Putin’s rationality

There has been much talk, rightly, about the state of mind of Vladimir Putin. The piece notes “discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula on CBS’s Face The Nationrecently, Secretary of State John Kerry remarked: ‘You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on [a] completely trumped-up pretext.’ He also warned that President Obama ‘has all options on the table’ — including the use of military force”,

The writer goes on to add, “Obama himself has accused Putin of viewing the Ukraine crisis as part of a ‘some Cold War chessboard,’ and of ‘keeping one foot in the old [Cold War] ways of doing business.’ Criticisms of Russia’s military action have been coming from all quarters. Nonetheless, these comments by western leaders merit special examination. They seem to be based on a shared conclusion:  In taking over the Crimea, President Putin has behaved irrationally, operating on a set of erroneous, perhaps even crazed, assumptions”.

He makes the vital point that “It should surprise no one that Putin has concluded that the United States was behind the Euromaidan protests. He famously blamed the 2011 eruption of opposition demonstrations in Russia on meddling American NGOs. Moreover, in February, Victoria Nuland, a State Department official, declared that since Ukraine achieved independence in 1991, the U.S. government has spent more than $5 billion to ‘assist’ it in building ‘democratic skills,’ ‘civic participation,’ and ‘good governance.’ Aid has been provided, as far as is known, under the Freedom Support Act passed in 1992 to help stimulate former Soviet economies using American funds”.

The writer implies that Putin may not be totally rational, indeed there is a strong case to be made for levels of paranoia in Putin and how he conducts himself in the world and the subsequent statements he makes.

He goes on to mention “In suspecting the United States’ involvement in the Euromaidan, has Putin taken leave of his senses? Kerry and Merkel seem to have forgotten, or chosen to ignore, the numerous aggressive steps the United States has taken since the end of the Cold War to reduce Russia’s influence, to say nothing of American-backed military interventions and invasions across the globe. As the nuclear standoff between the two superpowers waned, the West’s most powerful military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), has expanded three times, despite President George H. W. Bush’s apparent promise to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev not to enlarge the group“.

All this is true, NATO expansion was a favour of President Clinton and was less to do with security and more to do with domestic electoral politics. However, to say that because Gaddafi was overthrown or the Taliban were overthrown and to therefore justify, or rationalise that Putin thinks he could be next is both a strange argument and at the same time brings into question how in touch with reality Putin really is.

He continues, “The Soviet Union is no more, but the entity created specifically to counter its military might thrives, as has the Pentagon’s budget, which increased relentlessly until 2011, topping $700 billion. Furthermore, in 2002, the United States withdrew unilaterally from its treaty with Moscow banning anti-ballistic missiles and plans to station such missiles in Eastern Europe. The conclusion Putin has drawn? The United States is bent on maintaining and increasing its hegemony — at Russia’s expense”.

He goes on to argue that “Far from being ’19th-century’ behaviour, bombing, invading, and toppling regimes remain options the United States has been willing to deploy against its adversaries. Qaddafi’s execution in particular is known to have disturbed Putin. In 2011, Putin repeatedly and angrily denouncedNATO for using the no-fly zone it imposed on Libya as a pretext for allowing Qaddafi’s killing”.

Again the writer unfairly blames the West/America for Putin’s lack of compentence or worse. Putin allowed Russia to vote for the UN Libya resolution but was then suprised to see that it meant the overthrow of Gaddafi. It must be asked, what exactly did Putin think would happen, the rebels in the east would be saved from defeat and then the western alliance would just “go home”?

He ends the article “The West, and especially the United States, needs to acknowledge that the invasions and changes of regime they have carried out have done nothing to dispel notions that they seek world hegemony, and have convinced Putin that he is locked in a struggle not only for Russian dominance in its near-abroad, but for the future of his government — and even, possibly, for his life. They have targeted authoritarian rulers in the past, and suspecting them of doing so now makes eminent sense; Putin is taking history’s lesson to heart. This is no mere call for a reexamination of the U.S. history of robust interventions across the globe, interventions of which the Russian leader is no doubt a student. President Obama and his hectoring Secretary of State should take as a given the rank cynicism these interventions have long generated outside America’s borders and formulate their addresses — and policies — to take it into account”.

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6 Responses to “Putin’s rationality”

  1. Now part of Russia | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] Washington Post reports that “Invoking the suffering of the Russian people and a narrative of constant betrayals by the West, President Vladimir Putin declared Tuesday that Russia was within its rights to reclaim […]

  2. End of the Eurasian Union? | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] course, if Putin had not been so short sighted/rational then Putin would still have a link, if not a friend, in Kiev and his beloved Eurasian Union project […]

  3. The missile that sank Putin? | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] Of course, the problem is that this assumes a clear simple investigation, which may not be the case. There have been concerns expressed over the black boxes that were in rebel hands may have been tampered with. Putin needs to cut ties with the rebels and have their weapons supply dry up but there is no certainity that Putin would do this as the real world and his own mind seem to be increasingly detached. […]

  4. Order and Tradition Says:

    […] This answers previous questions about Russia being too big to sanction  and the danger of sanctions but forces people to return to questions over Putin’s rationality. […]

  5. Mearsheimer blames NATO | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] cannot be the case, Putin could have expressed his concerns to “the West” and being a supposedly rational actor should have taken succour from […]

  6. Germany owes Ukraine | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] of NATO that is to blame while others have refuted this idea. There has been a discussion as to his rationality and while he may not be rational Putin is not stupid enough to invade another country so […]

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