15 votes

Putin is trying to take down the entire world order, the veteran Russia watcher said in an interview

21 comments

  1. [13]
    Odysseus
    Link
    I shared this in the megathread, and I'll share it here again. If there's any doubt in anyone's mind that Putin wants to dismantle the existing rules-based world order, I encourage them to read...

    I shared this in the megathread, and I'll share it here again. If there's any doubt in anyone's mind that Putin wants to dismantle the existing rules-based world order, I encourage them to read through this accidentally released article from RIA Novosti, a Russian state-run news agency.

    It was written with the assumption that Ukraine would be taken quickly and that the world would simply let it happen.

    Some key quotes (translated) picked out by Ukrainian media. :
    — Ukraine has now returned to Russia. This does not mean that its statehood will be liquidated, but it will be reorganized, re-established, and returned to its natural state as a part of the Russian world.

    — Did anyone in the old European capitals, in Paris and Berlin seriously believe that Moscow would give up Kyiv? That the Russians will forever be a divided people?

    — The operation in Ukraine is Russia returning its historical space and place in the world.

    — Russia has not only challenged the West—it has shown that the era of global Western domination can be considered fully and completely over.

    — The new world will be built by all civilizations and centers of power — naturally, together with the West (united or not) — but not on the Western terms or according to its rules.

    18 votes
    1. [3]
      Fiachra
      Link Parent
      It sounds like they intended the invasion of Ukraine to be NATO's equivalent of the Suez Crisis. It's also very striking both in this article and a lot of other people's analysis of the situation...

      It sounds like they intended the invasion of Ukraine to be NATO's equivalent of the Suez Crisis.

      It's also very striking both in this article and a lot of other people's analysis of the situation that it attributes very little agency to the actual people of Ukraine in any of this.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        papasquat
        Link Parent
        The sheer open level of entitlement displayed by the Russian leadership about this whole thing is something you don't see too often in developed countries nowadays. Its really very jarring.

        The sheer open level of entitlement displayed by the Russian leadership about this whole thing is something you don't see too often in developed countries nowadays. Its really very jarring.

        3 votes
        1. Fiachra
          Link Parent
          Definitely true, but I was also struck by people in the States talking about how this war is NATO's fault (which may well be true, I'm not taking a position on that). There's just a lot of talk...

          Definitely true, but I was also struck by people in the States talking about how this war is NATO's fault (which may well be true, I'm not taking a position on that). There's just a lot of talk like "this is an agreed buffer zone between NATO and Russia", but... did Ukraine ever consent to be a buffer between these two blocs? Or are they expected to play along with what the big players decide? There's a lot of analyses that seem to completely forget that Ukraine is an autonomous actor and not a space in a big game of Risk.

          8 votes
    2. [9]
      rosco
      Link Parent
      Potentially unpopular opinion, and definitely not backing Russia in any way, but boy would I like to see this kind of world. The global south has taken a beating for centuries, it would be great...

      The new world will be built by all civilizations and centers of power — naturally, together with the West (united or not) — but not on the Western terms or according to its rules.

      Potentially unpopular opinion, and definitely not backing Russia in any way, but boy would I like to see this kind of world. The global south has taken a beating for centuries, it would be great to see them get to progress without the yoke of Western Corporations. However in the context of the rest of this article, Russia just wants the "new world" to adhere to their terms and rules rather than ours.

      2 votes
      1. [8]
        nukeman
        Link Parent
        I remember seeing an expression somewhere on Reddit that echos this (paraphrasing here): the multipolar world Russia (or China, take your pick) wants is simply a stepping stone to a unipolar world...

        I remember seeing an expression somewhere on Reddit that echos this (paraphrasing here): the multipolar world Russia (or China, take your pick) wants is simply a stepping stone to a unipolar world run by them.

        12 votes
        1. [7]
          rosco
          Link Parent
          Yeah, I see that. I've worked on a number of projects adjacent to Chinese Belt and Road initiatives and that end goal is entirely obvious. I'm sure my hopes are naive. Unfortunately we can't put...

          Yeah, I see that. I've worked on a number of projects adjacent to Chinese Belt and Road initiatives and that end goal is entirely obvious. I'm sure my hopes are naive.

          Unfortunately we can't put globalism back in the box.

          1 vote
          1. [6]
            vektor
            Link Parent
            Frankly, I wouldn't want to put it back in its box. It's been a great driver of peace in recent history. Minor nation-state conflicts can be prevented quite easily with it. I accept that there's...

