Napoleon. Stalin. Hitler. Putin. Will the good Russian people ever learn that the wars that dictators foment never end well for them?
The European wars of the 20th century are not ancient history; I was born 11 years after the end of WW II, which killed tens of millions in Europe alone. Now, Putin, an unreconstructed Communist/oligarch dictator risks the lives and future of the continent and his own people in order to once again subjugate people who do not want to live under the boot of Soviet-style repression. We in the West have our faults; but we simply cannot let him get away with yet another breach of Pax Europa.
I have worked with many Russians, both during and after the Soviet era. Individually you will find no more hospitable people on earth. But collectively, the dark Russian soul, so vividly brought to life in the work of their great poets, writers, and composers, is very real. In my humble opinion, Russia writ large has the most powerful inferiority complex on the planet. They just can’t get it right: politically, economically, or socially. They had their best chance after the fall of the Soviet empire, and they sold out to the criminals and oligarchs who have stolen the wealth of a nation and backed a criminal dictator to lead them.
And now, Putin, the worst remnant of the KGB worldview, has cowed the rest of the country into following a horribly misguided path of re-conquest under the flimsiest of excuses. He sanctions everything we abhor, from state-sponsored Olympic cheating to foreign assassinations, persecution of dissidents, cybercrime, and territorial invasion.
It is now we who need to drop an iron curtain across the Russian geographic and economic frontier. We need to find a way to supply Europe with the energy they need and turn off the Russian gas pipelines and access to foreign financial markets, without which the Russian economic and social structure will fail.
I don’t wish this on the Russian people but until they are willing to rise up against their own totalitarianism as they did in the late 1980’s, they are destined to repeat the dark tragedies of their long history.