The death of Alexander Litvinenko reminds us how fortunate the world is for Vladimir Putin. An infinitely less bloody version of Stalin, his combination of political mastery and strategic incompetence guarantees us a safe Europe, a safe Asia, and a safe world.
Russia is situated in the Heartland of Eurasia, a “pivot of history.” The lands of central Eurasia are protected from the oceans by the frozen Arctic Sea. They are also thus protected from the liberating force of trade. Central Eurasia has brought Europe and Asia pestilence, plague, war, invasion, and death. When Central Eurasia is strongest — as under Czar Alexander I — Europe is forced in authoritarian reaction. When Central Eurasia crumbles — after World War I and the Cold War more recently, the European community expands and liberty (and the market) moves forward.
Vladimir Putin is continuing the disintegration of the Russian Empire that has occured since 1815 (with only a brief respit in the 1930s and 1940s). Because of Putin, Russia’s “wins” are measured in individual bodies while Russia’s losses are those nations freed from the Bear’s grip.