Putin Versus the West

The West has not accepted Putin’s recent behaviour. It has retaliated with sanctions and other measures.

The danger his Russia poses is not analogous to that of the Soviet Union.

Putin does not incarnate an ideology. The Soviet Union was not only a Great Power but also the centre of the Communist Party. For seventy years it was communism rather than the USSR that threatened the established order of large parts of the world. Putin is only the head of a power whose economic greatness is shrinking visibly.

There is no Putinism.

Putin, however, has a modus operandi. In the current issue of the New York Review of Books, George Soros has defined it. His article is called “Wake Up Europe.”

“…Russia is presenting an alternative that poses a fundamental challenge to the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded. It is based on the use of force that manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law. What is shocking is that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has proved to be in some ways superior to the European Union – more flexible and constantly springing surprises. That has given it a tactical advantage, at least in the near term….”

That alternative, however serious, is not an ideology. Whatever it is, it cannot compete with the persuasive challenge communism presented in its heyday.

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4 responses to “Putin Versus the West

  1. Unfortunately, communism is not the competitor, Western “Civilization” is – and it has thus far proved unequal to the task. The neighbourhood bully is having his way, at least in what he considers to be his own neighbourhood. Ukraine seems to me to be a lost (or conceded) cause; I’m watching the Baltics.

  2. You have hit the nail on the head. Also today’s Russia is much weaker than the old USSR and has almost no other countries supporting it in the world.

  3. It does not make it any more palatable that both views are valid. Russia does not have anything like the power of the Soviet Union in its heyday, but nor is what we call the West able to combat Vladimir Putin’s aggression.
    I am certain Putin has studied carefully the way Adolf Hitler played off France, Britain, Russia and a vast number of other countries in the years leading up to 1939 and the outbreak of the Second World War.
    Hitler’s combination of lies, promises and threats was immensely successful in getting otherwise sensible men to agree to outrageous propositions.
    Bit by bit, nibble by nibble, he acquired or emasculated his neighbours. Putin’s doing the same.
    The west’s problem now, as it was then, is: are the people of the democratic countries prepared to fight?
    Will they confront Putin over Ukraine. He’s betting they won’t. He’s also betting that when he gets ambitious in say, the Baltic States, they still won’t.
    I think he’s right. The west won’t fight until Putin does a Hitler and overreaches.
    The problem with that is Putin is not as crazy as Hitler and unlike Hitler, he does have some people within Russia who can pull him back from the brink.
    That little solace for Russia’s small neighbours.

  4. The notion of ‘the rule of law’, as evoked by George Soros in the quote, can be a malleable ‘beast’.