Fillon, Thatcher, and Putin

 

putinThe French presidential election begins in April 2017, and if no candidate wins the first round, it will go to the second and final round in May. François Hollande looks, at this point, like the walking dead. His poll numbers are almost comically low — the opposition could triumph by running any reasonably healthy goat. His party will hold primary elections in January; they may put him out of their misery and select another candidate, or he may decide not to run.

As of now — keeping in mind that this has been a surprising year, politically — polls suggest that it will ultimately come down to a contest between the traditional conservative party, Les Républicaines (LR), and Le Pen. Polls also show that if that conservative candidate was boring Alain Juppé, the LR would win by significant margins, but I’m beginning to suspect we’ve entered an un-pollable world owing either to cell phone usage or to people’s greater savviness — or wariness — about speaking to pollsters, so who knows.

Last Sunday, LR held the first round of its first-ever open primaries. The party, as my friend Arun Kapil describes them, is “the latest iteration of the neo-Gaullist movement.” They represent the traditional French right and center-right. The decision to hold American-style primaries was made well before the party had a chance to contemplate the most recent result of our primary system, which gave us two candidates loathed by everyone. Whether they’d have been keen to switch to US-style primaries after seeing that, I don’t know. But what’s done is done, and these are now the rules in France. 

The results were surprising. In a post written on the eve of the primary, Arun ran through the seven candidates in the race, explaining their positions on the issues. He didn’t seem to give Fillon much of a chance:

Fillon looked like a loser for most of the campaign, treading water and going nowhere, with no hope of catching Sarkozy and Juppé. Already four years ago, in the wake of the bloodbath between the fillonistes and copéistes for control of the UMP, I pronounced him toast and for all time. But lo and behold, his poll numbers have been surging over the past couple of weeks and with him now in striking distance, even at parity, with Sarkozy for second place. If Fillon makes it to the 2nd round, it will be a stunning coup de théâtre foreseen by no pundit or politico. And if it happens at Sarkozy’s expense, it will be such sweet revenge for Fillon, who hates Sarkozy with a passion, Fillon having been mistreated and humiliated during his five years at Matignon under Sarko’s hyper-presidency. If this comes to pass and Fillon squares off against Juppé, he will have an excellent chance of winning, and ergo be the odds-on favorite next May. Whoda thunk it?

So, guess what happened: another stunning coup de théâtre foreseen by no pundit or politico. Fillon took 44 percent of the vote, handily ending Sarkozy’s political career and relegating Juppé to a distant second.

This is very unusual for the French right, which tends to pick the most Gaullist candidate it can — the most charismatic, largest personality. Part of it, perhaps, is that everyone is just sick of Sarkozy and his vanity, and no one looked forward to seeing his face on television for another five years. And perhaps — this is pure speculation — Juppé reminded voters too much of Clinton: entitled, lacking vision, running on his long experience at a time when no one thinks that experience reflects well on the ruling class. Perhaps voters thought, “We saw what happened to Clinton; Juppé will lose to Le Pen.” Perhaps they were right.

Because I didn’t expect him to go anywhere, I paid no mind to Fillon, and can’t tell you much about him beyond what the media’s reporting. He served as prime minister from 2007 to 2012 under Sarkozy. I wasn’t living in France then, so I have no personal memories of him. He’s a 62-year-old Catholic from a village in the northwest. He’s proposed what’s being called a “radical pro-business” reform program: labor reform, increasing the retirement age, cutting 500,000 public sector jobs in five years.

thatcherThis makes him sound like a rare economic liberal in an age of statism and populism: He calls himself a “Thatcherite,” and defended economic liberalism as common sense: “I’m tagged with an [economically] liberal label in the same way one would paint crosses on the doors of lepers in the middle ages. But I’m just a pragmatist.”

