End of the Trail

Roland Stahl
September, 2022

     There is no “exit ramp” for Vladimir Putin.  He is at the end of the road.  He has been painting himself into a corner.  He is like a rat in a maze for which there is no solution.  He has never had a good option.  Can you see Putin, like Gorbachev, standing up and saying, “Ha, ha.  My mistake.  So sorry.  Ha, ha.  I guess I’ll just take my toys and go home.” ?  But that has been his best and only option all this time.  Of course it is true that he was provoked into this quagmire.  Ukraine is like an elephant trap (a Bear trap?) into which the hapless Putin has fallen.  The relentless pressure of the West and NATO (read the United States war machine) pushing closer to Russia’s borders have given Putin no other option at any time.  Backed into a corner, puffing and blowing, he felt he had no other choice but to “put up or shut up.”  Since shutting up was never a palatable option for him, he felt he had no other option but to follow through with his threats (“It is not a bluff.”) and invade Ukraine.  But the trap was sprung, and there he is, dangling in the air by one foot.  

     Okay, I’m mixing my metaphors again.  But regardless of what kind of trap it was into which he fell, there is no way out.  Confucius says, “The Way Out is via the Door.  Why is it that no one will use this method?”  We have already understood that Putin is no more likely than Donald Trump to walk through that exit door, but there is no other way out.  The Nuclear Option is a suicide bomb.  Perhaps Putin feels some déjà vu ~ that he is reliving his February options again.  Will he put up or shut up?  If you push the man to the brink, will he jump?  But the hole he is in only grows deeper the more he struggles, like a fly in a spider’s web, or Brer Rabbit with the Tar Baby.  

     The suicide bomb is the last resort of the desperate man.  When there is no hope at all, no matter in which direction you turn, the final despair is to take down as much of “the enemy” with you as you go down to your own final destruction.  Every sane person on this planet knows that using nuclear weapons, even a “little bomb” like a “tactical nuclear weapon” is a no-brainer.  But if Putin is really certifiably crazy, and might possibly pull the plug on civilization and life on earth, that is all the more reason why he must be resisted and stopped.  

     “The whole world should be praying for Russia’s victory, because there are only two ways this can end: either Russia wins, or a nuclear apocalypse,” nationalist Russian tycoon Konstantin Malofeyev tells the Financial Times.  “If we don’t win, we will have to use nuclear weapons, because we can’t lose,” he added.  “Does anyone really think Russia will accept defeat and not use its nuclear arsenal?”  But any appeasement that leaves Putin in power with anything he can claim as a victory for his nuclear blackmail will only darken the skies for the foreseeable future.  

     Putin’s problem is the same one faced by most dictators ~ once you lose your grip on the reins of power, you are usually prosecuted or killed.  Putin understands perfectly well that as soon as he falls from power, his next stop is the International Criminal Court in The Hague.  Don’t expect him to go away quietly.

     So this is the end of the trail for Putin, but not necessarily the end of the trail for Russia.  Russia, indeed, has a perfectly good exit ramp ~ dump Putin.  In fact, this is the only way forward.  Putin must take the fall, and then Russia can put all the blame on Putin, and retreat from the Ukraine fiasco in relatively good order.  As soon as Russia does this, sanctions will melt away and happy days will return to Russia.  Let the good times roll !

Vladimir Putin, September, 2022


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