Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Obama Vs. Putin

Bully Meets Professional Bully

What happens when the biggest bully around gets confronted by someone who refuses to be bullied? Usually the bully backs down and avoids a confrontation. But what happens if the one doing the confrontation is himself a bully? What happens if he won’t allow the other to back down?
The answer to that question is playing out between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Obama is the first bully and Putin the second bully. Ukraine provides the convenient vehicle for Putin to ridicule and embarrass a man Putin considers all form and no substance.
Vladimir Putin is hardly a perfect man. There is little to like about him. His history and his methods are those of the old Soviet Union. He competed, survived and thrived in the rough and tumble world of the KGB. He was tested and hardened by that process. He understands the cost of being wrong. He is tough and a no-nonsense guy who believes the Soviet Union should rise again. He achieved and won in competitive environments most of us probably don’t want to imagine. He is a man of substance even though his methods or achievements may not be pleasant.

Barack Obama is also imperfect. He is everything that Putin is not. He has never been tested. His life has been soft and pampered. His position was not achieved via accomplishment or ability, unless you associate fooling a majority of Mencken’s booboise with ability. Obama lacks substance, qualifications and experience. He is weak. And he is arrogant.
Weakness combined with arrogance is a dangerous combination. To a man like Putin, the former is to be exploited. The latter, when not backed up with abilities, only increases animosity.
The two men are polar opposites. Obama represents everything that Putin detests. Personal relations between the two men are non-existent, which is apparent in joint appearances. Putin resents having to deal with what he considers a weak, overbearing phony.
No one doubts who would win in a martial arts contest between the two men. That is not going to happen, but that doesn’t mean that Putin will not find other ways to humiliate, perhaps destroy, his opponent.
Obama is the bully who was called out. He wants to leave the scene, but Putin is a bigger bully who wants to publicly dismantle him. The boy who pretends to be tough has met the man who really is tough. The professional bully is out to expose the pretender. Putin is unwilling to let Obama retreat.
Richard Fernandez describes the situation:
Obama has been yelling ‘stop! stop!’ and still Putin is twisting his arm. The president made yet another plea to Putin according to Carol Lee in the Wall Street Journal: “White House Tells Kremlin Diplomacy Is Still an Option Despite Escalation”. Putin is making Obama crawl to lick his boots.
Mr. Fernandez doesn’t use the bully analogy. He believes the contest is one between a narcissist and a sadist:
One reason why Putin has made a special effort to humiliate the president is that his profilers may have pegged Obama as suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Putin the secretpoliceman must be thinking: how do you get a narcissist to melt down? Answer: by personally and publicly shaming him, thereby provoking a narcissistic rage.
That rage can take either of two forms: a reckless act or a withdrawal into a fantasy in which the narcissist remains invincible in some universe of his own.
The narcissistic disorder that seems to plague Obama has been speculated about openly. Putin has access to experts and strategists that mere laymen do not. Doesn’t he have geopolitical and personal motives to exploit what he considers a weak and undeserving leader, especially one who foolishly pretends to be superior to all others?
Regardless of what happens in Ukraine, it is a sideshow to the personal interplay between these two men. Obama is in this game, whether he wants to be or not. He is the hunted and not the hunter. Putin is unlikely to stop before he gets what he wants. At the moment that seems to be the complete humiliation of Barack Obama.
In one sense Americans should be grateful for Putin. He is providing a public service to the majority that elected our mountebank. He is revealing the empty suit that sits in the White House. He is doing the job that the media should have done six years ago.
On the other hand, games played by at least one sociopath (the jury is still out on Putin) can easily spin out of control. When Obama says “Uncle” and Putin refuses to acknowledge his surrender, what then happens? Does Obama give away strategic assets or fly into a rage? Our man-child does not appear stable. Putin seems to know that.
This personality clash will not end well. In terms of the two players, the US is at a distinct disadvantage.

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