Our failure to fathom the threat to our national security of an unrestrained Putin is explained by the fact that we do not understand Putin, his regime, and what makes him and his inner circle tick. We live in the “civilized world” of norms and accepted behavior of the twenty-first century, which we assume others share, at least to some extent. We are unprepared to understand an entire nation that is run as a criminal enterprise by kleptocrats, whose only concern is power and wealth and preserving both.
No. We live in a “progressive” world, where words are much, much more important than deeds, where well-creased pants and a facile way with words is considered a power to be desired, where “soft power” is even more desirable than real power.
Beliefs like these basically misunderstand or ignore reality. They can only hold sway when there is a general consensus that they are true, whether they actually are true or not.
This analyst makes the mistake that so many who live and think in this “consensus” do – that they are the sole arbiters of what is civilization, and what its characteristics are.
Russia is civilized, and has been so for many centuries. I’m quite sure that it views its own actions (Putin is wildly popular in Russia) as being justified by the “uncivilized” attacks carried out against it by the West during the Cold War.
Bottom line: Merely because somewhat alternate views of civilization clash on real-world battlefields does not make one uncivilized. Pretending otherwise may be soothing to a certain progressive mindset, but keep in mind: A civilization that cannot defend itself is doomed. The brute force equations involved in the maxim, “Power abhors a vacuum,” will see to that.
In the halls of American and other western powers the belief seems to be that branding Russia as uncivilized, and hence unfit to sup at their heavily laden tables, is punishment enough. They forget that the uninvited dinner guest sometimes comes through the front door and takes the whole banquet by brute force.