[Putin] stands – as no other major leader does in the world today – for the rights of nations to decide their own business inside their own borders.
Hitchens goes on for a long time, making his case trying to justify–I think partially to himself–how he can manage to like someone like Putin. But really this one sentence says it all: Putin is a nationalist. So is Peter Hitchens. The rest follows from this.
Putin is exactly the sort of person nationalists love to have running their country. For starters, he strikes all the right macho poses. (Hunting shirtless, rigging himself out in jet pilot apparel before it was all the rage.) But Peter Hitchens is a tasteful, intelligent sort of nationalist, and so it requires more than that to take him and his fellows in.
What he likes about Putin is his policies. As Hitchens says:
After all, how many of us are as keen as we used to be on the supposed cure-alls and blessings of human rights, privatisation, the United Nations, the European Union, open borders, political correctness and free trade?Mr Putin’s Russia is refreshingly free of these things.
It makes perfect sense that Hitchens would admire Putin for all these things. I expect most nationalists in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere, will come to be more and more enamored of Putin and perhaps seek candidates for office who emulate him.