During a press conference today at the G8 summit in Russia, President Bush told President Vladimir Putin that Americans want Russia to develop a free press and free religion “like Iraq.” To laughter and applause, Putin responded: “We certainly would not want to have same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, quite honestly.” CNN’s Ed Henry called it a “tough jab.” Watch it:
The exchange underscores how the war in Iraq has damaged the standing of the United States, to the point where even modest encouragement for democratic reform is met with ridicule.
BUSH: I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world, like Iraq, where there’s a free press and free religion. And I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia will do the same thing. I fully understand, however, that there will be a Russian-style democracy.
PUTIN: We certainly would not want to have same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, quite honestly.
BUSH: Just wait.