"Hang Him By the Balls"

Who knows if this is true—and there is plenty of reason to doubt it. After all, it was leaked by Élysée and it strongly implies that Sarko the Super Diplomat single-handedly prevented Russian troops from overrunning Tblisi. Regardless, the portrait of Vladimir Putin rings true:

With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia's Government. According to Mr Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. "I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls," Mr Putin declared.

Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. "Hang him?" - he asked. "Why not?" Mr Putin replied. "The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein." Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: "Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?" Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: "Ah - you have scored a point there."

Full story from the (London) Times.

I discussed the Russian invasion of Georgia with author Andrew Meier here.

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  • ||

    "Hang him" and "hang him by the balls" have two completely different meanings. Except in this case.

  • I, Kahn O\'Clast||

    "do you want to end up like Bush?" --Pure comedic genius. Bravo Sarko

  • ||

    Finally - a positive Bush legacy! Look at all the good he's starting to do in the world!

  • BDB||

    I knew I liked Sarkozy for a reason.

  • ||

    Gee, A world leader makes a very disturbing comment and the fools around here think it is all just a funny Bush joke.

  • ||

    I'm gonna call bullshit. Putin would never say Sarcozy scored any points.

  • shrike||

    Hey, this is a unique angle on Bush. His legacy will be that he killed both Conservatism and Imperialism/Nation-Building for decades...

    For that - we owe him.

  • ||

    Can you ever use the "tu" form with another foreign leader? If so, do you know you're in hot water when they start using the "vous" form again.

    Does Putin speak French that he'd know the difference?

  • ||

    "Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?" Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: "Ah - you have scored a point there."

    Indeed. For example, Bush is leaving office and relinquishing power. Putin? He switched offices, I suppose.

  • ||

    "A world leader makes a very disturbing comment and the fools around here think it is all just a funny Bush joke."

    Or perhaps the sad recognition that the buffoon America elected twice is the international symbol of failed leadership.

  • I, Kahn O\'Clast||

    Given Putin's desire to recreate the Empire of the Czars I would expect him to speak French.

    Of course maybe Sarko speaks Russian and it was tee not tu....

  • The Extispicator||

    Actually, I doubt the veracity of the story. The context makes it clear that Sarky was talking about "being like Bush" in terms of being seen as a brutal foreign agressor/imperialist. Of course Putin wants to be "like Bush" in this context, as well as the context of destroying personal liberties for the sake of 'security.'

    My problem with Bush is that I think Putin would love to be like him, only more. I'd like a President that Putin doesn't want to be like.

  • rhywun||

    Does Putin speak French that he'd know the difference?



    Russian has the tu/vous distinction, too.

  • ||

    Good point, The Extispicator. But Putin doesn't have the guts Bush has. Bush takes out his enemies in public, Putin secretly has them poisoned.

  • ||

    "Can you ever use the "tu" form with another foreign leader? "

    You can if you're married to Carla Bruni.

  • ||

    I suspect that when Vlad says "hang him by the balls" he is not speaking figuratively. At all.

    The story is almost certain to be apocryphal, though. The Eurocentrism - Vlad may be a balls-hanging bastard, but at least he is French-speaking Euro, and thus better than any American - is a little too pat.

  • Nigel Watt||

    Can you ever use the "tu" form with another foreign leader?



    Por que no te callas?

  • Naga Sadow||

    Right after Putin admitted the point, Sarkozy should have said "BURN!!!" and snapped his fingers. Now THAT would have been pure comedic genius.

  • Mad Max||

    "The story is almost certain to be apocryphal, though. The Eurocentrism - Vlad may be a balls-hanging bastard, but at least he is French-speaking Euro, and thus better than any American - is a little too pat."

    Yes, I would like to see this confirmed on Snopes before I believe it.

  • ||

    R C Dean

    I'm fairly sure that most American counterparts of Putin's (foreign intellignence agents, not presidents) speak more than one language. And French is probably fairly high in the list of languages spoken.

    That doesn't prove your assumption wrong though.

  • ed||

    Who knows if this is true

    I thought we were past that inconvenience.

  • ChiSailor||

    Given that Russia probably sees the US actions in Afg. reproducing the USSR "difficulties" in Afg. I suspect that the parallel that both understood was rather the problem of what to do with the country once it's taken into hand, in the same vein as the US issues in Iraq.

  • Abdul||

    In Russia, balls hang you!

  • Naga Sadow||

    Abdul wins the thread.

  • *||

    It's refreshing to see at least one poster still has an Ard-on for Bush.

  • ||

    A small amendment to Abdul:

    In Russia, Putin's balls hang you!

  • ||

    RC,

    He was a KGB agent. I wouldn't be surprised if he spoke French, German and English, possibly even Polish.