            Frankly, I wouldn't want to put it back in its box. It's been a great driver of peace in recent history. Minor nation-state conflicts can be prevented quite easily with it. I accept that there's no glory in prevention ("Your globalism didn't prevent Iran-Iraq, did it?") But consider the alternative of using modern-age warfare methods with 1800s peacekeeping methods (i.e. want to have a say in whether two other countries go to war? Well, join them, I suppose). Meanwhile today, globalized trade (or rather its denial) is a very effective way to defuse conflict.

            I can appreciate the sentiment though, emotionally. Globalism has also caused great harm and is certainly not flawless in its implementation. Rationally, I think it's better than the alternative.

            6 votes
            1. [5]
              rosco
              Link Parent
              I think it depends how you view peace. Speaking from a United States/European domestic perspective, that's very true. However like you said, looking at conflicts globally I'm not sure I agree....

              I think it depends how you view peace. Speaking from a United States/European domestic perspective, that's very true. However like you said, looking at conflicts globally I'm not sure I agree. Look at the countries where globalism is a net drain and their history of conflicts since the expansion of globalism. It seems to drive more than it deters.

              How much of the mitigating power you are attributing to globalization could actually be attributed to nuclear armament? I think the majority of developed conflicts we experience are proxy wars specifically because we can't engage directly with the specter of MAD hanging over our heads.

              I'd also like to make a point for globalisms place in non-war based violence. How much misery/damage is caused by large corporations that rely on globalized supply chains. Look at the histories of Del Monte, Shell, Unilever, H&M, DeBeers, or Blackrock. My hope for a less globalized world is to limit the effect and control concentrated capital has on our planet writ large.

              2 votes
              1. [4]
                vektor
                Link Parent
                I suppose this is a fundamental unknowable, as we lack any reasonable method of estimating the extent of conflicts that would otherwise have occurred. I'm attributing to globalization at least...

                I suppose this is a fundamental unknowable, as we lack any reasonable method of estimating the extent of conflicts that would otherwise have occurred. I'm attributing to globalization at least part of the general trend of decreasing violence on the world: Unless we're dealing with a country as powerful as Russia, a united global community can make war very costly very easily. I mean, granted, there's a dozen other global trends things going on in the same time frame that could have the same outcome, like increased democratization, increased education, increased formation of modern states, decrease of colonialism. But most of those have synergies with globalism.

                Also, with economies participating in global trade we increase overall complexity of production and logistic processes, thus requiring an educated workforce. This is good, as such a workforce is harder for authoritarians to control. Compare earlier economic systems, where value was created mostly in simple primary-sector production. Not only can a dictator (or nobleman or whatever) keep his populace dumb and tightly controlled, it's even viable for a neighboring dictator to come in and take over by force. That's a recipe for conflict.

                What I will grant, and you've already mentioned it, is that globalism has had disparate benefits for different regions. For example, by moving primary-sector labor to e.g. developing nations, we can under some circumstances actively harm development - see the last paragraph. And we absolutely have to be better about this. Even then, I think it's arguable whether it's been a net drain on these societies.

                I am however optimistic that in the long run globalism will be a net gain for everyone, as the economies of scale allow us to research and mass-produce products the complexities of which are unfathomable otherwise. I urge you to imagine how for example the internet, the computer industry and global information exchange would look like without global markets and global supply chains. That alone has an immense power to right past wrongs. To distribute the fruits of that effort to developing nations and "break even" for them is not a question of if, but when. Consider for example that the access to free information even in the world's poorest countries via smartphones is already happening on a relatively broad scale. Yes, a bit late. But we're getting there. Even poor countries will reach a level of human development that would be inconceivable without global trade.

                6 votes
                1. [3]
                  rosco
                  Link Parent
                  I agree, I think for the most part we're just placing value where we see fit. I don't think this is necessarily true. If you're picking fruit/coffee or adding seams to the bottoms of jeans it...
                  • Exemplary

                  I suppose this is a fundamental unknowable, as we lack any reasonable method of estimating the extent of conflicts that would otherwise have occurred.

                  I agree, I think for the most part we're just placing value where we see fit.

                  Also, with economies participating in global trade we increase overall complexity of production and logistic processes, thus requiring an educated workforce.

