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“Vladimir Putin without a doubt appears to be the most successful leader in the world today. With the weakest of hands, an economy not much larger than that of Spain, and a gross domestic product per capita several thousand dollars smaller than Malaysia, he has asserted massive negative influence over the globalized world.
But with his dual obsession on the importance of buffer states such as Ukraine and the disruption of the West, Putin ignores what should be his greatest concern, which is the mirror held up to it by China. The successes in this neighboring country, compared to the dragging Russian economy, is a reflection on his leadership that will not be ignored forever by its citizens and elites. In 1905, Russia was in a similar situation. Japan, which Moscow viewed as an inferior Asian country, defeated Russia. The powerful victory of Japan over a Russia isolated in its own belief system shocked all levels of Russian society. It fermented a snowballing of disbelief in the legitimacy of the czar leading all to the revolution.
Now a modern Asian nation is again demonstrating that something is dramatically wrong within Russia. China, the former student of Russia in autocracy, is not only a winner in the game of globalization, it is now trying to master the difficult steps of reordering its economy to succeed in a new technological generation. Strikingly, Putin does not seem to care. He does not appear to understand that Ukraine is the least of his problems. To contrast the approaches of Russia and China to globalization, to capitalism, and even to claims on territories that would “fall under their civilizations” is a study in successful leadership versus failed leadership.”
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