The Putin plan


We are in a new Cold War with Russia.

Simply put, Russian President Vladimir Putin is a totalitarian dictator pretending to run a democracy. He believes he is “the chosen one” who can rebuild the Soviet Union to its former glory, and the invasion of Ukraine is the vanguard. But why? What is fueling this resurgence of communist values and acceptance of totalitarian rule by the Russian people? More importantly, what’s that to do with us?

Keep in mind there was never anything glorious about the Soviet Union. It was a political mess. Contrary to pop mythology, it didn’t collapse because of President Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech in Berlin. The U.S.S.R. fell apart because it was top-heavy. Political infighting, corruption, defections, and KGB activity constantly threatened to tear it apart. The country was finally brought to its knees by the weight of a stagnant economy maintaining an unnecessary Cold War superiority, an overextended military, and a laundry list of failed Soviet policies.

The disintegrating infrastructure threw the government into turmoil. President Mikhail Gorbachev worked to rebuild his country with a free market economy, reduced military spending, and open democracy. It was a good idea on paper, but generations of Russian people had known only “the party” and had little understanding of individual prosperity or free enterprise.

Instead of comfort and security, social upheaval, increased crime, and economic crises threw the country into disarray. History has taught us that when people suffer, all it takes to move the needle toward dictatorship is one man saying the right things at the right time. In 1930s Germany, Adolf Hitler promised a new world for his country under a common rule that would ensure jobs and prosperity. You know what happened next. Although his motivation may not be as sinister as Hitler’s, in Russia, Putin’s just getting started.

Over the last several years, Putin has been spreading familiar, Soviet-era rhetoric — I can save you, Russia will be prosperous again, America is evil, and so on. The people listened and re-elected him for two consecutive, six-year terms. He even signed a law allowing him to run twice more in his lifetime. Since his KGB-era government squashes any potential challenger, he could remain dictator, oops, sorry, “president,” until 2036. But he’ll likely update that law again and stay until his death.

As the war between Ukraine and Russia continues and Putin attempts to rally communist allies in southeast Asia, it’s clear he has no intention of slowing down. One example is his recent meeting with North Korean “President” Kim Jong Un. It is clear that Vladimir Putin intends to fully reconstruct the U.S.S.R. to how it was in his youth — a world power. But this time, he wants it to be “the” world power. His actions indicate that he sees the current U.S. political system as tumultuous and plans to take advantage of that distraction while he hopes for a Trump revival.

From my observations, Putin sees Donald Trump as a kindred spirit with the same self-aggrandizing, power-hungry appetite. But he also views him as weak, self-serving, inexperienced, and unfocused, with no genuine personal convictions. He says whatever pleases his followers. That’s not Putin’s method of operation.

Make no mistake, Putin is a narcissist of majestic proportions. But somewhere in there, he genuinely believes he’s saving his beloved motherland from ruin. If he can rebuild the U.S.S.R. while the American people and their allies are distracted by a haywire presidential election and the war in Gaza, America will be too weak to stop him.

My point is that we should be worried — very worried. Putin will continue his advancements. If we don’t end political divisiveness, begin to work together for the common good, and develop a solid geopolitical policy on Russia before Putin’s plans move forward, this revived Cold War could get hot rapidly.

I don’t like to write about politics, and I promised I wouldn’t do it much in this column. But this is important. We must stop the Jerry Springer-like sideshow that’s playing out in Washington and take this year’s election more seriously.

The security of our world, the future of our democracy, and the safety of our country depend on it.

Gery Deer is a Greene County resident and columnist. He can be reached at

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