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Time for a dose of Vladimir Putin’s realism in Australia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin caused a tea-cup storm on the eve of a summit of the world’s 20 largest economies with this searing observation: “Every crime must have its punishment. The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population”.

Western leaders lined up to condemn him. European Council president Donald Tusk sneered that he “strongly disagreed”.


“What I find really obsolete is authoritarianism, personality cults and the rule of oligarchs,” Tusk said.

Typical of EU heavyweights, Tusk prefers an idealised world to the real one. It is precisely this unwillingness to confront uncomfortable truths that has so many Europeans tearing at the bridle of their masters.

What is Donald Trump but a personality cult built on the rich foundation of a visceral reaction by many Americans to the dominant order? And what is Xi Jinping’s China if not an authoritarian regime that knows nationalism is a far more potent force than internationalism? While not agreeing with all of what he said, Australia can learn more from Putin’s brutal realism than from blinkered philosopher kings such as Tusk.

One of the mantras from Western leaders – save Trump – at the G20 was the need to preserve the “international rules based order”. In their telling of it this was hammered into place shortly after the Second World War under US leadership.

But from........

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