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Russia’s Right Turn

An unfortunate legacy of the Cold War is the negative attitude some American conservatives yet harbor toward Russia. Conditioned for decades to see Russia and the Soviet Union as synonymous, they still view post-communist Russia as a threat. They forget that Tsarist Russia was the most conservative great power, a bastion of Christian monarchy loathed by revolutionaries, Jacobins, and democrats. Joseph de Maistre was not alone among 19th-century conservatives in finding refuge and hope in Russia.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is emerging once more as the leading conservative power. As we witnessed in Russia’s rescue of President Obama from the corner into which he had painted himself on Syria, the Kremlin is today, as the New York Times reports, “Establishing Russia’s role in world affairs not based on the dated Cold War paradigm but rather on its different outlook, which favors state sovereignty and status quo stability over the spread of Western-style democracy.”

In his own Times op-ed on Syria, Putin wrote, “It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it.” Sen. Robert A. Taft and Russell Kirk also doubted it.

Moscow appears to understand better than Washington that the driving foreign-policy requirement of the 21st century is the preservation of the state in the face of Fourth Generation war waged by non-state entities, such as those fighting on the rebels’ side in Syria. Russia has rightly upbraided Washington for destroying states, including Iraq and Libya.

When Putin came to power following the chaotic Yeltsin years, there was a real possibility the Russian state itself would disintegrate. Putin’s greatest achievement, and the reason for his popularity within the country, is that he saved and strengthened the Russian state instead. Blinded by their worship of the clay god “Democracy,” Washington elites cannot perceive the importance of what Putin did, but conservatives should. Russia can be an effective ally against Fourth Generation entities, and conservatives prefer states to stateless anarchy. Russia’s new-old conservatism is evident not only in its foreign policy but at home as well. In September the Financial Times reported:

Vladimir Putin called on Russians to strengthen a new national identity based on conservative and traditional values such as the Orthodox church yesterday, warning that the west was facing a moral crisis. … Mr. Putin said Russia should avoid the example of European countries that were ‘going away from their roots’ by legalizing gay marriage and excessive ‘political correctness.’

“People in many European countries are ashamed and are afraid of talking about their religious convictions,” Putin is quoted as saying, with religious holidays “being taken away or called something else, shamefully hiding the essence of the holiday.”

“We need to respect the rights of minorities to be different,” he added, “but the rights of the majority should not be in question.” American conservatives can only dream of an American president saying such things. Should we not cheer a Russian president who dares to defy “political correctness?” http://www.theamericanconservative.com/archive/januaryfebruary-2014/ [1]

The world has turned upside down. America, condemning and even attacking other countries to push “democracy” and Jacobinical definitions of human rights, is becoming the leader of the international Left. Russia is reasserting her historic role as leader of the international Right. This is a reversal of historic importance. American foreign policy should be based on America’s interests, not on affinity for any foreign power. But putting America first does not require being hostile to Russia or anyone else. On the contrary: American conservatives should welcome the resurgence of a conservative Russia.

William S. Lind is director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation. 

76 Comments (Open | Close)

76 Comments To "Russia’s Right Turn"

#1 Comment By Wim de Raadt On February 13, 2014 @ 7:37 am

I have never seen such an arrogant nation in my life. No wonder that this nation has no respect for Europe (The conversation recently in the Ukraine) How can we take them seriously as the European Union As they total act without respect for us . Business is better with Russia. We sit on a continent. We don’t need to cross the atlantic ocean and they are more reliable

#2 Comment By seydlitz89 On February 13, 2014 @ 9:07 am

Sorry Bill, but Russia re-establishing itself as a stable state is simply the latest trashing of your reified and confused/confusing 4GW notion . . .

#3 Comment By Jim Evans On February 13, 2014 @ 10:34 am

Given the number of comments, apparently, it’s hard to take off the Cold War glasses. And it’s interesting that liberals & conservatives both want to bash Putin, but for different reasons.

#4 Comment By RadicalCenter2016 On February 13, 2014 @ 5:23 pm

Leo H: No, that’s not so. Many large countries — including India, Pakistan, and the Philippines — continue to substantially increase their populations, not just African countries.

And the Muslim populations of the Caucasus and elsewhere in “Russia” continues to grow, while the ethnic-Russian / non-Muslim population slightly declines in most years.

