Russia had it all. A G8 member, booming trade relations with Europe, a re-stored civil service, a rising tech center, and overall a European nation, peaceful under democracy.
Then, Vladimir Putin just never left. Tightening his screw very slowly, a prospering nation under liberalism has over the past two decades become a nation under falling windows.
How? One explanation may be that the Russian leadership fell pray to emotions, or romanticism, following the gradual erosion due to the past two decades of war.
It took the gamble of Trump and Brexit to end them, as a ‘spiritual’ transformation of sorts gradually gripped the west while we were being shot on our streets, to the end closure of shots fired in Congress.
The democracy of the United States and the United Kingdom was strong, is strong. It could, and did, withstand the primitive assault of emotions that naturally boils during a state of war.
Russia however was a very nascent democracy. If some principles were being compromised in the west, clearly they were fatally compromised in the near east.
The domestic resistance to the compromise of those principles, and the foreign one including by Putin, has finally led to the ending of the two decades of war, at least as far as European and American troops are concerned, and culture, and the ‘spirit of men’ so to speak.
Putin clearly didn’t get the memo, however, that the war ended, and with it, times were changing.
Oblivious seemingly to the tectonic shifts of the arrival of a new generation, the millennials, he decided Russia should now commit the mistakes our donkeys did two decades ago.
A few years ago he could have claimed it’s just a response, you do it, I do it, this is the new
thug cowboy politics right.
But now that our guns have fallen silent, and of course we shouldn’t forget that America was actually attacked and quite spectacularly and on the very center of the country, now that our guns have fallen silent, you can not claim anymore you are breaching principles because you can claim: you are the one who is actually wrong.
And because that two decades of war is over, the support Putin may have found in some corners because he too was fighting ostensibly against the same side on the same war, has vanished because there is no longer quite a war.
Instead there’s a restoration of those principles, the breach of which the millennials fought. And so, Putin is a far less powerful, resource wise, George Bush 2.0 and two decades late. Giving some sort of catharsis maybe.
Bush of course is now hated in his own country, although history might be more nuanced since they were actually attacked.
Putin is probably now hated in Russia too, because you just don’t breach some principles. Not in our time, and certainly not in Europe.
This being the background and the currents we think at least partially led Putin to this mess, or were used to justify him moving towards it, we may well find ourself in a situation where the leadership in Russia realizes there has been a mistake.
Objectively of course they know too well the west is far too strong. They also know that this was an actually bankrupt country just two decades ago, with actual decay still continuing in much of Russia out of Moscow.
Some may even remember the footage of their armor when they went in Georgia in 2008. Rusty museum pieces that had only the superiority of numbers over the tiny nation.
You can’t totally change that rustiness, even in a decade, compared to the century long head run of European and American wholistics.
And so a defeat is no shame. To the contrary, there is no choice but defeat, because Europe can not allow an expansionist and imperialist army with 19th century Romanticism viewpoints to advance one inch towards it.
Reuters has just published a ‘scoop’ where their sources claim Putin rejected a deal agreed with Ukraine in the first days of the war for it to not join Nato, because he wanted to take land.
That offer to not join Nato was also made publicly in those early days, and Putin nonetheless kept advancing. Making it clear this was nothing to do with Nato or Russian security, but with the aim of usurping democracy and liberalism, in Ukraine and all the way to Berlin if he can get away with it.
That was the turning point, and so this war has become one which can not be lost as far as Europe and America, and more crucially their public, are concerned.
Some say Russia may get angry and put more resources to it, but that will just force the other side to put more resources too.
Some, of the feeble sort, even suggest Russia might lose it, but Russia loosing it would still be a los for them because Europe can’t back down, especially in that sort of instance.
The only choice for Putin is defeat or defeat. And that’s fine. It’s not their own country, what do they care. They tried, they learned they can no longer quite unilaterally dictate. Britain learned that in the Suez Canal more than half a century ago. That’s the times, and that’s why UK – until recently – and its neighbors joined forces.
