Yesterday I sat down for a beer with a long-serving former journalist from my country. He was a globe-trotting reporter who had rubbed shoulders with tribesmen in Waziristan and Maoist rebels in Nepal. He was working for the national print media, but his thing was always trying to get alternative viewpoints into our local mainstream. Eventually, he quit after he got tired of having to fight his editors over nearly every story.
In any case, as we were talking about the Russo-Ukrainian situation he expressed disbelief that Russia should be doing so poorly. He was convinced that the Russian army was in some way being intentionally held back or intentionally set up to fail in order to prolong the war and make it as bloody as possible. In other words, to kill as many of Russians and Ukrainians in the long run as possible, and maximally set back Russia.
He is now convinced that Kremlin is not an independent player, but is beholden to the same powers-that-be that also run the West and who do not have Russia’s best interest in mind.
I thought his view was very interesting because it expresses the same sentiment I have noticed many times in my comment section.
I constantly ridicule the 5D clowns who will spin every Putin’s indecision, under-resourcing, and blunder as solid judo gold, but that is really giving these jokers too much credit. It makes it appear as if they are the main game in town when that really isn’t true.
The opposite viewpoint that VVP is engaging in judo to ruin Russia, or at least to advance interests that are not Russian is at least as prevalent in the alternative if not more so, and increasingly so. Since 2020 I am not seeing Moscow picking up new fans. I am seeing international well-wishers who lined up behind Donbass and Syria with heart and soul becoming increasingly confused and disillusioned and wondering whose side is the Kremlin even on?
It is merely that while the unfazed 5D simpletons continue to churn out their hagiographical garbage with the fanaticism of an idiot. The people like my ex-journalist friend are, on the contrary, slowly dropping out of reading and writing on geopolitics and moving on to more fundamental questions.
As my friend said “This multipolar stuff used to be a lot more hopeful.”
Personally, I am not a huge conspiracy theorist. Perhaps I am naive, but almost always I find that incentive, self-delusion, and willful ignorance already sufficiently explain various mindboggling decisions of our political classes and that no formal conspiracy is required.
That said, I do like people who get slandered as conspiracy theorists because time and time again we find ourselves in the same trench. If you’re in my foxhole I’m not going to be splitting hairs over how you got here, I’m just grateful you did.
And the truth is that if you assume that Putin is a secret lizard the story of the last 2 years works a lot better, than if you assume that he is a 5D judo genius.
For many months now I have been toying with the idea of penning a tongue-in-cheek article that would be titled “If Putin Was a 5th Column Traitor, What Would He Be Doing Any Differently?”. The article would just be a long list of all the Russian self-inflicted wounds of the past two years courtesy of what seems like common-sense defying levels of stupidity emanating from the Kremlin recently.
Just the three most glaringly dumb, self-harming, incompetent, irresponsible, and dilettantish decisions would be:
- Subjecting Russia to the unprecedented economic assault that were the benefit-free COVID lockdowns
- Leaving $300 billion in Western banks just asking for them to be confiscated
- Sending the Russian army into the largest European war after WW2 in a piecemeal fashion
The reason I haven’t started writing the text is that I fear that it would quickly balloon to 15,000 words and consume two weeks of my life, so much Kremlin retardation has there been lately.
As I said, the piece would be tongue-in-cheek because I do not honestly believe that Putin is a 5th column lizard (he just acts like one). But there is an undeniable pattern now where he constantly underestimates enemy resolve. Constantly procrastinates on making the tough calls until it is all but too late. And where he constantly under-resources his gambles to a comical degree putting his men in extraordinarily and needlessly difficult and lethal situations, and generally making Russia seem hapless and incompetent while also exhausting her energies for the most minimal gains possible.
What could be more simple than that either you leave Ukraine completely alone, or else you pounce on it with everything at once? Doing anything in between just gets you the worst of both worlds.
Whom he increasingly reminds me of is the August 1991 putschists. The geriatric Soviet hardliners who attempted a coup against Gorbachev to save the Soviet Union. But who were so low-energy that all they succeeded in was to weaken the liberal but pro-Soviet Gorbachev, in favor of the liberal but anti-Soviet Yeltsin.
Like they, he seems like a man determined to grab the worst possible outcome, with all the downsides of all the possible approaches.
I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, but if it was one, — tell me, what would he be doing any different?
Can you think of one thing?