Saturday, July 21, 2018

Putin Has Made Many of His Critics Look Like Fools, Thus the Rage and Hysteria


straightlinelogic |  Vladimir Putin is a black belt in judo, the only Russian and one of the few people in the world to be awarded the rank of eighth dan. He also practices karate.

A fundamental principle of martial arts is using an opponent’s size and momentum against him. This is Putin’s strategic approach. Westerners demonize Putin, but few try to understand him. Trying to understand someone else is regarded as a pointless in narcissistic America, selfie-land. Perhaps 90 percent of the populace is incapable of grasping anything more subtle than a political cartoon.
That’s a pity, because Putin has accomplished a geopolitical triumph worthy of study. He’s catalyzing the downfall of the American empire, and it has nothing to do with subverting elections or suborning Trump.

Putin became acting prime minister in 1999, then president in 2000. The Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse devastated Russia. The economy shrunk and life expectancies fell. A group of rapacious oligarchs, many with Western backing, acquired Soviet industrial and commercial assets at fire sale prices.

Putin coopted the most important oligarchs, letting them hold on to their loot and power in exchange for their allegiance. This bargain has been a bulwark of both his continuing political support and his reportedly immense personal fortune. He quelled a long-running insurrection in Chechnya and stabilized the situation there, exchanging a measure of autonomy for a declaration in the Chechen constitution that it was part of Russia. During his first two terms, from 2000-2008, the economy began recovering from the 1990s. Projecting a law and order image while stifling critics, he solidified what has become his unwavering support, winning 72 percent of the vote in the 2004 presidential election.

A coterie of highly placed idiots in the US and Europe insist that Putin’s ultimate goal is to reconstitute the former Soviet Union on his way to global domination. Russia’s GDP, after 18 years of recovery, is $1.4 trillion, compared to almost $20 trillion for the US and over $17 trillion for the European Union. Russia’s military budget is $61 billion, versus $250 billion for NATO nations (excluding the US) and over $700 billion for the US. The scaremongering screeds never say where Russia will get the money to invade and conquer former Soviet provinces, much less conquer the world. Putin, unlike America’s high and mighty, realizes from Soviet experience that empires drain rather than augment an empire’s resources.

Conquering the world is one thing, throwing the American empire to the mat another. Putin must have smiled when George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of Osama bin Laden, purported mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The US’s hubristic rage led it into what has been a quagmire at best, a graveyard at worst, for a string of invaders, including the Soviet Union.