I see that somebody in The Atlantic has figured out just how it was that empires survived for so many generations. Pick a warlord of subjected people and then back him to the hilt as he destroys all who would oppose the empire. It's how Rome created and held together two empires for almost a thousand years.
Putin is the Russian Emperor and has been now for many years. In Chechnya he finally terminated a festering civilization-destroying war by turning the nascent state over to a Chechen warlord who will back Putin in return for nothing but Putin's acceptance of him as the overlord of Chechnya. Whitmore calls it a Faustian pact but unless he means that Putin is the Devil, he is wrong.
The reason that Pax Britannica and later Pax America fell is because the first forgot how and the latter never could pick warlords of any use at all. In the case of America, our leaders picked just about the worst possible men to run countries in both their and our interest. Putin has chosen fearsome satraps. We installed L. Paul Bremer and other shiftless, useless drones who failed to accommodate the will of their people or the warlords and were seen as weak and spineless tools of America.
America was still going strong right up until JFK and his democrats decided that Diem was repugnant and had him assassinated only to watch and view with alarm as Vietnam destroyed itself under less and less able self-selecting dictators. The Soviets had Ho and Mao. We got nobodies and Chiang Kai-Shek. Nobody alive even knows the name of the American satrap in Afghanistan and nobody cares. It really is a damned shame that Ahmed Shah Massoud was killed by al-qaeda two days before 9/11.
Yes yes, I know, left to their own inept incompetent devices the State Department mandarins who chose Bremer to rule Iraq would have passed over Massoud to find a suitable mouse to install in Kabul but I'm confident Massoud would have swept through Kabul an instant later and taken the throne.
This cheerful thought brought to you by the master of words, Rudyard Kipling.
What the moral? Who rides may read.
When the night is thick and the tracks are blind
A friend at a pinch is a friend, indeed,
But a fool to wait for the laggard behind.
Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels the fastest who travels alone.
White hands cling to the tightened rein,
Slipping the spur from the booted heel,
Tenderest voices cry " Turn again!"
Red lips tarnish the scabbarded steel,
High hopes faint on a warm hearth-stone--
He travels the fastest who travels alone.
One may fall but he falls by himself--
Falls by himself with himself to blame.
One may attain and to him is pelf--
Loot of the city in Gold or Fame.
Plunder of earth shall be all his own
Who travels the fastest and travels alone.
Wherefore the more ye be helpen-.en and stayed,
Stayed by a friend in the hour of toil,
Sing the heretical song I have made--
His be the labour and yours be the spoil.
Win by his aid and the aid disown--
He travels the fastest who travels alone!
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!