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.

Being Played Like Fish

Putin is enlarging his fig leaf, calling what happened in Ukraine and “unconstitutional coup.” Of course it was; all coups are unconstitutional. As are all revolutions.

Putin hopes we’re so scared about how crazy he is, that we’ll roll over and give him what he wants: leaving us thinking we’ve put the genie back in the bottle. No, we’ll just be feeding his ego, where he’s most dangerous. He has the hook set, and now he’s placing us like a trout.

Like Germany in the 1930s, Russia can get a lot of domestic traction out of saying they were betrayed in the previous war and it’ll be better this time. Putin would happily restart the Cold War. Russia (the Soviet Union) wasn’t loved, but they were feared. Machiavelli wrote, best to be both; but ,if you can’t, choose to be feared.

Obama, Merkel, Hollande, et al. are completely outclassed. They’re politicians, so they do what politicians do: talk and bargain. We need a leader. A Reagan, or better a Churchill. Remember: both those men were attacked as fools and warmongers even as they were facing down (or defeating) the despots of their day. Yes, they got some domestic politics wrong, but they were spot on about the bad guys.

“It is a contemptible thing for a great nation to render itself impotent in international action, whether because of cowardice or sloth, or sheer inability or unwillingness to look into the future.” Theodore Roosevelt

Look at Putin; think Hitler. Or Stalin.