A dilemma

Suppose Putin has just done something controversial and a pack of well-meaning pundits are at his unreachable throat. Suppose I believe that any rational Russian leader should have acted as Putin did, although for a different reason. Also suppose I am in opposition to Putin’s government and believe the sooner it goes, the better for Russia; whenever Putin does the right thing, I am afraid it will lengthen his tenure. Should I simply keep my mouth shut then?


  1. Speaking as someone who gets into the thick of politics on a regular basis (albeit in America), it would depend, for me, on whether the good thing was likely to stand, and whether the well-meaning pundits are likely to sway public opinion to be opposed to the right thing.

    If the right thing will continue, and the pundits will be ignored, then there’s no reason to voice support. If, however, the right thing might be revoked, or public opinion will be very much against the right thing (making it more likely that any subsequent government would not do this right thing), then there may be a need to speak up, IMHO — depending on how right this right thing is, and how you phrase the praise.

    For example, everybody who knows me knows that I consider Bush II (a.k.a. Shrub) to be a complete idiot, with lousy policies that are doing incredible harm to the US. Because I’ve long publicized this, I use that universal knowledge to occasionally agree with our Idiot-in-Chief when he accidentally does something right (no, I really don’t like the guy). My like-minded Bush-despising friends then tend to sit up and take notice instead of reflexively hating the “right thing” — because the praise is very qualified, (“I believe the administration is incompetent in almost every way, but this particular policy actually has the following strong points: X, Y, and Z), because the praise is focused on the “right thing,” and because the praise is coming from someone who doesn’t like the president and isn’t *praising* the idea just because it’s a Bush administration thing.

    Whether that translates well into your situation, I have no idea.

    Enjoy your vacation!

    Thomas Wicker

  2. Dear Thomas,

    You advice is quite admirably devious, but you overlook the obvious difference between Bush and Putin. Bush isn’t presiding over a country with a disappearing population. He isn’t a lifelong KGB spy elected with a 70% share of the vote a few years after the KGB brought the country to its knees. Instead, he’s the leader of the wealthiest, most powerful and most stable democracy in world history. In other words, America isn’t on the precipice of doom in the same way Russia is, so there is time for devious ploys such as yours, and shades of gray. In Russia’s case, there is no such time.

    I advise Le Dillettante to oppose Putin unequivocally. What’s more, since Putin is favoring the policy, I advise Le Dillettante to reconsider whether the policy is actually correct. After all, there at least some possibility Le Dillettante could be wrong.


    La Russohobe

  3. It’s what Putin does, not what he is, that matters to me. If he did more things right, and fewer things wrong, I would not care about his KGB past.

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