The West credits Putin with too much power - at its peril
Paranoid visions of the Russian's leader malign influence imbue him with something he doesn't have
Is liberalism obsolete? Has it outlived its purpose? That is what Vladimir Putin claimed in a wide-ranging interview given on the eve of the G20 summit in Japan. And as with so much that the Russian leader says, the problem is not whether he is right or wrong, but that when he is right it is for the wrong reasons.
For some years now Putin has demonstrated an ability to push his KGB-trained fingers on the very sorest parts of the Western nervous system. Russia may have lost the Cold War and spent the Putin era struggling to make up in bombast what it has lost in prestige. But precisely because Russia’s force-projection and demographics are dwindling, Putin has found a way to assume a position on the world stage vastly out of proportion to what should be his global standing.
He deranges different people in different ways. For those broadly on the left in Western politics he has become the puppet-master supreme. Nothing Putin could ever boast of could exceed the claims made about him by those who imagine themselves his opponents. For three years adults in Britain and America who cannot reconcile themselves to the Brexit and Trump votes have pretended that Putin is the cause of their losses...