Russia should have joined forces too in a semi-alliance with Europe, as it did until Romanticism got the better of them, and should have stuck to proper democracy, which had a difficult transition as it did for most of Eastern Europe, but look at Eastern Europe now.
The chaotic transition period of the initial ten years in the 90s was due to the collapse of the civil service, together with the previous communist governments.
Democracy or liberty does not mean a lack of rules or no functioning government, to the contrary, it means better functioning for both. That civil service was restored therefore in the Eastern Europe, like Poland, as it was in Russia, but while eastern Europe finalized the new democratic system, Russia finds itself back in the same conundrum of a dictator making mistakes that people don’t like with windows.
And so, democracy was not the problem, the collapsed civil service was, a civil service that collapsed due to a dictatorial system. This can be shown by Albania, a tiny little country then part of the communist block, which had it far worse than Russia in the 90s due to the capitalist-virgin population falling pray to Pyramid ponzi schemes where the population lost all their savings. They nonetheless kept their democracy, and their civil service was restored, and now some see it as a potential European Monaco for the common man.
Maybe the able Russian people now realize as much. It might not be too realistic to suggest that perhaps Putin realizes too, but the younger generation does, the millennials, and they are now in de facto power, if not de jur, even in Russia.
Ukraine continues to advance with rumors that Russian forces are “said to be pulling out from Melitopol in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region and heading toward Moscow-annexed Crimea.”
Sooner or later, the winter freeze will bring a long pause until spring. The war will rumble on, but Ukraine only has a few more weeks to capture as much as it can, then it’s time for reflection.
Putin can decide to continue, but he first has to objectively analyze whether he can win, knowing well that reality doesn’t care about opinions. The realistic answer to that presumably at this stage has to be no. Any fantasy about the European public breaking can at this stage also be discounted.
The matter is too serious and the alternative of dictatorship in this ancient Europe too abhorrent for the public to, rather than go against their government, not be even more steadfast and demanding, especially if things aren’t going too well in Ukraine, like during summer.
With Europe and America unmoved, Russia can’t win. And so what does Putin do? Ukraine won’t agree to anything besides pre-2014 borders, Russia completely withdrawing, and Putin’s choice might well be either to agree to that ‘peacefully’ or by the advancement of the Ukrainian Army.
Some say either would be a death blow to Putin, but he has an iron grip. He can easily spin it as: well, America and Europe are obviously too strong. Whatever, none of this happened anyway, move along.
Who will stand up to him? Most Russians don’t want this war anyway. Polls soon after it began were at 54% against. So the people won’t resist and hardline fringes are political elements over which Putin has full control, with windows.
A far greater danger for Putin, and a realistic one, comes from a continuation of the war because people, at their base, are the same everywhere of course, whether a democracy or dictatorship, east west or whatever other label.
One can easily foresee therefore what may well happen in the next few months and couple of years because it’s what happened in the west about two decades ago during another perceived unjust war.
Gradually, and very unnoticeably, a vail of darkness descends. The war might be far away, but its your people fighting it, and though the soldiers might not be seen, their families, neighbors, friends, are very present in your own country.
The happy music therefore starts unnoticeably vanishing, becoming with hindsight a kind of echo, a left over of another time.
There is still happy music of course, but the public starts paying more attention to the crying music, because the muses are crying. That is talent, when trying to touch objectivity through beauty or music, is interested more in the non-happy music and so is the listening public because they feel it more.
Initially nothing has quite changed for some months, as denial acts as some sort of a protector against shocks, but of course everyone knows there’s a new reality, and however much they might want to pretend otherwise, reality imposes itself gradually.
Through that gradualness, at some point, the air becomes so thick that everyone knows at any moment everyone will just spontaneously take to the streets.
And if students rise in such atmosphere, it is game over. Tony Blair pre-empted them in 2007, in the only good decision he made, by resigning. His mandate continued for two more years, but the atmosphere had become so charged that at the time it felt it was just days until a mass student uprising, and so he presumably judged it he had no choice but to go.
