02 April 2022 ~ 1 Comentario

¿Is Vladimir Putin Crazy?

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

Journalist and narrator Juan Manuel Cao asks himself this question. He doesn’t believe it, and neither do I. He is a bit crazy, like all dictators, but that does not prevent him from having a certain distorted idea of ​​reality. Was Adolf Hitler crazy or was he a manipulator causing panic attacks in everyone around him? Was Fidel Castro crazy when he thought that “Yankee imperialism” was sending him hurricanes and denounced it from his tribune? In any case, madness is a medical category that changes partially with each edition of the DSM or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association.

This has to do with Vladimir Putin. His ideas of diplomacy and the vulnerability of his country are those of Cardinal Richelieu and his successor, Cardinal Mazarin, the backdrop for some of the best narratives in The Three Musketeers. They were excellent ideas to strengthen France in the 17th century, but ridiculous in the 21st century if applied to Russia. Russia is the largest country on Earth (twice the size of Canada). And the most populous of the European or Eurasian countries, to be more precise in the field of demography: 150 million inhabitants.

Putin has failed to notice that military technology has changed the face of Russia forever. It would be unthinkable that the horsemen of Mongolia, drinking the blood of their small horses, would conquer a territory as large as they did in the Middle Ages (the largest continuous empire humans had ever seen.) Or that the Russian Cossacks (there are Cossacks in Ukraine too) successfully rebelled against Moscow. That simply is not possible.

That is why Putin’s action against the Ukrainians and against the Russians is so vile. They are two peoples united by history and ethnicity but separated by politics since Lenin (and later Stalin) left millions of Ukrainians to die from starvation, in order to give them a failed lesson in political economy.

Most Ukrainians want to go their own way. They want to resemble the French, the English and the Americans in their political forms. Accusing them of “Nazis”, after a Jew was elected president by an overwhelming majority, is a disgusting lie that, fortunately, almost nobody in Ukraine or Russia has believed. It took a review of Zelensky’s relatives, and an interview with Indian-American journalist Fareed Zakaria on CNN, to learn that one of Zelensky’s great-grandparents was burned alive in the terrible Holocaust. It happened during a typical SS attack, organized by the Nazis in the Ukrainian villages during World War II.

Actually, Putin is not alone in that ancient position before the spheres of influence and the world segregated by Cardinal Richelieu in the first half of the 17th century. All those people who think that the disappearance of the Eastern Bloc was a “huge tragedy” – Vladimir Putin among them – are wrong. The difference between the blocs was increasingly highlighted. With each scientific discovery, with each technological development, which almost always occurred in the West, the gap between the two blocs widened.

Putin made a huge mistake trying to revive the strange universe in which he remembers the USSR. He sank deeper and deeper dominating (and murdering) the Chechens, the Moldovans, the Georgians and, ultimately, the Ukrainians. Fortunately – for Ukraine and also for Russia – he could not “swallow” Ukraine and had to change his goals, concentrating in the Donbass region, the territory bordering Russia, in the southeast of Ukraine, where the percentage of Russophiles is much higher. But by dividing Donetsk and Luhansk into two and calling them “People’s Republics” it became clear that he was trying to revive the Soviet empire, which did not make those Russophiles happy. It is one thing to feel Russian and quite another to feel Soviet.

To what extent will Putin rectify? I don’t think it will happen. He will keep tied to the example of Cardinal Richelieu without realizing that what was good for France in the 17th century can sink Russia in the 21st. The United States discovered that the colonies were very expensive and caused nothing but troubles. When it followed Europe’s example, it nearly foundered in the Philippines, but in 1946, at the end of World War II, they gave the Philippines full independence. Puerto Rico is a bottomless pit, and if it is not removed from the budget, it is because in 1917 US citizenship was granted to Puerto Ricans and that is a permanent privilege. There are plenty of examples: Spain, Portugal and Turkey have never been more prosperous and happier than when they became democracies without colonies. Putin doesn’t understand it. I go back to Cao’s question: is Vladimir Putin crazy?

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