It’s extremely unusual for a French politician to liken himself explicitly to Thatcher. It’s particularly striking that he’s done so when so many in France — and the world — see the kind of liberalism she represented as a failure, of which Donald Trump’s election is only the most recent symptom. He’s swimming against the current with this label. I was pleased to see that “Thatcher” was trending in France yesterday. Some commentators think this is what attracted voters; others think it’s the book he just published, which I haven’t read, but which apparently says sensible things about energetically combatting Islamists without targeting law-abiding Muslims.

My reaction to all of that is, “Well, that sounds good. I thought well of Margaret Thatcher. The election of someone like that would be good for France and good for Europe.” 

Except that Monsieur Fillon also seems to be a committed fan of Vladimir Putin.

Now, how he reconciles this with being a great fan of Margaret Thatcher I don’t know; as far as I’m concerned, they can’t be reconciled. But he’s called for a rapprochement with Russia without demanding any concessions, in turn. He’s campaigned feverishly against the economic sanctions placed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine; he says they’re counterproductive and “strategically devastating for our farmers.” He looks forward to what he hopes will be a good relationship between Putin and Trump. He says he admires Putin’s “cold and effective pragmatism” in the Middle East. Cold and effective, for sure.

Le Point reports that Fillon and Putin use “tu” with each other — which is like being on a first-name basis:

Vladimir Putin can rejoice. If François Fillon enters the Élysée Palace, Putin can count on having a new friend in the circle of Western leaders. Indeed, like Donald Trump, the former French prime minister intends ardently to work with Russia. One month ago, at the very moment the world was outraged about the Russian bombardment of Aleppo, Fillon was one of the rare people to condemn François Hollande’s refusal to receive the Kremlin master who wanted to inaugurate the [new] Russian orthodox church in Paris. “Of course we should welcome him,” he snapped. “Do we want to make war on Russia?”

In other words, as Leonid Bershidsky put it for Bloomberg, without too much hyperbole, Vladimir Putin is Winning the French Election, in so far as it looks as if it will now come down to two enthusiastic Russophiles:

While it’s unclear how well Russian President Vladimir Putin will get along with Donald Trump and his team of Republican hawks, it looks as though he has already won the French presidential election. The front-runner in the primary election of the French center-right, Francois Fillon, is nearly as enthusiastic a Russophile as Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, and the center-left hardly stands a chance in next year’s presidential election. …

Among the center-right candidates, Juppe was the most anti-Russian. He has condemned the Crimea annexation and the Russian bombings of Aleppo, accusing Russia of “war crimes” in Syria. “At a certain moment, we shouldn’t hesitate to tell Putin ‘stop,'” he has said.  If he ended up running against Le Pen, Putin would have a thing or two to worry about; he might even need to find a way to provide more funding for the National Front leader. With Fillon as the center-right candidate, he can relax.

Fillon’s position is longstanding; it’s not a whim. There’s always been a part of the French right that’s been hostile to American power and eager for Russia to be a counterweight. That’s where Fillon comes from. And that idea seems to be a trend, even in America.

So, I don’t know whether this is a victory for Thatcher’s ideas of for Putin’s. All I know is it can’t really be both. We’ll see.

There are 45 comments.

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  1. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Juppe could still prevail in the final round of the right-wing primaries. But either would be ok and far more knowledgeable and ready for the job than youknowwho.

    • #1
  2. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Marion Evans:Juppe could still prevail in the final round of the right-wing primaries. But either would be ok and far more knowledgeable and ready for the job than youknowwho.

    Perhaps Macron has a chance. It’s far too soon to say, and even if I had a methodology for predicting, it wouldn’t work in a French conservative primary, since there’s never been one before. Still less would I be confident predicting the outcome of a French general election. But if France gives in to Putin, the rest of Europe will give up.

    • #2
  3. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Please excuse my bluntness, but I think the President of the United States of America will have a great deal more impact on Komrade Putin than will the President of France. And it is without question that the past eight years of the American Presidency has been a great boon to the power of Putin. Compare and contrast his power in 2008 with 2016.

