Pat Buchanan: Is Putin right? Has liberalism lost the world?
“The liberal idea has become obsolete. … (Liberals) cannot simply dictate anything to anyone as they have been attempting to do over the recent decades.”
Such was the confident claim of Vladimir Putin to the Financial Times on the eve of a G-20 gathering that appeared to validate his thesis.
Consider who commanded all the attention at the Osaka summit.
The main event was Trump’s meeting with China’s Xi Jinping and their agreement to renew trade talks. Xi runs an archipelago of detention camps where China’s Uighur Muslims and its Kazakh minority have their minds coercively “corrected.”
A major media focus at the summit was Trump’s meeting with Putin where he playfully admonished the Russian president not to meddle again in our 2020 election. The two joked about how both are afflicted with a media that generates constant fake news.
At the G-20 class picture, Trump was seen smiling and shaking hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom U.S. intelligence says ordered the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump called the prince “a friend” who has done a “spectacular job.”
Trump then left for Seoul, traveled to the DMZ, and crossed into North Korea to shake hands with Kim Jong Un, who runs a police state unrivaled for its repression. Negotiations on Kim’s nuclear weapons may be back on track.
Why is liberalism failing? Several causes, Putin told the Financial Times. Among them, its failure to deal with the crisis of the age: mass and unchecked illegal migration. Putin praised Trump’s efforts to secure the U.S. border:
“This liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population. … This liberal idea presupposes that … migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected.”
Putin took power, two decades ago, as this 21st century began. In recent years, he has advanced himself not only as a foe of liberalism but a champion of populism, traditionalism and nationalism. Nor is he hesitant to declare his views regarding U.S. politics. Of Trump, Putin says, “He is a talented person (who) knows very well what his voters expect of him. … Trump looked into his opponent’s attitude toward him and saw changes in American society.”
Recalling his own controversial comment that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, Putin said the tragedy was not the death of communism but the shattering of the Russian Federation into 15 separate nations. The tragedy was the “dispersal of ethnic Russians” across the newly independent successor states of the Soviet Union: “25 million ethnic Russians found themselves living outside the Russian Federation. … Is this not a tragedy? A huge one! And family relations? Jobs? Travel? It was nothing but a disaster.”
What may be said of Putin?
He is no Stalin, no communist ideologue, but rather a Russian nationalist who seeks the return of her lost peoples to the Motherland, and, seeing his country as a great power, wants NATO out of his front yard.
While we have issues with him on arms control, Iran and Venezuela, we have a common interest in avoiding a war with this nuclear-armed nation as we did with the far more menacing Soviet Empire of the Cold War.
Pat Buchanan is author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”