The real threat from Vladimir Putin

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In August of 1940, the long arm of Josef Stalin reached all the way to Mexico to murder his former revolutionary colleague Leon Trotsky. Two months earlier, Trotsky published an article titled “Stalin Seeks My Death.” Trotsky’s public declaration of Stalin’s intent did not deter the Russian monster’s murderous plan. Killing Trotsky was key to Stalin. No amount of public shame was going to stop him. Indeed, to Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, public shame was infamy, a thing he relished.

Death squads were organised on the ground in Mexico for the purpose of killing Trotsky, and one member got through. That was all that was necessary. He managed to mortally wound Trotsky with an ice axe, who died a day or two later.

When Hitler betrayed their alliance, Stalin joined forces with Britain and America to destroy the Nazi regime. His troops fought with uncommon zeal, zeal fueled by terror. Stalin frequently had unsuccessful commanders executed. He used his superior success in the field of battle to gain concessions from Churchill and Roosevelt. Stalin ultimately leveraged those concessions into postwar control of vast territories in Eastern Europe.

The precise number of his own people Stalin had murdered in the course of his long and terrifying reign isn’t known for sure. The number is conservatively estimated at 6 million. If you include foreseeable deaths as the result of policy, some estimates are as high as 20 million. That one man could contrive to murder so many human beings, more than eleven times the population of Manhattan, doesn’t even seem possible. But the evidence is compelling.

For Josef Stalin, murder was a political tool. But it was one he relished. He never personally participated in murder or torture. He had others do it for him.

People who knew him personally were terrified of him. When, in 1953, Stalin collapsed from a stroke, his guards were so afraid of him that no one called a doctor until 12 hours later. They feared he might recover and execute anyone who had acted outside of his orders. They needn’t have worried. He died two days later.

If it can be said that Vladimir Putin admires anyone, he admires Josef Stalin. To Vladimir Putin, Josef Stalin was the greatest Russian who ever lived. Like Stalin, Putin routinely has people murdered, mostly dissident journalists and political rivals. His recent murder of Alexei Navalny is merely the latest in a long list. Expect more.

Like Stalin, Putin lusts for control of other countries, especially former Soviet states. Putin’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine are part of a larger plan to reclaim former Soviet territory a piece at a time.

Donald Trump’s hostility to NATO and admiration for Putin represent a huge advantage to Vladimir Putin. As he so successfully did in 2016, Putin will once again bring to bear every resource he has to reinstall Trump to the presidency in November.

On paper Donald Trump’s chances for re-election are poor. But Putin’s considerable pro-Trump resources represent a danger that must not be underestimated. It is the x-factor that could render the election something less than a fait accompli and something more than a danger. We already know what Putin is capable of. How much influence he will bring to bear remains to be seen. But it should not be dismissed.

Putin’s resources include a shocking number of traitors in the Republican Party. Because Trump loves Putin, they love Putin, and they recently tried to employ the false testimony of Alexander Smirnov, a Russian tool, to impeach President Biden and discredit his son. While that attempt has failed spectacularly with the unmasking of Smirnov, it won’t deter Putin’s considerable assets inside the United States from trying something else. As long as traitors like James Comey, Jim Jordan and others remain in power, they represent a clear and present danger to American democracy.

Like Stalin, Putin relishes his reputation as a ruthless strongman. There exist no sanctions that will stop him. Like Stalin, the only thing Putin respects is strength, so his threat must be met with strength.

Like Stalin, Vladimir Putin will employ murder, subterfuge, extortion and lies to achieve his ends. We must use the power inherent in the democratic process to stop him. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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