There’s strong evidence that on the eve of his death in 1953 Stalin was plotting a new war. He knew it wasn’t a good time. The country was still in ruins after WWII. People were hungry. A massive new purge was going to be needed to stamp out the feelings of freedom in the soldiers who had returned from the war. Nationalism in the republics had been allowed to manifest to motivate people to fight the Germans. It was going to be necessary to put the brakes on all that. Stalin also knew that Americans were richer, happier, much better fed, and farther ahead on the nukes. Fighting them was. . . not the best idea ever.
But still he prepared. Because there was a much more important factor than all of this. It was his age.
Stalin was getting old. He knew this was his very last chance to fulfill the dream of a lifetime, his most important goal. Even a bloody dictator is a person. He has dreams and he doesn’t want to face death knowing himself to be a loser.
It was easy to guess what he was planning. His closest collaborators figured it out and were terrified. Not because they cared about the survival of millions (they didn’t) but because they cared about their own. They knew that Stalin liked to precede a war with a massive purge of his inner circle, and they didn’t want to die. I don’t know if they conspired to kill him but what’s undeniable is that when Stalin had a stroke – whether it was natural or drug-induced – they left him lying on the floor for hours and didn’t get him medical help. For a 70-year-old stroke victim, this is a death sentence. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fellow, of course.
So when people ask if Putin is really going to start a war, they have to remember that he’s getting on in years. He’s no Stalin but he’s a person without a profound spiritual life, let’s put it that way. This is somebody who has no lower bulb in his hourglass (I had a great post about the hourglass a while ago.) He can’t approach old age philosophically any more than a cricket can.
Recently, Putin started making references in his speeches to death and afterlife. So mortality is on his mind. “If I have to die, then all of you should, too” is not an impossible conclusion to reach. There have been cult leaders who have done just that. It’s a miracle that Stalin died before getting there.
I’d like to say, ha ha, it’s all empty sabre-rattling but. . . I just don’t know. Putin might freak out and go nutso boom-boom in his dotage. Let’s hope the bastard didn’t get a bad diagnosis recently and that his Viagra didn’t misfire in one of his famous orgies.
After Putin croaks, the problem doesn’t disappear. You still have 140 million people armed to the teeth with nukes in a mega-meltdown. Putin is a feature, not a bug. Just like Stalin. If you know what a narcissistic injury is, this is a whole culture with a gigantic narcissistic injury. Rage is inherent to the nature of the injury.