Putin has something that Obama, Merkel, and Co either don’t have or don’t feel like sharing.
He has a vision. It is a consistent and appealing vision that he has shared very openly in this speech (as well as in many others.) The appeal of the vision is that it offers relief from the scary, fluid, rapidly changing modernity. He is telling people, “You feel scared, confused and lost? I have a recipe for what is ailing you. The problem isn’t that you are backwards, barbaric, uncivilized and incapable of keeping up. The problem is that this fluid world is the product of American efforts and ideology. I can offer you an alternative. I will not force you – like the evil Americans do – to accept this new reality. I know what to do to take you back to the times when you didn’t feel as lost and confused.”
Of course, it’s a lie. Nobody can turn back the clock. The world has changed and will keep changing. But the fantasy of being able to check out from the demands of the rapid transformation is very powerful.
Putin will keep selling this Brooklyn Bridge for as long as he needs to grab world dominance. He will not deliver on his promises because that is not within human power. But the world will pay a very high price for allowing the nostalgia and the fear of change to lure us under Putin’s wing.