  • ||

    Mark my words. Georgia and Ukraine will be part of Russia in next 4 Obama years. Bush may have many faults but he was nonetheless feared and respected by thugs like Putin.

  • ||

    Yeah, I don't think Putin would mind being seen as a brutal aggressor. But no-one wants to be seen as an incompetent brutal aggressor. Bush might as well have the words 'Fuck Up' tattooed across his forehead.

  • ||

    This story is bullshit. The American's didn't hang saddam, the Iraqi's did, and any former first world leader would know that. Putin is a KGB thug. He doesn't concede points to the French.

  • ||

    OK, Ha ha, Bush is a 'Fuck Up'.

    Of course, the genius level wits that say this never succeeded in getting him voted out. And Bush's most controversial foreign policy initiative, Iraq, is turning into a success, regardless of how low the bar keeps falling to call it a failure. And the US has not been attacked since 911. And the Democratic Congress elected with a 'mandate' to derail his policies failed repeatedly. etc. etc. etc.

    I think Bush was a poor President. For numerous and hopefully serious reasons. Not because of some childish glee at repeated and imagined malapropisms. Or a snobs disdain for the flyovers.

    I just wish that we as adults returned to the view that emotions are poor guides to policy, leadership, and performance.

  • ||

    This story is certainly false. Worse, it isn't funny.

  • ||

    Agreed. This story is a joke. I just can't see Sarkozy and Putin acting like fools, and this conversation is definitely (if serious) by fools. Bush has a low approval rating at home and is disliked by Europeans because he "hung Saddam"? How silly and simplistic.

  • ||

    This almost sounds plausible. The likely story is that Sarko told Putin that if he over-ran Georgia, he'd have to answer to Bush -- the president of the US, the guy who airlifted Georgian troops home in a matter of hours without the Sov's being able to stop him, the guy who rubbed Putin's face in the dirt with one, brilliant piece of military brinkmanship.

    Bush may not be loved by the world press, but no one thought he was a pushover.

  • ||

    We may lose President Bush, but we will always have Bush derangement syndrome.

  • *||

    I guess all the Bush Ard-ons come out of the woodwork when Moynihan posts something.

  • ||

    Bunk. This story doesn't pass the smell test--like him or hate him, President Bush is the most powerful man in the world. Only in Putin's wettest of dreams could he hope to "end up like Bush."

    Only the Cruz Overbrook scenario has any chance of being true. Sorry to break reality to you BDS sufferers, but as told, only a fool would believe this story.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    "Or perhaps the sad recognition that the buffoon America elected twice is the international symbol of failed leadership."

    Okay, if Bush was such a "buffoon" and "failed leader"...

    1. Why are you still alive and making idiotic posts?

    2. Why are you making more money now than in 2001?

    3. Why hasn't there been another 9-11?

    4. Why haven't you been drafted yet?

    5. Why did we win the war in Iraq?

    6. Why did "President Buffoon" continually get the best of Congressional Democrats?

    Why? Why? Why?

  • ||

    If Bush is a failure as a President, the traitorous opposition of the media and the left certainly play a large part in that. Some obstacles are impossible to overcome.

    If you want to see incompetence, wait till we live through four years of the yoyo coming up. Having Obama as the president is like asking the paperboy run the newspaper.

  • Don Meaker||

    Silly me, I though when a mass murdering dictator was given a trial by the people he oppressed, and the penalty under the law was carried out, that was a good thing. Hitler-suicide. Stalin died in bed. Napoleon-poisoned. Mussolini- murdered. When else has justice been so served? And to Bush goes the credit.

    Wilson took 100,000 combat deaths in WWI, and another 800,000 lost from the flu. FDR took 400,000 combat deaths. Truman took 38,000 deaths to preserve half of Korea. Any perspective makes Bush look like a genius.

  • ||

    Sarkozy: "Putin, you pied noir, don't you see the world will think you are an unsophisticated brute, you know...a.. um, a ..Russian."

    Putin: "What!? Did you insult Mother Russia you French dog! We will bury you!! Now watch me strangle this kitten to show how tough I am!" "Oh, and I will flood Europe with Russian gangsters now! - To suggest we are thugs! What nerve!!!"

  • ||

    "Or perhaps the sad recognition that the buffoon America elected twice is the international symbol of failed leadership."

    Actually, not to get ahead of ourselves, but we're on the fifth election of a international symbol of failed leadership. Clinton made a lot of useless treaties, and hurled a few bombs, but really didn't lead. Obama lives in a bubble that has him believing he can bring about world peace with protectionism, groveling, and his winning personality.

  • VM||

    is Mark J for real?

    or a strange, goateed Edweirdo....

