The New York Times characterized this as a “rare diplomatic defeat” for Putin, though I’m not sure why. Indeed, diplomatic defeats appear to be the only thing the Russian president has accomplished lately.
Sometimes I think the problem is that news organizations have stripped down the news so much that reporters are often left not calculating which words they can strike in order to fit within the column allocation without wrecking the writing, but, rather, how to fill electronic column space with words that nobody pays that much attention to.
The thing is that generations of writers are now raised to believe that every sentence must be vivid and dynamic and active. Then again, the thing would also seem to be some sort of disconnection between words and their meanings. We might borrow from Lemony Snicket and, saying nothing of watermelons, suggest that “The New York Times called the defeat ‘rare’, a word which here means ‘frequently occurring’.” Or maybe we should just run with Andrew Roth of the New York Times:
President Vladimir V. Putin said Monday that he would scrap Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline, a grandiose project that was once intended to establish the country’s dominance in southeastern Europe but instead fell victim to Russia’s increasingly toxic relationship with the West.
It was a rare diplomatic defeat for Mr. Putin, who said Russia would redirect the pipeline to Turkey. He painted the failure to build the pipeline as a loss for Europe and blamed Brussels for its intransigence.
The decision also seemed to be a rare victory for the European Union and the Obama administration, which have appeared largely impotent this year as Mr. Putin annexed Crimea and stirred rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
Russia had long presented the $22 billion South Stream project as a sound business move. But Washington and Brussels had dismissed it as a thinly veiled attempt by the Kremlin to cement its position as the dominant supplier in Europe while sidestepping Ukraine, where price disputes with Moscow twice interrupted supplies in recent years.
There was a time, not so long ago, when American conservatives fell in love with Puti-Toots. This was not so hard to understand, given their memory problems. (No, seriously, have you checked in on the Republicans who wax macho about how President Bush wouldn’t have taken shit from Putin, but also forget how the Administration stood by and allowed Russia to invade Georgia?) After all, here we have a closet homosexual running a pogrom against gays in Russia, clodhopping his way through the Ukraine, and absolutely burying the state he leads under its own economic detritus while chasing down the Manichaean hole of glory days gone by when the KGB had free rein in a useless dualistic struggle.