Saturday, November 24, 2018

To Deal with Putin, West Needs to Study Russian Criminal World, Eidman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 24 – Russian foreign policy, Igor Eidman says, “consists of a bizarre mix of the traditions of a corrupt bureaucracy and a criminal world.” Europeans and others in the West need to recognize this; otherwise, they will discover that how they understand Putin is very much at odds with how he understands himself.

            “One and the same thing has for the Kremlin and for Europe diametrically opposite meaning,” the Russian sociologist and commentator of Deutsche Welle says. That can be easily seen if one considers several examples (

Case 1: “Putin is systematically late and forces his foreign colleagues to wait for him.”  Europeans view him as “uneducated, not a businessman and simply a lout.” But he and Russians more generally afre certain that “a boss is not late but only delayed. If world leaders wait for Putin, that means he’s tough. By being late, he has symbolically denigrated them and shown he’s on top.”

Case 2: “Putin systematically lies and deceives his Western partners.” For Europeans that means he is a liar and his word cannot be trusted.” For Putin and other Russians, in contrast, it means that he is “simply an intelligent man who treats his enemies as suckers. Were he to do otherwise, they would overwhelm him.”

Case 3: “Putin threatens and blackmails his partners. Europeans think he is “insane,” but for Russians, that means he is “a tough guy” because “in the world everything is decided by strength and let them all fear us.”

Case 4: “Western politicians are inclined to compromise and try to reach agreements with Putin.” For Europeans, those who try to do so are good guys because “politicians must be flexible and willing to compromise.” But for Russians and Putin above all, that means they are “weak and cowardly” because “to make concessions is to be weak. We will never retreat.”

            According to Eidman, “Europeans do not understand” that Putin is seeking to defeat them by confusion, disinformation, fear and so on. And they clearly don’t recognize that “if instead of waiting in humiliation for Putin to show up, they would simply have a photograph taken without Putin being present.” That alone would “prevent him from using that humiliating tactic again.”

            In short, the sociologist concludes, “Europe needs to study the customs of the Russian criminal world. Without that, it is impossible to understand the Kremlin’s policy and learn to stand up to it.  It is necessary that Putin constantly be publicly hit in the face. Only then will he respect his foreign partners and take them into consideration.”

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