Want to beat Vladimir Putin? Strangle him. No, not the physical act (although that would work too) but the long term quest to remove his ways from our reality. We all want to defeat him and his demolish his evil world order, right? If you don’t, you’ve come to the wrong place, please go away. Or, please leave a tasty comment below about how much you love your Uncle Vlad so we can thrash your worldview and break your brain.
Every morning my guests ponder the forthcoming demise of the human race over coffee. Typically the conversation revolves around how they will personally bring about said demise via their direct actions. I find this all very amusing given their current circumstances. But I guess it’s comforting for them to reminisce what it was like when they weren’t a bunch of exiled interstellar losers.
Even though I kind of admire Vlad for actually, you know, giving a damn and generally doing what he says, I still hope for his imminent departure. But the problem in my mind was how to bring this about given the difficulty. And so I proposed a challenge to my guests, to plot the downfall of Vlad and his organism. At first they laughed at me, like a small child had just asked them about sex. But I left them to it and surprisingly they made it happen.
Thus, what follows is a rough translation of their conspiracy to aid good for once, instead of evil. I was actually rather surprised to see the complete lack of barbarity, liquidation, and throwing of many chairs. The nuance and theory only makes me fear them more. But that’s a separate issue. For the moment, Russia’s really kicked the shit out of the forces of good lately. Time to plan our revenge.
In reality, he’s probably the most scared guy on the planet.
– Don’t do anything major
Let’s face the truth. The Ukraine crisis has exposed the entirety of the West as a bunch of limp-wristed-losers. Nobody’s interested in confronting evil in any significant way anymore. It’s hard, it requires sacrifice, success is not guaranteed. And in any case, the mall beckons. So asking for anything dramatic from the West is unlikely and thus a nonstarter. But it’s okay, because we don’t want to do anything major.
Why? Because it won’t work. If war or hardcore diplomacy is an exercise in who can absorb the most pain, then it’s a certainty that Putin and Russia can endure more pain. First off, war is not on the table. Russia is always going to have the nuclear trump card. Why do you think Vlad conducted a full blown ICBM test just days after he stole Crimea?
No matter how many British fighters patrol Latvia or American paratroopers train in Poland everybody, everywhere knows it’s not coming to gunfire. Many folks, this forum included, are inclined to blame the Europeans for being selfish lightweights on defense. But honestly can you blame them?
If I live in Denmark, I’m probably smart enough to know my countrymen aren’t going to ever, ever trade tank rounds with the Russians. So why would he pay taxes for an armored division when he can use them for the welfare state?
Europe’s never going to war with Russia because of nuke. And thus massive conventional forces are apparently a waste of time and money. But America has lots of nukes already, so what’s the problem as far as the Europeans are concerned? America will always be there, that’s enough.
Vladimir Putin was prepared to take his country to war over Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia, and any number of other situations. If he wanted to pull the trigger, the people of Russia would go along. Either because they agreed with him or because they don’t get the chance to weigh in. No citizen on the street in the West is about to risk everything over Donetsk. And unlike Vlad, the leaders of the West are accountable to the will of their people.
And it doesn’t help that Vlad has made it a point to grab Europe by the balls. If you’re a citizen of the new Europe, and you like your heating bill small, your London bankers rich, your French shipbuilders employed, your Greek hotels full, or your Cyprus economy solvent, then you rely upon Russia. Vlad’s got your future wrapped up inside his tented fingers.
If Europe ever developed the desire to introduce sanctions that could really hurt Russia they would also greatly damage Europe. And because of this, the people of Europe are always going to break first. If a citizen of Russia sees their net worth dive 20% in one year, what are they going to do? Protest in the streets and get beaten? If a citizen of Italy sees their net worth dive 20% in one year, the fragile European project falls apart in a sea of recrimination, hatred, and failure.
But for our purposes here today, it’s all good. Because we’re accepting all of this as reality and are going to maneuver around it. We can’t punch Vlad in the face. In a brawl, a fistfight, Vlad wins. So instead, we’re going to strangle him. And that doesn’t mean we’re going to make our way into his harem bedchamber and off him with a good old piece of Lubyanka wire. No, we’re going to very slowly take oxygen away from him until he passes out at his desk.
My guests rejected the bottlenose dolphin assassination option as ‘unreliable’ and ‘too kind’.
– Time to ensnare Russia with the spell of fear
Often throughout human history, it turns out that the loud asshole in the room is actually the one most scared and in the greatest danger. This concept has applied to Russia about sixteen times since the dawn of man. And so it’s true now as well.
