Could Putin have been avoided?

The author is a junior researcher at the Raoult-Danduran department, where his work is focused on the study and analysis of American politics.

After the greatest conflict of the twentiethas well as century, with 50 million dead, including half a million Americans, the victors in World War II, especially the United States, chose to finance the reconstruction of the defeated countries responsible for the war effort.

Apart from Great Britain and France, it was Germany and Italy that benefited most from the Marshall Plan, that vast program set up by the Truman administration to rebuild a Europe in which relations would henceforth be determined by cooperation.

Then, shortly thereafter, the Cold War began between the United States and its allies in Western Europe on the one hand, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on the other. The US is back in first place. Except that the fate destined for the Soviet losers in this covert confrontation was not the same as for the defeated Axis.

For the first time during the period of perestroika Initiated in 1986 by Mikhail Gorbachev during the last years of the Soviet Union, and then in the poverty-stricken years following the fall of the Iron Curtain under Boris Yeltsin, the Russian government asked America for only one thing: help. US. The American response to this request, from one presidency to the next, starting with George W. Bush, has been limited to deaf ears.

Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush visiting Governors Island, New York, December 7, 1988. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration.

The economy that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union bled Russia dry. From 1990 to 1998, the country experienced a severe depression. The economy even shrank by 14.5% in 1992 and 12.6% in 1994. At the same time, galloping inflation hit the wallets of Russians, and on an annual basis it reached 84%, and not less than 15%. In 1998, the federation even found itself in a state of non-payment of its debt.

This was followed by widespread poverty and crime – thousands of organized gangs destabilized life in the urban centers of the country. This human misfortune was accompanied by a deep sense of national humiliation.

It was in this context that the phenomenon of Vladimir Putin emerged at the turn of the century. He was going to restore to Russia her dignity, her pride, her greatness. Like ” Let’s make Russia great again “.

Would Putin’s proposal have resonated so well if the Russians hadn’t tasted the defeat they just suffered from the West, in particular from the Americans?

What to do now?

Now that the damage has been done, what should the West do?

The answer seems quite simple from the American point of view: put pressure on Russia. If soldiers are not sent to directly confront the Russian army, mounting economic and financial sanctions against the regime will force President Putin to back down or even lead to a popular uprising against him.

And if that doesn’t unlock, there’s a more direct option: eliminating Putin, a wish openly expressed by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham earlier this month.

From the point of view of the West, these “solutions” are attractive: the removal of the dictator will put an end to the atrocities and injustices both in Ukraine and in Russia. IN words Senator Graham, the Russians must therefore find Brutus in their ranks, ready to put an end to Caesar’s reign.

However, Russia, we must remember, is not a liberal democracy. In a noisy country a priori nationalist fervor, it is not said that the disasters imposed on Russia could not, in fact, serve as a rallying call around a dictator who largely controls the information circulating there – and who can use these sanctions to stir up popular grievances against the West.

Moreover, the overthrow of tyrannical governments, often sponsored by the United States, rarely resulted in peace and harmony. Libya, liberated from Muammar Gaddafi 10 years ago, is a convincing example. Since then, the country has been embroiled in a bloody civil war.

Russian history itself should serve as a serious warning in this regard. The last time a popular revolution overcame a dictatorial regime was a century ago. After 300 years of the reign of tsars and the Romanov family, the tyrant Nicholas II saw himself deposed from the throne. This led us to Lenin, then to Stalin.

There is also a suggestive Shakespeare: a play Julius Caesar ends not with the end of the statesman, but with what causes his death: civil war.

In short, there are currently no simple solutions to the Ukrainian conflict. All the more reason to regret that he did not come to the aid of Russia when she was on her knees economically.

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