Great Krugman on Putin

22 Dec

putin-russia-military-750a_4eeedb96f23edfb4cd42615d86323da2(click — if you can stand to…)

In today’s Times: Conquest Is for Losers: Putin, Neocons and the Great Illusion

Good for someone to remember these things — and say them straight up to.  Whether it’ll sink through Russian heads is not a call I can make.

“First, why did Mr. Putin do something so stupid? Second, why were so many influential people in the United States impressed by and envious of his stupidity?

“The answer to the first question is obvious if you think about Mr. Putin’s background. Remember, he’s an ex-K.G.B. man — which is to say, he spent his formative years as a professional thug. [My emphasis] Violence and threats of violence, supplemented with bribery and corruption, are what he knows. And for years he had no incentive to learn anything else: High oil prices made Russia rich, and like everyone who presides over a bubble, he surely convinced himself that he was responsible for his own success. At a guess, he didn’t realize until a few days ago that he has no idea how to function in the 21st century.”

And from me August 3rd: From the Times: Putin uses the Church…and the Church mostly lets him… ‘Позор…’  

“Does anybody remember that Putin was a KGB agent for decades — not just a cop, an agent of an instrument of mass state terror with perhaps no equal in history — and that part of his job was ruining the lives of anyone who engaged in the kind of religious pilgrimage these people are?  No.  It’s like that never happened.  And though my stomach turns when I see him on news footage solemnly standing with his candle at Easter, engaging in the non-stop crossing and bowing that Russians do in church, I’m also just stunned by his brazenness.  The word Позор (pa-zor’) in the heading of this post means “shame” but as I was trying to find somewhere to cut and paste it from I came across its etymology.  It originally meant “remarkable,” or someone or something remarkably “watchable,” from the root “zor” for vision.  And this is, in fact, the response Putin provokes: you simply stand there, staring and dumbfounded by his shamelessness.

“As for Russians themselves, sometimes I get so angry, not just at their acceptance of the political manipulation of an Orthodox Christianity that’s important to me, but at their general passiveness, gullibility, and willingness to play along with anything that promises even some tiny alleviation of their suffering, that I just want to think that they deserve their fate.”



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