Think Europe is doomed, well, we’ll see, but Russia certainly is. Our present dictator is going to have a real hard time enslaving humanity when he’s leading a population that’s literally dying, nearly broke, and without long term economic prospects.
Russia’s 2013 fertility rate at 1.7 was roughly equivalent to Europe as a whole, but is still well below the required replacement rate of 2.1. Now granted, Russia’s not going to turn into the ghost town that you’ll soon see in Milan or Osaka, but the fact is that Russia’s population is shrinking dramatically. Can you remain a world power and expand your influence when your population is fading over decades? Nobody knows the answer to this question because we haven’t seen this phenomenon in human history yet. But I’m going to go ahead and say no.
People often talk of the “4-2-1 problem” in which four grandparents are followed by two parents but only one child. This is usually applied to East Asia or Italy, but Russia’s not that far off. Yes, Europe has the same problem. But these two problems aren’t really equivalent.
Europe’s not trying to conquer the planet anymore and so is reasonably comfortable with a quiet, comfortable decline. Nothing about Putin’s behavior or his people’s wishes indicates Russia is interested in sliding off into the sunset.
But if you don’t have the people, nothing else can follow. Now you’re probably thinking Russia can just rely on some form of immigration to overcome the problem. Well, it’s not going to happen. There are just not enough Tajiks on the planet to compensate for these decreased numbers.
Oh, and those remaining people are going to be broke too. Why? Because Russia doesn’t make anything. Go ask your local Chinese businessman where the future of humanity lies. Whether you like it or not, it’s in the making of things, smartphones, cars, juice makers, whatever. Toys, in the negative sense, if you will. China’s gotten rich in large part due to the making of such toys, and all their subordinate parts, by the billions. These trends are guiding the world’s path. Something like three-quarters of banking in Kenya is done via mobile phone. Get used to it.
And Russia has what to offer this new and prosperous outlook? Lots and lots of things to burn. And nothing else. Consistently around 2/3 of all Russian exports are various forms of fossil fuel. This has served Russia well over the last two decades, but unfortunately the train has already derailed. It’s just that nobody’s accepted the ride is over. They’re still drunk in the club car demanding another round as the cabin fills with smoke and flames. But at least their elevated blood alcohol level will allow them to burn more quickly.
Russia has no other industry worth mentioning. Name a car, smartphone, or idea that’s going to save over half the Russian economy. Now you might think that gas or oil will remain paramount and that Russia doesn’t really have a problem. Well, sorry, but you’re wrong.
Russia and China just did a deal that ships Russian gas to Chinese factories so the Chinese can make things. It’s a delightful deliciously deal for the Chinese. Once again, the modern world is shipping them raw materials so they can produce something useful, instead of the other way around.
It is roughly estimated that Russia is selling gas to China at 10-15% less than the price it currently provides to Europe. How long do you think that variation will last? Already there is talk that Europe will balk in large form against the winter 2014 contract prices offered by various Russian energy baron fucks.
And this is before a potential glut of American LNG hits the market in the coming years. Or when, eventually, some, most, or all of Europe gets into the fracking game. Or before, agree or disagree it’s going to happen, a large portion of Europe begins to rely on renewable energy.
Europe, who takes 30% of all gas from Russia, is increasingly going to do without it. And China won’t pick up the slack. China has already inked deals to get the remaining gas they need from the likes of Australia and Qatar. So when Europe stops drinking Russian gas, nobody else is going to step up. Or if Europe or anybody else does step up, they’re going to pay a lot less gold.
These numbers are all crucial because they hover around a tipping point. It is widely believed, although nobody can be really sure, that the current oil & gas prices and their export quantities are numbers that need to roughly remain static or grow, certainly not to fall. Otherwise Vlad literally begins to run out of cash to fuel his nightmare.
Vlad’s bought off or beaten much of his population. How’s he going to do this when the wheels come off, folks don’t have jobs, and can’t get through a single traffic stop without paying a bribe? What Russian riot policeman is willing to swing the club at his own people when he wakes up and realizes his employer is bankrupt?
Another key behind these trends in population and energy is the West doesn’t have to really do anything special. These things are going to happen naturally, over time, provided the planet does not dramatically alter its tidal paths.