    Here’s Victor Davis Hanson (excerpted from Who Are Wise, Who Not?)

    Trump is criticized now that he might be too soft on Putin. Perhaps. Yet it was not Trump, but the Ivy League Trinity of Obama, Clinton, and Kerry who “reset” George W. Bush’s reset sanctions against Putin, who canceled already-planned missile defense with the Czechs and the Poles; it was Clinton who pushed a ridiculous plastic reset button; and Obama who in a hot-mic quip stealthily promised Dmitry Medvedev that he would be more reasonable with Vladimir Putin after his reelection, who invited the Russians into the Middle East after a 40-year hiatus, who mocked Mitt Romney when the latter suggested that Russia was a threat to America, who loudly announced faux “step-over” line ultimatums to the Russians; it was Clinton who in pay-for-play greed opened up North American uranium resources to the Russians, and Obama who personally mocked Putin as an adolescent school cut-up even as he appeased Putin at every turn.

    Is it possible for our Russian foreign policy to be worse than this?!

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Columbo: Is it possible for our Russian foreign policy to be worse than this?!

    If after the inauguration Trump is still tweeting Broadway reviews, then yes. Trump is starting with all this and his stated strategy so far is “be nice to Vladimir.”

    • #4
  5. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Columbo:Please excuse my bluntness, but I think the President of the United States of America will have a great deal more impact on Komrade Putin than will the President of France. And it is without question that the past eight years of the American Presidency has been a great boon to the power of Putin. Compare and contrast his power in 2008 with 2016.

    Here’s Victor Davis Hanson (excerpted from Who Are Wise, Who Not?)

    Trump is criticized now that he might be too soft on Putin. Perhaps. Yet it was not Trump, but the Ivy League Trinity of Obama, Clinton, and Kerry who “reset” George W. Bush’s reset sanctions against Putin, who canceled already-planned missile defense with the Czechs and the Poles; it was Clinton who pushed a ridiculous plastic reset button; and Obama who in a hot-mic quip stealthily promised Dmitry Medvedev that he would be more reasonable with Vladimir Putin after his reelection, who invited the Russians into the Middle East after a 40-year hiatus, who mocked Mitt Romney when the latter suggested that Russia was a threat to America, who loudly announced faux “step-over” line ultimatums to the Russians; it was Clinton who in pay-for-play greed opened up North American uranium resources to the Russians, and Obama who personally mocked Putin as an adolescent school cut-up even as he appeased Putin at every turn.

    Is it possible for our Russian foreign policy to be worse than this?!

    Yes, alas. We could completely write off Ukraine — which appears to be Fillon’s position.

    • #5
  6. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Columbo:Please excuse my bluntness, but I think the President of the United States of America will have a great deal more impact on Komrade Putin than will the President of France. And it is without question that the past eight years of the American Presidency has been a great boon to the power of Putin. Compare and contrast his power in 2008 with 2016.

    ….

    Is it possible for our Russian foreign policy to be worse than this?!

    Yes it is possible for it to be worse. It is always possible for things to get worse.

    • #6
  7. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Columbo: Is it possible for our Russian foreign policy to be worse than this?!

    You bet it is.

    • #7
  8. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Is your Thatcher book available in French? If so and sales are decent, a British-educated American Thatcher biographer living in Paris might be a curiosity he would welcome meeting. Cut out the middle man.

    • #8
  9. Boisfeuras Inactive
    Boisfeuras
    @Boisfeuras

    There’s a lot to like about Fillon, and he has always had a good press in the UK because of his anglophilia and his Welsh wife. I doubt either would help him much in a head-to-head with Marine Le Pen though; likewise his being characterised rightly or wrongly as a Thatcherite…

    • #9
  10. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Aaron Miller:Is your Thatcher book available in French? If so and sales are decent, a British-educated American Thatcher biographer living in Paris might be a curiosity he would welcome meeting. Cut out the middle man.

    I assume he’s met Thatcher herself.