His resignation instantly changed the wind, maybe because all the wrongs were projected on just him, and so him going kind of made all the wrongs go too. The ‘pesants’ then rioted in 2011, but by then it didn’t have the edge. Snowden then leaked all his surveillance in 2013, but it was far too late at that point for the explosive atmosphere in the days preceding Blair’s resignation.
Russia, currently, is too soon in the war for such an atmosphere to have developed at this stage, but just like cause and effect or the laws of physic, it results not out of mind, but out of ‘law,’ just not the laws of men.
It is probably therefore inevitable that in two or three years the same may well repeat in Russia. The only question is whether Putin is as smart as Blair.
At 69, his cognitive abilities are obviously not those of a decade ago. You can point to Biden, but is it Biden really ruling, or his son.
Liz Truss, Annalena Baerbock, the dancing queen of Finland, a new generation far younger is taking over and they have no illusion.
This is an angry generation, or was, angry because their own donkeys did to them what Putin is doing to his own people, and the ‘was’ bit is because it is now over.
There is no conceivable situation in which they can back down. None. The debates of history, if they need to be settled again, will be settled again.
The best way out for Putin therefore, even if inconceivable, is for him to hold an election, a genuine election, and for the new generation to take dejur charge of the country.
A peaceful revolution in effect, not a collapse of the state and the civil service. And since that civil service would stand, there is no base change on the ground.
But politically, the new person can declare the war over, part of a gone era, and we can have that re-start button again although this time hopefully genuinely meant.
Because there are no good choices for Russia in that grand scheme of the devil’s game they call geopolitics, which more correctly is called warmongering politics.
It can not, in the current circumstances, have any sort of standing to China’s vastly bigger economy. For if the United Kingdom could not have such standing to their own seed, what chance a different peoples.
It also can not quite have an equal standing to the European Union, but nowadays does Poland have a, at least at times, standing to or with Germany? Poland.
The principles of the enlightenment, and the centuries of intellect as well as experience that went into it, may well seem like magic without understanding; and the lifting of Eastern Europe is magic, but they’re of course the result of studying the rules and laws of nature, and of man, though not by the whims of men.
That as much is conceded is clearly indicated by the fact no democracy claims in words to be a dictatorship, but the potentially next month new official dictatorship, does in words claim to be a democracy.
All knowing so, and after experiments – even within living memory – all knowing the results, what feebleness would keep one continuing in the wrong course?
Mortal mere selfishness and greed, of course, but what useless mortality that is if it doesn’t aim for the chance of immortality.
In this case, Putin the man that restored the civil service, and recognized the wrong course to correct it, or the windows killer, which of course will be quickly forgotten.
Not that at this point it is fully his choice. The Ukrainian Army has a say now, since he decided to go beyond his borders. Students might be compelled by forces of nature to have a say at some point. The true rulers of Russia, looking at the choices they face, and what sort of future they might want, may also have a say since the nation is clearly in crisis.
Resign, and call a proper election. That may well be the only way to become untouchable, as it would be the right decision, and people wouldn’t want to punish a right decision.
Or stay, and risk the risks, but after two decades of ruling, and now the longest living ruler, for how long can that really be tenable when your own people are dying for what they see as an imperialist war of conquest without justification.
Such mistakes, and Putin was warned of course in May 2021 when he first mobilized at the border, are too big after such a long time of ruling and at such an old age to not see that leaving at least needs to be seriously considered.
And as long as it is a genuine election, it doesn’t have to be a chaotic exit.
An exit which obviously will at some point come, so he can’t claim only he can keep Russia together, or chaos will follow, because at some point there obviously will be a Russia without Putin.
Instead of considering to subjugate their country to a neighboring foreign power, therefore, they need to consider that maybe they did go wrong, and maybe 2012 wasn’t so bad before Putin returned, and maybe going back to that 2012 with free and fair elections and a G8 seat is the right direction.