THE PUTIN GAMBIT—CHECK!

There are some people for whom the most elementary truths are just beyond their ken. Putin is one of these. He just doesn’t get it. People—nations—want to be free. It is just that simple. His KGB background, which depended ultimately on coercion, has saturated his soul so that it is impossible for him to think otherwise. Evil is blind.That’s its fatal weakness. Putin doesn’t get it because he has used force, intimidation, or coercion his entire adult life, with impunity. That’s his vision of reality as well as his personal modus operandi. But people inherently want and need freedom and self-determination. Man was born to be free. If the power of the Soviet Union should miraculously come to life again, so would its fatally coercive nature. Such affects the entire society top to toe, from foreign and domestic policy to academia to personal freedoms and human rights to economics. This many former Soviet Block countries understand only too well and so want nothing to do with Putin’s play for power. Putin blames the West for this, when in reality he has no one to blame but himself.

It is pathetic, yet comical, to watch this ex-spy at work—threatening and bullying (Putin’s a classic bully) to try to keep the West from encroaching on the territory of the former Soviet Union. What is beyond his understanding—and this then makes him a tyrant (and God’s enemy) –is that in foreign policy as in life, threats and bullying are self-defeating. Christ’s “Love your neighbor as well as your enemy” is something Putin, like all tyrants, just can’t understand—because they don’t want to. Had Putin showed the same kind of helping spirit that the EU has shown, earlier to Georgia and Moldova, he might then have got his Ukraine at no extra cost. But to ask a tyrant to become a saint is, of course, impossible. When Putin meets his Maker to receive his judgment, as we all must one day, he will hear this ringing in his ears: “What you did to the least of these, you did unto me.” Only then will tyrants like Putin begin to understand the power and the glory, but also the judgment, of Love—but then it will be too late.

All tyrants and dictators, but also the very wealthy, fail to understand that ALL power, earthly or otherwise, belongs strictly to Almighty God. In imitation of God, all power is meant to be a path to helping others, beginning with the weakest and most vulnerable. Power is never meant to increase one’s wealth or privileges. The powerful on earth stand “in loco parentis,” in place of God the Father. The shepherd uses his position, not to slaughter his sheep but to feed and care for them, and to keep wolves at bay.

God rules with love, our duty (and joy) is to emulate that rule. Such alone satisfies the soul’s hunger for ultimate meaning, and covers all despair, loneliness, and fear—as well as makes life the wonderful gift it is, and ought to be. But to seek earthly power for power’s sake, to glory in it, to use it to dominate and intimidate, to get rich by it—these all go against the grain of God’s Law of Universal Love. Compared to force and violence, threats and intimidation, Love seems out of its league. So the foolish always, in every era, think and believe. “Only the strong survive.” But that inescapable day of judgment skulks all of us, catching us, some sooner, some later, but in the end—everyone. Then shall we see that true power is Love.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Mt. 7:13-14.)

Len Sive Jr.

THE RESURGENCE OF UNTRAMMELED POWER OF RUSSIA AND CHINA

When the Berlin Wall fell, its crashing din was heard around the world: and for millions of people it was music to their ears. This was not just any event—here was final proof that the evil and, what was equally important politically and economically, the utter impracticality of Communism could not be sustained because it ran directly counter to human nature. Its rhetoric, of course, like all propaganda, was positive and hopeful, but its reality proved altogether different. In practice, Communism created even more injustice, more absurdities, more practical problems, more suffering and death in history by far than any other economic or political system. Communism, and its historical partner in unequalled savagery, Nazism, will for all time remain lasting monuments of unexampled hubris, unreason, atheism, and unalloyed evil. If some men and women can be saints, these two movements show starkly that under their influence many more can become devils.

While history does indeed appear to show that the rich inherently seek ever more power and wealth at the expense of the middle- and lower-classes (without of course ever acknowledging such), the utopian image of Communism set up unique expectations of an everlasting earthly Paradise: where mankind would now be free of avarice, of cruelty to his fellow man, and of the naked lust for power. Communism’s power was that it proclaimed a new humanity. But in reality, of course, it could accomplish no such thing. For human nature doesn’t change. The old class structure was replaced by a new (Communist) class structure. The freedoms, and limitations, of the old system were swallowed up in an all-embracing savage totalitarianism.  Big Brother had arrived. The Utopia so blindly hoped for, and believed in, was revealed to be just another earthly hell from which millions sought to escape—so many in fact that Communism had to build walls to lock its people in, which is why its sudden, dramatic crashing downfall was the cause of such hysterical jubilation world-wide.

Now we see, in both China and Russia, a new era of libido dominandi—of the lust for power. Of course, they can’t and won’t publicly declare this—since when does evil ever speak the truth?  Still, evil, in its unconscious bow to goodness and reason, must pretend at least to operate under the highest motives; but its actions show unequivocally that power and domination are China’s and Russia’s twin goals.

Russia’s motives revolve around pure power. Putin (and Russia’s military) doesn’t want Russia to be thought of as a second-rate military power—and, being the little man that he is, personally wants to be accorded respect, as well as to be feared, by the world, but especially by the US. It wants a share in world dominion; and it chafes under the greater economic and military power (and he would add hubris) of the US. Putin is a small man with a large ego. He cares little about his own people or their future, otherwise he would develop, or allow to be developed, Russia’s economy in all of its diversity instead of making it depend entirely upon the exportation of oil and gas as it now does. In this Putin shows himself to be anything but a statesman, or to have any other real goals than power for power’s sake. He hears the siren call of libido dominandi. And in this he adds his name to an endless list of tyrants in history.

China has a similar desire to dominate. But unlike Russia, which is trying to relive the good old days of Soviet domination, China seeks world power in large part to make itself an irresistible economic powerhouse. It has now, and will have much more in the future, great economic problems at home it must deal with: lack of vital minerals, oil, gas, etc.; millions of homes, buildings, and schools that are unsoundly built and therefore vulnerable to earthquakes or other natural disasters; lakes and rivers dried or drying up; forests denuded; corruption top to bottom; pollution of unimaginable intensity and duration, etc.  China, for political as well as military reasons, doesn’t want to be dependent on the outside world. So it seeks regional domination in order to remain the economic engine of Asia, and will enforce that superiority militarily more and more over time. Its words do not match its actions: its rhetoric is peace and conciliation, but its actions spell confrontation and conflict. Once China gets used to exercising the full panoply of power throughout Asia, it will add world dominion to its desiderata.

The world fondly hopes, and fondly believes, that war, especially world war, is an outworn relic of a bygone era; that the human race, having endured so much suffering and death in the last century, has finally come to its senses and will neither engage in nor permit another such global tragedy.  But the storm clouds of war are slowly gathering once again. Communism, past (Russia) and present (China), is not yet finished cursing the world.  Incalculable suffering, in Europe near the former Soviet Union and in Asia, is only a misstep away. Tyrants—Xi Jinping of China and Putin of Russia—are strutting the world’s stage once again. The lessons of history have already been forgotten. And so, pronounced Santayana, we shall be forced to repeat them.

Len Sive Jr.