On the basis of his, er, intemperate remarks today, Putin seems to be emotionally invested in this clusterfuck to an unhealthy degree. Not a good sign. You know, one thing about the commies was that they possessed a substrate of belief that history was on their side, that the triumph of the Marxist model was, so to say, preordained. IOW, they were going to win in the end, so why take unnecessary chances? Historian Stephen Kotkin, author of a massive biography of Stalin, once noted that when the Soviet archives were (briefly) made available to Western scholars, it was amusing how many of these researchers were surprised to discover that Stalin and his successors were actually…believing communists.
If Putin believes anything, it appears that he believes in Russian greatness and in the vindictiveness of a world that impedes the operation of this—by no means assured—destiny, and the referenced speech suggests that he takes this perceived insult, the threat, to Holy Russia personally. It’s difficult to see anything good coming of this.
I’ve been…not dismayed, really, but a little nonplussed to observe, in some of my internet hangouts, the intemperate responses from participants who do not ordinarily raise their voices. I can understand this, and do not fault their responses, being concerned merely that it partakes a bit of 12/7 or 9/11 war hysteria. Certainly I share the outrage, even if I am disposed by temperament not to shout.
A great many internet generals have sprung from their armchairs demanding vigorous action against the beastly foe, beginning with a no-fly zone, proceeding to NATO troops in Ukraine, and all the way up to nuke them before they nuke us. Myself, I recognize that I’m neither a military nor a foreign policy expert, and have some confidence—as I certainly would not have two years ago—that there are competent, if fallible, people making decisions on the basis of information to which I am not privy.
It does seem to me, though, that the West has reached an inflection point, if you will pardon the expression, with respect to its relations with a viciously revanchist Russia that has now begun, in Martin Amis’s memorable phrase, to fizz with rabies. Short of war, and even—even—at risk of war, we need to isolate and strangle the regime which, even though we helped midwife it thirty years ago, has figuratively and literally spread poison among its perceived foes for most of the present century, and the leader of which has proclaimed his hostile intent in unmistakable language.
None of what I say here is by means of excusing the USA’s sundry moral atrocities times past, but if we are not to live going forward in Putin’s world, Putin needs to be, in his own translated phraseology, canceled, one way or another.