                  I don't think this is necessarily true. If you're picking fruit/coffee or adding seams to the bottoms of jeans it doesn't really require much education. You're right those doing logistics/management/design do, but it's a small percentage of the workforce and are often roles conducted by foreign employee. When nations look to using this as an opportunity to educate their population it works well (China or India fits well here), but that isn't a probable outcome. Look at what's happening with Mining in central Africa, agriculture in the majority of South American, or textiles in south east Asia. Those jobs are also the result of globalization, not just high tech/high ed.

                  I am however optimistic that in the long run globalism will be a net gain for everyone, as the economies of scale allow us to research and mass-produce products the complexities of which are unfathomable otherwise.

                  I think this is the crux of our differing view points. You are completely right that globalization allows us to mass product products with unfathomable complexities. I just don't think that is necessarily a good thing. This is a very unpopular opinion, and probably a frustrating one from your perspective, but I think the vast majority of mass produced products have done little to improve the lives of the global population. It seems like the garbage we're producing, assumed continual growth, and technical optimization are starting to come to a head in pretty negative ways.

                  2 votes
                  1. [2]
                    skybrian
                    Link Parent
                    When we talk about globalism, people tend to think of unimportant consumer luxuries. It's true that many people make money manufacturing unimportant things for rich countries. But medicine and...

                    When we talk about globalism, people tend to think of unimportant consumer luxuries. It's true that many people make money manufacturing unimportant things for rich countries. But medicine and solar panels are products of globalization too.

                    For globalization, can we just say "trade?" A world with limited trade would be like living under trade sanctions, everywhere. There are good reasons that few countries try to do this voluntarily.

                    6 votes
                    1. rosco
                      Link Parent
                      I fully hear you, and it probably makes me sound like a whackadoo, as limiting the production and research would inevitably have a clear, negative impact on my life's comfort. I personally...

                      I fully hear you, and it probably makes me sound like a whackadoo, as limiting the production and research would inevitably have a clear, negative impact on my life's comfort.

                      I personally distinguish globalization from trade as a trans-national method of consolidating capital under fewer and fewer banners. You can do this with textiles, food, or pretty much anything. An example I like is banking. The vast majority of us use one of a handful of banks (Chase, BofA, Wells Fargo...). There are branch offices in our neighborhoods, but the profits from those activities head back to corporate HQ. Yes, some things might function better at scale when there is more to leverage, but I don't see that outweighing the negative cost on individual communities. On an international level this is exacerbated by desperate relationships set up during colonial eras. Again money is funneled out of these countries and into the wealthier nations, specifically the corporate accounts of industry behemoths.

                      In my head trade feels more symbiotic, globalization feels more parasitic.

                      4 votes
  2. [8]
    skybrian
    Link
    I feel like there are too many people talking confidently about what they think Putin is going to do. Nobody knows him. Writing a book about what he did doesn't mean you know what he's going to do...

    I feel like there are too many people talking confidently about what they think Putin is going to do. Nobody knows him. Writing a book about what he did doesn't mean you know what he's going to do next. He lies all the time, and he's not required to be consistent with his previous actions.

    Factual reporting (what's actually going on in the world) is more useful.

    4 votes
    1. GreaterPorpoise
      Link Parent
      Incidentally, I've just started Fiona Hill's book about Putin and I just wanted to emphasise it does not necessarily discredit her here, in terms of being qualified to contextualise Putin's...

      Incidentally, I've just started Fiona Hill's book about Putin and I just wanted to emphasise it does not necessarily discredit her here, in terms of being qualified to contextualise Putin's actions, past and present. (But I fully agree that factual reporting is more relevant at this time.)

      Disclaimer that I'm only on the second chapter (before I stopped to check tildes) but the first chapter really impressed me. They specifically examine how Putin's actions in 2014 broke pattern with his past behaviour (per analysis at the time), and reference a theory that pattern-breaking can reveal just as much (if not more) about a person's motives.

      As such, it's not really an account of his life (as they detail the many ways that that information on Putin is lacking or unreliable anyway), and more of an analysis of the narratives around Putin. Or to quote the book more precisely:

      Attempting to write about Vladimir Putin is thus a challenge for many reasons. One that we ourselves never imagined until we were well into this venture is that, like it or not, when you delve into his hidden aspects, whether in the past or present, you are playing a game with Putin. It is a game where he is in charge. He controls the facts and the “stories.” For that reason, every apparent fact or story needs to be regarded with suspicion. It has to be traced back to original sources. If that turns out to be impossible, or the source seems unreliable, what does one do with the information? As the reader will soon find out, we too use stories about Putin. But we do so with caution. We have tested the sources. When we were unable to do so to the fullest extent, we make that clear. Most important, we have learned to ask the question, “Why has this story been circulated?”

