Five years ago this month, Vladimir Putin dispatched Russian troops to Georgia in an invasion that killed 300 people, destabilized the region and set off an international crisis. Throughout his career, Putin has participated in and initiated other unpleasant escapades, including the killing and displacement of more than 150,000 Chechens, supporting deadly regimes in Iran and Syria, and violently oppressing opponents in pursuit of personal ambition and power.
In each exploit, Putin has violated human rights and inflicted terrible suffering, even death. How has the West responded? Generally the response has come only from Western governments (and some media voices), and has been one of restrained reproach and halfhearted condemnation. Despite all the misery and instability Putin has caused, there’s never been a significant, wholehearted moral backlash. Never has there been a fiery, genuinely furious reaction from the spectrum of Western leaders and institutions, from governments, the media, intellectuals and businessmen, Hollywood and higher education, and the public.