How to think about Putin

Imprimis recently published a shortened version of Weekly Standard senior editor Christopher Caldwell’s lecture at Hillsdale College under the heading “How to think about Vladimir Putin.” Last week Hillsdale got around to posting the video of Caldwell’s lecture (below). I found both the condensed written version and full video of Caldwell’s lecture of interest. I thought some readers might as well.

Caldwell says early on in his lecture: “[I]f we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the pre-eminent statesman of our time. On the world stage, who can vie with him? Only perhaps Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.”

The lecture runs about 34 minutes followed by questions and answers. Someone in the audience incorporates the “the routinization of charisma” into his question. Hillsdale lectures attract a bright crowd.

This past October I posted a video of David Satter discussing the September 1999 apartment bombings in Russia that left hundreds dead and led to Putin’s rise to power. I posted the video under the heading “Understanding Putin” and included a set of links relevant to Stater’s talk. Caldwell’s lecture makes a good companion, if not counterpoint, to Satter’s talk.

NOTE: Seeking to fill in the story since the publication of Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe in 2009, Mark Steyn recently interviewed Caldwell on Europe, immigration and Islam on Mark’s former online show. The video is also of interest and is posted here.

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