Ed Driscoll

Rules for Radical Russians

“Putin takes a page out of Alinsky,” James Taranto astutely notes in his latest Best of the Web column, regarding Vlad’s op-ed in the New York Times:

This is right out of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals“: “The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more live up to their own rules than the Christian Church can live up to Christianity.” (Putin also appeals to the pope’s authority.)

And the Russian president applies this rule not just to America, but to Obama, whose own ambivalence about American exceptionalism is well known:

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

Can you think of another world leader who rode similar sentiments into office? Hint: He defeated John McCain and Mitt Romney.

As we noted last week, Alinsky’s son wrote an open letter to the Boston Globe praising Mr. Obama’s knowledge of his father’s handiwork, at the conclusion of the 2008 Democrat National Convention:

Barack Obama’s training in Chicago by the great community organizers is showing its effectiveness. It is an amazingly powerful format, and the method of my late father always works to get the message out and get the supporters on board. When executed meticulously and thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well.

I am proud to see that my father’s model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday.


As Taranto writes, “Because America is so much mightier than Russia, the American presidency is a much stronger position than the Russian presidency. But a strong man in a position of weakness, if he is ruthless about taking advantage of his adversary’s vulnerabilities, can get the better of weak man in a position of strength. Saul Alinsky understood that, and so does Vladimir Putin.”

I wonder what L. David thinks about V. Putin’s mastery of the old man’s techniques?