A fundamental principle of martial arts is using an opponent’s size and momentum against him. This is Putin’s strategic approach. Westerners demonize Putin, but few try to understand him. Trying to understand someone else is regarded as a pointless in narcissistic America, selfie-land. Perhaps 90 percent of the populace is incapable of grasping anything more subtle than a political cartoon.
That’s a pity, because Putin has accomplished a geopolitical triumph worthy of study. He’s catalyzing the downfall of the American empire, and it has nothing to do with subverting elections or suborning Trump.
Putin became acting prime minister in 1999, then president in 2000. The Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse devastated Russia. The economy shrunk and life expectancies fell. A group of rapacious oligarchs, many with Western backing, acquired Soviet industrial and commercial assets at fire sale prices.
Putin, unlike America’s high and mighty, realizes from Soviet experience that empires drain rather than augment an empire’s resources.
Russia, meanwhile, has one of the developed world’s lowest debt ratios, stockpiles gold, and is divesting its US debt. It has teamed up with China on the Belt and Road Initiative. That series of projects, financed primarily by the Chinese, advances Russia’s and China’s interests and influence across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. This approach seems to garner more support than US bullets and bombs.