The Putin Interview

I’ve previously read a transcript of Putin’s apologia for the Ukrainian war so I’m relatively familiar with his thesis.  Now without a doubt he frames it all to put Russia in the most sympathetic light and there are obvious chapters where he is painting some actions, like Stalin’s collaboration with Hitler over Poland, in a false light.  But I guess there are plenty of chapters of American history where one man’s patriotic battle is another man’s shameful massacre.

But what he does successfully demonstrate is that Kiev was the original home of the Rus, or as we call it now the Russian nation.  And that Ukraine has been an integral part of Russia for longer than the United States has been a nation.  And although countries do split and become separate nations the Ukraine contains millions of people who have always considered themselves Russians and who were disenfranchised by the government in Kiev when the anti-Russian coup took over in 2014.

It’s also clear that Putin believes that the history of Russia and the West since the fall of the Soviet Union is dotted with promises that were made by the West and broken whenever it was convenient.  And I have read many American accounts that confirm the specific assurances that the West gave to the Soviets and the Russians and their eventual abandonment.

With respect to what Putin wanted to say I think he succeeded in speaking his mind.  But from a communications perspective there are definite weaknesses in this event.  First of all, the interview was translated from Russian by an interpreter.  Secondly, the speech was two hours long.  In the third place, the first half hour was a Russian history lesson beginning around the year 800 AD and extending down to 1992 before it even began to touch on the relevant causes of the present war.

I mean I found it fascinating but I’m a weirdo who loves ancient history and was impressed how he wove in the ethnographic origins of the people currently inhabiting the various areas of Ukraine.  So, the propaganda value of Putin’s explanation of the origins of the war won’t reach the folks on TikTok with three second attention spans.

But one thing it did do was demonstrate to anyone with a brain that Vladimir Putin is a highly intelligent individual who believes that he has taken the only reasonable course available to him to defend his people from attack by the West.

Parenthetically, I was evaluating the style and substance of the words and ideas that Putin used; both the history lesson which is clearly something that he has worked over previously and his extemporaneous answers to some of the interrupting questions that Tucker Carlson asked along the way.

One of the interrupting questions in particular elicited a very interesting response.  When Carlson asked Putin whether the fracturing of the monopolar world, we lived under during the American hegemony meant that the two hemispheres would diverge, Putin amusingly noted that the human brain has two hemispheres that have separate functions but that unless they work together the mind becomes severely dysfunctional.  This struck me to be the response of a very lively intellect.

In general, I got the impression of a man who is a realist that has seen some of the worst disasters befall his country.  But at the same time, he appears to be an optimist about the future.  It’s an interesting combination.

I don’t completely discount the possibility that the whole performance was a cynical charade disguising an evil monster whose real intent is to conquer the world.  But I wouldn’t pick that as the more likely choice.  I think what we saw was pretty close to who Putin is.

And as leaders go, he’s a lot more interesting and formidable than someone like Joe Biden or Justin Trudeau.  I suspect that Putin will be remembered as being an important leader whereas Biden will be declared a disaster in American leadership.

Another thing that I noted is how strange Tucker Carlson looks while listening to interviews.  His expression is extremely strained.  But I give him full marks for setting up this discussion.  I hope he sets up a permanent news and opinion service.  I’d happily pay a reasonable fee to follow it.  Kudos Tucker.

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4 months ago

Okay, but this meme is still pretty funny.