Skip to main content

Does our 'supreme' leader have courage to face media as Biden, Putin did in Geneva?

Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

Two leaders of two great nations met at a neutral venue known for its peaceful locales and absolute neutral position world over. President Joe Biden of the United States and President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation came to Geneva for their first face to face meet after the United States saw a change in the government.
President Putin had in his long career as head of state of Russian Federation had met four American 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 meeting Putin. Indeed, Putin expectedly was well aware of American political ‘expectations’ from him.
However, things this time in Geneva were different than what happened in Helsinki when Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin came to discuss various issues. Donald Trump is flamboyant and loves ‘media’, Putin seems to know that art much better than his counterparts. Unlike Donald Trump, President Joe Biden is a serious man, who believes that diplomatic skills cannot be displayed through ‘media’ but through serious back-channel negotiations.
The American media which was frustrated with Trump wanted to make the Geneva talks as a ‘victory’ for Joe Biden. It had already started fixing up the narrative, and there was an effort to to project Vladimir Putin as a very ‘small’ man, or Russia an absolute ‘non-entity’ in comparison to the United States.
The story of Putin was notorious for making world leader ‘wait’ for his arrival began being discussed. Also, how the American administration did not want President Biden to ‘wait’ for Putin. Hence, it was suggested, Putin came on time from Moscow, arrived at the hotel to be welcomed by the Swiss President and waited for President Biden to arrive for the talks.
American media sought to ‘analyse’ each aspect of the ‘summit’, making every effort to belittle Putin and Russia. Putin would use this summit to strengthen his ‘ratings’ domestically, said one commentator. Another nodded, he must be feeling ‘ great’ sitting with the world's ‘most powerful’ man and getting international ‘importance’.
Pathetic to say the least. Russia may not be the same as the United States but it definitely is a great nation. It still inspires nations who 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 that Putin was ‘nervous’ and looked like a ‘student’. They were in ‘awe’ with President Biden who looked ‘confident’. The one-to-one meeting between the two presidents took around two hours; it continued for around another three hours official delegations of the two sides present.
After the summit, it was clear that American did not want a joint press conference for the fear that Putin might ‘steal’ the show as happened during his joint press conference with Donald Trump at Helsinki. American administration as well as western media were determined not to give Putin an opportunity to ‘shine’ this time. Apparently, the media had come ‘well prepared’ to counter Putin. Hence it was made clear that both the leaders would address the media separately.
It was Putin who addressed the media first. He looked confident and was always dealing with the media. He said that the talks were constructive and spoke highly of President Joe Biden. He is a ‘statesman’, said Putin. Then he spoke that Russian and American Ambassadors would resume their respective duties soon.
As usual, the western media wanted to ‘embarrass’ Putin on his ‘human rights’ record and about the opposition leader in jail on charges of espionage. American media was continuously ranting on the issue and making out as if Putin would be ‘taught’ a lesson if he did not agree.
Putin is a classic Russian leader who knows how to handle Western media. All those ‘liberals’ got everything in return when Putin responded powerfully and spoke about ‘Black Lives Matters’ which does not exist in Russia. He also said that he does not want to tell America what happened in the aftermath of the Presidential elections when Trump’s supporters attacked Capitol Hill.
Putin also rejected the allegation by the American media about maltreatment to the Russian ‘dissenter ’Alexei Navalny who is languishing in jail. Putin said emphatically that America termed Russia as an adversary and hence how can a person being supported by an adversary be a friend of Russia?
A man who hasn't spoken to any journalist in last 7 years and enjoys doing mock interviews with devotees can't handle media at a neutral place
The Western journalists actually could not trap Putin through their ‘difficult’ questions. Every time he visits the West, Putin wins the show. After Putin’s lengthy conference, it was the turn of President Joe Biden to speak to the media. As a seasoned politician, he spoke that the talks were constructive and hoped that he would continue to push for American interest.
However, the media was not ‘satisfied’ with Biden’s response. They wanted to know whether Biden ‘scolded’ Putin or not. Such a stupid attitude can only be expected when the media is a propaganda machinery of the ruling dispensation. As President Biden was about to leave, the last question asked by a reporter exasperated him. “ Are you confident that Putin’s behaviour will change?'' said the journalist.
This question actually hurt Biden and he was a bit aggressive when he said, “ What will change their behaviour is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world. I’m not confident of anything; I’m just stating a fact.”
