An article written by Dani Lemberger, 8 April 2022
On 24 February 2022, the world woke up to the roar of tanks, jets, artillery, infantry, rockets, missiles, and naval forces charging into Ukraine from across its long border with Russia. What a shocker that was! We had long considered that war in Europe was an impossibility, belonging in history books recounting World War Two which ended in 1945. With the rest of media consumers, I was incredulous as we witnessed a replay of that horrific war.
And since that day, we see online the pictures of scattered corpses, dismembered men, children gripped with fear, hysterical mothers grabbing babies, millions left homeless, apartment buildings turned to rubble, people fleeing but nowhere to, thriving cities demolished as their overwhelmed inhabitants scratch for food and water.
Thousands of kids, Russian and Ukrainian, are now orphaned since their heroic dads have sacrificed their lives for the motherland’s glory. And I do know something about orphanage – having lost my father, a senior officer in the Israeli military, when I was just five years old. And to this day, 65 years later, rare is a night that I do not muse what life I would have had, had I had a dad.
It seems the whole world is in turmoil and terror. Commodity prices are skyrocketing, economies are shattered, defense budgets world-wide doubling as weapon merchants rub their hands with glee.
One cannot but be amazed at the cruelty, the sheer evil, that is bringing such suffering upon millions of people. How is it that an individual, in this case Russian president Vladimir Putin, can muster the audacity to order millions of his people to destroy the lives of millions of their neighbors? How is it that in Putin’s mind, his own life or status or ideas or beliefs are of such overarching importance as to nullify the lives of millions and the security and prosperity of humankind as a whole?
There is nothing novel about this as we have seen repeatedly in history, as in the Second World War, perpetrated by a deranged individual, Adolf Hitler, who took tens of millions of lives and brought his country to ruin and ended his own life in a bunker as Russian troops, then liberating heroes, stormed Berlin. What fanciful ideology could prompt Hitler to conduct such horrific crimes as ‘The Final Solution’, gas chambers, racial cleansing and death camps? Yet at the time, 1930’s, he was a deified hero to most Germans.
And just recently, in Syria, Putin’s protégé Bashar al-Assad has massacred hundreds of thousands of his own people since they defied him and wished for a whiff of independence and democracy. How can such audacious cruelty be explained? What went through Assad’s mind when he ordered the gassing of a proud village or the annihilation of towns that fancied another leader?
Pity the people of North Korea, now under the stranglehold of grandson Kim Jong-un. Almost eighty years of harrowing agony under a weird dynasty specializing in famine, deprivation, and nuclear weapons. What is Kim thinking of when he orders execution of aides who have fallen from grace, assassinates family members, or when he denies the populace the right to travel or speak or live like their brothers to the south?
History is packed with such cases. I mention these last three as they are more recent and notable. Possibly it eases the burden of blame on Putin, as he’s not the only one, certainly not the first one, he’s just following in the footsteps of notorious evildoers.
But what brings about in a person the willingness to commit such heinous crimes? How does one become a brutal soulless beast? What is that person telling himself when he goes to bed at night? How can one lay his head peacefully in a secluded ornate chamber of an opulent palace when millions of his victims are cowering in underground shelters shivering of cold, trembling with fear, barely recalling their last wholesome meal?
The renowned American philosopher Ron Hubbard wrote, “The act precedes the thought.” The great Jewish scholar, Maimonides, 1138-1204, is quoted as saying, “Our mind’s thinking follows our heart.” What we learn from these men of wisdom, and kindly take a moment to observe yourself and those around you, is that one’s actions are driven by emotion or urge or desire or interest. Then, having done the deed, good or bad, one rationalizes or justifies what has been done. We’d like to think of ourselves as calculated and cool, that our doing follows thinking and planning; but in fact, these philosophers state, we take some action and only then figure out good reasons for what we just did.
Psychologists talk of ‘rationalization of cognitive dissonance‘ – a person does something bad or in conflict with earlier decisions resulting in dissonance (‘mental noise’). One then must lessen that internal tension by explaining it away, rationalizing or giving excuses.
Some whim, urge, necessity, lust, or fear, drives ‘Dear Leader’ to go to war on our neighbors as they sleep or butcher a few hundred/ thousands/ millions of our own people. Now, if he is in a position of great power, he’s probably a smart guy. We find that high intelligence does not result in sensible or decent behavior. On the contrary, the very smart guys do the crazier things because they have more ability to rationalize. Their acts are driven by emotions, they hate with vehemence or are terrorized by their deep-seated paranoias. But being extremely sophisticated and keeping in their entourage the greatest minds of their nations, means that they can come up with very fanciful ideologies to glorify the sacrifices made by their victims.
A popular source of beliefs that enable mass killings is religion. Probably most wars were fought in the name of God. Even Hitler said, “Gott mit uns.” (“God is with us.”) I live in Israel, where Jews and Muslims have been at each other’s throat for well over a century. The Jews say it’s their ‘Promised Land’ and they are the ‘Chosen People’, while the Muslims are on a never-ending suicidal Jihad.
