Patterico's Pontifications


Constitutional Vanguard: Meet the Real Vladimir Putin

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:11 am

As the war in Ukraine rages on, I think it’s important to address the issue of Vladimir Putin’s real character. It’s a topic that far too many people don’t know about. Today’s newsletter concerns some matters I have written about before and some that I haven’t. I re-tell the story of Putin’s bombing of his own civilian population in 1999, supplemented by details I have learned since that make the case even stronger. I also discuss Russia’s use of cyberattacks and how our governments and tech companies make the problem worse. Sample:

I’ll give you the short version first and then a longer one.

The short version is this: remember when a bunch of crazy people said 9/11 was an inside job? That George W. Bush killed his own citizens in a false flag operation that he labeled an act of terror committed by evil outside forces?

Vladimir Putin actually did that in 1999. He had his FSB bomb apartment buildings in Russia, killing hundreds, so he could blame the bombings on Chechen terrorists — all to start a war in Chechnya to boost his approval ratings. Without that false flag operation, he likely never would have been elected to begin with,

Here’s the longer version.

I intend for my next newsletter to publish Wednesday and to address the issue of whether Ketanji Brown Jackson must recuse from the case alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asians in admissions. Look for it! We still have a seven-day trial to sample posts for the paid subscribers. Subscribe here.

35 Responses to “Constitutional Vanguard: Meet the Real Vladimir Putin”

  1. Putin seems to be channeling Richard Nixon’s “Madman” pose (actually goes back to Machiavelli).

    I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, “for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry—and he has his hand on the nuclear button” and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  2. I guess I didn’t realize people were paying so little attention? GWB’s “I looked the man in his eyes” statement was flat out appalling to me at the time and I haven’t gotten any less appalled about naivety regarding Putin in the two decades since.

    Nic (896fdf)

  3. Good point with W’s goofy remark there.

    Dustin (47bccc)

  4. I’ll look forward to your discussion of Judge Jackson. When I was writing up the Weekend Open Thread item on her I came across the information that as a Harvard freshman (coincidentally my freshman year too) she organized fellow students to convince the Harvard administration to force another student to remove a Confederate flag in his window. I couldn’t find any info on how that was eventually resolved, but I would love to know if at her age and with her newfound responsibility she still believes this form of censorship is legitimate.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  5. GWB’s “I looked the man in his eyes” statement was flat out appalling to me at the time. . .

    Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden — all of them seem to truly believe that personal charm and friendly interactions will somehow make the world’s tyrants amenable to suggestion. I don’t know why smart people fall for that nonsense, but it doesn’t seem to me that the pre-Boomer generation (yes, technically I know that includes Biden) made that sort of dumb mistake. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I just don’t see Ike thinking he could charm Khrushchev or LBJ thinking he could win over Castro.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  6. @2. Right. And there’s this:

    Clinton, Lavrov push wrong reset button on ties

    GENEVA, March 6 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a red “reset button” to symbolize improved ties, but the gift drew smiles as the word “reset” was mistranslated into the Russian for “overcharge”.

    Revisit the list of corporations and companies cutting deals w/Putin’s Russia chasing profits over the past 20 years, too. From Halliburton to McDonald’s, Baskin-Robbins and Coca-Cola to Big Oil. It’s been less about ‘paying attention’ and more a matter of ‘looking the other way.’ Firms did business w/Hitler’s Germany well into 1940, too. And this same mind set exists in dealing w/China.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  7. @JVW@5 I just don’t understand it at all. Maybe they were somehow how insulated from international (or even our own) ruthlessness by their own various domestic level concerns or their wealth or their ivy-league schools? Or the number of people telling them that they were wonderful and so of course everyone else must think they are wonderful too? But how could they have lived through the times they lived through and not known?

    Nic (896fdf)

  8. @DCSCA@6 Corporations deal with the devil and don’t care all the time, it’s part of their job to maximize profits and morality often interferes with that. They didn’t look at Putin and see a good soul, or a man would “reset” with good intentions, or whatever, they just saw a man with deep pockets and a country where they could leverage their profits with some cost of doing business bribery (which, honestly, could be naive in its own way, depending on their various contingency plans).

