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Harold James
Says More…

This week in Say More, PS talks with Harold James, Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University and the author, most recently, of Seven Crashes: The Economic Crises That Shaped Globalization.

Project Syndicate: You argue that the creation of a “general framework for rebuilding societies devastated by conflict,” resembling the post-World War II approach, could help to bring about a stable peace in Ukraine, not least by showing Russians that there “are much better alternatives to Putinism.” The implication is that winning ordinary Russians’ hearts and minds at least as important as applying external economic pressure, such as energy boycotts. In building a post-conflict framework capable of swaying Russians, where should the West start?

Harold James: In thinking about post-conflict stabilization, we must consider the region as a whole. Ukraine stands little chance of achieving economic (and democratic) development with an angry and vengeful next-door neighbor spreading misinformation and nurturing discontent and violence. In fact, as long as Putinism is viewed as a viable alternative to liberalism and democracy, it will be destabilizing for the entire world.

There is hope that Russians will come to see that Vladimir Putin’s tactics – from the use of conflict to stabilize domestic politics to the emphasis on hydrocarbon production and exports as the key to economic development – are woefully misguided. They will realize that his military adventures, from Georgia to Syria to Ukraine, are not only inhumane; they are costing Russia dearly. And they will conclude that the old authoritarian model needs to be replaced by a balanced approach to the economy and society.