Russia Wearing a Suit over a Loincloth

This strongly worded letter to the Washington Post brings back the civilization-vs.-barbarism trope back into the Russia debate. We think this reader takes it too far, but can understand the frustrations of authoritarianism and the lies we are told about power.

Letters to the Editor Mr. Putin’s Facade It’s nothing less than droll how Russian President Vladimir Putin oscillates [editorial, April 22] between trying to impress the world with the fiction of his and Russia’s supposed urbanity and lashing out with such brutish tactics as the shameless attempts to undermine the political stability of two smaller neighbors, Georgia and Ukraine, knowing that he can blackmail his country’s weak-kneed European gas customers, such as France and Germany, into rejecting even the idea of NATO’s eastern expansion.

Russia would love to be admired on the level of a European civilization, yet Mr. Putin’s actions, like those of the demagogues of old, send Russia’s pretensions of passing for a civilized nation hurtling back to the Stone Age. Likewise, the hesitancy of NATO members in this instance sends a similar message to students concerned with what we like to call “international law”: If your country has lots of oil or gas, you can wear a nice suit over your bearskin loincloth, and you and everyone else can pretend that you really aren’t a caveman who likes to beat up the neighbors with a big club.NATALIE MASON GAWDIAKColumbia