Putin the Political Dinosaur Growls and Escalates - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Putin the Political Dinosaur Growls and Escalates
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Russian soldiers march in the annual Victory Day parade on May 9, 2022. (YouTube/CBS News)

“The resurrected political dinosaur from California proposes a … ‘policy of rolling back communism,’” scoffed Yuri Zhukov in the pages of Pravda in April 1975. “It is incredible but true!”

That kind of language aimed at Ronald Reagan was standard fare from the Soviet press, the Kremlin, and the KGB throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Likewise standard was the constant assertion that Reagan and the United States were ingrates who shamelessly ignored the Soviets’ great role in defeating the Nazis. That grievance was brought up to Reagan so often by Soviet leaders, from Brezhnev to Gorbachev, that it annoyed Reagan. Reagan knew the ironic truth: though the Soviets ultimately helped defeat the Nazis and indeed win World War II, they also helped the Nazis launch World War II via the Hitler-Stalin Pact. That pact was signed in Moscow in the dark of the night of August 23-24, 1939. One week later, the Nazis made good on their part of the pact by invading Poland from the west. Two and a half weeks after that, on September 17, the Red Army honored its half of the bargain by invading Poland from the east.

World War II, the worst slaughter in human history, was on. It was started by Hitler and by Stalin, by the Germans and by the Soviets. In fact, countless members of the American Communist Party, especially Jewish members, were so appalled at Stalin for aiding and abetting Hitler that they bolted from the party.

And yet, every Soviet leader from the late 1940s onward, including in their various May Day and Victory Day pronouncements, bellyached and moaned and groaned and whined that the United States and West had ungratefully refused to hail the wondrous USSR for its glorious hand in crushing the Nazis and saving the world. This canard was sung every year as boilerplate Soviet agitprop.

All of which brings me to what happened this Monday at Moscow’s Victory Day Parade. The parade was intensely militaristic, replete with nauseating images of marching soldiers, missiles, and tanks — a total throwback to the Soviet era. One could have easily thought former Soviet leader Yuri Andropov had been resurrected from the dead.

There instead was another Russian authoritarian who knows something about death: Vladimir Putin, who currently rules 14 years beyond the original two four-year terms permitted by the post-Soviet Russian Constitution. At the Victory Day Parade, Putin bemoaned that “the United States of America, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union … has humiliated not only the whole world, but also their satellite states,” and has “tried to denigrate the memory of the Second World War.”

This language by Putin was not new for a Russian leader. It’s a direct continuation of the language of Soviet despots. We should not be surprised. As we’ve seen, Vladimir Putin is very much a product of the KGB. Honestly, I never knew just how much until these last few months with his full-scale assault on Ukraine and his rhetoric. From the outset of the invasion, he has parroted classic KGB-Kremlin talking points every step of the way, beginning with his initial accusations in February that he had to invade Ukraine to spare its beleaguered people from a purported Zelensky-led process of “Nazification.” As I wrote here at the time, this charge of “Nazification” is an old KGB-Kremlin smear tactic that has been employed against Moscow’s adversaries since the 1940s.

And now, Putin has recycled yet another old propaganda point, namely that the United States and others in the West “have tried to denigrate the memory of the Second World War.”

This, too, shows what a complete creature of the KGB one Vladimir Putin truly is. The man is a political dinosaur.

Worse, the political dinosaur continues to growl, stomp, devour, and escalate his aggression. I’ve chronicled Putin’s clear and coldly calculated escalation. And what’s especially troubling about his very latest rhetoric is that it singles out the United States in an accusatory way that blames outside powers for Russia’s military failure.

To be sure, there’s no question that U.S. intervention via aiding Ukrainian forces is hurting Russia badly on the ground. Of course, the Russians get their tails kicked in every battle. They have been pathetic on the battlefield for a long, long time. In fact, speaking of World War II, they “defeated” the Nazis by merely outlasting them. It took 27 million dead Russians for the Kremlin to prevail (by comparison, the United States and United Kingdom each lost around 400,000 men).

No doubt, Mad Dog Putin is growling angrily about this. Of course, he can only blame himself for invading an independent, democratic neighbor that was no threat to the Russkies. He started this.

But my main point of concern here is Putin suddenly calling out the United States, and once again in the form of an old KGB-Kremlin talking point. This is yet another level in Putin’s rising escalation. And as the old KGB political dinosaur continues to stomp and lash out, he’s capable of more violence and destruction. In the past few months, Putin’s various lies against the Ukrainians have been a pretext for him to ramp up his rage by ever-increasing levels of military action. Let’s hope this one aimed at the United States and the West doesn’t result in Putin taking aim in literal ways at the U.S. and the West.

I remain very pessimistic.

Paul Kengor
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Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., and senior academic fellow at the Center for Vision & Values. Dr. Kengor is author of over a dozen books, including A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism, and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.
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