I don’t always agree with Tom Friedman, only usually. And when I do he enables me to see something I hadn’t noticed before, something interesting and important, in the present instance about what drives both Putin and ISIS.
In Sunday’s op-ed piece, Leading From Within, Friedman writes:
Both Putin and ISIS are also intent on recreating states from an overglorified past to distract their peoples from their inability to build real economies — ISIS calls its recreation the “caliphate” and Putin calls his “Novorossiya,” or New Russia (or Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeast).
“States from an overglorified past.” Perfect as applied to the would be successor states of the Islamic caliphate of the Middle Ages and the Putin cobbled together remnants of a USSR that completely collapsed from internal contradictions at the end of the last century and is not to be restored by an invasion of Ukraine.
And Friedman’s article puts the question, why would anyone want to recreate either one of these states of the past, the long, long ago past in the case of the Caliphate? Is it ignorance, or lack of intelligence that explains Putin’s and ISIS’ actions? What do they expect to gain? Whatever it is, their expectation, it can’t be.