The only two major world political factions that ever seem to be willing to shed their own blood for their beliefs are nationalists and Islamists.
In Ukraine it was the hardened Neo-Nazi thugs of Right Sector who hammered in the last few nails in the Yanukovych regime. They were also reliably the best units of the military forces sent to pacify the Donbass, even though the regular Ukrainian Army had access to plenty of solid Soviet gear while the likes of Azov had to make do with “innovative tanks” i.e. glorified shitwagons. Even the best NAF units were typically not locals defending their land (who always constituted the solid majority) but Russians passionate enough to cross borders to defend and expand the Russian World. And even amongst them, the Nazi elements, such as Rusich Company, though small, were man for man some of the very best warriors of the conflict.
You can also see this in Syria. Apart from a small number of “elite” forces (relatively speaking), such as Tiger Forces and the 4th Armored Division, the great mass of the SAA maintains a passive profile; likewise, the FSA, composed of SAA defectors and the more moderate elements. It is the Islamist Al Nusra and Al Sham who are consistently the most willing to go on the offensive, and they do this with considerable finesse that that is uncharacteristic of typical Arab armies. Its counterpart is, of course, Hezbollah. And then there’s Islamic State – what it lacks in military skill it makes up for in sheer fanaticism. This is going to trigger a lot of people, but in a very real way Islamism IS the Middle East’s version of the Alt Right.
Probably not coincidentally, they also have the best “inspirational” music. Is there any tune on the planet more badass than the Teufelslied? And you can’t deny that the mujahideen can sure come up with a catchy nasheed (despite being hampered by their own ideology’s prohibition on instrumental music).
This is also evident in battles on the streets. The coup plotters in Turkey were either Gulenist Islamists (official regime version), or perhaps they were nationalists angered by Erdosliv (what I currently believe to be the case), but what they almost surely were not was nice boring “Blue Team” liberal democrats. As for the hardcore 10%-20% out of Erdogan’s supporters, who account for half the Turkish population and who charged rifle lines and cut the throats of the tankmen who had moments earlier run over their comrades, their motivations are most certainly not centered around Thomas Jefferson (or Ataturk) either. The apolitical Turkish conscripts, with no steel in their spine, had no chance against the ruthless machinations of the officers who duped them into thinking it was all just an exercise or the Orkish fanaticism of the enraged Islamists.
This is why the Russian liberal reaction to this (as with everything else) has been so typically amusing.
Турки молодцы! Может тоже повторим?! pic.twitter.com/d1rmmOREEB
— Ходорковский Михаил (@mich261213) July 15, 2016
“Well done to the Turks! Maybe we could repeat after them?” opined Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Twitter (the tycoon who has waged a personal vendetta against Putin ever since he put an end to the 1990s).
(Incidentally, one suspects Khodorkovsky’s former lawyer Robert Amsterdam might not be too happy about his former client’s stance. Looks like someone hired him to now attack the Gulenists. Lawyers always were shameless mercenaries…)
The irony is that Moscow’s liberal hamsters have about as much chance of overthrowing the regime as Occupy Wall Street SJWs of living up to their name. Very few people want to throw themselves in front of a tank for Team Blue, Khodorkovsky, and Soros – regardless of how hard they egg them on from the sidelines, or even better, from abroad.
To the extent that “people power” is anything more than an invention of ivory tower ideologues obsessed with social media, it is for the most part only the Nazis and the Islamists who can actually harness it by dint of their maxed out “will to power” stats.
It also means that the only way in which a “people’s revolt” can unseat Putin is if it comes from the nationalists (the liberals are too limp-wristed, and the Islamists are too small in number, Maskvabad tropes regardless). And the only way that can materialize in the conceivable medium-term future is it Putin was to implement Putinsliv (abandonment of the LDNR) for real as opposed to just in the imaginations of some overly fervid minds.
Almost certainly won’t happen, even in this scenario. Unlike Mediterranean and Latin American polities, the Russian Army has no tradition of independent political activism and has almost always been consistently loyal to the party in power. The system has been reinforced by a National Guard. And Putin’s approval ratings remain on the order of 80%. That’s very likely enough to beat any nationalists gone postal into submission.
If not, though, it is precisely the liberals who will be most fondly remembering the good old Putin days.