And so it is with Putin. He would never go to war if it was just for his own sake or to gain petty territory for Russia. No, war must have a grand design and he is on a mission dictated by God Almighty or fate – he happened to be there; destiny chose him for a holy crusade. As a man of honor, he cannot shirk duty. (As an aside, you will note that all these wars of honor were instigated and fought by men, never by women.) Putin too has notable religious leaders and great intellectuals lavishing glory upon him as he sets on a crusade to save humankind. Yes, he’s not going to war on Ukraine for himself or just for Russia. This is a mission to save humankind.
Putin has been commanded to go to war, or at least commended for doing so, by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. In his sermons, Patriarch Kirill has painted the war as an apocalyptic battle against evil forces that have sought to destroy God’s unity of Holy Russia. He congratulated Russian soldiers as defenders of the fatherland and said that they have chosen a very correct path in their lives (note that for Kirill it’s ‘fatherland’, never ‘motherland’). Kirill went on to describe the conflict as having ‘metaphysical significance’ and warned his flock that the price of admission to the happy world of Western consumption and freedom was terrible.
“We are talking about something much more important than politics,” he said, “We are talking about human salvation.” Kirill went on to plead, “Someone must pray for our united people,” waving his staff that symbolizes his role as spiritual shepherd for over 90 million members of the Russian Orthodox Church. “Someone must defend God’s truth that we are really one people.” This line is often exclaimed emphatically by Putin, referring to the people of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The people have no choice over this, they must be united under God, and those who dare reject it are heathen to be dealt with accordingly.
Kirill’s motivation for this war is plain. For almost a thousand years, the Christian Orthodox Church in Ukraine was part of the Russian Church with the Patriarch in Moscow presiding over one hundred million believers. Kirill was humiliated in 2019, when the Ukrainian Orthodox Church declared its break from Moscow and became autonomous. His calls for unity are in fact his wish to have both churches reunited under him.
Kirill and Putin are stout Russian nationalists sharing religious and political ideologies. They portray themselves as defenders of traditional Christian values against the excesses of an immoral and decadent West symbolized by gay pride parades, same-sex marriage, drugs, and feminism. Also, they stand bold to protect their culture from the stealthy onslaught of Western culture creeping via the internet throughout the world.
Yet a soldier, we know, cannot hobble to battle on one leg. A warrior must have two sturdy legs to charge forward and carry the heavy loads of weaponry and ammunition. Likewise, the politician sending young boys to kill or die – he figures two ideological pillars are better than one. For those who reject the ‘traditional’ religious crusade, the politician readies the ‘modern’, intellectual, rational thesis as a call-to-arms.
And for Putin, the second ideological leg is provided by a brilliant academic, Alexander Dugin, considered the greatest living Russian philosopher. Dugin, born 1962, has been active since young age in political organization promoting Russian nationalism and influencing Russian leaders. He has built great repute and influence, having written more than 30 books, most noted titled Foundations of Geopolitics (1997) and The Fourth Political Theory (2009). Dugin speaks excellent English and has recorded many talks in English to be viewed on YouTube or on his own blog, www.geopolitica.ru.
Dugin advocates a view now popular in Moscow that Ukraine should become “a purely administrative sector of the Russian centralized state,” to which he refers as Novorossiya, ‘New Russia’, spanning the territory that was part of the vast Russian Empire of past ages. Dugin rejects degraded ‘Western Democracy’ and calls for an illiberal totalitarian Russian Empire to control the European-Asian continent, ‘Eurasia’, which extends from Dublin in the west to Vladivostok in the east as the only way to challenge American dominance and its ‘Atlanticism’, as embodied in NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
A recent post on geopolitica.ru is titled, ‘Those Who Love Freedom Will Support Russia!‘ while the besieged city Mariupol, where thousands have been killed, or have only lost their homes, is promised by Dugin a bright future in an article, ‘How Mariupol Will Become a Key Hub of Eurasian Integration.‘ Dugin’s grand vision may have truth to it and is certainly founded on hundreds of years of common Russian-Ukrainian history; the only flaw being that the Ukrainians have not been consulted and since they seem to disagree, they are butchered, as most recently in Bucha.
Yet make no mistake, Dugin’s geopolitical doctrine concerns humankind and the entire planet. He would not stoop low just to promote Putin’s selfish conquests. Per Dugin, the Ukraine war is part of a campaign to save us all from an American dictated ‘unipolar’ world order and its decadent culture. The world, until the tragic collapse of the Soviet Union some 30 years ago, was ‘bipolar’, two major superpowers running the show with their distinct political structures and social cultures. Following the collapse and dispersal of the Soviet bloc, the world was left to be taken over by a single world power, the USA. This historic blunder, fault of the old Communist Party, must now be set right before we all become subjugated to a progressive-liberal-globalist system, designed by a conspiracy led by Clinton – Obama – Biden – George Soros – Bill Gates and their ilk.