Pakistan already has more people than Russia, and the Philippines will have many more people than Russia in the lifetime of many readers here.

Russia will not have sufficient conventional forces to effectively resist China over the long haul. Even if China’s population declines steadily, they will still have at least nine or ten times the population of Russia.

#5 Comment By RadicalCenter2016 On February 13, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

P.S. The sixth most populous country in the world, Pakistan, already has 42 million more people than Russia (185 m versus 143 m) and is growing while Russia’s population is going at best sideways.

The 12th most populous country in the world, the Philippines already has 100 million and is growing FAST.

Even Bangladesh, at 153 million and the 8th most populous country in the world, has 10 million more people than Russia and, again, is growing pretty fast.

The 4th most populous country, Indonesia, has a QUARTER BILLION people, soon to be more than twice Russia’s population.

These stats and trends don’t make me happy, not at all. But Russia is screwed big-time, doomed to become a borderline major power unable to hold its far eastern and southern territories, and demographics is a big reason.

#6 Comment By Jamie Estevez On February 13, 2014 @ 11:16 pm

God bless and preserve Holy Orthodox Russia! Slava Russia!

#7 Comment By James Marshall On February 14, 2014 @ 1:46 am

I know of William Lind more for his genius and understanding regarding military tactics, but he’s a solid conservative too. I can never understand so many Libertarians being classified as staunchly conservative when they are merely anarchists.

Neoliberalism is discussed on Aleksandr Gurnov’s program Spotlight, an episode with a Michael Hudson interview. A recent article on the Valdai Discussion Club website by Yevgeny Primakov, “Russia’s Problems: Why Neoliberal Policy Is Unacceptable Today” is another sign that there is still some sanity from key decision makers and academic minds of this world. The problem is more correctly defined as neoliberalism and not simply liberalism. I think Mr. Putin sees it.

#8 Comment By Southern Gunner On February 14, 2014 @ 9:00 am

The future of biowarfare means that the growing populations of nations like China and Pakistan are not some guarantee of long-term power or dominance, nor do they make inevitable the decline or doom of a nation like Russia.

In theory, genetically-selective bioweapons will be capable of sparing the favored/dominant ethnic group of one nation while ravaging it’s foreign enemies or any troublesome ethnic minorities within it’s own borders. With nationalist governments in place willing to use such weapons, anything is possible.

So who might be willing to use them? In case anyone missed it, the development of weapons based on “genetic principles” was one of the 28 items outlined by Putin to be undertaken by his administration, as stated in the run-up to his re-election as President.

In March 2012, after taking office as President again, he chaired a meeting of his ministers where Russia’s Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov told Putin that his office had “thoroughly studied your article [in which the genetic weapons and other tasks are listed and explained] and prepared a plan for implementing the tasks.”

By April 2012, the mandate for developing these weapons had been removed from the official Russian government website. I wouldn’t bet that means the mandate went away. It likely just went dark, as it would be a violation of the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), an agreement in which Russia is a State Party.

#9 Comment By Profwatson On February 14, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

People are against Russia because Russia does not agree with their radical gay agenda. The left used to idolize Russia before they went against their perversion. The left and their fellow travelers(you know who they are) are now starting another cold war against Russia, and with the backing of the EU and their perversion, trying to isolate Russia. It will not work. It will only drive Russia into the arms of China, soon to be the world’s greatest economy(remember, the east is red). The liberal west has seen its peak, and now like the old Roman empire, is sinking in debauchery.

#10 Comment By Cityeyes On February 14, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

Putin seems understand that a country’s (and its citizens) first loyalty is to itself. U.S. lobbyist don’t seem to give a darn about the unintended consequences of using U.S. power to fight wars on behalf of a foreign power. Great historical Americans must be doing cartwheels in their coffins as this phenomenon is implemented.

#11 Comment By Richard J. Johnson On February 14, 2014 @ 4:03 pm

From REDOUBTS: Paleopopulism at Twilight.

For a relative peace and social civility, a tacit contract is established when multiple cultures exist within a single geographic locality. A single dominant culture will prevail, with the others granting public acknowledgment and acceptance of that dominance and their own subordination. What is required from the dominant culture is a practiced tolerance of the others. When these reciprocal obligations are violated, the almost certain result is strife and upheaval. Testimony to this is revealed every day in the Middle-east, Balkans and Africa.

