Looking beyond all the caterwauling over Putin's latest, moderately harmful interference in Syria, I think we can see a method in places like Georgia and Ukraine: Putin will go for the half loaf and not try to take the whole thing.
Monday, October 05, 2015
It's always tricky to guess someone else's psyche, but I think he thinks he learned the lesson of the Soviet Union as he watched it crash around him in the 80s and 90s, which is to extend but don't overextend. And there is a modest truth to that lesson, one that American neocons have never learned. Future Russian historians will look fondly at his retaking of Crimea while ignoring the methods used.
For the rest of the world, this is useful to keep in mind as we try to figure out what he's doing. There's no grand plan for Russian dominance in the Middle East, he's just trying to hold onto his very last proxy. Unless you're Syrian, the damage Putin is causing right now is limited.
While future Russian historians might applaud Crimea, they won't applaud Putin's inability to learn anything else from the fall of the USSR. Russia has neither political nor economic stability and has done nothing to diversify itself from being an oil commodities exporter in the last 20 years. That's on Putin and it will greatly affect Russian ability to be one of the global powers of the future.
Putin is a terrible model - and of course American conservatives adore him.