Chrystia Freeland said this week that it was time for Vladimir Putin to end his support for Bashar al-Assad. Lawrence Martin writes that Freeland's demand will fall on deaf ears. Martin used to report from Moscow and he understands the Russians better than Freeland:
It’s about the pride of his pride. One thing that struck me about Russians in three years spent there in Soviet times was not only the degree to which they were subjugated but, antithetically, their intrinsic sense of pride. It was attributable to size, the massive land, the reach of empire, the military might, the defeat at such horrendous cost of Hitler’s Germany. If they were downtrodden they still held to be being part of something strong, powerful.
I’d come to Moscow following a few years in Washington, where making the people feel proud was what Ronald Reagan did after the perceived downsizing of America under Jimmy Carter. Following the reticent rationalism of Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump now uses what distortions he can find to cast himself as the author of a return to greatness for his country. In the Trump foreign policy shop, traditionalists and cold-warrior types such as H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, are gaining the upper hand. It is welcome news given the helter-skelter approach of a president who operates with an alarming knowledge deficit.
In any new big power clash, Ms. Freeland, whose animosity toward Mr. Putin knows few bounds, would like to see Canada play more than a role of bystander. Pierre Trudeau was a contrarian who sought to have a disproportionate influence in the Cold War. But Justin Trudeau does not possess his father’s prickly outsider streak and is too much the new kid on the block to start throwing his weight around.
Nonetheless, Justin has backed Trump's missile strike. And Freeland sounds a lot like Trump on this issue. Both would do well to remember the elder Trudeau's caution before parroting the American line.
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