McCain's piece, a plea to the Russian people, assails Putin's rule while claiming that he (McCain) is more "pro-Russian" than the country's government and president. He writes:
"They don't respect your dignity or accept your authority over them. They punish dissent and imprison opponents. They rig your elections. They control your media. They harass, threaten, and banish organizations that defend your right to self-governance. To perpetuate their power they foster rampant corruption in your courts and your economy and terrorize and even assassinate journalists who try to expose their corruption."
arthursolomon (Sep. 20, 2013): Perhaps you're right, and I hope so, Mr. Levy. But I have to dissent with your viewpoint that the Putin/McCain duel of articles will change anything. The Times is a paper that is respected internationally; McCain's piece in an online pub of little stature. Also, the McCain article has provided the Russian Federation with a tool to use when refuting charges that it is a controlled society that does not allow dissenting opinions. I agree with you that only good can come when countries communicate with each other. But dueling "press releases" is not the answer.
Joe Honick (Sep. 20, 2013): The international comic opera continues. Today Putin is quoted in the Financial Times calling for Russians to return to religious values. McCain thinks that ranting about Putin and freedom registers in Russia, and the Iranian president seems to have a (probablyAmerican)PR firm writing and plaing long, long op ed pieces asserting the usual peaceful stuff and people should know he's a nice guy. I have old, old TIME magazines quoting a guy named Hitler saying all the same stuff. Between Syria, Russia and American politicos, there must be lots of bridges for sale.
Ronald N. Levy (Sep. 19, 2013): Comrades, a letter calling for this appeared in your newsletter Sep. 16. Somewhere I saw that you are read in over 140 countries! McCain writes like Jack criticizing PRSA, and when countries communicate with each other even critically, the effect can be good. Each side may see more clearly the viewpoint of the other side, and--who knows?--the criticism could lead to improvement!
Did you read McCain's piece? Regardless of which political party you favor, you may judge that McCain's piece is a foolish wasted opportunity--negative name calling.
What McCain could have done, and Ketchum could have expertly helped him, is to point out (a) the opportunity for a better world, and (b) how our two countries can cooperate to make it happen.
Successful PR and ad programs motivate action by showing what can be achieved and how it can be done, not by name-calling. Beyond any doubt, our two coutries could certainly cooperate to protect the environment, advance public health, reduce the peril of war and improve the standard of living for both countries. But McCain doesn't call for this.
He could have volunteered to form a group of American doctors who could--free--help Russian children to live longer and better, and to
work with Russian leaders so Russian doctors do the same to help
millions of Americans in some way, perhaps to better survive tough winters.
Every one of us can think of other good things McCain could have done
but he didn't. Damn shame. He has said in the past that the U.S. should send American troops to Africa, American troops to Asia and American troops to the Middle East but not that we should send doctors, artists, poets and professors to Russia, China and other countries where cooperation could produce more good things than
sending American troops and badmouthing the elected leader of a great country.
Instead he keeps saying that Russia's elected leader is bad, and that reliance on oil revenue and other natural resources is bad (but he doesn't say what they should rely on instead) and that Syria "is murdering tens of thousands of its own people to remain in power." But it's a revolution! Is it murder for the Syrian government to fight revolutionaries who bomb and shoot people in an effort to take over the government by force? Our TV shows the reels shooting! Our TV shows the rebels executing prisoners!
Don't we in the U.S. also make it a crime to try overthrowing the government by force?
Russia was our EXTREMELY valuable ally in World War II and lost 30 million people fighting it our common enemy. In the future, Russia may be our ally again in war and is already our ally in peaceful endeavors that could be grown.
But name calling won't grow them. In corporations, general counsels are excellent at getting headstrong leaders to be temperate in their remarks but we can see from McCain's piece that no one got to McCain
with a persuasive cll for temperance.
Ketchum, one of the greatest-ever PR firms, certainly could have helped McCain do a better job. Blame for the name-calling, instead of a stirring "let's work together" appeal, surely falls on McCain, not Ketchum.