Vladimir Putin is mad: not in the cognitive but in the emotional sense of the word. He is an odd mixture of the cold, the plotting, the calculating, and the bloodless; the emotional, the impulsive, the hotblooded, and the sentimental. He is mad, in other words, in precisely the way that Adolf Hitler was mad. And like Hitler, Putin is disconnected from the world of fact but not of logic.
This is a fundamental truth about the man that I think the West had never experienced before February. His condition became apparent in the diatribe against the West that he gave on Friday, which corresponded almost exactly to Hitler’s customary rants.
In the speech, Putin characterized the Western countries as satanic, the implication being that over the last seventy-seven years, they have conspired, first, to destroy the Soviet Union, and since its collapse, to persecute, weaken, and subjugate Mother Russia. This view of events is, of course, gibberish; whatever Vladimir Putin is, he is no historian. The USSR was not destroyed by the United States, NATO and the other non-communist states. Its demise was the inevitable result of its having been erected upon the historical fable called Marxism and organized according to an economic, political, and social pattern that does not accord with, and indeed is contrary to, human nature and what one might call the laws of history.
The only sense in which one might with historical accuracy ascribe the death of the Soviet Union to the West is by acknowledging that Marxism is a Western ideology that when translated into political reality has fatally poisoned every society that has tried it. In fact, one might argue that what prolonged the USSR’s existence was its ability to avail itself of Western nuclear technology — often through murderous espionage — and thus to blackmail the so-called Free World into treating it with caution until it perished through its own internal contradictions.
Yet whether its downfall was “the greatest catastrophe of the twentieth century” (as Putin sees it) or not, it was not of the West’s doing. The Soviet government, including Mr. Putin, brought it on itself, and it has itself — and itself only — to blame. Should Russia undergo the same fate in the next decade, the blame should be similarly ascribed.
Whether Adolph Hitler died in the belief that flights of Valkyries would appear and sing him up to Valhalla is, of course, unknown. Should Vladimir Putin imagine that ranks of Cossacks will similarly waft him to the Heaven of the Russian Orthodox Church, he is destined to suffer the same unpleasant awakening at the place of his final destination.