Does our “supreme” leader have the courage to confront media like Biden, Putin did in Geneva?
Vidya Bhushan Rawat *
Two leaders of two great nations met in a neutral location known for its peaceful locations and absolutely neutral position around the world. President Joe Biden of the United States and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation came to Geneva for their first face-to-face meeting after the United States saw a change of government.
President Putin had, in his long career as Head of State of the Russian Federation, met four US presidents since 1999. They are President Bill Clinton, President George W Bush, President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump and now Joe Biden was the fifth president to meet with Putin. . Indeed, Putin was probably well aware of the American political “expectations” on his part.
However, things this time around in Geneva were different from what happened in Helsinki when Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin came to discuss various issues. Donald Trump is flamboyant and loves “the media”, Putin seems to know this art much better than his counterparts. Unlike Donald Trump, President Joe Biden is a serious man, who believes that diplomatic skills cannot be demonstrated through “the media” but through serious behind-the-scenes negotiations.
The American media, frustrated with Trump, wanted to make the Geneva talks a “victory” for Joe Biden. He had already started correcting the narrative, and there was an effort to project Vladimir Putin as a very “small” man, or Russia as an absolute “non-entity” to the United States.
Putin’s story was known to have made the world leader “wait” for his arrival to begin to be discussed. Also, how the US administration did not want President Biden to “wait” for Putin. Therefore, it has been suggested that Putin arrived on Moscow time, arrived at the hotel to be greeted by the Swiss president, and waited for President Biden to arrive for the talks.
The US media have sought to “analyze” every aspect of the “summit,” doing everything possible to demean Putin and Russia. Putin would use the summit to bolster his “ratings” at the national level, one commentator said. Another nodded, he must have felt “good” sitting with the “most powerful” man in the world and gaining international “importance”.
Pathetic to say the least. Russia may not be the same as the United States, but it is definitely a great nation. It still inspires the nations that fought against colonialism and Western hegemony.
After the first handshake between the two presidents and their footage of the face-to-face meeting, CNN commentators suggested Putin was “nervous” and looked like a “student.” They were “amazed” by President Biden who looked “confident”. The one-on-one meeting between the two presidents lasted about two hours; it continued for about three additional hours by the official delegations of the two parties present.
After the summit, it was clear that the Americans did not want a joint press conference for fear that Putin would “steal” the show, as happened during his joint press conference with Donald Trump in Helsinki. The US administration as well as the Western media were determined not to give Putin the opportunity to “shine” this time around. Apparently, the media had come “well prepared” to counter Putin. Therefore, it was made clear that the two leaders would address the media separately.
Putin was the first to address the media. He looked confident and always had to deal with the media. He said the talks were constructive and praised President Joe Biden. He is a “statesman,” Putin said. Then he announced that the Russian and American ambassadors would soon resume their respective functions.
As usual, the Western media wanted to “embarrass” Putin on his record in matters of “human rights” and on the opposition leader in prison for espionage. The American media kept ranting about the issue and pretending that Putin was going to be taught a lesson if he didn’t agree.
Putin is a classic Russian leader who knows how to deal with Western media. All these “liberals” got it all in return when Putin responded forcefully and spoke of “Black Lives Matters” which does not exist in Russia. He also said he did not want to tell America what happened in the aftermath of the presidential election when Trump supporters attacked Capitol Hill.
Putin also rejected the allegation of the American media concerning the ill-treatment inflicted on “Russian dissident” Alexei Navalny who languishes in prison. Putin insisted that America called Russia an adversary and therefore how can a person supported by an adversary be a friend of Russia?
A man who has not spoken to any journalist in the past 7 years and who enjoys doing fake interviews with worshipers cannot handle the media in a neutral place
However, the media were not “happy” with Biden’s response. They wanted to know whether Biden had “scolded” Putin or not. Such a stupid attitude can only be expected when the media is a propaganda apparatus of the ruling dispensation. As President Biden was about to leave, the last question asked by a reporter infuriated him. “Are you convinced that Putin’s behavior will change? », Declared the journalist.
