Presented by Daivika,
Produced by Think-Tanks’TV.
EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTE FOR SECURITY STUDIES
The European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) is the Union’s agency dealing with the analysis of foreign, security and defence policy issues.
Their website: iss.europa.eu .
International crises often strengthen leaders in the short term only to doom them at a later stage. Examples abound: in 1913 Russia celebrated with great pomp and much public display of unity 300 years of the Romanov dynasty. Within less than four years, the Tsar was toppled and, one year later, shot. When Stalin died, millions of Soviet citizens cried in mass displays of public mourning: three years later, the process of destalinisation began.
Or take the case of Serbia’s former president Slobodan Milosevic. The bombing campaign by NATO against Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999 led to a brief boost in his popularity, and he even called an earlier presidential election in 2000 with the hope of cementing another term. But he lost, refused to acknowledge defeat and was eventually ousted amidst street protests.
Wars themselves, not just politicians, can also be popular, particularly in their initial phases. The outbreak of the First World War was heralded with a wave of jingoism in many European states. Some of them –including the Russian and Habsburg empires – collapsed just a few years later.
The war in Algeria of the 1950s and 1960s was backed by many in France in its early days, as was the 2003 US invasion of Iraq by much of the American public. But popular support for these conflicts also quickly evaporated once the consequences became clearer.
While the examples above are more dramatic than today’s tension between Russia and the West, they nevertheless serve as useful reminders that the popularity of politicians can fluctuate dramatically. In other words, international crises can act like steroids for a sportsman – boosting performance in the short term at the expense of long-term health.