Nationalist strongman Vladimir Putin meets Lionel Barbour editor of the liberal globalist Financial Times. And as the venue is the heavily fortified palace of the Kremlin, Mr Barber is on his best behaviour: no interrupting or haranguing his host for his notorious breaches of the international rules-based order.
‘The liberal idea has become obsolete’ ran the subsequent FT headline, with a front-page image of Putin in cold and calculating facade. Choice quotes confirmed the pariah status of the Russian leader who accused Western governments of self-destruction. For example, he denounced Angela Merkel’s ‘cardinal mistake’ of inviting over a million migrants to Germany in one year, endangering a peaceful and law-abiding society.
Liberalism, according to Putin, ‘has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population’. Virtue-signalling Western leaders have pursued a policy of ‘mindless multiculturalism’ that is making countries unrecognisable and dangerous. ‘Migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected’. Putin would probably doubt the meaning of cultural enrichment to sexually harassed women in Swedish and German cities. And is the danger of a repeat cycle of suicide bombings a figment of right-wing imagination?
President for almost twenty years, the former KGB officer is widely revered in a country humiliated by the fall of communism. He has restored its pride, irrespective of its economic problems and a curtailment of liberties. While concerns about freedom of expression are justifiable, Putin’s casting as an authoritarian ogre is ironic, given the widening chasm between the political establishment and people in our European democracies. Indeed, is it not cheeky to criticise him as anti-democratic, when the FT has constantly opposed the result of the British referendum to leave the EU?
Liberal publications such as Time, Atlantic, the Guardian and Economist constantly warn of the threat to ‘liberal democracy’. But it is not Brexit that is undemocratic; it is the desperate efforts of a supposedly enlightened political and cultural establishment to thwart it. It was not the election of Donald Trump that was undemocratic; it was the subsequent concerted reaction against him, exploiting institutional power and prejudice. It seems that democracy is fundamental, but only if the result is liberal.
Weary of unfounded allegations that Russia manipulated the US election, Putin reminded the FT that Trump won fairly and squarely. He did so by tapping into ordinary people’s resentment of the callous globalism of Washington administrators, a smug intelligentsia that dismisses most of the country as ‘flyover states’, uncontrolled mass immigration, imposition of secular values and subversive identity politics. Unlike Holy Russia, the West has abandoned its Christian heritage and biblical teaching, with a predictable outcome.
One of Putin’s biggest crimes was to support the Baathist government in Syria. There is no easy answer to turmoil in the Middle East, but privately many Westminster politicians think we backed the wrong side. No civilised person will excuse the use of chemical weapons against civilians be it in Damascus or Salisbury, while in preventing sedition, Assad may be guilty of crimes against humanity. But as a real-world strategist Putin knew that Syria was at risk of descending into chaos – which is exactly what happened when Western governments drew a red line and committed to futile military action against a sovereign state.
As shown by a recent Hansard Society survey in the UK, people in Western liberal democracies pine for a strong leader. Liberalism was fine in the mostly peaceful decades after the Second World War, when capitalism spread wealth globally and funded expanding welfare systems, but the progressive elite’s ideal of a borderless world defies common sense. Having rescued a disintegrating nation, Putin understands the basic human need for security in mind and matter. Dastardly deeds apart, Western politicians should learn from his commitment and courage of conviction to put Russian people first.
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