Shit is getting serious in Eastern Europe; so serious that I’m paraphrasing Eugene O’Neill in the post title. We’ve gone from The Iceman Cometh to The Iceman Melteth in the blink of an eye. The WordPress spellchecker is having its own meltdown as a result. Yeah, I know melteth is an archaic word that nobody else uses. Deal with it.
It increasingly looks as if Vladimir Putin has lost his shit. Russian-speaking pundits have described yesterday’s epic speech as unhinged. There’s even this story online: Is Vladimir Putin Sane?
My favorite Putin-related headline is on today’s column by the WaPo’s Eugene Robinson: With Biden standing firm, Putin must wonder: Where’s Trump when I need him?
Beats the hell outta me, Gene. The Kaiser of Chaos has always been an unreliable friend who’s ready to knife people he claims to be very, very, very, very close to.
“Modern Ukraine was entirely and fully created by Russia, more specifically the Bolshevik, communist Russia,” Mr. Putin said. “This process began practically immediately after the 1917 revolution, and moreover Lenin and his associates did it in the sloppiest way in relation to Russia — by dividing, tearing from her pieces of her own historical territory.”
So, Lenin was the Oscar Madison of historical figures? Did his bedroom at the Kremlin look like this?
Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.
Former Sovietologist Tom Nichols had a great description of Putin’s demeanor during his speech:
Putin’s slumped posture and deadened affect led me to suspect that he is not as stable as we would hope. He had the presence not of a confident president, but of a surly adolescent caught in a misadventure, rolling his eyes at the stupid adults who do not understand how cruel the world has been to him. Teenagers, of course, do not have hundreds of thousands of troops and nuclear weapons.
There’s been a Stalin revival in Russia since Putin was placed in power by Boris Yeltsin who was probably drunk at the time he selected a successor. Of course, Stalin was usually drunk as well.
Putin’s identification with Stalin seems out of control and may be driving this crisis. Picture Putin in front of a mirror: “Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the most Stalinesque of all?”
I was surprised by how many photoshopped images there are of Stalin and Putin online.
The hand in the pocket is, of course, a Napoleonic reference. That strikes me as odd since invading Russia was the French emperor’s undoing.
You can even get Stalin and Putin nesting dolls:
There’s also a vogue for images of Putin with Stalin and Ivan the Terrible:
I think that’s Ivan, if not it’s a terrible mistake on my part.
Here’s the deal. I know the Russia-Ukraine crisis is deadly serious. I’m trying to provide some comic relief during a tense time. We’re not going to war, but Ukraine may well be.
I genuinely thought Putin was bluffing because this crisis is not in Russia’s best interests. The Russian-German gas pipeline project has been placed in the deep freeze because of it. Putin thought he had the Germans in his pocket, but he miscalculated. Why? New German Chancellor Olaf Schloz is close to former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder who *is* in Moscow’s pocket.
This miscalculation will cripple the Russian economy but Putin’s got his, so he doesn’t care. One could say he’s out of fuckniks to give…
I have no idea where this is going but Russia seems determined to blow up the post-Cold War order. Putin has long had two sides: the pragmatist and the ideologue. The ideologue is in control right now but it’s a sign of weakness, not strength.
Finally, it’s a damn good thing that the Impeached Insult Comedian lost to Joe Biden. If Trump were in office, he’d be wreaking havoc, causing confusion, and siding with the Former Iceman. His “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian president Zelensky led to his first impeachment, after all.
The world right now is a Room Full of Mirrors in which the line between reality and fantasy is dangerously blurred. The last word goes to Jimi Hendrix followed by The Pretenders.