Geopolitics Putin Style
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  • bob

    Israel was established as a refuge for Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews from European and Islamic genocide. Israel’s current ruling class has forgotten the country’s purpose and is allowing essentially free immigration to non-Jews. Hence the turmoil. The implied use of American history to judge Israeli history is wrong.

  • Kenny

    “Putin’s Russia is essentially a limited and secondary power in the sense that its own wealth depends large on the prosperity of others.”

    Exactly right. Plus, Russia is literally dying demographically.

  • rkka

    “Exactly right. Plus, Russia is literally dying demographically.”

    Kenny, it’s time to leave the 1990s behind. The Russian population has seen no decline since 2007, and looks to grow to 147,000,000 by 2025.

    “We can expect Putin to exploit the current weakness of that Western model, and to feel more emboldened to challenge it.”

    If Mead means “challenge” to mean “rejection of unilateral dictate,” I’ll agree. If he means something different, he’s just wrong.

    “Putin’s Russia is essentially a limited and secondary power in the sense that its own wealth depends large on the prosperity of others. If the world economy slows, the price of oil and gas fall, and the position of whoever rules Russia weakens. The EU might suffer in such a scenario but Russia’s ability to capitalize on its neighbors’ distress will be limited by its own financial weakness.”

    That’s where having half a trillion in Treasuries comes in handy. Consider the Asian financial collapse of 1998. The Russian economy was obliterated, and Russian demographics, just recovering from “shock Doctrine” spiraled downwards again.

    Fast forward to 2008. Russian birth/death rates hardly budged despite a global financial collapse, because the Russian government were able to do the Keynes thing, from savings, as Lord Keynes intended.

    That’s what half a trillion in Treasuries can do for you.

    And it will do it again this time around.

  • More and more these days I wonder what planet I’m on. You write:

    “According to Germany’s Spiegel, a chill has fallen over German-Russian relations even as summer reaches the far north. The Kremlin’s recent snubbing of German President Joachim Gauck and Putin’s absence at the G8 summit have led to suspicion as to how much swagger the Russian leader will exhibit in the coming months as his EU neighbors struggle.”

    So I read the cited article, and apparently much of the nostalgic handwringing on Berlin’s side is over the fact that . . .

    “Ties with Russia have traditionally enjoyed a special status in German foreign policy. Given the history of suffering, German governments see themselves as an important intermediary between Russia and its Western partners.”

    And so as usual I’m totally lost. In the first place – and being no great visionary on these matters – I can imagine enlightened Germans having about as “liberal-and-democratizing” an effect on Moscow in the present decade as Washington policymakers had on Beijing in the last one. Indeed, over the LONG term I can much more easily picture a Germanophile Moscow exerting an “authoritarianizing” influence on Berlin (because, simplistic as it sounds, “you are who you trade with”).

    But beyond all this, what I don’t understand is why any growing suspicion, distrust and estrangement between Russia and Germany that stops short of military buildup is a bad thing. It can only come as the welcomest of reliefs to their neighbors in between. Surely they count for something? What is NATO at bottom – at least so far as it’s something worth keeping and not scrapping? Isn’t it a Franco-Anglo-American arrangement designed to prevent the nightmare of common Russo-German borders? And that mostly for the purpose of minimizing the risk of either collision or amalgamation between the two countries? And hasn’t an intermediate tier of states, friendly or even federated with each other, but both independent and none TOO trusting of either Berlin or Moscow, been historically the best way of assuring that result?

  • thibaud

    Russia’s biggest ally is not inertia but Germany itself. It’s Germany that desperately wants a solid, stable, reliable Russian partner, not v-v.

    Germany desperately needs Russian natural gas for German industry and consumers alike, Russian domestic markets for German exports, Russian manufacturing facilities for nearshore, low-cost manufacturing (and eventual re-exports to other countries someday).

    And now, Germany would dearly like to have Russian financial support.

    Mead is right that, to some extent, Russian foreign policy has, going back to the tsars, sought legitimacy for a weak and inefficient Russian state via foreign adventurism in the near abroad.

    But it’s easy to exaggerate that influence, and in any case, the fact that Russia is an extraordinarily difficult society to govern – not least because of its geographic sprawl, also because of the oil resource “curse” – means that Russia will never be as reliable and stable a counterparty, or partner, as we would wish.

    We will have to dig deeper and get a lot more creative about how we deal with Russia. You can dismiss them as not being a “global power” if it gives you comfort, but the fact is that Russia’s star is rising and its power in its European backyard is rapidly increasing. No one will benefit more from Europe’s collapse than Russia.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    “There are a lot of places in his immediate neighborhood — think of Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus — where political and economic arrangements have a natural tendency to slither downhill toward authoritarianism and crony kleptocracy.”

    It’s this backward culture that will keep this region from any real success. Without Capitalism, Democracy, and the Rule of Law, the culture is too inefficient to ever become much of a threat. Ask yourself where would Russia be without the Oil? And the answer would be as destitute as any of the Eastern European countries that don’t have any oil.

    So should we worry about Putin’s Eurasian Union, a grouping of thieves who aren’t building anything just looking for what they can steal right now? I think not, any Eurasian Union is going to be even less stable than the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, which were held together with tanks and troops.

  • Russia’s population of non-Russian immigrants is growing, while numbers of ethnic Russians is shrinking. Most of the Russian army conscripts will consist of non-Russians.

    Meanwhile Putin attempts to elevate Russia’s ability to project deadly force of both nuclear and conventional varieties.

  • pablo panadero

    The term “chill” is literal in this respect. This past mild winter, the German electrical system nearly collapsed due to the lack of sunlight, as their shutdown of nuclear in faor of solar nearly resulted in rolling blackouts. Fast forward to this coming winter, as Germany gets most of their natural gas from Russia. Russia and literally hold the key over whether germany prospers or freezes. Odds are, they will either extract an enormous price for the energy, or they will leave Germans to wallow in their utter stupidity.

    Thus, the Germans will be the first major casualty of the Global Warming Hoax.

  • Rich K

    The Russian Federation is too weak,disjointed and ill equiped to threaten anyone,let alone drive world events except by bluff and coercion. Putin is doing nothing more than running a crooked geopolitical poker game where the cards he has to play can be trumped by a reasonably strong effort by western interests.Oil and gas production are exploding all over the west and once that takes off his clout is gone and with it the dreams of ‘His ‘father .

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