Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Well-Armed Troll

Putin is, in that sense, a very well-armed troll — opportunistic, attention-seeking, happy to upset the cart and see if any apples roll his way. But the Russian regime necessarily looms larger in the Western mind than do those of Putin peers such as Kim Jong Un for three reasons: (1) The Cold War trained Western policy intellectuals to think of Russia as a great power, and the habit remains even though Putin has nothing like the real geopolitical power enjoyed by Joseph Stalin or Leonid Brezhnev; (2) Putin’s forces are in close proximity to our European allies, including NATO members; (3) although the old Soviet nuclear arsenal has declined, Putin has something on the order of 1,600 strategic warheads ready to go — on missiles, bombers, and submarines — and a thousand strategic warheads in storage, according to the estimate of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The first of those three considerations is a matter of intellectual inertia, but the other two are live concerns.

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