How Red Is Putin?


Maybe not as red as Drudge believes. A reader writes:

And is Putin a red?  Hmmm. Perhaps Putin is really a Neocon. The way the words "socialist," "communist" and "Nazi" are thrown around today (interchangeably at that!) show what an utterly debased coinage they have become.  Actually within the world of Russian political thought, Putin could easily be viewed as a successor to the strong-central-government liberalism of figures like Stolypin.  He has a great deal of nostalgia for the USSR, that's clear enough--but that's because the country played a prominent role on the world stage as one of two super powers--a position he would love to recapture, though not at any cost, and he is prepared to take a very long road to get there. A Communist would insist on state ownership of the means of produc tion. Putin has in fact supported the privatization of most of Russian state industry and has strongly encouraged the rise of a new entrepreneurial class which provides him with a solid base of support, favoring them among other things with a special tax regime for entrepreneurs which has allowed a small but significant part of the population to achieve serious bourgeois wealth. 

On the other hand, he has pushed a regime of natural resources nationalism reasserting state control over a number of once-privatized oil and gas companies.  He has used Russia's hydrocarbon base for political purposes---as a lever with the Europeans, in particular, and as a lash against the lesser states of the old Soviet imperium. He is what my Russian friends call a "Gebist," namely an alumnus of the state security regime who believes in secret government and doesn't hesitate to use dirty tricks to accomplish his political objectives, particularly to frustrate or eliminate critics. But of course that was just as true of the Czarist Okrana as it was of the KGB. 

No, in fact our Neocon friends and Dick Cheney feel so threatened by Putin because his thinking and his world are a near mirror image of their own. He aspires to restore Russia to a position of power and influence first in Europe and then in the world, but he seeks this not in the service of any ideology, but rather from a stance of Great Nation Conservatism.  He carries no particular brief for Israel, but Israeli-Russian relations have arguably never been closer than they are today (as witnessed by Bibi's secret trip to Moscow this week). 

But on almost every prong, Putin could be glorified in a Russian language edition of the Weekly Standard, making the appropriate name changes along the way.  Putin's no commie. He's the Neocon in the Kremlin.
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