February 2007. The month in which some 135 people were killed in a market bombing in Baghdad, the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl, and President Putin delivered a speech at the Munich Conference on Security Policy.
It was a speech that made front page news across the world.
‘Putin rails against US foreign policy’ was the headline of the FT. ‘Putin says US is undermining global security’ was the splash of the New York Times. ‘Putin’s speech: Back to Cold War?’ asked the BBC. The World Socialist Website described the address, delivered in front of politicians, military officials, entrepreneurs and experts from more than 40 countries as “one of the most vociferous criticisms of Washington publicly voiced by the head of any major power.”
Ten years ago, there were probably quite a few people who – even after the debacle of Iraq – thought the Russian President had gone ‘over the top’ in his criticism of the way the US operated on the international stage.
Predictably, one of those who lambasted Putin’s speech was the neocon warmonger and then US Presidential hopeful John McCain, who sat in the front row with his eyes staring upwards at the ceiling while Putin addressed the conference. McCain said Russia’s foreign policy was opposed to the “principles of Western democracies.”