Putin Is Provoked by a Leaderless West

The predator's instincts were validated by weak, hesitating, and gullible leaders.

In 2006, I took a two-week job in the Philippines to conduct kosher certification inspections at food factories that had applied for it. The war in Iraq had led to an increase in terrorism in other regions of the globe, so I conducted extensive study before my first trip there.

Several areas in the Philippines were deemed unsafe. When Islam's eastward growth met the westward expansion of Christianity, the outcome wasn't always harmonious coexistence in the Philippines. Mindanao, the big island at the southern end of the Philippines, has been advised against travel by the U.S. and Australian state departments on the internet. Targets were often kidnapped and murdered by an active Islamist terrorist cell. According to the Australian warning, even if you already have tickets and reservations for travel to Australia, you should cancel them and stay away.

When I called the headquarters of our certifying firm, a clerk informed me that Mindanao was not included in the itinerary. She gave me a list of the locations on the map, and Mindanao was nowhere to be seen. However, my itinerary called for me to visit Davao and Cagayan de Oro, both of which were on Mindanao Island. I returned the call to the office and informed them that I would not be attending.

When I returned to headquarters, I was contacted by a senior rabbi who had previously overseen the Philippines for the organization. "Shmuel, do you know how to go around a huge city at night? ", he said in a deep bass voice. If that's the case, you'll be OK."


I immediately realized what he was trying to say and made my way there. And he was correct, as he had predicted. My three trips to the Philippines were all uneventful, which was a blessing.

You learn how to walk while you're out at night in a risky region like Manhattan or a large metropolitan area. You move with deliberateness as you go about your day. Despite the fact that you are aware of the hazards, you have decided to take the risk and are not scared.

Prior to the presence of any blood, predators such as humans may detect the odors of fear and hesitation. They are ultimate opportunists, whether they are commanding a tiny terrorist group or an aggressive autocrat at the helm of a nation-state. People in democracies regard their orderly and tranquil communities as weak and aimless. When they view us as scared of taking risks, they see an opportunity to solidify their position as the alpha leader.

In recent times, Hitler was the best example of a reckless gambler. As soon as he detected the democrats' frailty after their victory over Germany in 1918, he took advantage of it by risking everything in the hope that they would be too dazed and afraid to react properly. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Arthur Herman:


Hermann Goering had warned Hitler about “going for broke” when he was about to risk war over Poland in 1939. Hitler had responded at the time: “It’s the only call I ever make.”

It took a great deal of bloodshed, tears, toil, and sweat to defeat the predator's impulses in the West because of the leaders' inability to think clearly and gullibility.

Both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are incomparably more sensible than Adolf Hitler, whose delusional beliefs about the Jews led him to the fateful blunder of waging war on America. However, they share some of the despot's innate predatory instincts.

It's like Joe Biden is roaming aimlessly through a dark city at night, his senses dulled, aware that he is in danger and realizing that he doesn't have a strategy to get out of it. On the first day of his administration, Joe Biden threw away the strategic advantage that Ronald Reagan had reaped from Russia's poor economy by shutting down the pipeline to Canada and cracking down on the burgeoning American petroleum sector. When Trump's rational rejection of Germany joining the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was overcome by Putin, Germany was given the green light to become a Putin-controlled energy tributary.

This is what Joe looked like in Afghanistan, the man who single-handedly turned an ignominious conditional withdrawal into an embarrassing, catastrophic rout, leaving behind broken promises, vast military assets, countless at-risk allied citizens—and worse, a stink of American self-absorption to the point of perfidy.

While the Obama-Biden administration was incompetent, Putin took advantage of the opportunity and annexed Crimea and the Donbas portion of the newly independent Ukraine. The West, without a leader, gave him a mild slap on the wrist and pretended it didn't matter. This time around, there was no dread in the air throughout Trump's time in office. He's back and ready to take his best shot at the White House with the belief that Biden's kind would eventually succumb.

Furthermore, Putin may have a Biden who is constantly fabricating his own biographical story in order to maintain his grip on power. When confronted with difficult realities that may jeopardize his political career, he has demonstrated little inclination to accept them. The contents of Hunter Biden's laptop and the influence peddling tale that it revealed are publicly known, despite the media's efforts to cover it up. Video of Biden boasting about withholding funding from Ukraine until it dismissed a prosecutor is just as clear. There is no evidence that Biden has displayed the character required to face up to his involvement in the debacle. In other words, Putin is in charge of his own political fate.

Lee Smith wrote this week in Tablet:

The likelihood that Russia is sitting on a wealth of compromising Ukraine-related material on Joe Biden and his family may come as a shock to media that pushed the Trump-Russia collusion narrative for four years. But the Biden-Russia kompromat story may be more than a political funhouse mirror. It may explain the president’s curious passivity toward Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline and why, almost as soon as Biden took office, Putin seized the opportunity to move more than 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s border.

Humans are endowed with the ability to repent, amend their ways, and start again. A threat by the United States to shut down the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the event of a Russian invasion is being widely reported in the media today. Biden, on the other hand, spoke a lot about never leaving Americans and friends who sacrificed their lives for us behind in Afghanistan, but it didn't really work out in practice. Instead of listening to what a failed leader has to say, Putin is more interested in the fragrance of dread. Violence and dictatorship don't pay much heed to statements that aren't followed through with. The stench of terror tells Putin and Xi everything they need to know.

A heroic life is a life lived with complete moral integrity. We all have this capacity inside us. We must hope that everyone, especially those charged with the grave duty of maintaining global peace and ensuring the freedom of countless numbers of people, will awaken to their full potential.

Right now, and for the rest of history, the issue is: Will the world's most powerful person (for the time being) rise to moral heroism before his compromised choices cause devastation to himself and others he is responsible for?

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