never repudiated the Soviet state and, in fact, called the death of Soviet communism a “geopolitical disaster.” His invasion in 2008 of Georgia, the former Soviet Republic, was evidence of his true intentions. Some commentators predict he will invade Ukraine, after the Olympics are over, to put down an anti-communist uprising there.
Obama, meanwhile, gave an interview to Bob Costas of NBC about the Olympic Games and U.S.-Russia relations, in which Costas, not surprisingly, brought up the gay rights angle again, but then noted that Obama (and Hillary Clinton) promised “to reset America’s relationship with Russia” (and that relations have deteriorated.)
Pointing out the obvious, he said “it also seems that if anyone is doing the resetting, it is President Putin.”
In response, Obama replied that “we were able to reduce nuclear stockpiles in both countries, and we were able to make sure Russia’s ascension into the WTO [World Trade Organization] took place,” as if the latter had any benefit to the U.S. In regard to nuclear stockpiles, moderate Republican Senator Bob Corker (TN) has warned about Obama putting the U.S. on a path to “unilateral disarmament.”
So Russia has benefited in both cases, gaining access to American capital while the U.S. diminishes its own nuclear deterrent.
Obama simply ignored Costas’ point about Russia granting asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, now under the control of the FSB. This case proves beyond a doubt that the Russian reset has been a complete failure and that Putin is in charge, able to do what he wants without fear of a U.S. response.
Obama’s performance was so weak and embarrassing that Thomas Lifson at the American Thinker website commented on speculation that the President was stoned. If so, it would give Putin more ammunition for his next family values speech.
It would be funny were it not so serious. Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, recently testified that “the leading state intelligence threats to U.S. interests in 2014 will continue to be Russia and China, based on their capabilities, intent, and broad operational scope.”
Clapper said, “Attempts to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus, defense industrial base, and U.S. research establishments will persist.”
One can only assume that he includes the White House in this target rich environment. It is difficult to see one area—except for gay rights—in which Obama is not doing Putin’s bidding. Obama’s homosexual agenda only makes Putin look stronger and more appealing on the world stage, even driving American conservatives into the arms of the would-be Russian dictator.
This commentary originally appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission.