Writing for the Observer, former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer John R. Schindler provided excellent insight into an important, if abstract question — Why does Putin’s Russia hate the US?
Since entering the Syrian conflict on Bashar al-Assad’s side a bit more than a year ago, Russia has come to threaten the US in virtually every dimension imaginable.
Russia has openly taunted the US to intervene in Syria while bombing humanitarian aide convoys headed for civilians in Aleppo. It has openly meddled in the US presidential election by hacking the DNC. Russia has taken steps to destabilize Europe by deploying nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad and, according to some, exacerbated the war in Syria to “weaponize” the refugee crisis against Europe.
Russia has pursued these extremely aggressive paths towards the West in spite of being economically and militarily weaker than the US and the West by a considerable margin.
According to Schindler, Moscow takes this path because it simply hates the West, much like jihadists do, due to what Moscow sees as a cultural invasion of liberal and secular values into its more conservative society. Here Schindler breaks from other analysts who propose, as George W. Bush did after 9/11, that jihadists hate us because we are free.
Instead of having Western analysts try to understand Russia from a Western point of view, Schindler proposes looking at what the Russians themselves say and taking them at their word:
To get a flavour of what Putinism’s worldview looks like, simply listen to what Moscow says. It’s easy to find fire-breathing clerics castigating the West and its pushing of feminism and gay rights, which they openly term Satanic.
Schindler details how Putin has formulated a potent mix of nationalism and religion to define the Russian identity, and repeatedly contrasted that to the Western values.
According to Schindler, the US is in a Cold War with Russia, and Russia has expertly played their hand while the West refuses to believe they have any ideological competition at all.
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