Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.
«The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy» by Douglas Adams
Strange to link to that interview on this blog, I agree, and it’s likely jumping the shark. But in a way, it’s in accordance with this posting here: Ursula’s back at censoring and the overall theme of freedom and free speech. After all, at least according to the German constitution, there is no censorship. Well, apparently that doesn’t matter if the EU decides to censor RT.
And now an interview with the Russian leader is not only widely available, but heavily discussed (sometimes even before it was available).
As for my two cents, great that Tucker Carlson did the interview. Communication is usually better than non-communication. And the interview was professionally done.
It is also pretty clear that Carlson will never interview President Biden — the contrast would simple be too … uh, large. And sure, while President Putin did provide his view, with background knowledge and rhetorical skill, at times he is not wrong. His comment about the German government was spot on in my opinion (yep, I also think they are impressively incompetent, or perhaps blinded by ideology and power).
Regarding the interview overall, criticism is easy, especially if you are in no way involved. But I cannot resist: Carlson is no Larry King, though, and at times he appears like a little schoolboy talking to the headmaster. Complaining that the other kids are too noisy in class. Just a little bit too stiff, too «what is happening now?». But in all fairness, that was a pretty difficult situation. It was done in Russia, in the lion’s den, or rather, the bear’s den. And I am not sure if anyone of the current long-form interviewers online could have done it better. So, yeah, kudos. That was an impressive feat.
I do wonder, however, why Carlson did not ask the usual interview question at the end: «Thank you for the interview — as a last question, is there anything you want to say that I did not ask? Or anything you wanted to be asked — and what would be your answer?» (or something better phrased that goes into the same direction). President Putin has no troubles mentioning what he wants, but I would be interested to hear what he would bring up.
I also think that the way Carlson asked for the release of the journalist was badly done. That he asked, kudos, but why this way:
«I just gotta ask you one last question, and that’s about Evan Gershkovich, who’s the Wall Street Journal reporter. He’s 32, and he’s been in prison for almost a year. And I just wanna ask you directly, if as a sign of your decency, you would be willing to release him to us and we’ll bring him back to the United States.»
«As a sign of your decency?» I mean, seriously, imagine someone would say to you: «As a sign of your decency, could you do X?» First off, it’s emotionally manipulative. Second, and more importantly, it implies that the person’s decency is in question. That this person has to prove himself. I was surprised that President Putin did not react more negatively. But then again, he is a world leader with decades of experience.
And sure, President Putin’s reactions to this question might have more to do with negotiations being done by the services. Which makes perfect sense to me. And in a way, asking publicly for the release might complicate the issue. But I also wonder whether it shows the view of the US (and the West in general) on Russia. Russia is seen as a uncivilized country that has to prove itself. Again. And again. And again. As if we were in an old James Bond movie.
Even if this were true — in reality, no person, no country, sees itself as uncivilized or «evil» (let’s exclude the mentally ill). This applies even to extreme cases: A nation might kill apostates by stoning or burn prisoners in cages — they will think themselves moral and doing their god’s work. Or closer to home, they might build gas chambers and commit a genocide — and still see themselves as morally superior. Human beings are just very, very good at rationalizations.
But sorry, Russia with it’s long history is nowhere near that category.
So why going by «as a sign of your decency?» What is this, a shit-test in an unhealthy relationship?
But yeah, criticism is easy and it’s always easier afterwards — especially from the (relative) safety of home.
In any case, kudos regarding the interview. We need more conversation, not less.