But instead of boosting education and making Russia attractive to foreign investment and domestic entrepreneurs, Putin and Mr. Medvedev have neglected the vital software on which the modern state runs: good governance, the rule of law, efficient bureaucracy, and personal freedom. Putin’s pre-election missives harken back to 19th century nationalism and imperialism.
Empires come at a cost. Russia’s Soviet-era infrastructure – roads, airports, and power stations – are falling apart. Trillions of dollars in capital investment are needed. But that’s not where Putin has spent the money.
Instead, he has chosen to confront the West and the Arab world over Syria and Iran. He announced a $700 billion rearmament program. He calls political opponents “jackals scavenging in front of foreign embassies” and “monkey packs,” and chillingly accused them of a planned assassination of one of their own leaders to pin the blame on his regime. He also accused Hillary Rodham Clinton and the State department of paying for recent mass demonstrations to instigate an Arab Spring in Moscow.