Monday, March 3, 2014

Vladimir the Great and Other Delusions of Grandeur

Back in the Dark Ages, when I thought Ziggy's name was Siegfried Siegfried (no kidding, I did) I used to enjoy listening to him explain stuff. One of my favorites was the three hour explanation of how cows got white faces. I was very impressed. His dad was a big animal vet and I thought he learned this from his father.....and not, as I would find out soon enough, from the opening of James Michener's CENTENNIAL. He explained other how sugar beets were processed, why some batteries died sooner than others, that computers only understand 1s and 0s....something I still don't quite grok..., and how any guy who was cutting you off on the freeway or was giving a girl the hubba-hubba was really compensating for a general lack of size in the...ahem....manhood department. It's true, he assured me, these guys were all suffering from small manhood and that's why they had this macho fixation. 

Tsar Vlad  - 2008
So it was no surprise when first macho-man shirtless Putin pictures starting showing up, Ziggy held up the picture in the newspaper and said, "This guy must have the smallest dick on the planet." Yes, gentle readers, I did a spit take with the coffee. He went on to explain that Putin had delusions of Tsarist grandeur and he should not be under-estimated at all. I countered that he was more like a cross between Lenin and Stalin, and Ziggy waved that away with a deft motion. "Nope. He views himself as Vladimir the Great. He believes he will reunite the all Russias, not the Soviet Union, ...and he will rule."

At the time, I thought that was a bit odd, but never one to argue with Ziggy when he's on a prophetic roll, I filed the idea away in the "useless information that might come in handy" category.

Well, seems like Ziggy is not alone in his assessment of Putin. Angela Merkel said it rather succinctly today:
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is reported to have become “really annoyed” about Russian President Vladimir Putin and has questioned whether he “was still in touch with reality.”
The German mass circulation Bild newspaper wrote on Monday that during a telephone conversation she held with US President Barack Obama to discuss the growing crisis in Ukraine she complained that Mr Putin was “living in another world.”                           
reported from Berlin by Tony Paterson for The Telegraph 
[Note: This same conversation was also reported in the NY Times on March 2, 2014] 
It's pretty clear from reports coming out of the Crimea that there is a rift between what the people of the Crimea want, what the Ukrainians want, and what the Russians want. And it's equally clear from stuff Putin has said in the past that he believes his is a manifest destiny kinda thing, where he restores the Eurasian Russia to its former glory. Of course, there are some former Eurasian Russians who might take issue with that assessment. 

For brevity's sake, Eurasian Russia is the result of Tsarist expansion between 1533 and 1896. Ivan IV, aka Ivan the Terrible, ruled from 1547 until 1584, making him a contemporary of Elizabeth I of England....just to give you a little context, succeeded in conquering the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, turning Russia into a multi-ethnic state spanning Europe and Asia to the tune of 1,562,500 square miles. Do you think for one Moscow minute that Feckless Leader Putin will settle for anything less?

One of the interesting things about this, is that the guy has no sons; there is no dynasty to be set on a new quasi-imperial throne, à la North Korea. So where is Putin going with this?

I'm not so certain anyone knows. Angela M. might be spot on when she says he's not on the same planet as us mere mortals. He's already played the strong man shell game with a Russian version of musical not-so-fairly-elected offices as played with Dmitri Medvedev. 

Now, taking that into account, shall we add John "There's Never Been A War I Didn't Like" McCain into the mix? While he insists there should be no military option on the table, he did say things like pull out of the G8 Summit, and the government should invoke the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability as a way to sanction Putin for human rights abuse. Like those are going to make a dent. Still, McCain insists the President's plans are worthless even though they sound pretty much like the same stuff McCain's touting.  Which makes about as much sense as John McCain ever does. 

In other words, there's not to much to be done right now other than to boycott the Sochi G8 meeting in June...if it even takes place. Chancellor Merkel and the other European heads of state need to decide amongst themselves what action they will take because they are the ones who will have the greatest impact. Keep your eye on the Chancellor. This is the voice of reason in the whirlwind. She is the one who will wield the greatest influence.

Meanwhile, for the record, this is not a reason to continue the high level of manpower and material we currently are holding in the armed forces. Au contraire, mes amis!  This is the time to figure out how the next wars are to be fought. I do not think for one Moscow minute that this one will actually be fought in the Crimea at all. It will be fought in the markets, in the commodity exchanges, in the board rooms, and ultimately in the European Union. The show of force in the Crimea is just that....a show. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you bake hamataschen for shalach manot on Sunday, ship on Monday 
and it should reach the recipients in plenty of time for Purim!


  1. All hail Vlad The Shirtless, Czar of all the Russias!

  2. Where the Merkel conversations reported through a news agency, the White House, or the NSA?