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Putin’s boasting a bit overboard

Americans old enough to remember the prediction “We will bury you,” pronounced by Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Union premier from 1958-64, still might recall some of the “few choice words” they uttered in response.

Khrushchev, who was adept at making predictions regarding a U.S. demise, despite pursuing a policy of “peaceful coexistence” with what he liked to describe as the Capitalist West, entered retirement — a retirement either forced or by choice — without seeing America flying the Communist red flag.

“We do not have to invade the United States; we will destroy you from within,” Khrushchev had said.

Of course, that did not happen, although there are Americans now who wonder whether the United States is in danger of such a “from within” scenario, albeit without direct involvement by Russia, which arose from the proverbial ashes of the former Soviet empire.

Reflecting on events of the past two weeks, it seems a good time for Americans to assemble some new choice phrases in reaction to thoughts voiced not by Khrushchev, but by current Russian President Vladimir Putin during an annual event at which he answers questions from “ordinary” Russians.

On June 30, Putin challenged U.S. leadership in world affairs, arguing that an era of U.S. hegemony “has come to an end” as he boasted about Moscow’s increasing military strength and beefed up, more assertive foreign policy.

Portraying the U.S. as a waning power, Putin said the world is changing dramatically and “our partners in the United States understand this” and, at all costs, are trying to maintain their monopoly position.

For the sake of this planet’s well-being, it is important that the United States maintain its leadership position, even if there are changing opinions and revised emphases along the way.

The Wall Street Journal published the headline “U.S. domination ending, Putin says” over a July 1 article about the Russian president’s questions session. But stack up that message against President Joe Biden’s depiction of the Kremlin leader as “presiding over a country increasingly isolated by sanctions and struggling economically.”

The past year hasn’t been good to the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the road out of that crisis continues to produce steady progress. Meanwhile, although Putin has continued to talk tough, the future for Russia and Russians is less optimistic, with a new wave caused by the more-transmissible delta variant sweeping the country and already having doubled the number of cases.

Beyond that, Russia has deepening economic problems that seemingly are too complex for Putin to achieve substantial progress, going alone.

Therefore, just as Khrushchev’s predictions regarding a doomed United States failed to materialize, so too will Putin’s predictions regarding an end to U.S. power around the world.

“Do you think when two representatives holding diametrically opposing views get together and shake hands, the contradictions between our systems will simply melt away?” Khrushchev once asked. “What kind of a daydream is that?”

If any daydreams should be buried, they should be those casting doubts about America’s resilience and continuing strong, important influence on the world stage — especially from Putin.

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