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[Listen to an audio version of this blog entry here.]

We’ve seen plenty of ire directed at those who haven’t completely condemned Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine or shown unconditional support for the under-siege locals.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping: Leaders with real conviction?

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping: Leaders with real conviction? (Photo from Wikipedia.)

Super Zelenskyy
Even some expert analysts on the region, that is to say, people who actually have a fair idea of what they’re talking about, whilst speaking out against Putin’s actions, have come in for criticism in some quarters for merely suggesting the reasons behind the attack.

The simplified narrative for most of the media, politicians and those who like to be told how to think right now is: Russia and everything Russian evil; Ukraine and everything Ukrainian, good.

As discussed previously here, one should tread carefully when there’s such widespread agreement.

Of course, many of us have a tendency to plump for the underdog, hence the support for innocent Ukraine against bully-bear Russia. Indeed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is being portrayed as some sort of superhero saint. For sure, from what we’ve seen he has been impressive, but we can assume he has a few flaws.

‘We have two “excellent” examples of such types right now. One is currently running amok in Canada, the other in New Zealand.’

Nonetheless, he is the perfect strongman counterweight to Putin over which the West can idolise. For as much as some of us may think Western democracies have moved on from salivating over strongmen figures, there still seems to be an innate desire for a patriarchy of sorts.

Gentle tyrants
In fact, this could be why some actually view, or at least did view, Putin as a likeable rogue. What’s more, on the global level, the Russian president has been the underdog against Nato and the West in general, a West in which many of the agenda-setters appear to be nothing more than self-righteous, often hypocritical virtue signallers.

With a dearth of impressive leaders to look up to at home and tired of being constantly patronised, a no-nonsense Putin — we can also include Xi Jinping here — appeals. There’s a feeling, à la Donald Trump, that these men rule with conviction rather than pussyfoot around, trying to please everybody but achieving very little.

In functioning democracies, such types do have their place. They can take on the technocrats. It could be said that the European Union is in dire need of one.

The problems arise when there are no checks on the strongmen, when there’s no one to challenge them. This generally happens when they’ve been around for too long. They do usually self-destruct but not before causing a lot of collateral damage on their way out.

Yet, the strongman is usually easier to comprehend than, let’s call them “gentler” leaders. The latter is often more pernicious. They claim to be forces of good. Indeed, they are so convinced that they are morally right that they don’t see the harm they do.

We have two “excellent” examples of such types right now. One is currently running amok in Canada, the other in New Zealand. It could be said that Justin Trudeau and Jacinda Ardern are like terrible twins of one Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, aka former UK prime minister Tony Blair. One can only hope that, like Putin’s, their respective regimes are coming to an end.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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