    Nic (896fdf)

  9. @5/ Their donors; they believe ‘free market economics’ will win the day over culture and ideology. Give a Russian a cheeseburger with fries; the Chinese their NBA– or a Nazi a Coca-Cola and they’ll see the light. Doesn’t work.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  10. @8. Yep.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  11. @7. Why did NBC carry China’s Olympics? Why is Baskin Robbins selling ice cream in Moscow? Why did Marathon Oil work with Kaddafi? $$$$.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  12. Shell buys Russian oil days after saying it would limit business with the country for its ‘senseless act of military aggression’ against Ukraine

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  13. Putin’s Chekared past dates far back. According to Putin himself, his grandfather worked for both Lenin and Stalin. And it could be true. But in any event, his own KGB antecedents are pretty much accepted.

    nk (1d9030)

  14. @13. He’s been after Ukraine for 20 years, but why the move now and not last year, or the year before– or next year? Emboldened by Crimea? A weak POTUS? A terminal illness? A pseudo-compact w/Xi’s China? It’s the ‘why now’ that’s a curiosity.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  15. As I said on the substack, Russia is a place that has always had horrible, terrible no good rulers. Grading on the Russian curve, Putin was far less bloodthirsty than most. Judging Russian rulers by the same criteria that one would use to judge a Swedish prime minister seems doomed to disappoint.

    Two things have changed. One, he has graduated from retail evil to wholesale evil, and two, he has taken his show on the road. Both of those are sea changes in his behavior and the past is not even prologue.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  16. DCCCP: “It’s the ‘why now’ that’s a curiosity”

    Putin ran out of options trying to negotiate with the West over further NATO expansion. To hold onto power, Putin can’t have more democracies butting up against his border. Ukraine was doing joint military exercises with NATO and openly expressed a desire to join NATO. Putin had no other card to play.

    He could have gone earlier, except Covid shutdowns would have severely complicated Russian invasion logistics. One could also surmise that the relative isolation of Covid gave Putin plenty of time to ruminate over Ukraine and let frustration build about the ever collapsing nature of the former Soviet Union. Trump, for his part, was good and bad. On one side Trump was an irritant to NATO itself both attacking its financing structure and, behind doors, advocating for getting out completely. Putin saw this as too valuable to disrupt. And on the other hand, Trump shot from the hip and was unpredictable when he might respond and when he wouldn’t. He wasn’t perfectly rational, though one could always count on Trump seeking his own self interest. With Biden, you have a rational actor, conventional, with a clear suspicion of Putin. There was no more hope of accidental NATO disunity and eroding support for Ukraine.

    It’s interesting that Putin also likely waited for the end of the Olympics to not step on Xi’s moment, though the Olympics did more to shine the light on China’s own repressions and fear of broad public exposure. It’s hard maintaining one’s authoritarian grip with digital information finding its way through every nook and crevice. Finally, as funny as it sounds, Putin is up for election in 2024. Such an unprovoked attack would never be very popular with the work-a-day Russian. If he went now, he still has time to spin and repair the inevitable collateral damage.

    Authoritarians must exercise power to tamp down opposition and displeasure. He has little to offer his people in terms of freedoms and economic progress. He can only appeal to empire and fear….and Ukraine threatens his power by having yet another piece of the USSR pointing west. It’s less genius than pathetic and predictable…

    AJ_Liberty (3cb02f)

  17. Patterico – Thanks for reminding all of us about those probably faked terror attacks.

    Here’s what Wikipedia says:

    Political tensions were fueled in part by allegedly Chechen or pro-Chechen terrorist and criminal activity in Russia, as well as by border clashes. On 16 November 1996, in Kaspiysk (Dagestan), a bomb destroyed an apartment building housing Russian border guards, killing 68 people. The cause of the blast was never determined, but many in Russia blamed Chechen separatists.[51] Three people died on 23 April 1997, when a bomb exploded in the Russian railway station of Armavir (Krasnodar Krai), and two on 28 May 1997, when another bomb exploded in the Russian railway station of Pyatigorsk (Stavropol Krai).

    (I seem to recall a terror attack on a theater in Moscow, but could be wrong about that.)

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  18. Here’s the Wikipedia article that quote was taken from.

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  19. Here’s the theater terror attack I was trying to remember.

