Russian leader Vladimir Putin has painted himself into a corner not well recognized by many Americans, especially with oil at about $49/bbl. (Putin needs $100+/bbl to balance the budget.) Writing at The American Conservative, Daniel Larison clarifies developments.
The conventional story that hawks have liked telling in the last few years is that Russia has been making huge gains abroad, and they insist that these are being made at our expense.
Since there is a powerful bias towards action (and military action at that) in our foreign policy debates, many pundits and politicians tend to treat action–even foolhardy or illegal action–as obviously preferable, and to the extent that Putin is or seems to be more activist abroad he is credited with being a more “effective” leader even though the net result is diminished Russian influence and significant costs for the country.
Any reasonably impartial observer could acknowledge that Putin has presided over four years of setbacks and losses. If he were an American president, the same record would be greeted with an endless series of “who lost [fill in the blank]?” hand-wringing editorials.