Current events have been set ablaze by Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to, essentially, invade Crimea under the guise of reuniting ethnic Russians with the motherland. (Seem familiar to a certain dictator reuniting ethnic Germans in Austria?) But, what is unsurprising, is the current administration’s actions, or lack thereof, towards Russia and Putin.
The first article, by Charles Krauthammer, details the luck that Putin has to be granted an adversary (adversary in the technical means of the position, there has been no confrontation as of yet) with copious amounts of ineptitude. From repeated dismissals to the reality or significance of the actions (Obama says, for example, that taking Crimea isn’t even in Russia’s interest or strategic), or trying to belittle Putin in one way or another. The first way, mentioned in this article, is denouncing his actions as if some breech of etiquette. (I will discuss the second one later) Putin has been granted an opportunity unseen by leaders of rival nations since Johnson and Carter inhabited the Oval Office. The history of incompetence is only magnified by the recent decision to further cut spending on the military (while simultaneously increasing it, or planning to, on more social programs).
The second article, by Jonah Goldberg, details the fallacy in the modern (since Clinton) diplomatic actions taken regarding Russia, specifically the resets and how the Cold War in general was characterized. There have been four attempted “resets” with Russia (including the one where Hillary presented a button that actually said Overcharge), and little to no progress. The latter of the fallacies, the greater, is regarding how we viewed the Cold War and ourselves. One of the greatest crimes against the American ideals is the characterization of American actions in the Cold War as equal to the Russians in terms of fault. In his article, Goldberg has a brilliant line regarding William F. Buckley’s comment on the idea that the U.S. was equally at fault, “My old boss, William F. Buckley, responding to claims that the U.S. and the Soviets were morally equivalent, said that if one man pushes an old lady into an oncoming bus and another man pushes an old lady out of the way of a bus, we should not denounce them both as the sorts of men who push old ladies around.”
Now, to the aforementioned second method the U.S. belittles Putin (and this one is to our EXTREME disadvantage), with the difference being this is what we tell ourselves. Most of the time Putin is cast as rather bumbling, unsuccessful, and slow witted. But this clearly cannot be further from the truth. Putin has ruled Russia for approaching 15 years now, (Elected president from 2000-2008, prime minister from 08-12, then elected president again in ’12) and has been relatively successful at it. Solid economic growth in addition to Russia’s reemergence as one of the world powers. A significant portion of this rebirth is due to Putin’s leadership and cunning actions. This is evidenced by the fact that the U.S. has not emerged victorious in a diplomatic stand-off with him, as he has embarrassed in every exchange.
Putin is a man of many faces. He projects the image of a bold, abrasive leader who speaks out at will, contributing to the image of a loud mouthed leader with little subtlety. This, however, is exactly what he wants us to believe. Putin was a colonel in the KGB at a remarkably young age and rose through the political ranks at a similar speed. Putin has excelled on the world stage, as he did in the harsh climate of Soviet Russia, through skillful manipulations and planning. Vladimir Putin is one of the most powerful men in the world, and he did not get there by guilting his country into electing him.