Putin Is Not a Super-Genius

by Jonah Goldberg

I take a backseat to no man when it comes to disdain for Obama’s foreign policy. But just because Obama has largely been incompetent doesn’t automatically mean that his opponents are geniuses. I agree with the consensus that Putin has made a fool of Obama more than once. But you don’t have to be a genius to create problems for the U.S. Sometimes you just have to be a liar and an irrationally stubborn bully. Saddam Hussein wasn’t brilliant but he gave us headaches for years. And then he lost his country and, not too long after, his life. Hamid Karzai is just a survivor, not a statesman, and look at the headaches he’s giving the U.S.

Putin may indeed be very cunning, I certainly assume he is. But it’s hardly as if he’s played all of this beautifully. I picked him as the “Loser of the Week” last Friday on Special Report for a reason. Whatever prestige he gained or wanted from the Olympics has been completely erased. You can say he doesn’t care. But that kind of runs against the fact that he was obsessed with the Olympics for years and spent $50 billion on them for a reason.

The situation in Ukraine is a huge loser for him. The best he gets is complete control over something he had de facto control over two weeks ago: Crimea. In the process, he’s pissed off much of the entire world. Invited sanctions, including ones aimed at his and his goons foreign bank accounts, and united Ukrainians around their new government. Oh, and he’s given rhetorical support for separatist movements too. If he keeps Crimea, there will be a lot of chatter about how Putin “won.” But the best you can say is he made the best at of a lousy situation he created. 

UPDATE: Don’t take my word for it. Here’s a great piece at The New Republic by Tikhon Dzyadko,  deputy editor of DozhdTV, “Russia’s last independent television station.”