The West’s leadership crisis as a Russian trauma

U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a visit to Iraq
Like his father, President George W. Bush commanded Russia’s respect until the United States succumbed to imperial overstretch in Iraq and Afghanistan (source: dpa)
  • Personalist view of politics stresses leaders who can impose their will
  • Over last decade, the U.S. and Europe have failed this test in Russian eyes
  • Leadership vacuum at the center has encouraged rise of peripheral strongmen

The conventional wisdom that Russians are happy with the current dearth of political leadership in the West is wrong. The periphery of any empire suffers more from weakness at the center than the center itself.

The leadership crisis in the United States and Western Europe is, as Karl Marx once said, “objective reality given to us in sensation.” Its causes and consequences are perceived differently in the West and the rest of the world. Westerners are more likely to have a deeper understanding of the situation, but the outsiders’ standpoint has its own advantages. It is possible that a Russian perspective could reveal some less obvious aspects of the crisis, providing new insights into the West’s predicament and into Russia itself.

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