Title: Mr. President’s Delusions

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Ghassan CharbelI do not like pessimists, but I sometimes f ind that they have something worth pausing at. The diplomat said he was not optimistic about the future of both Europe and the world. He considered that Vladimir Putin’s approach to victory in Ukraine confirms the fall of a safety valve represented by international legitimacy.

The great failure of the international organization is not simple. The lesson is clear: If you are not a wolf, wolves will eat you. The victory also indicates that the ability of the West to lead the world has waned. This event is not ordinary at all. It is because the prestige of the American policeman was one of the conditions for concluding settlements and creating stability, despite his mistakes and crimes.

The diplomat went on to explain. He said that Putin was neither a party baron nor a KGB general. He was an ordinary officer, and therefore sought a major achievement that would offer him a distinguished position in history. In the old views, retaining an advanced position required a major war. Most likely, Putin is not impressed by his Kremlin predecessors, if we exclude Stalin, “a man of both war and construction.”

There are those who believe that Putin may go further if he is able to win in Ukraine and the West bows to his threats. He may have wanted to offer himself a position that is similar to that of Catherine II, who fought neighbors and annexed lands. Perhaps he wanted to compete with Peter the Great, the creator of progress, glories, and battles.

Obviously, the difference is that Peter the Great disguised himself as an ordinary visitor to discover the reasons for the West’s progress, while the current Tsar prefers to break up with the West and destroy its aura and model.

The diplomat said one of the most dangerous developments was the discovery that there were no institutions in Russia that could restrain the Tsar if he went too far with his delusions. He wondered: What would the world do if one day Russian tanks began rolling through one of the Baltic countries? Will NATO move to implement Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which considers any attack on one member to be an attack on all?

Will there be a president in the White House who would risk a clash with Russian forces, even if the crisis involved nuclear threats, which Moscow has mastered its art of intimidation? There is nothing more dangerous than isolating a victorious man for whom things have been completely settled, and who has nothing left to preoccupy him except completing revenge and polishing his image in the pages of history.

The diplomat reminded me of previous experiences. He talked about Stalin’s cruelty and obsessions. He talked about Mao Zedong’s laziness and his decisions that cost millions of victims, especially in the “Cultural Revolution.” He referred to what entire generations paid under Kim II-sung, his son, and his grandson.

I did not agree with this disastrous scenario. I know that Putin has a revenge project against the West. He considers Ukraine to be one of the stolen lands, and perhaps he shares the same view towards the republics that betrayed the Soviet Union and were quick to quit it.

He said Putin justified the invasion by saying that Ukraine is not a state with full legitimacy, but rather just an invention. Note that Netanyahu uses the same method with Palestine and its people. He warned that what is happening in Ukraine and Gaza is an extremely harsh message directed to the weak in the world, stating that there is no umbrella to protect against the aggression of a neighbor or a powerful man’s greed.

I was not convinced by the comparisons made by the diplomat. The truth is that I have a certain amount of admiration for Putin. This man’s rise is amazing. He hid his appetite and moved forward. When he became the master of the Kremlin, he spent many years deceiving the West, concealing his old feelings and long claws.

A brilliant man. His smiles covered his attempt to restore the spirit of the “Red Army” and its weapons. He worked to conquer on the inside and then looked abroad. He knows the weaknesses of his opponents or interlocutors and acts accordingly. He shows friendliness, but iron lies under the silk of his gloves. He is firm in his stances, not threatened by the autumn that will topple the master of the White House, the president of the Elysée, the resident of 10 Downing Street or the one who holds the title of German Chancellor.

Autumn is the time of elections, which social media in the West has turned into a humiliating circus characterized by the airing of dirty laundry. In Russia, the story is different. Autumn, like the Constitution, is an employee in the Tsar’s office. It attacks opponents but does not dare to approach the master.

The diplomat said Stalin, Mao, Kim II-sung and others started out as good fighters and dreamers, but then experience turned them into cruel people who were worried about their next place in history. He said the agencies isolate Mr. President under the pretext of protecting him and then cut off his relationship with the world and become his only source of information. The armies of admirers complete the mission of the apparatus, and the President becomes a prisoner of his fears, his image, and his obsession with his survival.

I did not agree with all of the diplomat’s analyses. But his words reminded me of what I have heard. Those who knew Saddam Hussein as a young man said he was shy, reticent, dedicated to serving the party, and obsessed with restoring the greatness of Iraq. Those who knew Moammar al-Gaddafi in his early days said he was a young man fond of reading, searching between the pages for the future of his country and the nation together, guided by the shadow of a man named Gamal Abdel Nasser.

I recalled what Gaddafi’s Foreign Minister and his African envoy, Ali Abdel Salam Treki, once told me. He said power changed Gaddafi and separated him from reality. He said the colonel summoned him one day and ordered him to convey a message to King Hassan II stating: “We know that you are a reactionary, an agent, and involved in many conspiracies.” The Leader stressed that the message should be conveyed literally without change. After his return, Treki had to pretend that he had delivered the whole message even though it contradicted all diplomatic norms.

Gaddafi also hated Yasser Arafat because of his charisma as man with a cause. He was annoyed by the “stardom” of Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, so he said to Treki: “Call Amr Moussa and insult him.”

There is no doubt that Putin’s victory in Ukraine, if it occurs, will open a new page in international relations. Victory may increase the Tsar’s appetite, but directly harassing NATO countries is extremely dangerous. It is difficult to imagine the brilliant Putin causing a deadly feast for his country and the world.

Author: Amir

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