  • db||

    Wilson took 100,000 combat deaths in WWI, and another 800,000 lost from the flu. FDR took 400,000 combat deaths. Truman took 38,000 deaths to preserve half of Korea. Any perspective makes Bush look like a genius.

    Of course, U.S. military philosophy, strategy, tactics, equipment, and training have made no progress since 1914.

  • ||

    "My problem with Bush is that I think Putin would love to be like him, only more."

    Yea, like Putin would do anything that would free anyone from tyranny, even if it was in best interest.

  • Carl||

    I volunteer to waste my own time:


    1. Why are you still alive and making idiotic posts?



    Because AQ turned out to be a paper tiger. If they had had any sleeper agents in the US at any point in the last 7 years, they would have gone ahead and at least shot up a mall with an uzi or something. As it is, all Bush has done is illegally hold US citizen Jose Padilla without trial until the Supreme Court told him not to and make everyone wait forever at the airport.

    Turn the question around: Why did AQ attack under Bush but not under Clinton?


    2. Why are you making more money now than in 2001?



    This is not even worth responding to. Read a newspaper ferfuckssake.


    3. Why hasn't there been another 9-11?



    See point 1.


    4. Why haven't you been drafted yet?



    Because it's politically infeasible, and until 2007, Bush refused to admit that Rumsfeld's go light strategy was failing miserably. In Bush's defense, post-Rumsfeld, he's done a reasonable job.


    5. Why did we win the war in Iraq?



    Define "win"? Well, we didn't destroy their WMD any more than we destroyed Saddam's unicorn ranch, and we didn't secure their oil production, and we didn't send a strong message to North Korea (which now has tested the bomb) or the Taliban (which is still protecting bin Laden in Pakistan) or Iran (which went ahead and turned on a bunch of centrifuges to be safe), and we didn't get a permanent military base (since the status of forces agreement that Maliki is pushing will reduce us to nothing), and we didn't get greeted as liberators. We did finally come up with the strategy of paying the people who were shooting us to shoot the Arab-speaking foreigners in their midsts instead, which means that if there's another civil war, both sides will be better trained. I guess that's victory. And to think it only cost us several trillion dollars and twice as many dead Americans as on 9-11 and untold hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis. Go us!


    6. Why did "President Buffoon" continually get the best of Congressional Democrats?



    When did he even get the best of the Congressional Republicans? Enjoying privatized Social Security much?

  • zoltan||

    You are not making more money than you were in 2001. Please look up the word "inflation". Then look up "Peter Schiff". Then learn how Bush's massive deficits have contributed to the former (though the Fed is to blame as well).

    And I guess Bush really got the best of congressional Democrats when he was passing all those entitlement programs, federal reforms of education, and massive spending bills. But yeah, all he wanted was the money for his trillion-dollar war and he really got those Democrats!

  • zoltan||

    But let me get this straight--people are actually defending Bush?

  • ||

    The only thing that would make me happier than a Palin nomination in 2012 would be if her supporters loudly crowed about how awesome President Bush was.

    The GOPers decided in late 2001 they were going to be the George W. Bush Party, and some of them would rather drive off the cliff than turn the wheel.

    God, I hope they stay in the driver's seat.

    Yeah, Bush was awesome, and Iraq a glorious success. And don't even get me started on the economy.

    I mean, Lamar isn't dead. So...there's that.

  • Just Plain Brian||

    Of course, U.S. military philosophy, strategy, tactics, equipment, and training have made no progress since 1914.



    That's a good start - also, if your only metric is combat "deaths" (yes, Don, I'm looking at you), then you are completely ignoring the huge advances in combat medicine that allow major injuries these days to be crippling rather than fatal.

  • ||

    Some web sites allow you to enter a signature line, that will automatically appear when you make a post. On another site, someone chose a quote of mine to be their signature line:

    "You, sir, are like a Hitler burrito, wrapped in a Mao tortilla, with low-sodium Stalin sauce."

    I was so proud. Well, MarkJ, if Reason ever adopts that feature, you will know my pride, because I'm bookmarking this to serve as my signature line:

    Okay, if Bush was such a "buffoon" and "failed leader"...

    1. Why are you still alive and making idiotic posts?


    Huh? Huh? You not dead, right? Huh? Huh? All right then. Bush rulez.

  • zoltan||

    Well, my grandma was alive after FDR's presidency...so I guess that makes him a great leader like Bush?!?!

  • :-/||

    The quality of commentary here has disintegrated dramatically since the election.
    Coincidence or natural law?

  • ||

    I had put the comments down to a narrow American view of the world and ignorance of how life and politics can go on without them elsewhere. You think it's more specific?

  • TallDave||

    "The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein."

    Gee, I could have sworn the Iraqis held a trial.

    Turn the question around: Why did AQ attack under Bush but not under Clinton?

    Oh dear God the ignorance.

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