WORLD ORDER, SHMORLD ORDER. Political scientists are clearly the Big Thinkers of the day, and more power to 'em, I guess. This R. Kagan piece fits into the popular Potentially Looming Apocalypse mode well enough; but like others, it doesn't address (& isn't intended to) what seems to me a more interesting question: why VVP is so determined to make everybody play this Spheres of Interest board game at all -- when it is manifestly not in his "team's" interests to do so.
What doesn't he *get?* Alas, we may never know why VVP insists on playing Game of States, in which his uniquely self-beleaguered Weak State struggles to gain meaningless territory, imagined respect and a re-mythologized past -- instead of marshaling its enormous resources to make itself a Strong State, one that could either (a) change the whole game board to its advantage or, even better (b) grow up, forget about the stupid game and simply be a successful Modern Adult State -- you know, educate, house, employ, etc., as long as such are necessary (as they are now), but basically work towards de-burdening Russia's ever-burdened Center: giving your citizens tools, opportunity and sth like a level playing field and getting out of their way as they gradually create an economy that isn't based on fossil fuels and surface-level strip-mining. Not to do so is to admit that Russians are not capable of supporting a market economy or of self-government or both.
Put otherwise, while it’s easy enough to accept that VVP & Co. don’t lose any sleep over their spheres of influence/anti-civilizational tactics, it’s not so easy to accept that they do all this stuff b/c their only end is to Be the Best 21st c. Visigoths They Can Be. At some pt. the land raping & budget pillaging is not only state-self-defeating but obviously so. And even the raping-est, pillaging-est Russian World goons want a functional state: one that doesn’t harbor 20 million impoverished citizens and a million untreated AID/HIV cases; that doesn’t pursue expensive wars no one understands and for no apparent reason, ideological, moral or otherwise; one that takes pride in its unique and remarkable past instead of trying repeatedly and increasingly pathetically to fake a new one; and certainly not least, one where the Russian Worlders and everybody else can actually keep their money (and isn’t called Londongrad).
I don’t believe that the flaw in this reasoning is that VVP is stupid; he’s not. But he is limited, clearly -- just as DT is limited, though in different areas and capabilities. Anyway, I'm no psychiatrist, but what else can one posit except this: p'haps VVP is doomed to hold grudges and/or act irrationally by an abiding self-perception as the proverbial passed-over Colonel – and one who had a difficult adolescence (as he keeps reminding everybody) to boot. OK, that’s it for today from Dr. Freud.
In any event, Aggressive Tactics/Play Dirty/No Strategy is neither very original nor sufficiently nuanced; but if we have to have an epithet for the VVP Spheres O’ Interest Game approach, I can’t think of a more apt one at this point. The question then becomes: how do we help VVP et al., assuming we believe they are still somehow accessible through the basics of logic, to perceive where they're [their] own interests actually lie?