Does Putin's nonsense make him insane? - MERVE ŞEBNEM ORUÇ

Does Putin's nonsense make him insane?

Peter the First, known as Peter the Lunatic in Turkey, is known as Peter the Great in the West. While some prefer to call him “mad," Peter, leading the Tsarist Russia for 41 years from the end of the 17th century to the beginning of the 18th century and transforming the Tsarist Russian into an empire, which predestined the fate of the world with European powers, has led others to call him “Great." Peter was the first person to think that Russia needed to get out of the region, being stuck in between the seas of icebergs and the Black Sea, and move down to the warmer seas in order to enhance its trading power. Soon after, he realized that, in order to achieve this, they needed a well-ordered army and fleet. The Ottomans called him “mad" because he spent time on the ships, that didn't befit his dignity, and left the governing of the country to those around him. However, he was referred to as “Peter the Great" in Istanbul, after the Prut War, as he came up against the Ottoman Army with great, solid ships.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's anti-Turkey statements in the media upon the downing of the Russian jet, led to political scientists making deductions about Putin's personality and Moscow's politics as “irrational" and “insane." This inclination reminded me of the disagreement on whether Peter the First was an insane or genius leader. For Putin, not being told to stop for his attitude in Georgia or Ukraine, has been like a cat on hot bricks since the downing of the plane. On the one hand he is uttering threats, and declaring plans against Turkey, while on the other he is planting S-400s in Syria. Although some of these reactions, especially the one ranted out, seem dispersed and ridiculous, they are not enough to say that Putin is acting irrational and without a strategy. An insane man could have acted without thinking to become a hero, and given a military retribution, or could have cut off the natural gas supplies disregarding the agreement. However, Moscow not doing any of the above and stating that it wouldn't, implies that, despite Putin uttering threats, he hasn't been blinded by anger as yet, thus, he is the Putin we know, who has something more to offer behind his irrational and disorderly image.

Putin's past dates back to the long years he spent in the KGB, the Soviet intelligence. His fast rise from the day he entered politics in 1991, and becoming president after Boris Yeltsin suddenly resigned from his position in 1999, has given the image that Russia is being governed by the security elite. Thus, behind Putin's macho and egocentric leader image, it can be said that he is a leader who knows what he is doing. Maybe his pretentious nature, giving topless hunter, combat sportsman, and training poses for photographs, has distracted people and made him hard to predict.

Interestingly, this personality is accepted by the Russian society. For example, you can come across “Be like Putin" commercials for winter sports in Siberia. Or if you think the Russian public is uncomfortable with Russia's interference with Ukraine and invasion of Syria, you are mistaken. When Crimea was annexed, the number of people walking around in “Crimea is ours" t-shirts wasn't low at all. It is hard to say that Putin, who adopted the Russian public's discourse that “We are battling the terrorists Turkey is financing," is in a tight corner because he faced economic sanctions in 2014. Research shows that, despite being burdened by economic hardships, Putin is a leader who is supported by the public. Even if these study results are doubtful, there is no evidence to argue against it, since the Russian opposition does not have a voice. Although these doubts can be considered, besides doing great “anti-imperialism" and “anti-terrorism" propaganda, Putin being successful in making people dream about a “Great Russia" again, shows that he isn't really cornered in Russia. Therefore, it might be wrong and reckless to perceive his attitude as madness or irrational, just as it would be wrong to believe that he is aggressive because he has economic problems et cetera. His aggressive behavior can be explained with having to break while driving at full speed in the emptiness NATO had created in Syria, not a cure for his troubles.

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