The terrible logic of Vladimir Putin
From esteemed FT columnist Martin Wolf: “Nobody knows how this will end. But we do know how it began. Vladimir Putin has mounted an unprovoked assault on an innocent country.”
Well, it didn’t just begin with the unprovoked assault, there is a history here.
Which includes the West’s embrace of a man it was hardly a complete shock to discover is really bad news.
Here is US writer Matt Taibbi on just that: “Once, Putin’s KGB past, far from being seen as a negative, was viewed with relief by the American diplomatic community, which had been exhausted by the organizational incompetence of our vodka-soaked first partner, Boris Yeltsin. Putin by contrast was “a man with whom we could do business,” a “liberal, humane, and decent European” of “alert, controlled poise” and “well-briefed acuity,” who was open to anything, even Russia joining NATO. “I don’t see why not,” Putin said. “I would not rule out such a possibility.”
Back in 2000 in a piece headlined “The Logic of Vladimir Putin”, the New York Times declared:
“In him, Russia has found a humane version of Peter the Great, a ruler who will open the country to the influence of a world at once gentler and more dynamic than Russia has ever been.”
George W Bush also got the Putin bug.
In response to a question in 2001 about whether he could trust Putin, Bush said: “I looked the man in the eye. I found him very straightforward and trustworthy – I was able to get a sense of his soul.”
BuzzFeed offered the 26 biggest bromance moments between GWB and Putin, including “that adorable time they drove around in a golf cart”.
The PR trade that spoke for oligarchs and UK businesses investing in Russia has questions to answer here. The lawyers certainly do.
Maybe the hard truth is that the hack trade was even worse. The PR industry did it for money. And too many of my lot went along for the ride.
Our Find Out Now poll this week asked two questions:
Which of the following do you believe bear some responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine? (Please tick all that apply)
Do you agree or disagree? – “We should stop buying oil and gas from Russia, despite rising energy prices”
An interesting point here from InvestingReviews.co.uk on the ONS report out today into Ownership of UK Quoted Shares.
It says: “On this evidence, UK quoted shares are far more popular with investors and financial institutions based outside the UK than they are with those in it. This is especially the case with insurance companies, pension funds and investment trusts.”
Foreigners think we are a safe haven. But we don’t.