Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why Fareed Sees Putin, Not Trump, as the World's Most Powerful Man.

America's economy dwarfs Russia's. America's military might eclipses the Russians' except, perhaps, in nuclear warheads. Overall Russia can't hold a candle to the United States of America.

So why does Fareed Zakaria believe Putin, not Trump, is the world's most powerful man?

The power of a head of state is determined both by the country's strength and the capacity he or she has to exercise that power, unilaterally, unconstrained by other institutions, parties and political forces. And combining those two metrics, it's easy to see why Vladimir Putin rises to the top of list.

Putin has created what he calls a "vertical of power," something unlike any we see in other great nations. As the Russian chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov -- himself a harsh critic of Putin -- has noted, the entire structure of Russian political power rests on one man. When the czar died, you knew the structure that would endure and the process by which his successor, his son, would be elevated. When the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party died, the Standing Committee and the Politburo would select his successor. But when Putin dies -- I almost wrote if -- what will happen? No one knows.

Putin understands Russia. But he also understands the world. He is not foolish enough to make a frontal assault on America or Europe. Instead, he knows how to use power asymmetrically, with cyber tools and disinformation.

He also understands the vulnerabilities of free societies -- their internal divisions and discord, and their gaping openness. He understands the fragility of institutions like the European Union and ideas like integration and diversity.
In other words, Vladimir Putin understands us very well. But all that begs an important question: Do we -- and does Donald Trump -- really understand him?


Anonymous said...

"Instead, he knows how to use power asymmetrically, with cyber tools and disinformation."

LOL @ this fluff piece.

Know who knows how to use power asymmetrically? Western IA spooks. They are owned by Western oligarchs just like their fake news media. (And the American government, before Trump.)

Just remember, it was them who came a rap tap tapping on Putin's chamber door with their black op on Ukraine in 2014. Evidently they want a Cold War revival with Russia and the lucrative arms race profits that come with. (Tearing up the Middle East wasn't juicy enough, evidently.)

But thanks for the FNN update! (FNN: breaking fake news all of the time!)

Anonymous said...

Putin is a clever man, no doubt.
What is unclear is what his global intentions are.
Unlike in the past we are at the moment unclear of USA intentions are.

Bit of a guessing game is it not?


The Mound of Sound said...

It is indeed a guessing game, TB, a whirlpool of confusion and uncertainty.

John B. said...

Sometimes I don't think we realize what a series of pillow fights all this might be to people powerful enough to purchase anonymity or sufficient distancing from their undertakings and from the assorted overlapping "deep states" over which they might exercise some control. And I'm not referring to the deep state of an Alex Jones fantasy.

When I think about Ukraine, I can't help but consider what a small matter a fight by businessmen over the disposition of its sovereign debt would seem in relation to the conflict it unleashed. Never mind NATO for now; that's just one of rooks on one of the boards. It might even just be a knight. We should have known or at least anticipated. Well, we did know; we're not stupid. And guess what: we didn't and we still don't care. Just a routine business matter with the regular hiccups. Carry on with the negotiations for the next Big One. And never mind the Right Sector or the Maidan protests or the coup. We've got a guy in Canada who was carrying on about the evil Putin and screaming that his country should be sending a great big army that it doesn't have over there until his granddaddy told him that he seemed to remember that the ancestor who'd emigrated from Ukraine sometime during the 19th Century, and from whom their surname derives, was actually an ethnic Russian. That works for us too. We've got more pawns than Regency.

If it hadn't been for the nukes they might have consigned the rest of us to the trenches several generations ago. My current fears are based on continuing routine developments at and under Libertarian Mountain. But I'm just guessing too.

rumleyfips said...

Putin has figured out that far right political parties are the best way to minimize the power of western allies. By entertaining and flattering Farange, Trump, Le Pin etc; by financing movements like Brexit and by seeding right wing blogs with anti establishment stories he is consolidating his power .

Anonymous said...

How long will it be before one of Trumps buffoons says to himself or herself.

I wonder what this big red button is for?

Will it really be a big bang?


Purple library guy said...

Putin knows how to use power asymetrically, with shrewd diplomacy, far-reaching economic deals with the likes of China, and careful application of military power. Cyber tools? Shyeah right. Meanwhile, I'm sure Putin would attack the vulnerabilities of free societies if he had any such available who were opposing him.
Finally, Putin's every action has been very consistent with the basic diplomatic position he has reiterated tirelessly for years: He wants an international order which is multipolar in nature and otherwise somewhat more like postwar theory, with the role and inviolability of states somewhat more robust. And, within that multipolar order, he wants Russia to have strong regional influence, widespread economic ties, and not to be treated as a pariah every time it takes a foreign policy action reflecting nationalism rather than deference to a hegemon. There's nothing particularly mysterious about any of this.