    • #10
  11. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    It makes sense from a game theory perspective to get into office while professing good relations with Putin. The other way around paints you in a corner. Once in office, you can work in a covert way while keeping a smile. That’s what he does, isn’t it?

    • #11
  12. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Paul A. Rahe:

    Columbo:

    Here’s Victor Davis Hanson (excerpted from Who Are Wise, Who Not?)

    …. Yet it was not Trump, but the Ivy League Trinity of Obama, Clinton, and Kerry who “reset” George W. Bush’s reset sanctions against Putin, who canceled already-planned missile defense with the Czechs and the Poles; it was Clinton who pushed a ridiculous plastic reset button; and Obama who in a hot-mic quip stealthily promised Dmitry Medvedev that he would be more reasonable with Vladimir Putin after his reelection, who invited the Russians into the Middle East after a 40-year hiatus, who mocked Mitt Romney when the latter suggested that Russia was a threat to America, who loudly announced faux “step-over” line ultimatums to the Russians; ….and Obama who personally mocked Putin as an adolescent school cut-up even as he appeased Putin at every turn.

    Is it possible for our Russian foreign policy to be worse than this?!

    Yes, alas. We could completely write off Ukraine — which appears to be Fillon’s position.

    Columbo,

    I agree that as a general foreign policy it couldn’t get worse than this. Now it gets specific and comes down to a real Munich pact situation where we sell out Ukraine. I’m betting that both Fillon and Trump aren’t going to stand for this. If America, Britain, and Europe are united in their resolve, Putin will bend and Ukraine & the Baltics will be safe.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #12
  13. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Paul A. Rahe:Yes, alas. We could completely write off Ukraine — which appears to be Fillon’s position.

    Yes, and that would not be good. But … really … at this point (thank you 0bama/clinton/kerry foreign “policy”) … what can be done, short of war? Putin would have to agree to back off. Short of very firm and contentious negotiations, what exactly would get him to do that?

    I did hear that Bill Shatner visited Trump Tower recently though ….

    shatner-pcln

     

     

    • #13
  14. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Valiuth:

    Columbo:Please excuse my bluntness, but I think the President of the United States of America will have a great deal more impact on Komrade Putin than will the President of France. And it is without question that the past eight years of the American Presidency has been a great boon to the power of Putin. Compare and contrast his power in 2008 with 2016.

    ….

    Is it possible for our Russian foreign policy to be worse than this?!

    Yes it is possible for it to be worse. It is always possible for things to get worse.

    And I would argue that it carries a much higher probability of getting better. Perhaps even much better. “Peace through Strength” is a much better negotiating position than “Lead from Behind”. Time will tell.

    • #14
  15. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Columbo:

    Valiuth:

    Columbo:Please excuse my bluntness, but I think the President of the United States of America will have a great deal more impact on Komrade Putin than will the President of France. And it is without question that the past eight years of the American Presidency has been a great boon to the power of Putin. Compare and contrast his power in 2008 with 2016.

    ….

    Is it possible for our Russian foreign policy to be worse than this?!

    Yes it is possible for it to be worse. It is always possible for things to get worse.

    And I would argue that it carries a much higher probability of getting better. Perhaps even much better. “Peace through Strength” is a much better negotiating position than “Lead from Behind”. Time will tell.

    Time will tell indeed. It is just that Trumps current comments make me think he will not be strong, and instead work for another reset. The last one gave us this. Putin will take advantage and Trump will learn his lesson if too late.

    What is to be done I would argue is to not give in. Do not recognize or normalize Russia’s land grab and maintain economic pressure in the form of sanctions, and maintain diplomatic pressure in the form of constant criticism and enhanced cooperation between the various western nations in anticipation of further Russian aggression. Ukraine is the new divided Germany.

    • #15
  16. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Marion Evans:

    It makes sense from a game theory perspective to get into office while professing good relations with Putin.