      They basically propose that Putin's inconsistent characterisations go beyond just wanting to be perceived a certain way: he wants to see how people react to that perception. The first half of the book is organised around the 6 different personas Putin uses to connect to different Russian demographics and achieve his goals.

      Personally, I'd recommend (albeit very prematurely and only for the interested with spoons to spare) reading the book (Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin). It reads a bit academic in content yet so astonishingly clear and readable (my bachelor thesis is jealous).

      I'm very willing to give Fiona Hill (and her co-author) some credit for their field of expertise. I don't think she's claiming to know the future in the linked article, so much as she is emphasising a warning based on years of experience and study. It may not be the "first" warning in the news cycle by far, hence why we may tire of hearing it, but it's still a credible one, imho.

      11 votes
    2. [3]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Acting as if that's all Fiona Hill has done is pretty disingenuous. She is considered one the foremost experts on Putin and Russian affairs in Washington for good reason, and her Putin biography...

      Writing a book about what he did doesn't mean you know what he's going to do next.

      Acting as if that's all Fiona Hill has done is pretty disingenuous. She is considered one the foremost experts on Putin and Russian affairs in Washington for good reason, and her Putin biography is not the only reason why. She has a rather impressive resume that you're clearly glossing over, which includes serving as senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council.

      And while I agree that being skeptical of predictions is totally reasonable, and often even advisable, when those predictions are coming from someone who is a subject-matter expert with decades of experience, and that person also happens to be the one who predicted, several months before it happened, exactly what ended up playing out during the Crimean annexation, I think their latest predictions and opinions are probably worth paying attention to and not so offhandedly dismissing.

      From January 23, 2014:

      More dangerously, Moscow could take actions that weaken the coherence of the Ukrainian state, e.g., by appealing to ethnic Russians in Crimea, or even by provoking a violent clash in Sevastopol, leading to the deployment of Russian naval infantry troops from the Black Sea Fleet to “protect” ethnic Russians.

      https://www.brookings.edu/research/putins-russia-goes-rogue/

      10 votes
      1. [2]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        Yes, that was a reaction to all the uninformed Putin-analyzing chatter I’ve seen on the Internet, which I hope we don’t engage too much in here, rather than about Fiona Hill specifically. The...

        Yes, that was a reaction to all the uninformed Putin-analyzing chatter I’ve seen on the Internet, which I hope we don’t engage too much in here, rather than about Fiona Hill specifically. The other comment has a quote from her book showing that she’s well aware of the dangers of trusting any stories about Putin.

        1. cfabbro
          Link Parent
          If that's the case, you should probably have tried to make that more clear, especially since your comment also includes a remark about her book so it very much seemed like you were referring to...

          that was a reaction to all the uninformed Putin-analyzing chatter I’ve seen on the Internet

          If that's the case, you should probably have tried to make that more clear, especially since your comment also includes a remark about her book so it very much seemed like you were referring to her in the previous sentences too.

          8 votes
    3. [3]
      Moonchild
      Link Parent
      I think that analysis and prediction are very useful in a general sense. Humean arguments are interesting and valuable in their own right, but not practical.

      I think that analysis and prediction are very useful in a general sense. Humean arguments are interesting and valuable in their own right, but not practical.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Miss
        Link Parent
        It’s useful in a sense that if you predict what’s gonna happen based off of past events, and then if your prediction comes true, you are already prepared for the outcome of the prediction. Sharing...

        It’s useful in a sense that if you predict what’s gonna happen based off of past events, and then if your prediction comes true, you are already prepared for the outcome of the prediction. Sharing your predictions with others might also mentally prepare them in a way. Even if the prediction is wrong, you’ll just end up prepared for a bunch of things! It keeps you thinking.

        2 votes
        1. skybrian
          Link Parent
          Some speculation is inevitable and not useless, as you say. I’m more annoyed by confident speculation. We can discuss possibilities but with appropriate humility about our ability to predict the...

          Some speculation is inevitable and not useless, as you say. I’m more annoyed by confident speculation. We can discuss possibilities but with appropriate humility about our ability to predict the future.

          5 votes