March 12, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 11

Dr. Wes

As Russia takes back Crimea, our threat of sanctions amount to no more than a few silent ‘putins’

By Dr. Wes Browning

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Last year I wanted everyone to use “Putin” as a verb. It was in connection with the discovery that Mars had less methane than would have been expected if any Martian life had done significant “putin” in the past. My suggestion didn’t catch on so I will need to redouble my efforts.

Putin has always been about the elephant in the room. As in, “putin” an elephant in the room here, “putin” a Russian army in the peninsula there, shake it all about, that’s some nasty elephant.

No, that’s wrong. Let’s try again: Cannons to the right of them, cannons to the left of them. That’s how you do the Crimean hokey-pokey. Only, fewer cannons this time.

Crimea, of all places? Putin has all of Ukraine to mess with, but he picks the part with a nice climate and some good hotels. He invades with 16,000 soldiers in an area where he already has 25,000 in bases? We’re not even sure it is an invasion, maybe he just told 9,000 of the soldiers already there to take the day off.

As of this writing Crimean lawmakers have said to Putin, “Take us, we love Mother Russia.” This is so interesting, since Mother Russia, through representative Khrushchev, gave Crimea away not that long ago. I remember it like it was just last month. Just last month 60 years ago; I was 4.

He gave Crimea to the Ukraine as a gift to that Soviet on recognition for having become more or less a Russian client state 300 years earlier with the Treaty of Pereyaslav. What better gift to give them than a peninsula that had been ethnically cleansed by Stalin 10 years earlier, so as to ensure it would have only the most approved residents within it.

I think Putin is a nicer man than Stalin. I think that because most of us aren’t dead. If he were as bad a man as he could be we would be either dead or coughing up blood from poison, and about to be dead, because he is a murderer. But we are, most of us, alive. So, you see? He is a nice tolerant murderer, and we should be grateful.

The whole situation is rife with that kind of humor. Particularly funny is the possibility that the United States and the European Union might enforce economic sanctions. Not only Putin, but all of Russia with him, are thinking, “You are joking, right? Sanctions? Who cares?”

Never mind that they lived through Stalin (Well, those that did, did.) Never mind that they got hit by a giant meteor last year, and listened to the radio while they watched it hit, and when it blew out windows said, “Let us that do not have arteries cut by shards go out in the -20 C weather in our shirtsleeves and smoke cigarettes on this occasion, and wonder what that was.” Never mind that a day of economic sanctions is what they call Tuesday.

Old Russian economic jokes are so easy to make up. Here’s “Good news, bad news.” Bad news first. There’s no bread. Good news now: There’s no line.

Here’s another amusing consideration. Some have supposed that Putin felt safe in invading the Ukraine because that country had previously destroyed all its nuclear weapons. This supposition is interesting, in that if any other third greatest nuclear power in the world had claimed it had destroyed every last one of its nuclear weapons, we would not ever believe them.

Because, to us, every country that says, “What nuclear weapons?; We got no nuclear weapons,” is lying. Why has no one thought the Ukrainians held some back?

Or did Putin think of that, and that’s why he only invaded Crimea, so he wouldn’t put all of Ukraine’s back against the wall? If so, we are blessed to be plagued by him, and that would be all the more reason to be thankful that, thug that he may be, he’s a graceful thug.

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