I read a lot of opinion pieces so that you don’t have to. Some are good enough to make our Viewpoints section. Some are… special:
[P]olitical events in Russia will become more important in the coming years, and Americans should prepare for the leverage Russia will begin to exercise.
OK, I have fresh batteries in the flashlight, a week’s supply of nonperishables in the pantry, and jumper cables in the car. What other preparations should I make?
In foreign affairs Russia will continue to block interventions into countries like Syria with their permanent veto in the UN Security Council. Whatever one’s opinions might be on humanitarian intervention it is clear what an absurdity it is for a country like Russia, whose actions in Chechnya are not far removed from Assad’s in Syria, to be able to influence international humanitarian work.
Actually, your opinions on humanitarian intervention may determine whether you find Russia’s obstructionism offensive at all. If you consider humanitarian intervention a blood sport played by cynical opportunists, then you won’t be outraged when one cynical opportunist takes his ball and goes home. Furthermore, many on the receiving end of Western interventions would have difficulty distinguishing “international humanitarian work” from what Putin and his predecessors have done in Chechnya and what Assad is doing in Syria.
Russia will continue to wield its influence over Eastern Europe, a part of the world where liberal values are struggling.
Now we’ve entered the heart of Op-Edistan, where “liberal values” are always “struggling.” Would it help if we built more torture chambers in Eastern Europe?
It should worry Americans that Russia, straddling both Europe and Asia, will be able to dictate the pace of the twenty first century more and more.
Even if dictating the pace of a century were a real possibility instead of pundit claptrap, Putin could no more do it than Peter the Great or Josef Stalin could. This sort of threat inflation makes me appreciate the relative sobriety of China panic. The Russians are not even conceivably coming.
It looks like Russia’s influence will continue to be exerted under corrupt and illegitimate governments with a demonstrable disregard for civil liberties and expansionist mindset. Whoever is the President this time next year (probably Obama) should make more of an effort to establish good economic and diplomatic relations with countries still under Russia’s shadow, especially countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, in order to limit the amount of damage an presidency like Putin’s can inflict.
And to which head of state can we turn to limit the amount of damage a presidency like Obama’s (or Romney’s, or Santorum’s) can inflict? Who will save Americans and others from the demonstrable disregard for civil liberties and the expansionist mindset of the Kremlin on the Potomac? Is there an extraterrestrial force for good to which we can appeal?