Wednesday, October 17, 2018 | ePaper

BREAKING NEWS:

Putin's disdain for liberal democracy hurts the West

  • Print
E J Dionne :
The links among Vladimir Putin, US President Trump, and segments of both the Republican Party and the American conservative movement seem bizarre. How can this be, given the Russian president's KGB pedigree and a Cold War history during which antipathy toward the Soviet Union held the right together?
In truth, there is nothing illogical about the ideological collusion that is shaking our political system. If the old Soviet Union was the lynchpin of the Communist International, Putin's Russia is creating a new Reactionary International built around nationalism, a critique of modernity and a disdain for liberal democracy. Its central mission includes wrecking the Western alliance and the European Union by undermining a shared commitment to democratic values.
Putin is, first and foremost, an opportunist, so he is also happy to lend support to forces on the left when doing so advances his purposes in specific circumstances. But the dominant thrust of Putinism is toward the far right, since a nationalism rooted in Russian traditionalism cements his hold on power.
And the right in both Europe and the United States has responded. Long before Russia's efforts to elect Trump in the 2016 election became a major public issue, Putin was currying favour with the American gun lobby, Christian conservatives and Republican politicians.
In a prescient March 2017 article in Time magazine, Alex Altman and Elizabeth Dias detailed Russia's "new alliances with leading US evangelicals, lawmakers and powerful interest groups like the NRA."
Altman and Dias highlighted the role of Maria Butina, a Russian national who was in court last week following her indictment for conspiring to act as a foreign agent.
Butina was at the forefront of forging Russian ties with the NRA. In 2015, many of its leaders travelled to Russia to attend her annual gun-rights conference, Altman and Dias reported. Such a meeting is absurd on its face given Russia's autocratic nature. It should be a bigger scandal than it has been so far that those who speak so much about Constitutional liberties and individual freedom have cozied up to Putin.
The Russian president did not have to invent Europe's new right. It was rising without him, although he has been happy to help it along. Writing in New Statesman British centre-left magazine, veteran journalist John Lloyd described the formation of what he called an "Illiberal International" that seeks to limit immigration and weaken or destroy the European Union.
Lloyd focused on Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor; Victor Orban, Hungary's prime minister; and Matteo Salvini, Italy's interior minister whose Lega party is now in a coalition government with the Five-Star movement.
It's important to recognise that something more is going on here than merely a generalised effort to disrupt American and European politics. Putin is pushing in a very particular direction, a lesson that should be absorbed across our philosophical divides.
The deepening ties between the Russian government and elements of the right should give pause to all conservatives whose first commitment is to democratic life. The willingness of traditionalists and gun fanatics to cultivate ties with a Russian dictator speaks of a profound alienation among many on the right from core Western values - the very values that most conservatives extol.
It should bother members of the GOP that the progressive writer Brian Beutler was on to something when he observed recently that "in many ways, Moscow understood Republicans better than Republicans understand themselves." Putin saw that what he and parts of the right share is a hatred of liberalism.
And Republicans should bear in mind that disrupting Robert Mueller's probe serves Putin's interests, not just Trump's.
In the meantime, progressives and moderates should not be intimidated by those, including Trump apologists, who claim that standing up to Putin's intervention in our election represents an effort to revive the Cold War. No, opposing Putin is principled, rational and necessary because he is waging a campaign against democracy and is working to undermine the pluralism and tolerance on which it depends.
It's odd that self-styled opponents of globalisation who shout slogans about putting their own countries "first" are actually putting their ideology first as they seek to globalise the far right. Friends of democracy everywhere need to stand in solidarity and resist this backward-looking drift to autocracy.

(Washington Post Writers Group).

More News For this Category

Take steps to stop fatal gas explosions and feel accountable

IN the latest incident of gas pipeline explosions, a man and his wife were roasted alive and 6 others, including three women and a minor boy, sustained burn injuries in

To govt press freedom is not the spirit of Liberation War

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on October 15 dismissed any possibility of talks with the Sampadak Parishad (Editors' Council) on the Digital Security Act, saying there is no scope for discussions

Strategies for disaster reduction

Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :Disaster has been defined by various individuals and organizations in various ways depending on their nature of understanding and on the ways of focusing the issue.

Green banking in emerging markets

Philippe Le Houérou :This past fiscal year, 36 percent of our own accounts and mobilization supported climate-smart projects - up from 12 percent a decade ago. Since May, we have

Leadership in young girls

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca  :On October 11, we will mark the International Day of the Girl by acknowledging the value and contribution being made by some 1.1 billion girls, who form

Readers’ Forum

Provide quality service please!  It's hard to deny the fact that the number of hospitals has increased in our country over the years, but it's also true that it isn't

Living standard of RMG workers should be enhanced

THE workers of readymade garment sector in Bangladesh earn poverty-level wages. Not only that, they continue to work excessively long hours for little money. Whereas, the government and the industry

Question paper leakage continues: Incompetence is everywhere

QUESTION paper leaks have become epidemic before all public exams, university admission tests, and job recruitment tests during the current administration allegedly by some students and unscrupulous teachers along with

A different way to measure our wealth

Kamal Ahmed :How do you measure the value and success of the economy?Traditionally, by reporting on gross domestic product - the amount an economy produces of goods like cars and

Going full circle for growth

Li Yong and Hong Joo Hahm :The business case for making our economy more sustainable is clear. Globally, transitioning to a circular economy - where materials are reused, re-manufactured or