#12 Comment By Rik Without Relent On February 15, 2014 @ 1:29 am

“In theory, genetically-selective bioweapons will be capable of sparing the favored/dominant ethnic group of one nation while ravaging it’s foreign enemies or any troublesome ethnic minorities within it’s own borders. With nationalist governments in place willing to use such weapons, anything is possible.

So who might be willing to use them? In case anyone missed it, the development of weapons based on “genetic principles” was one of the 28 items outlined by Putin to be undertaken by his administration, as stated in the run-up to his re-election as President.

In March 2012, after taking office as President again, he chaired a meeting of his ministers where Russia’s Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov told Putin that his office had “thoroughly studied your article [in which the genetic weapons and other tasks are listed and explained] and prepared a plan for implementing the tasks.”

It should come as no surprise to anyone here that the Israelis have been working on such a program since 2009. Gee, I wonder who they might use such weapons on???

#13 Comment By Andrew Carlan On February 15, 2014 @ 8:38 pm

I agree with the author on the proper limits of foreign policy and that it is not in our interest to interfere in the internal affairs of Russia, the Ukraine or any other country or entity unless our nation is imminently endangered. But, truth be told, Putin, for all his positive qualities the article points out, has done little to rectify the oligopoly Yeltsin and his crowd created on the backs of the Russian people unfamiliar with a free market economy.

#14 Comment By Bianca On February 18, 2014 @ 9:47 am

American have gone too far to pull back from the corporate destruction of our state, even the fig leaves of constitution are now irritating to many. The fact that even on this site, so many are confused about so much, leaves no doubt in my mind that the nation-saving conservative thinking is nearly dead. Neoconservativism has taken root, even among those that object to it. Putin is actually trying to revive true conservativism of our own founding fathers, yet it is not understood in this country of he brave. We are thorn apart by the corporate cronies, that have forgotten that their purpose is to produce goods and services, and are assuming the role of sovereigns. Our weak in head as well as in heart politicians will go along with whatever these behemoths tell them. But here is the inevitable sad end. We have no corporate leaders any more that know much about real economy, and use taxpayers to suck out whatever is left out of our nation’s wealth to use our diplomatic and military assets and force their way into the wealth of other nations. As most of the world, other then some feeble Balkan nations and island states have figured out how to keep them at bay, their fury has no bounds. The fury is directed towards Russia — not even realizing that such impotent fury says more about our corporate governance and media, then the rest of the world. Can we rescue ourselves? And who is left to take on the fight for restoring America to its legitimate role of a powerfull nation, free from the deadly interventionism that weakened us at home, and made us slaves to corporate geopolitical games.

PS. to the reader that seems to be concerned about genetic weaponry, the origin of reasearch is in Israel. Once out of the test tube, let us not wonder why would all countries pay attention to it. Russia is not the only one taking notice.

#15 Comment By schmenz On February 18, 2014 @ 10:43 am

I really am not quite sure whether I should laugh or vomit at the incredible anti-Putin remarks I am reading in the comments section. I knew that we as a nation are uninformed and insular but I had no idea that in this day and age some people can still cling to the old prejudices.

No, of course Putin isn’t a Saint. Who is canonizing him? But he is a statesman, and if anything at all illustrates that better it is his efforts to stop the slaughter of innocent Christians and Muslims in Syria. Regarding the homosexual juggernaut that is busily strangling the world Putin, though he could do much more, is at least trying to slow down that juggernaut. Presumably he is aware that a nation which accepts sex perversion as normal, is a nation far along the way to its own destruction, as history has proven time and again.

My advice to the conservatives and liberals who are still in Cold War mode would be to put back on the shelf your 5th grade history book and start taking advantage of world opinion which the internet now supplies. They say that “travel broadens the mind”. The same could be said of listening to what others in the world are saying instead of relying on our own stale propaganda.

#16 Comment By L On February 18, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

If Mr. Putin is sincere, then God bless him.

#17 Comment By Michael Kenny On February 18, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

Excellent point. Although there are groups in the US for whom the cold war was very convenient and who would love to push the unfortunate people of Russia back under communist dictatorship. Ms Nuland’s now immortal expletive should be applied to the cold war!