    Game theory? By what theory is suggesting a lack of commitment to our allies — Trump has done strongly, particularly in changing the GOP party platform to dull its language about Ukraine — apt to result in anything but disaster? An alliance that was credible enough to keep the peace for 70 years will now require a war with Russia if it’s to be that credible again. “Suburb of Leningrad?” “The people of Crimea appear to want to remain under Russia’s control?” NATO is “obsolete” and “is costing us a fortune?”

    But he asked me about NATO. I said it’s obsolete. This is my first thing. And you know what? I’m the first one. Guys that study NATO and good people, but they study NATO and they say, I don’t believe it, what he just said, I never thought of that. They study it because they’re so into it that they don’t realize.

    Because it was really put there — you had the Soviet Union and now you have Russia, which is different, but Russia is very powerful, so we can sort of say that’s a balance, so we’ll leave it. But it doesn’t really cover terrorism like it’s supposed to. It doesn’t have the right countries. I mean, many of the countries in there aren’t, you know, that you associate with terrorism.

    How does it make sense to invite a nuclear-armed adversary to test your commitment to your allies? To say, outright, “I don’t know?” You could hardly fault Putin for invading Latvia. We just elected a president on the platform called, “Why should we care about faraway people of whom we know nothing?” A platform literally called, America First.

     

    • #16
  17. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Valiuth:Time will tell indeed. It is just that Trumps current comments make me think he will not be strong, and instead work for another reset. The last one gave us this. Putin will take advantage and Trump will learn his lesson if too late.

    What is to be done I would argue is to not give in. Do not recognize or normalize Russia’s land grab and maintain economic pressure in the form of sanctions, and maintain diplomatic pressure in the form of constant criticism and enhanced cooperation between the various western nations in anticipation of further Russian aggression. Ukraine is the new divided Germany.

    Hillary has “public” and “private” “positions”. Trump has “public” and “public” “positions”, which can be as contradictory as HRC’s two versions are, intentionally or not. Experience says not to put too much angst into what Trump says. He has a team and process that sorts out the details and extends and clarifies what he actually meant to say in his word salad.

    • #17
  18. CM Member
    CM
    @CM

    “The people of Crimea appear to want to remain under Russia’s control?”

    I assume you are “quoting” Trump and that you clearly don’t agree.  Can you satisfactorily explain this away?

    Or this?

    I understand you may not think it is in their best interest. But they are their own people, right? Do they not have a right to make that choice for themselves? If it was a bad decision on their part, they will learn. Currently, the seem to be happy. I do not want to be involved in a war over a situation that everyone involved (except the greater Ukraine) is happy with.

    • #18
  19. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    I need to write a longer treatment, but at this point, I fail to see how “be nice to Putin” is a worse Russia strategy than our current one, which is “ignore him entirely while loudly declaring that he’s horrid, but really, we’re not going to do anything about it.”

    The regrettable reality I see after Georgia and Ukraine is that our promise to defend Eastern Europe was apparently a bluff.  And after Obama’s stupid decision to lay down a marker in Syria was called, Russia knows its a bluff.  So we can continue bluffing, loudly and publicly, in the hope that Russia will, for reasons unfathomable, not call it -or we can make nice and hope that a better Russia-West relationship will obviate Russia’s desire to call our bluffs.

    • #19
  20. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Sabrdance:I need to write a longer treatment, but at this point, I fail to see how “be nice to Putin” is a worse Russia strategy than our current one, which is “ignore him entirely while loudly declaring that he’s horrid, but really, we’re not going to do anything about it.”

    The regrettable reality I see after Georgia and Ukraine is that our promise to defend Eastern Europe was apparently a bluff. And after Obama’s stupid decision to lay down a marker in Syria was called, Russia knows its a bluff. So we can continue bluffing, loudly and publicly, in the hope that Russia will, for reasons unfathomable, not call it -or we can make nice and hope that a better Russia-West relationship will obviate Russia’s desire to call our bluffs.

