Assessing Vladimir Putin’s abysmal track record
As politics across the world appear to be mired in internal struggles and military conflicts, a growing trend in leaders has become apparent. In the face of strife and opposition, numerous global politicians have sought to create an image around themselves that resonates both power and influence. This is the image of the “strong-man.”
In a broad, historical sense, the strong-man politician is not a particularly new take on leadership, nor is it a surprising one. The post-World War II era has defined itself through partnerships and coalitions such as the European Union and NATO. As a result, world-leaders have typically tried to work together and at least give off the appearance of cooperation.
However, in recent years populism and nationalism have risen to new levels seldom seen in modern history, and with that has come a rise in leaders attempting to exert their strength off the backs of their citizens. Out of the numerous strong-man style leaders developing across the globe, one man named Vladimir Putin stands out, and not because of his success.
A strong undercurrent of ego seems to fuel Vladimir Putin: his apparent desire to be viewed as a very powerful, intelligent, strong-man politician. However, in a sense of efficacy, his attempts to bolster his position on the global stage have each fallen flat.
While President Xi Jinping has been working to earn the respect of the Chinese people and consolidate his power in a way that would make his tenure most effective, Vladimir Putin was orchestrating a vast, top-secret campaign to interfere with the United State’s presidential election.
While President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was cracking down on opposition towards him throughout Turkey and bolstering his rule in a way that might raise his approval ratings in the country, Vladimir Putin was shoving his militaristic fist into Syria.
While President Donald Trump was appealing to his base and seeking to keep both the appraisal and attention of the Republican party directed towards him, Vladimir Putin was sending out Russians to kill an ex-spy on the grounds of another sovereign nation, let alone the fact that it was Great Britain.
Through all of this, each of Putin’s moves on the global stage have been executed in pathetic, disgraceful ways. Instead of improving the status of his country and creating better relations between Russia and the rest of the world, he has focused on being the tough guy in ways that not only have damaged his international appeal, but have dragged Russia’s reputation down into depths not known since the Cold War. As other leaders across the globe use leadership that they find effective and worthwhile in the realm of trying to uphold a positive image of themselves in the eyes of their fellow countrymen, Putin has been trashing the name of Russia.
In the game of power politics, the strong man is one who theoretically holds the might of his country and wields it in ways that exude influence and control. In Vladimir Putin’s game, however, his view of the strong man is evidently one who attempts to push others around, and then pull back. For example, in the instances of American election interference and the poisoning of the ex-Russian spy, he has vociferously denied any involvement in both. Although he may have thought this would make others possibly fear or perhaps cooperate with his country, each of these events have collapsed in a pile of trashed relationships and punishment directed his way, due to his sheer arrogance in thinking he could execute tasks that have harmed global relations and get away with them with just a smirk and wink.
If President Vladimir Putin seeks to join the ranks of power-politicians, he must act like a respectable leader and wield influence in ways that other leaders can appreciate, not in ways that disgusts them. Putin is running a destructive course that is only going to drag his name through history’s mud and crush his country if he doesn’t start respecting other global politicians. There are battles to be won and power to be gained, but Putin is never going to be a part of this game.
Not if he doesn’t shape up his own.
Austin Wolcott is a third-year journalism major who’d move to Russia if he could. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.