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  20. Something to remember when they talk about “knock-out gas”

    Kevin M (38e250)

  21. @16. Prattle; suggest you review the list of Western firms doing business in Russia as well as European dependence on Russian energy resources- and Russian petroleum products exported to the U.S. before proclaiming denials of ‘economic progress.’ Dr. Kissinger’s analysis lays out Ukraine/Russian history quite well -and partition as a possible a off-ramp to peace to save face:

    How the Ukraine Crisis Ends -by Henry A. Kissinger

    Otherwise, Ukraine is toast- and poker-player Putin will move up to but never cross the line into NATO territory due to Article 5. NATO was created as a defensive alliance; Putin insists just the opposite due to its expansion over the years and is playing cards baiting it into any overt offensive action- like a no-fly zone- to justify his moves.

    Xi and junior partner Vlad pronounced their ‘New World Order’ not long ago, as the century progresses; bi-polar, w/the perceived decline of the West-led, post WW2 U.S. world:

    China and Russia unveil plan for new world order

    This is the opening act. A perception sadly reaffirmed by a weak and predictable POTUS. OTOH, Putin may be terminally ill and is chasing his 20 year Soviet redux dreams before they die with him:

    Pick your poison; but the Ukraine of two weeks ago is done. Focus on Taiwan, where the United States has commitments cloaked within ‘strategic ambiguities’ and no NATO; SEATO is long since defunct.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  22. DCSCA, how many times are you going to flog the same links that we’ve all read and laughed at?

    Kevin M (38e250)

  23. @22. “We?” Don’t be a chucklehead, Kev. The POVs are valid. That you disagree may end up being the last laugh.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  24. Kevin, when this person posts that kind of stuff, I just remember all of his “World of Commander McBragg” hijinks over the years, and chuckle.

    He likes to post. I don’t like reading his posts, and just don’t care to post myself because of it.

    To each their own. Not my website.

    Simon Jester (fc6a39)

  25. @24. Ever the Jester:

    “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” -Margaret Thatcher


    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  26. You remain such a jerk. But that’s okay. Patterico tolerates you.

    You do drive people off with your jackwagon ways. But that’s fine.

    Just remember: people having issues with you is, um, not an uncommon event.

    Even on “tee vee”as you like to call it.

    Keep on braggin’. It’s what you have done for many many years.

    Simon Jester (fc6a39)

  27. #26: oh my God that made me laugh. JD was so right about you.

    Simon Jester (fc6a39)

  28. @28. Too hard for you, eh.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  29. @27. Meh. Find the DCSCA, Jester.

    “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.” – Will Rogers 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  30. “ If the reports are true, the looming Iran deal includes “inherent guarantees” for the regime. This is the Biden White House’s attempt to tie the hands of future administrations who seek to withdraw because of Tehran’s nuclear mendacity….

    … Perceived “violations” by the US would legitimize/enable the regime to respond with unilateral steps. The notion that such a guarantee would be in this deal tells you all you need to know: The Biden White House has capitulated to the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism

    Worse, it would seem the negotiating team and their bosses back at Foggy Bottom are willing to take the side of the terrorist regime in Tehran *in advance* of knowing what may prompt future US governments to exit the deal. What the hell happened to this country’s foreign policy?“

    Jonathan Schanzer

    Obudman (929f6c)

  31. JVW (ee64e4) — 3/5/2022 @ 1:51 pm

    the pre-Boomer generation (yes, technically I know that includes Biden)

    Biden belongs to the World War II baby boom, which was noticed first. Later there was the postwar baby boom.

    Sammy Finkelman (46ec7d)

  32. Putin even surprised people who knew he had no scruples. With carrying out this attack on Ukraine, he also appeared to have no prudence. He always seemed to have that.

    They may be right about this – something changed. My best guess is that he is listening to somebody’s advice. After all, he’s listening to crazy advice about protecting himself from Covid (or seems to)

    Sammy Finkelman (46ec7d)

  33. I agree with your post but how do you deal with someone like that? You don’t appease them. You get tough with them and make it too costly for them to continue. Bill Browder.

    DRJ (02d0b8)

  34. I agree. If Putin wanted Ukrainian neutrality with reference to NATO – that’s what he had.

    If he wanted to restore the Czarist or Soviet empire, it’s not enough of a motivation for him against all the deterrents.

    It has to be closer to fear of being overthrown – although I think somebody might have been giving him advice, The government of Ukraine didn’t need to be intentionally actually doing anything against him or his power for him to have that fear.

    Sammy Finkelman (46ec7d)

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