We’re talking decades here, not years, but whether Vlad realizes it or not he’s built a system whose foundation lies atop a rotting corpse. Maybe he can turn on a dime, make changes, and apply a level of flexibility necessary overcome the forthcoming sinkhole. But I doubt it.
So what’s to be done by the West? Exacerbate Russia’s problem. Don’t just sit back and let Vlad’s system collapse. Just increase the tension a little, turn up the pain, and let the great wheel do the rest.
One of Russia’s most ancient fears is that they’ll get encircled and strangled by opposing powers. So we should play upon this fear by doing just that. It’s not that Russians are paranoid, it’s a legitimate fear. Because it works. See history 1945-1991. By the way the Russians are also paranoid.
What encirclement? Nothing to see here. Please carry on.
– Slowly and methodically strangle the beast
The problem is not just Vlad, it’s the system he built. Garrote him tomorrow and another member of his security based oligarchy will take over. Maybe they’ll make more sense than Vlad though? Angela Merkel, a woman normally not known for doing or saying anything more exciting than converting oxygen to carbon dioxide, has openly questioned whether Putin is “in touch with reality”.
So maybe when the chairman of Rosneft has Putin’s plane accidently shot down he’ll run things better. But I doubt it. The path of Russia is intrinsically tied to the fact that nobody would choose to live under such a system if given the choice. China, take notice. Sooner or later the Russian’s cheering Vlad mastery are going to realize they didn’t think about the future.
It is this fact, and Vlad’s recent actions to destroy such a bright prospect, that pushed Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia to sign trade deals with the EU. Given the choice between these two systems, these two outcomes, any reasonable person is going to back the EU, freedom, democracy, and capitalism over Putin’s lunacy.
1) Frack the shit out of Europe
Sorry environmentalists, but you’re wrong on this one. Your policies currently make it cheaper to burn German brown coal than build a wind farm. So let’s all agree to replace brown coal with natural gas, decease carbon emissions, fuel a new energy boom in Europe, and drive the natural gas spot price so low Vlad will need to sell Matryoshka by the roadside to fund his next invasion.
2) Let American gas flood the planet
See bullet (1). And don’t worry about unconstrained American LNG exports driving up American prices to the point that this is unviable. Trust me, look at an energy map, America has enough.
3) Feed the green energy psychosis
Whether the save the planet crowd admits it or not, green energy and carbon reduction is going to cause an awful lot of economic pain. But for whatever reason, here’s a sacrifice the average European citizen is willing to accept. So let’s build off that. Every weirdo Cornish tidal energy farm or unwise cloudy Black Forest solar panel is one more chance to take cash out of Vlad’s pocket.
4) Make Russia’s neighbors Europe’s economic best buddies
Remember, nothing major. Don’t offer these folks NATO or EU membership. But as with the most recent trade deal, make it as easy as possible for the likes of Ukraine to do business with Europe. Increase the cultural and economic ties to the point that their ultimate union is a fact, real if not political. Grow the economy, earn cash, and use it to fuel freedom.
Ukraine and Georgia are never going to get their lands back via violence. Ultimate victory lies in embarrassing Putin and his deranged system by the growing the economic disparity between Kiev and Sevastopol. To the point where an ethnic Russian militiaman in Crimea is going to one day look around at the wasteland he enabled, see Kiev on the television, shake his head, and mutter, “Fuck.”
5) Don’t forget who we are
See bullet (4). The only weapon Europe has that Putin does not is ideas. We’ve written about this before. In fifty years do you want to live in Warsaw or Volgograd? If you said Volgograd, you deserve what you get. The West has it flaws, we all do, but it still represents a brighter aspect of our overall human experience than the madness peddled by Vlad before breakfast.
Clearly, French built amphibious ships based in Crimea are not free Europe’s finest moment. Nor is British hesitancy to sanction Russian oligarchs that ultimately buttress the entire London property market. But none of us is perfect. And in the end, the West still has more to offer a human life. Doing nothing cannot be an option. However little is actually done, the West must always have the courage to stand against this. Never to give in or forget what it is, the ideas that it represents.
We don’t write this to get giddy about Russia’s impending doom. We just desire the ultimate destruction of Vlad’s system. If the Russian people have a free future awaiting them, we welcome it. Will it ever happen? I have no idea, but in the meantime they represent the other side. The side that humanity must defeat in order to prosper.
Revenge is a dish best served frequently. Evil’s been on a hell of a streak lately. Time to punch back.
A more devastating blow to Uncle Vladimir than all other European & Ukrainian actions combined.