Vladimir Putin: Hitler or Bismarck?

"Above all ... [Russian President Vladimir] Putin clings to a zero-sum worldview," former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates writes in The Wall Street Journal. "Contrary to the West's belief in the importance of win-win relationships among nations, for Mr. Putin every transaction is win-lose; when one party benefits, the other must lose. For him, attaining, keeping and amassing power is the name of the game."

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He's a bad one, Mr. Grinch. First off the mark to say so was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who compared him to Hitler. Neocon padrone Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy secretary of Defense, quickly agreed, telling us Putin sent his "poison" into Crimea just as Hitler did when he invaded the Low Countries.

The mind of the punditry first lurches back to Munich and Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) quickly berates his fellow Republicans who demure: And you call yourselves "Reagan Republicans," he asks heatedly?

But statesmanship's oldest soul, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, brings a more seasoned view: "The demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one," he writes in The Washington Post.

And with a rare brilliance: "Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side's outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them."

"Putin is a serious strategist — on the premises of Russian history," Kissinger continues. "Understanding U.S. values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of U.S. policymakers."

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) reports in a similar vein.

"It is time to take Russian President Vladimir Putin seriously," he writes. "We must develop serious strategies for dealing with a serious man. Putin has been in charge of Russia since 1999. He is arguably the most effective leader in the world today."

"The symbolic, tactical approach which is the hallmark of the [President] Obama foreign policy is dangerous, delusional and utterly incapable of understanding or coping with a serious leader like Putin," he continues.

"Take a deep breath," he advises.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.

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