Putin Is In A Proper State Of Mind - And that's the scariest part

I see that some people are questioning Putin's sanity at this point. I don't think that is a worthless conversation to have but honestly I don't think so. I think the real problem is that Putin is completely sane. More than sane, Putin is being completely logical and rational. Smart even. In a twisted sense. Let's analyze this.

Why is Putin attacking Ukraine?

The honest answer is we don't know. There is Russian propaganda that claims it's for reasons that makes the Russians look good. There is western propapaganda that claims that it's for reasons that makes the russians look bad. This is to be expected. During war you cannot trust even your own state's media. It will always be filled with lies that makes your state look good. But I can give my own assessment: this war is about spheres of influence and losing superpower status.

What is a superpower?

A global superpower is a state whose actions have implications all around the world. The U.S. is a global super power. They've fought wars in every single continent and even outside of war if they say that they want something, 9/10 times they get it. That is true power. That power is materialized through your sphere of influence. Things happen your way mainly because you have dependent allies on every continent that are willing to do anything you tell them and will never do anything without consulting you first. That way you can ensure your will turns into reality. And this is good for your country. In particular, it is good for your citizens. All we have to do is look at the U.S. They have the most billionaires and millionaires. Maybe the average american is not the richest in the world, but who said that governments are for the average people? Americans have the most billionaires and that's what being a superpower gets you. Your nobility gets to be the most powerful and prestigious nobility globally. 

Is Russia a superpower?

I would personally say no but there are reasonable people who would disagree. And what I do agree with is the idea that Russia is very close to being a superpower. To see why this is important let's consider a fallen superpower. Let's think of France. France at one point was the ruler of Europe and the entire world. Even after their post-Napoleon fall they still managed to secure control over countless colonies all over the world. France was a global superpower. But they are not anymore. Two world wars happened and while the U.S. gave them a path to re-build, they ensured that this path would never lead to them having superpower status again. France is now essentially a client-state to the U.S. You may think that this is wrong but think about it. When France wants to act on the global stage, they always consult the U.S. first. And if the U.S. disagrees then they back down. That is a client-state. At best we can say that the americans have been benevolent overlords in that they don't abuse of the French. They just let them live peacefully. But in the near future there will never come a time when the french will be seen as powerful people. They are just a tiny state in Europe. Going back to Russia, even if Russia is a relatively weak country there is a huge difference. Russia is able to enact their own foreign policy without consulting the U.S. first. Therefore they do have their sphere of influence within which they can act with impunity but this power is certainly very limited compared to the U.S.

What Putin may think

I think that Putin is being logical. He realizes three things:

  1. Russia is on the verge of losing their (limited) superpower status. If they let countries like Ukraine to pull-away from their sphere of influence and into the sphere of influence of the U.S. then that's it. Russia would be a superpower without power. They would become a France. Massive - yes. With significant military strength - yes. But without the power to act outside of their borders without U.S. approval.
  2. Losing superpower status will hurt the russian people. Losing power is not free. It usually comes at great cost. Think about France. If the U.S. told their allies to nuke France, the french would be gone forever. They could not even put up a fight. France is surrounded by U.S. allies that would comply with that order. If Russia becomes a France then that's it for russian history. The russians would just be people. No power, no influence. Just people. And if you disagree with this point, imagine how much it would hurt americans if they lost their superpower status.
  3. He has to act now. That man is really old and he has a more stressful job than all of us when he should be a retiree. He knows he will be gone soon. And what will happen then? Who will solve the Russia problem? He probably knows that the moment he dies the oligarchs will put a subservient puppet in power. And the oligarchs, caring mostly about their business interests, will probably steer Russia into the U.S.' sphere of influence because the best way to get rich as a nation is to become really good friends with the americans. Oligarchs right now sure are feeling the pain of not being good friends with them. 

Putin probably realizes there is another way out. Putin could admit that Russia is done. The Russian empire will never come back. He could give up and then announce that Russia will become pro-U.S. and even apply for E.U. membership. And then that's it for Russian history. This is the way the rest of Europe went post-WWII. The thing is that this happened mostly peacefully because they were incredibly demoralized after the two world wars. And even then, there were many death throes where old empires like the UK and France tried to use their influence abroad only for it to fail. Think of Egypt. And when they realized they were now powerless U.S. colonies they just gave up and accepted it. This is the way Russia could go but for some reason Putin believes that Russia stil has a chance to stay as a superpower. In a sense its almost brave because we all know that if the russians give up the Europeans and Americans will not be the most gracious of hosts. A lot of pain will come to the russians once they give up superpower status. Sure, maybe in a couple of decades they'll have a Japan-style renaissance as a U.S. ally. But it will be very painful. 

And this is what truly worries me. If Putin has done this political calculation in his mind then all that's left is for him to go all out. These are the last death throes of the Russian Empire. And if Putin knows this is the end then what's stopping him from going all out. After all, if the Russians don't get to have an empire why should the americans get one? This is probably the justification that will be given when nukes are sent to destroy the U.S. 

