Editor's Note: This column was coauthored by Bob Morrison.
If United States is ever to be eclipsed as a major power, defeat might begin with foreign “leaders”—all dictators, actually—having ready access to the American people via our own mass media. Recently, Russian strong man Vladimir Putin was welcomed to the editorial pages of that “newspaper of record,” The New York Times.
There, the Kremlin chief held forth on his vision for Mideast peace, a solution to Syria’s ongoing civil war, and, for good measure, lectured us on how dangerous it was for any nation to think of itself as “exceptional.” Amerika, you’re no more exceptional, he seemed to be saying, than Russia, Belarus, or even Chechnya.
Following Putin’s debut as an ex-KGB agent turned Timesman, both Iran’s new “president,” Hassan Rouhani and Syria’s boss Bashar al-Assad were captured by American journalists for what was breathlessly billed as “exclusive” interviews.
Rouhani’s session was conducted by The Washington Post’s veteran deep thinker, David Ignatius, while Assad parried light jabs from FOX News questioners, the serious and sonorous Greg Palkot (sans helmet) and the always entertaining Dennis Kucinich.
Because President Obama has a known aversion to dealing with foreign crises, this shaping of American public opinion by foreign dictators is a dangerous trend. If all men are created equal, why shouldn’t all opinions by all “leaders” be treated equally? We have our view of world events. The world has different views. Let’s hear from them about their view. Let’s be broad-minded. It can’t hurt to talk, after all.
Except that the people in those “leaders’” countries who disagree with the views expressed by their leaders have an alarming tendency to wind up dead. Pesky journalists in Moscow have been warned by shooting those who asked too many impertinent questions. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died in the ongoing civil war there. And Hassan Rouhani—that self-described “moderate”—never uttered a peep of protest when Iran’s mullahs were shooting down opposition voters in the streets of Tehran in 2009.