Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

“Russia Today” Give and Take

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Just watched an excellent interview between Oksana Boyko and Jean-Marie Guehenno, President of the Internatonal Crisis Group.  Ms. Boyko is Russian journalist who was asking Mr. Guehenno questions on the Russian news program Russia Today.  I came in late to the conversation, but I first heard Ms. Boyko ask about the concept of sovereignty and whether that system of how nations declare and enforce their independence is any better than other possible systems.  The discussion drew on World War Two and Vietnam era lessons learned from Roosevelt to Kissenger.

Then, she moved onto the problems with how countries agree on decision making processes between them considering the differences in worldview and the problems as they relate to Realpolitik.  She made a simple but effective example of how geopolitics isn’t much different than politics between neighbors and is balance of power the only way they can interact and coexist?  Mr. Guehenno responded that a balance of power relationship, although it has helped the world avoid major conflicts, it tends to be unstable over the long term and systems of cooperative agreements are much better.

Then, after clearly associating herself as a Russian journalist, she posed a very blunt question to Mr. Guehenno about why the U.S. and the west’s propogation of democracy is better than the Russian or Chinese systems.  To this, Mr. Guehenno spoke to the idea that although no political system is perfect, the west focuses on the rights of the individual and thus, alluded to the possibility that Russia and China may not be so focused.

Ms. Boyko responded that imposed systems of governmence have led to more wars, not fewer wars to which Mr. Guehenno agreed but he also said that although imposed systems don’t tend to work, democracy does because of its focus on individuals.  But it, like any system can’t be imposed.  Instead, he said, it must be a grass roots effort from the inside.

Finally, Mr. Guehenno and Ms. Boyko discussed and compared current conflicts in Syria versus Ukraine.  Although Mr. Guehenno accused Russia of being the primary irritant in Ukraine, in Syria, he was much more willing to spread the blame to all of the players, including the United States.  Near the end, there was some cross-talk when Ms. Boyko contested some of Mr. Guehenno’s assertions about where that blame lies.  But she was able to wrap it up with a smile.

Russia Today is Moscow’s answer to the fast paced news and production values of CNN and Fox News.  It is tight, well put together and offers a view of the world Westerners don’t often see.

The discussion, which appeared on an RT program called “Worlds Apart” was a complex, in-depth and perfectly coherent one.  It was enjoyable and informative through eyes not our own, which sometimes, can be a pretty healthy perspective to try out.

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Written by Interviewer

February 16, 2015 at 03:24

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