Well, someone has to answer for Vladimir Putin’s remarkably undiplomatic essay in the New York Times.  One good trolling deserves another, and do we think that Barack Obama would deliver the goods?  Instead, Senator John McCain blasts Putin in Pravda.ru, an online-only media outlet with no affiliation to the state-run Pravda newspaper, as a friend to tyrants and an enemy of his own people:

Senator John McCain on Thursday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of allying himself with tyrants and ruling through violence and repression, in a scathing retort to a New York Times editorial by Putin earlier this month.

In an editorial published on news website Pravda.ru, McCain criticized the Russian leader’s policies at home and in Syria, where Putin has repeatedly protected President Bashar al-Assad.

“(Putin) is not enhancing Russia’s global reputation. He is destroying it. He has made her a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world,” wrote the senior senator from Arizona, who is also a leading Republican voice on military affairs.

What’s more, McCain continues, Putin wouldn’t dare allow his own people to write that about his rule:

When Pravda.ru editor, Dmitry Sudakov, offered to publish my commentary, he referred to me as “an active anti-Russian politician for many years.” I’m sure that isn’t the first time Russians have heard me characterized as their antagonist. Since my purpose here is to dispel falsehoods used by Russia’s rulers to perpetuate their power and excuse their corruption, let me begin with that untruth. I am not anti-Russian. I am pro-Russian, more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today. …

A Russian citizen could not publish a testament like the one I just offered. President Putin and his associates do not believe in these values. 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.

They write laws to codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn. They throw the members of a punk rock band in jail for the crime of being provocative and vulgar and for having the audacity to protest President Putin’s rule.

In fact, McCain spends more time talking about Putin’s attacks on Russians than he does about Russia’s foreign policies.  That hearkens back to American strategy during the Cold War, when we used the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe to broadcast a more balanced view of the West behind the Iron Curtain in an attempt to educate those trapped about the reality of their plight.  Those worked, too, but only as a sustained effort that gradually undermined the credibility of the regime.

One-off columns in Pravda.ru, whose Alexa rank among all .ru domains is 535, won’t have that much of an impact, at least not on its own.  By comparison, the New York Times ranks 35th in Alexa ranking of all US websites, and has a lot more secondary impact.  If this isn’t the Cold War, it’s at least the Troll War.  That’s better than a Cold War, but we seem to be going in that direction anyway.

Either way, it’s a great response. Too bad the White House didn’t have more to say.