This question actually hurt Biden and he was a little aggressive when he said, “What will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their position in the world. I don’t trust anything; I am only stating a fact.
The president knew the art of diplomacy and, being a seasoned political leader, he understood that not everything can be discussed at a press conference. Joe Biden knew he wasn’t talking to a president in any country. It was addressed to Russia, still the greatest country in the world and a great power of yesteryear that has not been diminished as many had assumed.
It is a country which still gives hope to many other countries. Even in the days of Covid, it was the Russian Sputnik vaccine that was initially scorned by Western media, but they soon realized that it was more effective than any of their own products. .
The problem in the Western media world is that the narrative begins about their opponents. Russia is an independent nation and has the right to defend itself. Putin will not speak the American language like Americans will not speak the Russian language. Why do the American media want Putin to speak out for their interests?
These are the same media that passed off as terrorists Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat. They always questioned the “human rights” record of these leaders and their countries. Fortunately, all of them were extremely well read and understood the games of the Imperial Powers.
Whether it was Nelson Mandela or Fidel Castro, they remained powerful, thoughtful and the Western media understood this. Anyone who spoke for their own country and showed their autonomy became villains. Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere, Robert Mugabe – all have become villains in the Western world. I’m not saying they haven’t done anything wrong. Of course, the crisis of the Global South is the absence of autonomous institutions, which have made heroes of the anti-colonial war absolute monarchs, without contesting their leadership.
The leadership of a nation cannot be judged by the standards that a foreigner imposes on us. The world is turning into a village and information technology has brought us together. Yet the media are a means of communicating a message. The duty of the media is to report and not to push the agenda of their political leaders. The international media must provide both sides of the story.
There is a tendency to ignore that the US administration has supported fundamentalists, military dictators and monarchs. Who can ignore the powerful Pakistani general Ziaul Haq who destroyed the constitution and created a sharia law in his country, found the full support of the Americans to counter Russian influence in Afghanistan? It is a well-known fact that before the Taliban, Afghanistan had a very progressive regime under Najibullah.
Likewise, in the Middle East, the Americans supported all the monarchs while trying to delegitimize Iran, which had a much better political record than Saudi Arabia, the United States’ biggest ally. U.S. human rights concerns have seldom questioned Israel’s brutality and utter disrespect for international law in the Gaza Strip and the rest of Palestine, where innocent citizens are criminalized at will without never respect the autonomy and sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority.
Regardless, Joe Biden was courteous, and when he realized he had overreacted to the reporter’s question, he apologized to her before taking off from Geneva. It takes a lot of courage and conviction to do it. Joe Biden deserves his respect and appreciation. We can never expect such things to happen in our part of the world. Frankly, we now have armies of social media trolls to wreck real journalists. They are paid trolls who humiliate anyone who deviates from “official” lines.
We wonder if our supreme leader has the capacity to independently manage such aggressive and hostile media, as Putin did in Geneva. We might not like Putin, but the point is, he stole the show in Geneva despite all the media’s attempts to make him a villain. For that, it takes a lot of courage and conviction.
A man who has not spoken to any journalist in the past seven years and who enjoys doing “sham” interviews with “devotees” cannot manage the media in a neutral place. The strength of a leader is measured in these neutral places by the way he manages the media and explains the facts about his country.
Indian leaders can learn a lot from this summit that a superfluous leader created by a false narrative cannot really answer the tough questions at the international level. Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have shown that they are leaders in their own right and that they know how to manage the media according to the interests of their country.
The lesson for the media is to focus on reporting and not try to build a one-sided narrative to increase their TRPs. Diplomacy and negotiations are a difficult art, and it is therefore important to give the diplomats on the return route a breathing space so that the talks succeed and ensure their continuation in the best interests of world peace and stability.
* Human rights defender, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat, twitter: @freetohumanity