Saturday, June 18, 2016

Things Can Always Be Worse

Putin stands in the middle of Russia's political spectrum, balancing those who want an aggressive military posture and those who want to reform Russia's economy. Which leaves Russia hanging in the balance as a military threat or a country that could collapse--again. And with nuclear weapons, being the sick, angry man of Europe should be a scary thought for all of us.

As much as Putin has been a pain in the butt and threat to Western interests, things could be worse according to Stratfor:

Russian President Vladimir Putin stands at a fork in the road. The crises and responsibilities the country faces hang in a precarious balance. As Russia's economic recession drags on, prolonged by Western sanctions and dreary oil prices, inflation has skyrocketed, wages are tumbling and the poverty rate is growing at a pace not seen since the 1998 financial crisis. Limited military campaigns in eastern Ukraine and Syria have stirred up nationalism, enabling the government to maintain its popularity. Meanwhile, NATO forces are building up near Russia's borders, mounting pressure on the Russian military.

For much of his more than 16 years in power, Putin has remained a centrist, by Russian standards. He sits neither in the radically liberal reformist camp nor among the rabid security hawks, but somewhere in between, cherry-picking policies from each side to suit the situation. Over the years, Putin has employed a variety of strategies that run the political gamut. But in the years to come, this centrist approach — vacillating between strategies while attempting to maintain a balance — will no longer be effective. Polarized camps in the Kremlin, and among the Russian public, are urging the Russian leader to change tack.

Read the whole thing.

By their combination of domestic brittleness and military power, Russia is a threat from their ability to target weak neighbors and trigger a European general war or their potential to collapse down to their European core, which could trigger a sequence of events that ends in a nuclear war.

Russia is truly the sick, angry man of Europe, as I complained in 2008:

Now we have to figure out what to about the Russia Question: An angry sick man of Europe that has nuclear weapons and enough residual conventional power to threaten small neighbors, whose potential for collapse is as disquieting as their aggressive stance.

Have a super sparkly day.