Monday, December 1, 2014

Disorder Rules

Anne Applebaum's review of Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?, a recent book by Karen Dawisha, in the latest issue of The New York Review is a must read for anyone who takes a look at BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Jonathan Marcus' analysis posted on the BBC News Web site today under the title "Putin problem gives Nato headache." On the surface it would seem as if Marcus and Dawisha are examining different aspects of Putin's career advancements; but this would be dangerous silo-based thinking. Consider what may be Marcus' key "punch line" observation:
Nonetheless, the Ukraine crisis has shown Mr Putin to be a master of making policy on the hoof, exploiting weaknesses; setting many hares running and following up those that seem to make the most headway.
As Applebaum's article makes clear, Dawisha is not interested in how Putin makes policy. On the contrary, Putin's actions can only be considered in terms of the acquisition of power and the use of power to manage and acquire resources. If Putin is a master of anything, it is his ability to sow disorder, thereby throwing just about every institution of governance (established or otherwise) into dithering helplessness. Applebaum provides several vivid examples of how Putin has put this talent into practice, including channeling resources to both left-wing and right-wing extremists in our own country, creating, for his own purposes, a legislative body incapable of making any decision.

Applebaum also notes that Dawisha is not the first to write about this dark side of Putin's behavior. Indeed, Dawisha is credited for recognizing all the sources that provided support for the points she makes in her book. Unfortunately, those who believe that the end of the Cold War provided circumstances for a "new world order" must now recognize just how deluded they were and come up with a better belief system before it is too late.

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