So this conflict ends with the destruction of humanity. This is where the political math leads us. Sure, maybe if something radical happens to Putin we won't get there. Or maybe I could be wrong about his goals. But I just can't stop thinking that if Russia stops the fight then they will go the way of France. They will be subservient forever. So Putin will only give up if he realizes that he will lose and then willingly accepts to become a U.S. client state. That would be the peaceful way. But it sure must sting to make that call as a russian. Would the americans just peacefully accept becoming russian puppets? Probably not. 

Comments (12)

Mar 2, 2022 - 1:56pm
Yankee Doodle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you also believe in the Ghost of Kiev and think that Putin is like the bad guy from the Marvel movies?

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Mar 2, 2022 - 2:11pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If Putin was so worried that Russian oligarchs would develop Western sympathies due to business interests, why would he take a course of actions that would strip them of their wealth?

Putin's invasion in 2014 stopped Ukraine from ever having a shot at NATO.  Why would NATO, a military alliance, accept a country that has a foreign power occupying part of its territory?  That would lead to war.  And you claim Russia would no longer be a superpower if they don't lord over Ukraine?  Why?  Losing Ukraine would not force Russia to adopt a foreign policy identical to that of the US like France.

Russia's been a "belligerent gas station" since 2014.  This strategy is weakening their economy, alliances, and soft power but Putin keeps doubling down on it.  Now it's reached a breaking point.

Mar 2, 2022 - 3:13pm
Hölder, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If Putin was so worried that Russian oligarchs would develop Western sympathies due to business interests, why would he take a course of actions that would strip them of their wealth?

Are you reading your own post? That's exactly why. Putin took a course of action that would strip them of their foreign wealth so that they don't develop Western sympathies. Now the oligarchs have all of their western ties destroyed and they have to side with Putin because he's all they have. That is unless they find a way to assasinate him which I doubt because if they could they would have done this decades ago. 

And you claim Russia would no longer be a superpower if they don't lord over Ukraine?  Why?

I very precisely claimed that Russia is not a superpower but they do have a tiny sphere of influence of which Ukraine used to be a part of . Now they see those last remaining pieces of their 'empire' slowly moving to the west and my conclusion is that this must be the last all-or-nothing for Putin. Either they get what they want from the west or Putin dies trying. 

It almost seems like you agree with me but because I am not 100% following the CNN agenda your brain is melting as we speak. 

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Mar 2, 2022 - 3:37pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Are you reading your own post? That's exactly why. Putin took a course of action that would strip them of their foreign wealth so that they don't develop Western sympathies. Now the oligarchs have all of their western ties destroyed and they have to side with Putin because he's all they have. That is unless they find a way to assasinate him which I doubt because if they could they would have done this decades ago. 

You're claiming taking money away from oligarchs will somehow increase their support for Putin?  No way in hell.  They like Putin because he lets them get away with anything.  Now even they are feeling the burn from his actions and this will lead to lower support from them.  Whether they can really replace him or not is hard to say.

I very precisely claimed that Russia is not a superpower but they do have a tiny sphere of influence of which Ukraine used to be a part of . Now they see those last remaining pieces of their 'empire' slowly moving to the west and my conclusion is that this must be the last all-or-nothing for Putin. Either they get what they want from the west or Putin dies trying. 

Russia can still do what they want foreign policy wise regardless of whether they have Ukraine or not.  There is no way they end up becoming like France regardless of how Western Ukraine becomes.

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Mar 2, 2022 - 4:03pm
MBBKilla, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Interesting point. I have a few thoughts / disagreements here.

1. Being a global power is a mixture of raw strength (economic capacity in modern day terms) and a willingness to act. The top economies in Europe each far exceed Russia in GDP, the issue is that they collectively have little desire to act alone. They come running to the US for security decisions because they've decided we'd rather spend our military budget on a robust welfare state rather than a large military which we'd probably never use. Russia, in attacking Ukraine, has changed that calculus. Europe, germany in particular, is gearing up for a rearmament campaign of the scale that hasn't been seen in modern times. Russia has essentially awoken a sleeping region which barely cared about Russian adventurism the past 20 years. Being next door to a much powerful collective superpower is bound to damage Russian attempts at restoring greatness

2. I'm not totally sure how losing superpower status actually hurts the Russian people. In the example you gave with France, you said that the US could get France's neighbors to declare nuclear war on it? This doesn't make sense. Can you imagine the UK initiating a first strike against France just because the US said so? There's no way you get the public / leadership on board with something like that. The avg. European citizen and elites largely benefit from the subordinate security arrangement with the US. The continental unity prevents the likelihood of an interregional war due to a larger arbiter of conflicts (the US), they can afford to spend less on defense, and citizens aren't dying in wars abroad. The only issue in not being a super power is a loss of a sense of pride primarily amongst political elites who's ambitions aren't checked by the public.

