Thursday, December 25, 2014

An Anti-Democratic, Tyrannical Bully

Continuing a theme we've been following for several days, the impact and intentions of Russia's Putin, comes a column by Alex Berezow, an associate editor of RealClearWorld. His thesis is that Putin is exactly the leader Russians want.
Mr. Putin's popularity went soaring within months of his taking office, well before he began his autocratic consolidation of power. Moreover, his approval rating has remained high for 15 years. The more tyrannical he behaves, the more popular he becomes. Putin's popularity, therefore, is likely to due something else: Russians don't think highly of Western-style democracy.
A poll found that "45 percent of Russians believed a Western-style democracy would be destructive to the country." There is some chance they are correct, incidentally. This leads Berezow to write:
The unsettling conclusion is that an anti-democratic, tyrannical bully who is willing to invade his neighbors for the sake of Russian glory is exactly the sort of leader Russians want. Mr. Putin is not acting in defiance of the will of the people; rather, he is the embodiment of the Russian mindset.
When the other DrC and I were in Russia in 2007 Putin was very popular with the young Russians who were among our guides. There was no sense they were being cautious or correct in what they said; the English speakers thought he was a "cool" tough guy and said so.

I find myself comparing Putin's role in post-Soviet Russia to that of de Gaulle in post-war France, both are pols who pandered to a widespread longing for former power and glory. We can hope Russia's Putin has no more lasting success than did France's de Gaulle.