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Clash of Civilizations? Analysing the Essence of the Tucker Carlson-Vladimir Putin Interview

The recent interview between the two has sparked intense debate and reflection, not only on the content of their discussion but also on broader themes regarding the clash of civilisations, the role of media narratives, and the evolving landscape of global power dynamics.

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has distinguished between Russian and Western civilisations, asserting that they are not one and the same. During an interview with the popular American journalist Tucker Carlson, Mr Putin said:

“After all, Western society is more pragmatic. Russian people think more about the eternal, about moral values. I don’t know; maybe you won’t agree with me, but Western culture is more pragmatic after all. I’m not saying this is bad; it makes it possible for today’s ‘golden billion’ to achieve good success in production, even in science, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just saying that we kind of look the same, but our minds are built a little differently.”

In the world of media and international relations, few events capture attention quite like a high-profile interview, especially when it involves two figures, such as Mr Carlson and Putin. The recent interview between the two has sparked intense debate and reflection, not only on the content of their discussion but also on broader themes regarding the clash of civilisations, the role of media narratives, and the evolving landscape of global power dynamics.

To understand the significance of this interview, it’s important to dive deep into its historical context. Throughout history, exchanging ideas and narratives has played an important role in shaping societies and influencing geopolitical events. From ancient oral traditions to modern-day mass media, storytelling has been a powerful tool for conveying culture, ideology, and political agendas. 

This is what Mr Putin did during the much-anticipated interview. He gave a historical, cultural and geopolitical context of the conflict in Ukraine of more than 1,000 years and spent at least half an hour emphasising and underscoring why Russia invaded Ukraine, whether you agree with him or not.

Geopolitical tensions

From the interview, one cannot ignore the backdrop of geopolitical and economic tensions between the West and Russia. The relationship between these two entities has long been filled with suspicion, competition, and occasional cooperation. From the Cold War era to the present day, the narratives propagated by both sides have often depicted each other as adversaries, perpetuating a cycle of mistrust and hostility.

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The interview itself serves as a microcosm of these broader dynamics. On the one hand, Mr Carlson’s decision to engage with Putin reflects a burgeoning hunger among audiences for alternative perspectives and dissenting voices. The interview, shared on X, has reached nearly 200 million people, has been liked by a million people, and has been shared by over three thousand more. 

On YouTube, it has amassed an impressive 14 million views in just three days. Its impact on the media landscape and the audience’s desire for dissenting voices, which have recently faced constraints and suppression across mainstream and digital platforms, should not be underestimated. 

In an era where mainstream media narratives face increasing scrutiny and scepticism, there exists a palpable demand for unfiltered, uncensored discourse that challenges prevailing orthodoxies.

As the saying goes, there are two sides to every story, and the interview with Putin offered viewers a glimpse into the worldview of a leader who is often vilified in Western media. By allowing Putin to articulate his views on Russia’s history, culture, and geopolitical aspirations, Carlson provided a platform for a narrative seldom heard in Western mainstream discourse by intention and design.

Clash of civilisations

Putin’s emphasis on Russia’s thousand-year history and its perceived role as a guardian of traditional values resonates with a broader trend in global politics – the clash of civilisations. Popularised by political scientist Samuel Huntington, this concept suggests that cultural and civilisational differences are becoming increasingly salient in shaping international relations.

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In Putin’s narrative, Russia represents a guardian of traditionalism and sovereignty in the face of Western encroachment and hegemony. By framing conflicts such as the situation in Ukraine as attacks on Russian identity and interests, Putin seeks to rally support both domestically and internationally for his government’s policies, which makes sense, by the way. 

Because “why would another power sitting thousands of kilometres away from our borders decide how we should live, lead and engage with our neighbours? It should be our own problem,” Russians would argue.

From this perspective, the geopolitical landscape can be viewed as a battleground between competing civilisations, each vying for influence and survival. The West, emphasising liberal democracy and individual rights, clashes with cultures and regimes prioritising stability, hierarchy, and collective identity.

Moreover, the interview highlights the limitations of the so-called ‘rules-based international order’ espoused by Western powers. While the West emphasises universal norms and principles, Putin and other leaders in the ‘Eastern Bloc’ prioritise the preservation of their cultural, religious, and political traditions. Is that a bad thing? One might ask.

Misguided policies

In this context, the West’s attempts to impose its values and institutions on other societies are seen as misguided and potentially destabilising. As Putin remarked in the interview about China, for example, he said three important things. 

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On China’s potential, Putin stated, “The West is afraid of a strong China more than it fears a strong Russia because Russia has 150 million people and China has a 1.5 billion population. And its economy is growing by leaps and bounds, or five per cent a year.”

He added that Russia-China relations could not be changed, and Russia and China are neighbours, and neighbours are not chosen, asserting that Russia has been accustomed to coexisting with China for thousands of years. He added that China’s foreign policy philosophy is non-aggressive like the West’s, and Russia sees how the neighbour constantly seeks compromise on issues of mutual interest.

This is an undeniable reality, subject to debate by anyone. Countries like China, Russia, Iran, India, and others boasting millennia-old histories have firmly established themselves and show no sign of fading away. Any significant alterations to their societal structures would undoubtedly face fierce opposition and could escalate into violent conflict if necessary.

Ultimately, the conversation between Mr Carlson and Mr Putin serves as a reminder of the complexities and contradictions inherent in international politics. It challenges us to question prevailing narratives, seek out alternative perspectives, and recognise the enduring importance of history, culture, and identity in shaping our world.

As we navigate an increasingly interconnected and turbulent global landscape, the lessons gleaned from this interview may serve as valuable insights into the nature of power, ideology, and the timeless struggle for influence and survival. In the words of the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”

Perhaps, in listening to voices that are often silenced or marginalised, we can begin to truly understand the complexities of our world and chart a path towards a more inclusive and equitable future, a future where the global communities, made up of different civilisations will choose to live in peace and prosperity.

Kennedy Mmari is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Serengeti Bytes, a Dar es Salaam-based communications, public relations and digital media agency. He’s available at and on X as @KennedyMmari. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chanzo. If you are interested in publishing in this space, please contact our editors at

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