Sergei Illiaronov informed the press a few days ago that President Vladimir Putin of Russia has an insatiable appetite. He intends to return to Russia’s control all of the territory once held by Czar Nicholas II (reigned 1896-1918), including the independent Baltic states, Belarus, and even Finland.
Illiaronov knows Vladimir Putin well. He served as Putin’s chief economic advisor during his first years as President (2000-2005). We should take statements like this seriously, and we should ask what is it that motivates Putin to contemplate a return to czarist conquests.
I submit that what is driving Putin is a radical, romantic conservatism. When Americans think of conservatism, they tend to think of unfettered free markets, expanding opportunities for capital, and free trade. There is a militarist dimension to American conservatism, but it seems increasingly to be a vestigial carry-over from the Cold War. Had September 11 not happened, American conservative foreign policy would most likely resemble the Rand-and-Ron-Paul agenda much more than it already does. At its best, American conservatism takes as its calling card the principles of ordered, virtuous freedom.
Read the rest of this article on my blog at ReligiousLeftLaw.com here.