I am reading Timothy Snyder‘s book The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (Guardian, NYTimes review). It is incredibly depressing. I keep coming back to it because, as the Guardian says, it is “unignorable.”
Snyder is a Professor of History at Yale, longtime chronicler of Tyranny. I bought his book after listening to a very insightful interview at Slate with Jacob Weisberg.
Snyder outlines the tactics Vladimir Putin has used to gain control of Russia through destabilization and othering, and then export chaos around the world. Snyder postulates a dichotomy between nations and groups. Those that think progress is inevitable (like the EU proponents and US liberals) and those that feel we are running in circles for eternity (Russia and US conservatives).
I won’t get into details here on how Putin has risen to power and what the ramifications are. I am now reading the historical view of the Ukraine, the Crimea, and Russia and how Putin was able to start a war and take parts of the Ukraine. Especially depressing is looking at how all this starts to destabilize Europe, especially because they are not responding.
Putin tried the tactic that worked in Russia, demonizing homosexuals as agents of the West, bent on violating the “pure” Russia (Rus) built 1,000 years ago by Valdamarr (Volodemere) and rescued by the current Vladimir. (Funny, though, Valdemarr was from the Ukraine.) Since the Ukraine had enjoyed almost 2 decades of peace and was working on the rule of law, they (especially the young) were looking toward Europe. But as soon as Paul Manafort got Yakunovych into power, Russia tried to strong-arm then bribe, then worked to depose him. The people resisted, and continue to resist with a war that hobbles on. Putin’s main goal of destabilization and distrust of authority of the rule of law is slowly working, as we can see from this recent VICE account below.
If we look at the actions of Trump through this lens, it becomes clear that the main goal of Putin is extended, whether there is any collusion or not. More when I finish the book.