Dugin further states, “without Ukraine, there is no Russia; while with Ukraine, Russia is great again.” Russia must annex Ukraine so that it can carry out its mission for the sake of the entire world. A reunified Russia, under the bold leadership of Putin, will put an end to America stealthily taking over the world and will then facilitate the emergence of new world powers in Asia – China and India, in Africa, and in Latin America. These new powers will be free to create their own cultures released from American dictates. Thus, thanks to Putin and his victorious military, we shall have a ‘multipolar‘ world, no longer an oppressive ‘unipolar‘ world.
(Kindly note: The above is my summary of Dugin’s geopolitical vision, as best as I grasp it. I am probably missing finer details.)
The major point of contention in Dugin’s and Patriarch Kirill’s view is that ‘democracy’ is a pretense, an invention to justify creeping American imperialism. The Americans are selling the world ‘human rights’ and ‘freedom’ but in fact are taking over subtly with their uniform culture of materialism, hedonism, destruction of the family, secularism, anti-nationalism, multi-national corporations exploiting the planet, globalism, fluid gender sexuality, perverted arts, widespread drug use, and progressive liberalism. Only a Great Russia can put an end to the rot spreading and guarantee a multipolar world where all nations and cultures can flourish.
The views of Kirill and Dugin certainly strike a chord with many who are not happy with the current world scene. I happen to believe that any belief or school of thought that justifies genocide or mass killing is sick. An intelligent man concocting an ideology to justify violence that decimates neighboring nations is a criminal, a pervert whose grand ‘ideas’ are a cover-up for pure evil. I happen to live in Israel, a country which I am sad to admit has committed crimes, including mass murder, against our neighbors, the Palestinian people. But talk to most politicians and generals here and they give you incredible justifications why it had to be done or was just a preventive measure as the sacred Talmud says, “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.”
A final note about this horrendous war, and all wars are meritless, cruel, and barbaric. By most accounts (well, those that I read), the war is not going well for Putin. He has been humiliated by the failure of his army in reaching its goals. They are not winning the war whereas the Russian leader’s expectation was to take Kyiv in a few days and being greeted by the Ukrainians with flowers. The Russians had no doubt that Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be swiftly bounced and replaced with a Moscow favorite. This failure comes as no surprise (to me) as autocrats are lousy managers. This is the saving grace for those who favor democracy. Dictators ultimately fail and bring ruin upon themselves!
Why is this so? And how comes I state it with such certainty? Good managing is a blending of ideas and viewpoints. A true leader encourages his subordinates to disagree with him, even argue with him. Yes, servile, meek subordinates are quickly replaced by a true leader. Those who have views, ideas, novel interpretations are the ones elevated and listened to. A competent leader, who can also manage, has the rare ability to accept conflicting views and then weld them into a new whole. Thus, the organization or nation prospers.
The dictator? Oh, no! His subordinates’ major concern is to keep their heads attached to their shoulders. They are intimidated into submission and will always tell Great Leader what he wants to hear. Blind loyalty means they keep the sweet perquisites of power and privileges of being close to the ‘one and only’.
In a democracy, or a corporation run by shareholders, the leader has limited powers, he is constantly monitored, the workers or citizens can go to independent courts to sue the government. Most telling, free press dogs the government, keeps it on its toes, and exposes the population (or shareholders) to raw information for their own decision-making. A final point of comparison: In the US, the president can remain a maximum of eight years in office; there are now five living ex-presidents (Carter, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump). In Russia, Putin has been wielding absolute power for over 22 years. Luckily, he has no son waiting to step in.
Students of Hubbard’s philosophy are familiar with his explanation of the Third-Party Law, to which I have dedicated Chapters 10.2 and 10.3 of the book, Executive Freedom. (This book is part of the LifePower Library. For the reader’s convenience, I attach a copy of these two chapters here.) Hubbard observed that all quarrels and strife between individuals or nations stem from a ‘Third Party’, sometimes concealed, that is inciting the two parties to fight. Hence, the agitator is the third party involved. Typically, in the absence of the third party, the two sides should be able to get along fine. Enter the third party, a friend to one side or sometimes to both, and they’re at each other’s throat. The Russian and Ukrainian people have been close and friendly for centuries, until politicians and warmongers enter the scene.
It could be that in Putin’s court, these two, Kirill and Dugin, perfectly play the role of the Third Party, driving Putin to war against Ukraine to recover the lost flock for Kirill’s Church or to realize Dugin’s vision of a Great Russian Empire. Possibly, without the ideological incitation of these two and their cohorts, Putin would not have gone to war, sparing thousands of lives, billions of Euros, and ultimately his own role in history. Putin, a once-revered leader worldwide, is now a despicable pariah to many, oft likened to Hitler or Stalin. His very own people are suffering heavily from this artificial conflict, and it soon could be that Putin too will go down in violence. Ultimately, it is true that ‘You reap what you sow.’