Friday, October 23, 2015

The Myth­ of Putin’s Strategic Genius

By MICHAEL A. McFAUL, NYT, OCT. 23, 2015

PALO ALTO, Calif. — THE Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, continues to surprise. Russia’s military intervention in Syria, followed by a face-to-face meeting in Moscow this week with that country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has startled the world.

As there was after Mr. Putin’s action in Ukraine last year, there has been a chorus of commentary on his supposed strategic genius. He is acting decisively, seizing the initiative and creating facts on the ground — so the narrative goes, in contrast with the West’s feckless pursuits in Syria.

The opposite is true.

Five years ago, Russia was in a much stronger position, both at home and in the world. Today, Mr. Putin is playing defense, doubling down on bad decisions guided by an outdated theory of international politics.

Recognition of Russia’s mistakes, however, does not guarantee future failure. The United States and our allies cannot stand idly by and wait for Russia to fail. Instead, we must adopt a comprehensive strategy to minimize the negative consequences of Russia’s actions and maximize the positive ones of ours.

(More here.)


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