Putin’s Paranoia

By Shlomo Maital

      At the outbreak of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I consulted a senior, seasoned former diplomat, highly knowledgeable about Russia.

      Is Putin crazy? I asked.   The diplomat said, no.  He is not crazy.

      I accept that.  He is not insane.  But he is certainly paranoid.  Here is why.

     “Paranoia is an instinct or thought process that is believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality.  Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself.”

      Putin has frightened some of my family members, with his televised order to his nuclear forces to go on high alert.  President Biden’s response has been measured and judicious, noting that “Putin perceives a threat that does not exist.”  I am sure Biden’s intelligence people are supplying Biden with psychological profiles of the Moscow Maniac.

      That defines paranoia.  Putin perceives a threat to Russia, and to himself, that is not real.  The West, he believes, is out to get him and Russia.

      But there is a catch.

      Putin acts on his paranoia and invades Ukraine. And his war does not go well.  The West rallies, supporting Ukraine with sanctions, military aid, financial aid, and moral support.  Russia is isolated. The ruble tanks. The Russian stock market closes.  The Nordstream 2 pipeline tanks.  Russia is banned from basketball and soccer competitions. 

       So – Putin’s paranoia becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see?  They ARE out to get me.  And indeed, now, perhaps they are…. because this man is a danger to the world, not just to Ukraine.

        Paranoia becomes reality. 

        And this is where things get really dangerous.  Because this paranoid has a nuclear button.  And Russia’s military doctrine calls for we-can-go-first use of tactical low-yield nuclear weapons, some of it fired as artillery shells from 205 mm. long-range artillery.

         It is the beginning of the end for this 70-year-old Botox-disfigured lying despot.   But before he goes down, he will take many innocent people with him. 

      As so often happens, Western democracies, smug, complacent, fat and contented, ignored clear and present dangers right on their horizons….until it is almost too late. 

        As Bob Dylan sang:  When will they (we) ever learn?