September 24, 2022

I have always felt compelled to stand up to bullies, tyrants, pretenders, and those who take advantage of others who can’t or won’t fight back. It’s that way when I look at Putin. Putin has mastered the art of the stare-down. His malevolent glance has been known to make people physically sick. With his love of theater, like the huge table he sits at with his visitors sitting twenty feet away and in a room of such opulence, you must believe that Putin thinks of himself as some kind of demi-god.

An early belief in his own exceptionalism defines Putin. His small stature led him to learn Judo at an early age, and then he buckled down and received top grades in school, where he learned to speak German. While there is little reliable information on Putin’s past, at least two sources seem to agree that Putin wanted to join the KGB at an early age. After initially being snubbed, he cultivated a relationship with the influential Anatoly Sobchak, who was one of Putin’s professors in college and was connected to the Soviet’s political apparatus. By all accounts, Putin may have found the KGB a bit boring. Nevertheless, he spent more than 15 years there, no doubt involved in at least some skullduggery. One unverified story alleged that during his time posted in East Germany, Putin used both honey traps and pornography to try and recruit agents. Ultimately, sources say, Putin honed his persona and moved on to the next phase of his life.

During Russia’s second invasion of Chechnya, Russia detonated an apartment building causing widespread loss of life. Five days later in retaliation, Dagestan separatists planted a bomb in a Moscow apartment building that killed over 100 Muscovites. By now, Putin was the Prime Minister of Russia, and KGB-trained in the arts of subversion, torture, and manipulation.  He was spring-loaded to react with his best weapon, terror.

And attack with terror he did. “Putin ordered coordinated attacks by carpet-bombing Chechen cities followed by a massive ground invasion.” Everyone thought to be associated with the attack was executed by pouring bleach down their throats. It is rumored that Putin viewed footage of some of the killings, playing the tape back, over and over again. In the absence of any other logical reason for doing so, I am left with the conclusion that Putin felt some kind of diabolical delight at seeing horrific death, on an endless loop. This is who we are dealing with today.

Putin is a self-educated scholar of Russian history and a true believer that Imperial Russia’s return is not a fantasy but an inevitable certainty. Putin was never a fanatical communist. He understood that life is cheap, having been told heroic stories of self-sacrifice for the Motherland during the siege of Stalingrad. Later, he toured the most impressive remnants of the czars’ physical accomplishments. He was completely enamored with what he observed.

Even though he has retained his communist party card, it may be nostalgic for when the West trembled at what the Soviet Union might do. It was that lack of reliable logic you could depend on, that created the uncertainty that was crucial to the Soviet Union’s standing in the world. Putin learned the art of deception early in life because when it came to military, political, economic, and other matters of State, deception was always favored over truth.

Then, as now, the old Soviet Union, Russia, and even Putin himself created the meme of the ten-foot-tall Russian soldier. Factually, ever since WWII, Russia has seen the majority of its deployments and weapon systems falter, when viewed in after-action reports or technical analysis. I am reminded of the Mig 25 Foxbat that we were sure could shoot down all our bombers, but only after a Foxbat landed in Japan and its pilot defected did we have the ability to analyze a technology that was far behind us, not a generation ahead as originally believed.

That brings us to today. It is instructive to remember that Putin threatened the use of nuclear weapons even before he invaded Ukraine this year. In 2014, Putin threatened nuclear annihilation if the West “interfered” with his invasion of Crimea. He even previously threatened the President of Georgia in 2006 with tactical nukes for defying him.

In the past, Putin has threatened nuclear devastation, not just when his back is against the wall, but as a tactic to “prepare the ground” ahead of hostile, unprovoked attacks on his neighbors. He attempts to strike fear in an uncertain world that is ready to believe that he means what he says. Could Russia send nuclear weapons against the world as Putin says? Probably yes. The question then is, would he?

The world has lived under the threat of nuclear war for more than 70 years and has, so far, survived. Here are the reasons not to succumb to the diatribe of a terrorist like Putin:

  1. Using nuclear weapons would likely be Putin’s last act. Russia has a history of eliminating those who interfere with Russia’s real priorities. Priority one is to continue to exist and not engage in an uncontained war.

  2. Russia would have little to gain since there is no existential threat to Russia. Russia has lived within its borders for many years without external efforts to dismantle his regime. Only Russia has been the actual aggressor.

  3. Russia is extremely dependent on foreign markets to survive. Warring with the West is suicide to Russia’s long-term economic health. Energy is both a strength and a weakness for Russia as a principal generator of earnings for their entire economy. Energy has accounted for about 70 percent of Russia’s export earnings since 2014, and approximately 63 percent in 2015-2018. Russia’s most lucrative energy exports — oil and gas — provided about 50 percent of their federal budget revenue in recent years.  The rise and fall of Russia’s fortunes are based on the price of a barrel of oil. The country lacks economic diversification.

  4. Over a million of Russia’s best and brightest have fled since the Ukrainian war began. Remember, Russia only has about 145 million citizens. Putin knows that people voting with their feet is bad for the country’s stability and especially for him.

  5. Everything Putin says is considered for its psychological effect. Putin uses the threat of nuclear war too frequently as in the boy who cried wolf. This creates uncertainty while paradoxically increasing the chances of unintended consequences. You can’t threaten something over and over again and get away with it. His threats no longer carry the weight they once did, simply due to, God forgive me, his lack of follow through.

But it is not beyond the pale that Putin “tests” one of his devices, above ground somewhere, to try and reinvigorate his threat. But, the idea of actually killing a bunch of human beings in a fiery blast would galvanize almost everyone on Earth, including China and the Russian people, that Putin is a madman and a threat to world stability.

God Bless America!

Allan J. Feifer is an author, businessman, and thinker. Read more about Allan, his background, and his ideas to create a better tomorrow at www.1plus1equals2.com.

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