Putin the 'Preeminent Statesman' of Our Times?
31, 2017 "Information
- "If we were to use traditional measures
for understanding leaders, which involve the
defense of borders and national flourishing,
Putin would count as the preeminent statesman of
world stage, who could vie with him?"
Chris Caldwell of the Weekly Standard in a
remarkable essay in Hillsdale Collegeís March
issue of its magazine, Imprimis.
elevates Putin above all other 21st-century
Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his
country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was
being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites,
in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the
Americans. Putin changed that.
first decade of this century, he did what Kemal
Ataturk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of
a crumbling empire, he resurrected a
national-state, and gave it coherence and
purpose. He disciplined his countryís
plutocrats. He restored its military strength.
And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to
accept for Russia a subservient role in an
American-run world system drawn up by foreign
politicians and business leaders. His voters
credit him with having saved his country."
approval rating, after 17 years in power,
exceeds that of any rival Western leader. But
while his impressive strides toward making
Russia great again explain why he is revered at
home and in the Russian diaspora, what explains
Putinís appeal in the West, despite a press that
is every bit as savage as President Trumpís?
Putin stands against the Western progressive
vision of what mankindís future ought to be.
Years ago, he aligned himself with
traditionalists, nationalists and populists of
the West, and against what they had come to
despise in their own decadent civilization.
they abhorred, Putin abhorred. He is a
God-and-country Russian patriot. He rejects the
New World Order established at the Cold Warís
end by the United States. Putin puts Russia
defying the Americans he speaks for those
millions of Europeans who wish to restore their
national identities and recapture their lost
sovereignty from the supranational European
Union. Putin also stands against the progressive
moral relativism of a Western elite that has cut
its Christian roots to embrace secularism and
U.S. establishment loathes Putin because, they
say, he is an aggressor, a tyrant, a "killer."
He invaded and occupies Ukraine. His old KGB
comrades assassinate journalists, defectors and
while politics under both czars and commissars
has often been a blood sport in Russia, what has
Putin done to his domestic enemies to rival what
our Arab ally Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has
done to the Muslim Brotherhood he overthrew in a
military coup in Egypt?
has Putin done to rival what our NATO ally
President Erdogan has done in Turkey, jailing
40,000 people since last Julyís coup ó or our
Philippine ally Rodrigo Duterte, who has
presided over the extrajudicial killing of
thousands of drug dealers?
anyone think President Xi Jinping would have
handled mass demonstrations against his regime
in Tiananmen Square more gingerly than did
President Putin this last week in Moscow?
the hostility toward Putin stems from the fact
that he not only defies the West, when standing
up for Russiaís interests, he often succeeds in
his defiance and goes unpunished and
only remains popular in his own country, but has
admirers in nations whose political
establishments are implacably hostile to him.
December, one poll found 37 percent of all
Republicans had a favorable view of the Russian
leader, but only 17 percent were positive on
President Barack Obama.
is another reason Putin is viewed favorably.
Millions of ethnonationalists who wish to see
their nations secede from the EU see him as an
ally. While Putin has openly welcomed many of
these movements, Americaís elite do not take
even a neutral stance.
has read the new century better than his rivals.
While the 20th century saw the world divided
between a Communist East and a free and
democratic West, new and different struggles
define the 21st.
dividing lines are between social conservatism
and self-indulgent secularism, between tribalism
and transnationalism, between the nation-state
and the New World Order.
new dividing lines, Putin is on the side of the
insurgents. Those who envision de Gaulleís
Europe of Nations replacing the vision of One
Europe, toward which the EU is heading, see
Putin as an ally.
old question arises: Who owns the future?
new struggles of the new century, it is not
impossible that Russia ó as was America in the
Cold War ó may be on the winning side.
Secessionist parties across Europe already look
to Moscow rather than across the Atlantic.
has become a symbol of national sovereignty in
its battle with globalism," writes Caldwell.
"That turns out to be the big battle of our
times. As our last election shows, thatís true
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new
book "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon
Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority." To
find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read
features by other Creators writers and
cartoonists, visit the Creators website at
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