3. Fine, let's assume you're Putin and you think it's very much worth having a sphere of influence at all costs. Why then launch a full on invasion of Ukraine with flimsy pretext? Why not do what Putin has done so well before and initiate a hybrid war in Ukraine? You could launch terrorist attacks to destabilize the country, launch a coup, assassinate Ukraine's president, etc. A full on war is exceptionally costly. The war in Iraq cost the US ~2trillion  (10% + of GDP); and 37,000 dead/wounded ( .012% of population) in a war where we had meaningful portion of the pop. that was friendly to our invasion. Ukraine is about 1.7x larger than Iraq at the time of the invasion so let's scale up those numbers and apply to the russian state. That's a $3.4trillion dollar war (240% of Russian GDP); and 62,900 dead /wounded (.04% of population). Couple that with the fact that A) Russia's economy is likely to tank under the weight of the sanctions and B) Ukraine will be armed with high tech weaponry by the west. It's going to be an absolute shit show of a war for Russia. This is the type of catastrophic undertaking that could lead to Putin removed from power, massive rebellions across russian client states/ kingdoms, and the utter collapse of Russia as a power. Putin's not dumb, he recognizes all of this. He studied our intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. He knows the issues and still decided to go ahead anyway. He's off balance. There are many reports of him uncharacteristically shouting at subordinates and being oddly irrate. He's not in a completely rationale state of mind and this invasion shows that 

Mar 2, 2022 - 4:52pm
Hölder, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Being next door to a much powerful collective superpower is bound to damage Russian attempts at restoring greatness

This is a fair point. What I imagine is that Putin did not think this would happen. In Putin's calculus he probably had all of western Europe categorized as completely demoralized and I would not blame him for that thought. I have all of Europe categorized as completely demoralized. It's honestly a surprise that Germany still has men that want to be soldiers.  

I'm not totally sure how losing superpower status actually hurts the Russian people. In the example you gave with France, you said that the US could get France's neighbors to declare nuclear war on it? This doesn't make sense. 

With that example I don't mean to say that it is a realistic scenario given current geopolitics. I mean that it could happen. For example, let's say that France and the U.S. had a significant policy disagreement. So significant that France breaks off U.S. ties and starts acting on its own. In such a scenario, it would be very easy for the U.S. to just wipe out France. France has really no choice but to be subservient.  As for how it hurts the Russian people it's all very abstract so let's flip that into how being a superpower aids you. I mentioned the U.S. having the most billionaires. Why is that? Well, those billionaires did not make their money being chefs. They became billionaires by building global business empires. Imagine if the U.S. was not a super power. Imagine if the U.S. did not have favorable business ties with 90% of the world? There would sure be a fewer american global empires and therefore less american billionaires. By extrapolation then there'd be less "good" jobs so less millionaires. And finally less "nice" service jobs to those millionaires and therefore a smaller middle-class in general. Being a global superpower comes with a lot of benefits. A lot of people today complain about how China is starting to have an impact in global business. Well... that's what happens when you are a superpower. When you are superpower people want to do business with you. And to do business will you, they'll do as you say. Americans are essentially complaining that now the chinese get a seat at the macro table. In the past many foreign nations and foreign companies had to bend the knee to American business interests in the same way that now some american companies are bending the knee to the chinese.

But of course, it's not like the Russians have a lot of benefits now. But in a world where Putin succeeds and Russia becomes the world superpower then you better belief Russia will very quickly build up a lot of wealth and many many billionaires. In a world where Russia never becomes a superpower Russia will just be a France. Sure, some billionaires. Sure, some millionaires. But no one gives a fuck about french companies or french business interests. The U.S. just let's you have a seat at their table... and your plate is significantly smaller than theirs. 

Why then launch a full on invasion of Ukraine with flimsy pretext? Why not do what Putin has done so well before and initiate a hybrid war in Ukraine?

Well, I think he already did that. Putin did take Crimea. And Putin had been very obviously funding and supporting the separatists. I would not be surprised if one of Putin's demands to those separatists was to assasinate top government officials for him. But so far nothing has come out of it. Putin probably just thinks that if he wants regime change in Ukraine he has to do it himself. I would not be surprised if Putin considered, instead of directly invading,  just giving the troops and firepower to the separatists. But then I would think "would those retards know what to do with my army? I might as well command them myself". It's not like the world would tolerate Putin suddenly openly giving troops and weapons to other countries for the purpose of overthrowing the government. In that scenario we would have seen the same sanctions we are seeing in our universe.

Mar 2, 2022 - 4:56pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

All I can say is that Sergei Lavrov has the hardest job in the world, because he has to translate Putin's strategy into benevolent sounding enough words and sell Russia to the rest of the world. Not an easy feat.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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Mar 2, 2022 - 4:57pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY6lHjZjYXE

Mar 2, 2022 - 4:57pm
Flipsid3, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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