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Ex-Soviet Dissident: Putin Offers a 'Win-Win' Strategy to the World

1980s consultant to the US Republican administrations believes that today Russia is on the move, while America is losing its grip on the world.

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Dmitry Mikheev is a former Soviet dissident, imprisoned for 6 years in a Gulag in the 1970’s for his ‘anti-state activities’.

After emigrating to the United States in 1979, he soon joined the Hudson Institute, an influential neoconservative think tank, working there as a Senior Fellow from 1988 to 1996 . After the collapse of communism and the USSR, he came to the conclusion that for the US foreign policy and security establishment Russia had remained the arch-rival. He returned to Russia and became a vocal critic of neocon ideologies and policies.

<figcaption>In 1980s Dmitry Mikheev promoted Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative from the White House rostrum</figcaption>
In 1980s Dmitry Mikheev promoted Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative from the White House rostrum

This article was written exclusively for RI. A personal interview with Mr. Mikheev covering his life and experiences will be published on RI in the near future.

Several geopolitical tremors have occurred recently that may be signalling the approach of a major tectonic shift. Putin’s speeches at the UN, Valdai and Russia’s recent actions  in Syria might just represent the beginning of a new page in history, not quite yet understood for what it is. America’s political elites should be paying very close attention because this shift might just mark the beginning of the end of their exceptionalism and leadership, even their very own raison d’etre.

The American establishment appears to live in a fantasy world believing that Putin’s adventurism has damaged Russia’s economy, now in supposed freefall and deteriorated his power necessitating a tightening of political screws making the country ripe for a “color revolution.” This is a very naïve and blind sighted outlook indeed! The economic decline in Russia can be mostly attributed to low oil prices and to a lesser degree, western sanctions.

Putin’s “little war” in Georgia, the dazzling Sochi Winter Olympics, the reunification with Crimea and support given to Donbas in resisting Kiev’s murderous “anti-terrorist campaign”… all of this has resulted in an unprecedented increase in his popularity at home with approval ratings reaching 90%. Ironically, contrary to undermining it, American policy toward Russia and Putin has strengthened their position, pushing Russia to diversify and develop its domestic economy, reform its military and substantially elevate Russia’s standing in the world.

The simple truth is that Russia is on the move, while the United States is losing it’s grip on the world.

With such a distorted picture of reality, the American establishment thus produces equally distorted policies as regards to Russia; that NATO should station additional ground forces in Europe, that a no-fly zone should be established over Syria etc. America’s policy of "regime change" has led to the destabilization of entire regions. Their actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria were brought about by supporting Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi sect, the root inspiration for the majority of Jihadist movements thus spawning powerful terrorist groups. For decades, the US has pursued a policy of eroding Russia’s sphere of influence by funding color revolutions, systematically toppling the governments of all the countries within the geopolitical orbit of the former Soviet Union.

Putin is correct when he stated: “A model of unilateral domination has led to an imbalance in the system of international law and global regulation, which poses the threat, that political, economic or military competition may get out of control.”

Putin is a rare statesman of a type we haven’t seen in many decades – one with vision and the will to pursue that vision. He is a highly intelligent and strong leader who is not shackled by bureaucratic structures, a man who carefully calculates his moves and acts decisively when the moment arrives. He creates new realities on the ground before a less virile American political elite can catch up and compete. He also speaks his mind, is able to clearly articulate strategic concepts and has a proven record of success behind him.

It must be remembered that Putin first took office at a time when the country was virtually falling apart, an army of 3,500 mercenaries from one Russian region (Chechnya) had invaded another (Dagestan), while apartment blocks were being blown up in Moscow and other Russian cities. Today, Chechnya prospers in a Russia with a GDP 11 times greater than in the year 2000. Today, the Grozny of 2005, that resembled Stalingrad in 1943, is a beautiful city with spunky skyscrapers in a prospering republic.

This time round, the task that President Putin has taken on is quite enormous and unmistakably geopolitical in scope and significance. His goals are much broader than just to defeat ISIL, save Assad’s government and restore Syria’s territorial integrity or even to safeguard Russia from ISIL recruits. His ambition is to create an alliance of all righteous forces seeking to bring about peace, stability and order to the Eurasian region and thus inaugurate a new approach to relations.

As he stated,

“Our approach is different. In the course of creating the Eurasian Economic Union we have strived to develop relations with our partners, including those involved in the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt initiative. We are actively working based on a principle of equality in BRICS, APEC and the G20…”

Putin’s political and diplomatic efforts in the Middle East are clearly directed at forming a new alliance. Rallying those forces, eager to modernize and establish political and economic coherence and stability from both the EU and the Middle East. To work together “for the region's economic and social development, to restore basic infrastructure, housing, hospitals and schools.”

The geopolitical strategy Putin is offering to the world represents a win-win strategy. It should resonate with all Middle East countries (Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria among others) tired and weary of decades-long wars and increasing chaos. It should also find appeal among Europeans, horrified by the likely prospect of an “invasion of millions of foreigners” posing an existential threat to their union. All these countries and many others, would unanimously embrace the prospect of being rid of the hegemon’s preponderance.

Likewise, a significant portion of the American public itself, tired of their ‘role’ as “the world’s policemen”, would rather see America cooperating in a multi-polar structured world order and focus on its own domestic problems. This convergence of such diverse geopolitical interests comprises a force so broad and powerful as to convince me that the tectonic shift initiated by Putin does have a future.


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