Learning from History

In his mind, Vladimir Putin is Russia and Russia is Putin. A threat to Russia is a threat to him. He promotes the same cult of personality as his hero and model Joseph Stalin. Putin rules by force, deceit, and brinksmanship. His modus operandi is cheat to win.

‘Former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told CNN Tuesday that “terror is the only thing left” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, “like for any miserable terrorist in the world.” Putin has launched missiles attacks at Ukraine on Monday and Tuesday because he “is desperate, because he made miscalculations.”

“He’s desperate and he returns to what he’s doing: intimidation, that is, threatening nuclear weapons — which he will not use — and terror actions in Ukraine and in Russia,” Kozyrev said. He doesn’t think Putin will use nuclear weapons. “He is human being, so he does not want to commit suicide with strategic nuclear weapons.”’ (Alex Hardle, CNN)

To Putin, Ukraine, Belorussia, and the former Soviet Republics are still part of Russia. Therefore his invasion of Ukraine was an internal police action.

Putin thinks he understands Biden as he thought he understood Trump, Obama, and Bush. He respected none of them.

Not the way Nikita Khrushchev respected Dwight Eisenhower. Khrushchev didn’t respect John Kennedy; therefore thought he could place intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba. He guessed wrong. JFK went to the brink of nuclear war. Khrushchev backed down.

End of story to Americans, but Putin’s takeaway from the Cuban Missile Crisis was that Khrushchev backed down and lost power. To Putin, staying in power justifies any action.

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Winston Churchill

Putin Embodies Kaiser Bill

image from monarchus.wordpress.com

When the opposition are murdered in the streets with impunity, even the semblance of democracy is dead in Russia. They might as well change the name back to Soviet Union.

Though history will find Putin is more like Kaiser Wilhelm II than Hitler or (his hero) Stalin. Wilhelm started a century of war trying to cling to a previous centuries Romantic ideals of personal and national glory. Putin is trying to re-create the “glory days” of the Soviet Union, while the world has evolved to something very different.

image from dyingrussia.wordpress.com

Putin will attempt to plaster over the ethnic and religious fractures by his personality cult and hyper-nationalism.

But in the long run it won’t work. In the long run, he dies. (As do we all.)

And, in the meantime, he will have ruined his people’s best chance for a competitive future in a world which will only become more competitive.


DOJ says native Americans can grow and sell pot. You know where this is going: “Native American” Casinos, Part Two. Remember growing and selling marijuana is against US law. So, what is DOJ doing? (Holder’s parting shot? Not yet.)

No one expects Putin to grow up, do they? So far, the Russians love him; don’t expect change from within. Sanctions have hurt him, but sanctions (and paranoia) are what triggered the attack on Pearl Harbor. And the Russians do paranoid better than anyone.

Obama’s current unpopularity will work for him in the long run. Anything he accomplishes the next two years will seem a big deal. And the economy is finally improving, while everyone else’s economies are going south. So he’ll take credit for that.

The Summer Olympics in Washington, D. C. during an election year (2024)? What can they be thinking? (That maybe the games will distract us from The Game.)

The Man Who Would Be Stalin

Vladimir Putin has delusions of being Joseph Stalin. (Not Adolf Hitler; that’s wrong on several levels.)

Addressing the Duma Thursday, he blamed all Russia’s problems on the West. “Even if nothing were happening in Ukraine, …” But lots of things are happening in Ukraine, most of them instigated by him. (He’s correct on one point: last year’s coup in Ukraine was illegal. But then, all coups are illegal … until they win.)

His big problem is that he’s messed up the Russian economy. Of course, he must find scapegoats. On top of Western sanctions, the ruble has lost 40% of its value and the price of oil has declined 40%. Since his budget depends on energy exports, this is a triple hit.

A few people remember Stalin as our ally against Hitler in WW2, but he was also a brutal dictator in his own right: murdered nine to thirty million people inside the Soviet Union and maybe as many outside. He was also the one who abandoned Communism to make the Soviet Union into a Russian empire. That’s why Putin likes him.

“Death of one man is a tragedy, death of a million is a statistic,” is attributed to Stalin. A former KGB apparatchik, Putin understands.

Putin Expands his Empire

Having reduced Ukraine, Putin begins his putative campaign against Estonia. The seizure of an Estonian official on spy charges is just the opening shot of the next phase Putin’s campaign to reestablish the Soviet Union, in fact if not in name.

Our own President may have brought Estonia higher on Putin’s list by his recent visit and claims of defense when, of course, the united States has neither the will nor the means to defend Estonia against Russia.

As with Hitler, western division and ambiguity only increases Putin’s imperial urges.

Ukraine: Obama Says, Putin Does

When all is said and done, more is said than done,” said Lou Holtz.

That apparently describes the end of American policy toward the Ukraine in its lopsided confrontation with Russia’s bully. Putin has apparently dictated terms of a ceasefire for that beleaguered republic.

So much for the value of America assurances in eastern Europe. The Baltic states and nations of the former Warsaw Pact will undoubtedly take note. Even NATO may wonder about American resolve.

Shades of 1956.

With Liberty and Justice for All?

While the world obsesses over the World Cup, Putin continues his absorption of Ukraine. It’s easy to get distracted with the IRS cover-up, kidnapped teens in Israel, crumbling of Iraq, Thailand teetering near anarchy, and Anthrax loose at the CDC.

The liberals were right, you can’t force democracy on anyone. It may be a good system, but as John Adams told us, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In college forty-plus years ago I studied whether non-Christian religions could accept Christianity. My conclusion was that some could (those who admit the worth of individuals) and (through interviews with Buddhists, Hindus and Shintoists–no Moslems, I was in Hawaii in the 60s) I found varying degrees of enthusiasm and cynicism over the democratic prospect. Just like among Christians. Democracy can “take” in any soil, but it’s most likely to thrive where people respect one another.

Most of the world doesn’t qualify. For many of them an election is just a means of legitimizing a would-be dictator. Civil rights are a smokescreen for discrimination. Bureaucrats are the foot soldiers of repression. (As we’re seeing here.)

Trust building takes generations. Those ignorant of American history do not realize that partisan infighting during the first fifty years of our republic was brutal, culminating with a civil war which killed a generation (almost 2% of the total population).

Democracy is not for the weak. It’s not that it’s the best possible form of government; it’s the best considering how corrupt we are. Even so, it takes a forbearance and civility which most of the world lacks.

Some suggests we lack it too. Let’s prove them wrong.


No Wonder No One Trusts America.

For the last fifty years, America’s allies have learned that we aren’t dependable. We abandoned the Shah of Iran, after we engineered the coup which brought him to power. We declared victory in Southeast Asia and abandoned South Vietnam.

Russian tanks are showing up in Ukraine. Tanks. You know, those really big military things. Things which your neighborhood revolutionary—even in Europe—is not apt Continue reading