Victor Davis Hanson’s article, Moscow’s Sinister Brilliance
Who wants to die for Tbilisi? looks at the upside for the Russians: The home front, the timing, the comeuppance, and the apologists in the West.
The new reality is that a nuclear, cash-rich, and energy-blessed Russia doesn’t really worry too much whether its long-term future is bleak, given problems with Muslim minorities, poor life-expectancy rates, and a declining population. Instead, in the here and now, it has a window of opportunity to reclaim prestige and weaken its adversaries. So why hesitate?
Money quote (puns always fully intended):
Russia does not need a global force-projection capacity; it has sufficient power to muscle its neighbors and thereby humiliate not merely its enemies, but their entire moral pretensions as well.
Bear that in mind.
A more talented petty tyrant than Chavez will someday put that lesson to practice in our hemisphere.
Let’s think of this scenario: Chavez is replaced by a more disciplined guy who’s politically savvier, say, Victorio Putinto. His friends and foes alike call him Tinto (behind his back) but Victorio has no sense of humor, so he doesn’t like it. Putinto knows how to work the photo-ops and gets invited to the US president’s vacation house. His polished businesslike appearance looks comfortable in the halls of power anywhere in the world. He has popular appeal in his own country and feeds both the masses real hunger and the country’s elites greed.
All appearances aside, Putinto, like Hugo and Putin, has a Cold War mindset. Putinto continues his weapons deals with Russia and Iran. Putinto also puts some of the Venezuelan oil money to work building the military infrastructure of the country, rallying the armed forces totally to his side. Meanwhile the old colonial powers, France and Britain, leave or continue to considerably neglect whatever outposts they have in the Caribbean.
Who’s going to stop Victorio from invading, say, Guyana, and several of the former European colonies, such as Turks and Caicos? Who’s going to prevent those lands from becoming strategic posts from which Victorio can terrorize the region? To use VDH’s question, who wants to die for Turks and Caicos?
The number of flashpoints for violence in the world has grown in inverse proportion to their importance. The world is full of undead tribes with delusions of grandeur, and soon-to-be-extinct peoples who rather would go out with a bang than a whimper. The supra-ethnic states of the world have a common interest in containing the mischief that might be made by the losers. China, which has an annoying terrorist problem in its Westernmost province, has plenty of reason to help suppress Muslim separatists.
Russia’s simply working on this changing paradigm. Richard Fernandez has the best commentors on the blogosphere, so, if you have time, browse through.
Geographic Freudian slip? Notice how the BBC map paints Russia and Georgia the same color:
On a less serious vein, Cappy asked the other day,
Is it just me, or are there others that think Putin escaped from a James Bond film?
Definitely yes, Cappy; both Putin and George Soros are like someone out of an Ian Fleming novel.
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