The president knew the art of diplomacy, and being a seasoned political leader understood that not everything can be discussed at a press conference. Joe Biden, knew, he was not speaking to some president in some nondescript country. He was speaking to Russia, still the world's biggest country and a big power of yesteryears which has not been diminished as many had assumed.
It is a country which still gives hope to many other countries. Even in the Covid times, it is the Russian vaccine Sputnik which was initially looked down upon by the Western media but soon they realised that its efficacy was more than any of their own products.
The problem in the Western media world is that the narrative starts about their opponents. Russia is an independent nation and has a right to defend itself. Putin will not speak American language like the Americans would not speak the Russian language. Why does American media want Putin to speak for their interests?
It is the same media which made Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat look like terrorists. They would always question 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 Nelson Mandela or Fidel Castro, they remained powerful, thoughtful and western media understood that. All those who spoke for their own countries and showed their autonomy became villains. Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere, Robert Mugabe – all became villains in the western world. I am not saying they did no wrong. Of course, the crisis of the global south is the absence of autonomous institutions, which made the anti-colonial war heroes as absolute monarchs, with no challenge to their leadership.
The leadership of a nation cannot be judged by the standards that an outsider imposes on us. The world is turning into a village and information technology has brought us closer. Yet, media is a medium to communicate a message. The duty of the media is to report and not to push the agenda of their political leaders. International media must to provide both sides of the stories.
There is a tendency to ignore that American administration has supported fundamentalists, military dictators and monarchs. Who can ignore the powerful General Ziaul Haq of Pakistan who destroyed the constitution and created a sharia law in his country, found full support by the Americans to counter the Russian influence in Afghanistan? It is a well known fact that, prior to the Taliban, Afghanistan had a much progressive regime under Najibullah.
Similarly, in the Middle East, Americans supported all the monarchs while trying to delegitimize Iran, which had a much better track record of political system in comparison to Saudi Arabia, America’s biggest ally. American human rights concerns have rarely questioned Israel’s brutalities and absolute disrespect for international laws in Gaza Strip and the rest of Palestine, where innocent citizens are criminalised at will without ever respecting the autonomy and sovereignty of Palestine authority.
Be that as it may, Joe Biden was gracious, and when he realised that he overreacted to the journalist’s question, he apologised to her before taking off from Geneva. It takes a lot of courage and conviction to do so. Joe Biden deserves one’s respect and appreciation. One can never expect such things happening in our part of the world. Frankly, we have troll armies now on social media to trash genuine journalists. These are paid trolls who humiliate all those who differ from the 'official' lines.
One wonders if our supreme leader has the capacity to handle such aggressive hostile media independently, as Putin handled in Geneva. One may not like Putin, but the fact is he stole the show in Geneva despite all attempts by the media to make him a villain. For that you need a lot of courage and conviction.
A man who has not spoken to any journalist in the last seven years and who enjoys doing ‘mock’ interviews with ‘devotees’ can't handle media at a neutral place. A leader’s strength is measured in these neutral places as how he or she handles the media and explains facts about his or her country.
Indian leaders can learn a lot from this summit that a superfluous leader created by false narrative can't really respond to tough questions internationally. Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin showed they were leaders in their own right, and know how to handle the media as per their country’s interest.
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 hence important to give the back channel diplomats a space for breathing so that talks succeed and ensure its continuation in the greater interest of world peace and stability.
---
*Human rights defender, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat, twitter: @freetohumanity

Comments

S.Dey. said…
I really like the statesmanship of Honourable Putin who faces the world in a calm and quite gesture with hardly any abusive language even to his opponents.
I also respect President Bidan for his great experiences in how to deal with a difficult situation and exponential pressure of vested interests.
All the leaders of the world should come together to create a new world order with UNO personals acting as Border Security of necessary socio-economic sustainable zones in line of Progressive Utilisation Theory of Sociological Science based on NEO-HUMANISM.
Minor nations shall then not feel threatened by major nations and food,cloth,shelter,medical support and education becomes available to all in the medium of their mother tongue becomes available in a post-destruction era of world economy under the guidance of Great Personalities' collective leadership.

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen