Magazine October 15, 2018, Issue

Putin Derangement Syndrome

Vladimir Putin (Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters)
Democrats fail to notice that the Russian autocrat is feckless

Americans possess an overriding optimism about human motivations: We conflate evil with efficiency. If somebody does something bad, it must be in pursuit of an end that moral methods cannot achieve. Not all ends are good or defensible, of course, but most Americans assume that evil is at least instrumentally rational. Feckless malignancy defies comprehension.

Hence the inscrutability of Vladimir Putin, a bad man who does bad things counterproductively. Because he looks and behaves like a Bond villain, we assume that Putin bends events to his will with Blofeldian trenchancy. Yet the facts expose him as a lackluster strategist and

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Books, Arts & Manners




A reader sympathizes with Rael Jean Isaac’s frustration in reporting on Frank Fuster’s plight (“The Last Victim,” September 10).


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