“It’s just the wasted years so close behind”

In one of his bitterest poems, In Front of the Looking Glass, Vladislav Khodasevich wondered how he, once a young dancer at summer balls in Ostankino, near Moscow, had mutated into a critic whose every riposte induces “revulsion, animus and fear” in young émigré poets. Or perhaps “spite” or “malice” for the second term and “loathing” for the first.

Whichever translation works best, the triad explains my own feelings at seeing or hearing the Kremlinoids on a bad day. I know they are a pack of boring, mediocre, ungifted men not worth an extra thought – but they have expended a considerable effort to poison and waste the lives of fellow citizens. They have forced us to ponder their shallow, if devious, little minds.

Writing in the FT last week, Peter Pomerantsev hypothesized that “Putin’s show of derangement” could be a “front to intimidate the West.” Actually, prof. Craig Pirrong put that idea forward ten months earlier, in response to Putin’s long press conference in March 2014:

And that raises another possibility: that Putin was playing the psycho for effect. The Slavic version of Nixon’s Madman Theory, and which Machiavelli wrote about centuries earlier: he wrote that leaders can find it “a very wise thing to simulate madness.”

I will say, watching the video, that Putin did a very, very credible impression of a madman, but that’s necessary to make the gambit work, isn’t it?

I don’t know whether he’s truly mad, or merely feigning it, but the effect will likely be the same.

“The effect will likely be the same,” agreed: more years and more lives going down the drain.

End of the Sundary Morning post.

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