    Indeed. Perversely the reverse of Teddy Roosevelt, 0bama speaks loudly but carries a little stick.

    • #20
  21. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Columbo: Indeed. Perversely the reverse of Teddy Roosevelt, 0bama speaks loudly but carries a little stick.

    Columbo,

    When Bad Bob is in town the Judge never says a word.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #21
  22. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Marion Evans:

    It makes sense from a game theory perspective to get into office while professing good relations with Putin.

    Game theory? By what theory is suggesting a lack of commitment to our allies — Trump has done strongly, particularly in changing the GOP party platform to dull its language about Ukraine — apt to result in anything but disaster? An alliance that was credible enough to keep the peace for 70 years will now require a war with Russia if it’s to be that credible again. “Suburb of Leningrad?” “The people of Crimea appear to want to remain under Russia’s control?”…

    Because it was really put there — you had the Soviet Union and now you have Russia, which is different, but Russia is very powerful, so we can sort of say that’s a balance, so we’ll leave it. But it doesn’t really cover terrorism like it’s supposed to. It doesn’t have the right countries. I mean, many of the countries in there aren’t, you know, that you associate with terrorism.

    How does it make sense to invite a nuclear-armed adversary to test your commitment to your allies? To say, outright, “I don’t know?” You could hardly fault Putin for invading Latvia. We just elected a president on the platform called, “Why should we care about faraway people of whom we know nothing?” A platform literally called, America First.

    Chamberlain, I see what you did there.

    • #22
  23. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Percival:

    Columbo: Is it possible for our Russian foreign policy to be worse than this?!

    If after the inauguration Trump is still tweeting Broadway reviews, then yes. Trump is starting with all this and his stated strategy so far is “be nice to Vladimir.”

    Isn’t there a saying somewhere – keep your friends close and your enemies closer? With the people Trump is picking so far, I’d say there will be much less of a blind spot on Russia, and more toes in the pool of reality.  Hard to believe that hot mic episode – they’ve been laughing ever since over a bottle of nice vodka….

    • #23
  24. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Sabrdance:I need to write a longer treatment, but at this point, I fail to see how “be nice to Putin” is a worse Russia strategy than our current one, which is “ignore him entirely while loudly declaring that he’s horrid, but really, we’re not going to do anything about it.”

    The regrettable reality I see after Georgia and Ukraine is that our promise to defend Eastern Europe was apparently a bluff. And after Obama’s stupid decision to lay down a marker in Syria was called, Russia knows its a bluff. So we can continue bluffing, loudly and publicly, in the hope that Russia will, for reasons unfathomable, not call it -or we can make nice and hope that a better Russia-West relationship will obviate Russia’s desire to call our bluffs.

    Bush and Putin went fishing together as I recall….in Kennebunkport. They respected each other – that went a long way – Putin backtracked during GW’s presidency when he tried to move into Eastern Europe – strength respects strength – we haven’t had that in awhile.

     

    • #24
  25. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Columbo:

    Valiuth:Time will tell indeed. It is just that Trumps current comments make me think he will not be strong, and instead work for another reset. The last one gave us this. Putin will take advantage and Trump will learn his lesson if too late.

    What is to be done I would argue is to not give in. Do not recognize or normalize Russia’s land grab and maintain economic pressure in the form of sanctions, and maintain diplomatic pressure in the form of constant criticism and enhanced cooperation between the various western nations in anticipation of further Russian aggression. Ukraine is the new divided Germany.

    Hillary has “public” and “private” “positions”. Trump has “public” and “public” “positions”, which can be as contradictory as HRC’s two versions are, intentionally or not. Experience says not to put too much angst into what Trump says. He has a team and process that sorts out the details and extends and clarifies what he actually meant to say in his word salad.

    Well they haven’t done it with respect to Russia yet. So I will keep worrying, about it. I do know the Pence was rather more of my view, but in the second debate Trump dismissed all of that flat out.

