Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Reckoning with Russia

Anyone who believes that foreign policy choices come down to Manichean choices between good and evil need to look no further than the Ukraine crisis. Worse, resolving it will require a temperament that has become increasingly rare at a time when leaders must be seen to emote, rather than to reason their way to wise choices.

DENVER – Anyone who believes that foreign policy choices come down to Manichean choices between good and evil need to look no further than the Ukraine crisis. It is truly, as former US Secretary of State Warren Christopher said of the Balkans, “a problem from hell.” Worse, resolving it will require a temperament and clarity of thought that has become increasingly rare at a time when leaders must be seen to emote, rather than to reason their way to wise choices.

There is enough blame in this crisis to go around, but that does not mean that there is moral equivalence. The most direct responsibility lies with the Kremlin, which, sadly, is far more interested in manipulating nationalist sentiment to preserve Russia’s crony capitalism than in making a clear choice to join the global economy.

Historically, President Vladimir Putin is by no means the first Russian leader to confront such a choice. But he seems to have a preference for shallow populism – a penchant for seeking ready-made symbols of legitimacy to win over a restive population. That makes him particularly unsuited to leading a great power in a time of trouble.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/CewZuHl;
  1. tharoor137_ Hafiz AhmedAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_india protest Hafiz Ahmed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    Pariah India

    Shashi Tharoor laments that the government's intolerant chauvinism is leaving the country increasingly isolated.
    0
  2. skidelsky148_Matt Dunham - WPA PoolGetty Images_boris johnson cabinet Matt Dunham/WPA Pool/Getty Images

    The Monetarist Fantasy Is Over

    Robert Skidelsky

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, determined to overcome Treasury resistance to his vast spending ambitions, has ousted Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid. But Johnson’s latest coup also is indicative of a global shift from monetary to fiscal policy.

    0