oh Vovochka.
January 1, 2018 9:54 PM   Subscribe

What Putin Really Wants, Julie Ioffe covers her native Russia in The Atlantic - "Russia's strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius. He's really just a gambler who won big."
posted by the man of twists and turns (23 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
“the truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.”
posted by Going To Maine at 10:11 PM on January 1 [26 favorites]


That's the first Atlantic article I've read without skimming in years.
posted by Coventry at 11:53 PM on January 1


Not even sure about the winning big.
posted by Segundus at 12:24 AM on January 2


Fantastic piece, thanks for linking it.

I had never seen this picture of Putin & Obama before. With all the media portrayals of him as Nice Guy Barry, it's easy to forget how much of a stone cold imposing diplomatic figure he could be when he chose to. I think I'm gonna save it to revisit anytime I see Donald pull his lame ass power handshake move.
posted by mannequito at 12:47 AM on January 2 [43 favorites]


I have always said Putin was just a testosterone-soaked cowboy. This article agrees.
posted by Samizdata at 1:36 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Truth doesn't matter if enough people believe.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 1:40 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


[A few deleted. The regular catch-all thread for Trump news is still open; let's keep this one on topic re Putin. Thanks. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:30 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


*frivolous comment*
We subscribe at home, and for as long as we've had the print copy sitting on our banister, every time I walk past I hear in my head "what he really, really, wants, zigazig ah." So thank you Spice Girls for that mashup. Communist Spice?
posted by librarianamy at 5:57 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Interesting article, but one line in particular leapt out at me. When the author was talking about Putin's 2007 speech opposing a uni-polar world they described it as: "This was the protest of a losing side that wanted to renegotiate the terms of surrender, 16 years after the fact." I must have missed the negotiation and signing of the terms of Russian surrender to the US. That mindset, that Russia lost and therefore 'vae victis' also goes a long way to explain how the US wound up at odds with Russia.

I also thought that the article's ultimate conclusions, that working with Russia is impossible and Putin will back down if confronted with sufficient force, aren't actually supported by the history the article lays out.

The article describes how Putin started out trying to work with the US against what it perceived as common threats, but gradually came to believe that the US's policy of overthrowing governments would ultimately target himself. Putin is therefore only impossible to work with if you think that the foreign policy choices the US has made in the last 15 years are all correct and what the US has gained by it's foreign policy are totally worth having Russia as an opponent on the world stage.

The idea that Putin will back down if confronted is a bald assertion. He quite obviously hasn't backed down on Crimea, Syria, or support for the breakaway Donbass republics. But, you know, mindlessly doing the same thing but more is sure to produce success.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:18 AM on January 2 [8 favorites]


That’s fantastic, Gringrin, but if you subscribe to the idea that sufficiently powerful states should have the right to annex the land of neighboring countries whenever those countries experience political difficulties, then God help Russia once Putin dies.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 7:06 AM on January 2 [5 favorites]


This was an excellent article -- thank you.

It echoes (and springboards off) some of what was said -- not only by Julia Ioffe, but others as well -- in the recent Frontline documentary Putin's Revenge. I recommend it if you haven't seen it; the first part in particular does a nice job outlining how Putin got to this point.

PBS/Frontline has also posted hours upon hours of interviews collected as part of this that didn't make it into the documentary -- The Putin Files -- that are well worth reading (some have videos; all have been transcribed). They add many details and perspectives that the documentary unfortunately had to leave on the cutting room floor. Interviewees include journalists (Masha Gessen, Julia Ioffe, Susan Glasser, Ryan Lizza, &c); US diplomats and intelligence officials (Victoria Nuland, Michael McFaul, Jeh Johnson, John Brennan, &c); Russian politicians (Kara-Murza, Gennady Gudkov, &c); US political operatives (Seb Gorka, John Podesta, &c).... it's a fascinating trove for anyone interested in this.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:55 AM on January 2 [10 favorites]


"Manipulative genius" and "gambler who won big" aren't mutually exclusive personas.
posted by lagomorphius at 8:02 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


mannequito: "I had never seen this picture of Putin & Obama before. With all the media portrayals of him as Nice Guy Barry, it's easy to forget how much of a stone cold imposing diplomatic figure he could be when he chose to. I think I'm gonna save it to revisit anytime I see Donald pull his lame ass power handshake move."

See also &c.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:04 AM on January 2 [5 favorites]


"Manipulative genius" and "gambler who won big" aren't mutually exclusive personas.

Yeah we really need to breakdown this brand association that's started building up in people's minds equating evil with competence. It's better to understand evil as a mindless force that only mimics intelligent-seeming behavior, the way cancer and blindly mechanical viruses can seem to behave intelligently and with intentional agency but are really just so much random signal noise, hacking and slashing along on autopilot.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:30 AM on January 2 [9 favorites]


I think it's even simpler than that. You don't actually need to be smart to wreck shit and play to people's worst impulses, you just need to not give a damn what collateral damage you cause. That's it, that's the whole trick.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:10 AM on January 2 [16 favorites]


"Manipulative genius" and "gambler who won big" aren't mutually exclusive personas.

That was my thought, too. Who executes plans at this level and ever has them come off as anticipated? You sort of have to be a risk-taking opportunist to shape geopolitics. The history of the CIA and the pre-CIA FBI is littered with ridiculous goofs and outrageous, opportunistic risks -- Iran/Contra comes to mind in particular.

It's sort of weird that all these Russians anticipating an imminent, major crackdown are coming out on the record that Putin is actually a big goofball who didn't know what he was doing, and I wonder if it's Kremlin-directed messaging intended to help soften the blow when the Democrats retake power.
posted by Coventry at 11:15 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Who executes plans at this level and ever has them come off as anticipated?

Schwartzkopf? Eisenhower? Yamamoto?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 12:08 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]




Who the hell is @RVAwonk and how is she cracking the Kremlin's code?
It was also the year that turned the scholar Caroline Orr into a social media sensation and must-follow for anyone hooked on U.S. Special Counsel Bob Mueller investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign. Better known to her hundreds of thousands of followers as @RVAwonk, Orr has emerged as one of the most incisive and compelling observers on Trump, Russia, and the propaganda wars now consuming world attention.

A social sciences scholar studying human interactions on the Internet, Orr watched the cyber-war continue unabated in real time. Her Twitter feed plays an invaluable role in decoding the cyber-mysteries of Trump and Russia for the amateur sleuth and average reader alike.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:16 PM on January 13






On January 9, Alina Polyakova interviewed Julia Ioffe about the article for The Lawfare Podcast.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:48 PM on January 14


Dutch agencies provide crucial intel about Russia's interference in US-elections
The Dutch hacker team spends weeks preparing itself. Then, in the summer of 2014, the attack takes place, most likely before the tragic crash of flight MH17. With some effort and patience, the team manages to penetrate the internal computer network. The AIVD can now trace the Russian hackers' every step. But that's not all.

The Cozy Bear hackers are in a space in a university building near the Red Square. The group's composition varies, usually about ten people are active. The entrance is in a curved hallway. A security camera records who enters and who exits the room. The AIVD hackers manage to gain access to that camera. Not only can the intelligence service now see what the Russians are doing, they can also see who's doing it. Pictures are taken of every visitor. In Zoetermeer, these pictures are analyzed and compared to known Russian spies. Again, they've acquired information that will later prove to be vital.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:39 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


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