    • #25
  26. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Claire – what is the sentiment on the street there? It seems the newer generations may need your Thatcher book. Who are you liking and are you able to vote? Things have become much more dicey there since O took charge, so will the French vote accordingly? Do you think the new perceived threats (Russia, ISIS, refugee influx) will tip a particular candidate that may not have been previously considered?

    • #26
  27. Lazy_Millennial Inactive
    Lazy_Millennial
    @LazyMillennial

    Very interesting, thanks for the update Claire. Seems like most of the media’s in the dark about Fillon, and I’ll be interested to read more as it comes out.

    I’m hopeful the USA and Europe can work with Russia to fight the Islamism currently ravaging the Middle East. I’m terrified the USA and Europe will hand the Baltics, Ukraine, and the Middle East back to Putin, throwing away a quarter-century’s gains in liberty.

    • #27
  28. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Sabrdance:I need to write a longer treatment, but at this point, I fail to see how “be nice to Putin” is a worse Russia strategy than our current one, which is “ignore him entirely while loudly declaring that he’s horrid, but really, we’re not going to do anything about it.”

    The regrettable reality I see after Georgia and Ukraine is that our promise to defend Eastern Europe was apparently a bluff. And after Obama’s stupid decision to lay down a marker in Syria was called, Russia knows its a bluff. So we can continue bluffing, loudly and publicly, in the hope that Russia will, for reasons unfathomable, not call it -or we can make nice and hope that a better Russia-West relationship will obviate Russia’s desire to call our bluffs.

    Or we just make sure it isn’t a bluff, by filling the place with troops and making it clear we are ready for war.

    • #28
  29. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    Front Seat Cat:

    Sabrdance:

    Bush and Putin went fishing together as I recall….in Kennebunkport. They respected each other – that went a long way – Putin backtracked during GW’s presidency when he tried to move into Eastern Europe – strength respects strength – we haven’t had that in awhile.

    This is why I need to write the longer treatment.  I don’t think our moves into Eastern Europe were originally a bluff -but I also don’t think they were originally intended to hem Russia in, either.  The model was “The West and the Rest,” or “the Center and the Fringe” and the hope was to connect old Soviet Block into the West -very much including Russia.  The idea that Russia would one day be welcomed into NATO had serious cultural cache as late as 2000 -and 9/11 made possible the prospect that the shared American and Russian concern over Islamic Terrorism would accelerate that merger.  As late as 2006 (my senior year in college, when I took International Relations) it was being argued that Russia and the West had so many interests in common that a world order bestride by Russia and the US was a serious possibility.

    In that context, NATO’s moving east was just a gradual incorporation that would eventually have included Russia.

    Somewhere between 2006 and 2008 that belief became nonviable.  Maybe it was the missile interceptors in Poland, maybe it was the 2006 Midterm Route -I don’t know.  But the change is recent.

    • #29
  30. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    Valiuth:

    Sabrdance:I need to write a longer treatment, but at this point, I fail to see how “be nice to Putin” is a worse Russia strategy than our current one, which is “ignore him entirely while loudly declaring that he’s horrid, but really, we’re not going to do anything about it.”

    The regrettable reality I see after Georgia and Ukraine is that our promise to defend Eastern Europe was apparently a bluff. And after Obama’s stupid decision to lay down a marker in Syria was called, Russia knows its a bluff. So we can continue bluffing, loudly and publicly, in the hope that Russia will, for reasons unfathomable, not call it -or we can make nice and hope that a better Russia-West relationship will obviate Russia’s desire to call our bluffs.

    Or we just make sure it isn’t a bluff, by filling the place with troops and making it clear we are ready for war.

    Right.  Show of hands -who thinks the President who does this will survive the mob that descends on the motorcade making the trip from the White House to Congress for his impeachment?  Or more seriously, who thinks the Democrats aren’t going to torpedo that “Republican War of Choice” any slower than they torpedoed the last one.

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