Once upon a time Vladimir Putin was the U.S. establishment’s fair-haired boy. From Matt Taibbi at taibbi.substack.com:
We thought he would be our bastard. Then, he became his own bastard.
The president of the Council of Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, made an extraordinary statement over the weekend. “Just days ago much of the world was focused on the unwanted prospect of regime change in Ukraine,” he tweeted. “Now the conversation has shifted to include the possibility of desired regime change in Russia.” Senior Brookings Institute fellow Benjamin Wittes was even more explicit:
For anyone expecting me to be outraged about this — I am, after all, almost daily denounced as a Putin-lover and apologist, so surely I must want the Great Leader to stay in power forever — I have to disappoint. If Vladimir Putin were captured tomorrow and fired into space, I wouldn’t bat an eye.
I would like to point out that we already tried regime change in Russia. I remember, because I was there. And, thanks to a lot of lurid history that’s being scrubbed now with furious intensity, it ended with Vladimir Putin in power. Not as an accident, or as the face of a populist revolt against Western influence — that came later — but precisely because we made a long series of intentional decisions to help put him there.
Once, Putin’s KGB past, far from being seen as a negative, was viewed with relief by the American diplomatic community, which had been exhausted by the organizational incompetence of our vodka-soaked first partner, Boris Yeltsin. Putin by contrast was “a man we can do business with,” a “liberal, humane, and decent European” of “alert, controlled poise” and “well-briefed acuity,” who was open to anything, even Russia joining NATO. “I don’t see why not,” Putin said. “I would not rule out such a possibility.”