The Capitol riot could have been a huge gift to Putin

Leonid Bershidsky wrote in his Bloomberg column almost two weeks ago (“The U.S. Capitol Riot Wasn’t a Gift to Putin”):

Putin’s allies can claim, as they have already done, that for all its lip service to democracy the U.S. is just as tough on aggressive protest as any post-Soviet regime, including Putin’s own…

But… the seeming Russian propaganda win quickly deflates…

As for Putin, America’s wars with itself are not really his to win. The value of U.S. instability to him is vastly overrated; the highly stable Barack Obama, not Trump, was president when he seized Crimea, attacked eastern Ukraine, went into Syria, made inroads in Africa.

Equivocation is Bershidsky’s forte. On top of that, the third paragraph in the quote above uses dubious logic.

Now consider this alternative history scenario: on January 6, 2021, the mob takes hostage Michael Pence and/or Nancy Pelosi and/or senior members of Congress. Even worse, the mob gets mad and shoots some of them.

In the absolute worst case, the second and the third person in the line of presidential succession get killed. After all, some of the rioters talked about doing just that. Walking the walk isn’t talking the talk, of course, but the riot itself had seemed (to some) a virtual impossibility until it happened.

That would have created enough of a disturbance in America to open a pretty wide window of opportunity for the Kremlin possibly for a few weeks. A chance to seize the Baltics or Ukraine or northern Kazakhstan or whatever comes to their inflamed minds.

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