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I chose that word carefully: idolisation. We in the West are enthusiastically and appropriately critical of our own leaders. That is fair enough, given the amount of ammunition with which they provide us. But we seem to view the enemies of the West as super-beings, chess masters in a real world board game.
Based on much of the media coverage, you’d think that Vladimir Putin has manipulated things ever so cleverly, whereas the reality is that he has messed up big time.
Yes, he now has Crimea, but that is a consolation prize for what he lost: the rest of Ukraine. Go back a couple of years, what did he have then?
He had a puppet government in Ukraine, or, at the least, a very malleable one. He could turn the stopcocks on the gas pipelines whenever they seemed a touch uppity. What Putin wanted, Putin got.
But he overreached. He forced the Ukrainian President to go back on a planned agreement with the EU and, instead of bending the country to his will, his puppet was overthrown and he lost the whole country. He has seized some of it back — Crimea — but this was a crude attempt to salvage something from a plan gone badly awry.
He seems to be hesitating, now, on the subversion in eastern Ukraine. Europe is planning to provide energy support to Ukraine. Capital flight from Russia is estimated as approaching a quarter of a trillion dollars. That comes to more than 10 percent of the annual GDP of the nation.
Our democratic leaders certainly have plenty of flaws, but so do authoritarian ones. It’s just that they are not so readily pointed out.