#18 Comment By rushncap On February 19, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

Seriously? You are sticking up for one of the worst tyrants (and most corrupt human beings) on the planet because he’s “conservative”? You are a sick and twisted little puppy, Lind. You are a worthless waste of humanoid DNA.

#19 Comment By Jake On February 23, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

Neocons now bash Putin and Russia for being hetero-fascists. That is all any person with a modicum of common sense needs to know to see Putin and Russia as better for American, and European, Christian conservatives than the Republican Party of Mr Lincoln. The Neocons will lead us to a world in which gay and black and feminist and Islamic and Buddhist and, especially, Jewish, are all sacrosanct.

#20 Comment By mash On February 24, 2014 @ 3:08 am

No mention of Putin’s “Nashi” movement in this article. What a pity. If the writer had mentioned Nashi and shown the pictures of the “youth movement” in Russia that Putin sponsors I think the readers would be more educated about what is really happening in Russia.

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#21 Comment By David Mouse On February 25, 2014 @ 11:04 am

This article demonstrates that Conservative is an anti-concept. What American can look at the “Christian monarchy” of the pre-Soviet era or the current Putin regime without repugnance. Both are tied to the Orthodox Church for political support, sure, but both were oppressive, repressive, and authoritarian, which is what conservative meant in 19th Century Europe, while liberal meant advocate of individual liberty, with democracy as a means to that end, which eventually DID become a ridiculous idol. It’s true that our involvement in Iraq, Syria, and Lybia has been catastrophic, but to say that maintaining states is an intrinsic good? BTW, I am a Libertarian, though not an anarchist. American Conservatism today is largely similar to European Liberalism of the 19th century, and has no reason to sympathize with Putin. Russia was always despotic since it existed, that’s why the Soviet Union could exist. I support those Ukrainians who want to come into the EU; bad as the EU is, it’s better than Russia.

#22 Comment By anon On May 9, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

Read Alexander Drugin’s book and then make your conclusions…

#23 Comment By Richard Wilson On July 27, 2014 @ 3:56 am

I am American, living in Moscow with wife and daughter. For 30 years I have read Russian lit, history, culture and yet I was still flabbergasted, surprised, even shocked. Even Russian liberals now rally around Russia, not neo liberals. Theyare an insignificant minority. It is refreshing to be in a land where perversions are seen in their right context, even by the Communist Party. I teach children, ages4-18, every boy has told me ” I willdie for Russia”. If we fight against Russia, we will lose. We may be worlds ahead of Russia, so too were Napolean and Hitler, but we cannot match their heart. We can’t.

#24 Comment By Father George Larin On October 20, 2014 @ 11:11 am

I’m in total agreement with the comments made on July 27, 2014 by my fellow-American, Richard Wilson. Russia is undoubtably the LAST great power, preventing the coming of the New World Order, as it continues to be the dream of power-mad materialists, predicted in Dostoyevsky’s “The Possessed”. But they’re not completely crazy, and will never attack Russia militarily, knowing full well that it will not hesitate to use its thousands of very accurate, sophisticated ICBM’S, armed with multiple-warhead atomic bombs. Yes, the hearts of most Russians are committed to Christ and His Church, and they would rather die fighting, than surrender their beloved land and children to perverts.
Father George.

#25 Comment By Dr SP Ward On May 6, 2015 @ 8:43 pm

Mr Lind’s comments are fundamentally in error, but only partially.
My response is here and warns of the dangers of any nation that seeks to act in an authoritarian manner.

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#26 Comment By Ron On January 2, 2016 @ 7:23 am

Dt. Wards rebuttal is detailed, transparently reasoned and devoid of pro American or pro Russian rhetoric.

The Russian core ideology of centralized control of all important aspects of the economy and subjugation of the individual to the collective remains unchanged from the Soviet era. Russia has not made a turn to the right but merely adopted national socialism in place of international socialism.

The Russian penchant for massive scale disinformation has not lessened but instead become more polished. It has freed itself of Marxist dogmatic sloganeering and instead decided to pretend to be a defender of the Caucasian race and Christianity. Both pretences are useful demagoguery to lure western ‘conservatives’ or at least lull them. Russia is an unmatched threat to the natural rights of man, not the new leader of the so called free world.