No one has more experience when it comes to assessing the dangers that Putin’s move in Ukraine represents than James Clapper, who is the former head of National Intelligence under President Obama. Clapper would not know President Zelensky of Ukraine, but he would have spent well over a decade studying Vladimir Putin and how the Kremlin functions.
Clapper was the perfect guest for CNN’s New Day, where Brianna Keillar introduced a topic that hasn’t been examined sufficiently, whether Putin is psychologically stable. This country has considered him a master of global affairs, “the Great Game,” as it was once called, and the best intelligence agent in the modern era, for his work in securing Trump’s victory, but perhaps it is no longer true.
CNN’s invaluable Brianna Keilar wanted Clapper’s thoughts on recent comments from Nina Khrushcheva, a professor of International Affairs at New School University in New York (Aso great-granddaughter of USSR leader Nikita Krushchev.)
Keilar noted, “She said she never would have imagined he would be crazy enough to do what he has done and go for all of Ukraine. What do you think?”
Clapper jumped right on the word “crazy,” and said; “I think there’s some question about his mental state, frankly.”
He’s been a bureaucratic bubble for 20, 22 years, and a physical one for two. And it’s very obvious from his performance at these meetings that there’s nobody pushing back. He is the ultimate decision-maker and he’s not getting bad news from his intelligence services.”
Fascinating that Clapper noted the importance of Putin being within a physical bubble for two years due to COVID. The disease hit Russia as hard as it did the U.S. and it’s not clear whether the Russian vaccine is as advanced as the American vaccine. Either way, one is not going to see a picture with Putin wearing a mask and he surely was hidden away to an even greater extent than usual, which is very much hidden away anyway.
Clapper went on to state that he’s deeply concerned about the Latvian states which have even less power to repel Russian occupation. The Latvian nations, too, are Russian speakers and thus part of “Russian culture” (an argument at the heart of Putin’s justification for invading Ukraine.) and were part of the Soviet Union. However, the Baltic states are all part of NATO.
If Putin is not psychologically well and wants to test the West’s resolve with respect to whether the United States, the U.K., France, Canada, Poland, among many others would go to war with Russia over countries most school kids don’t know to exist, is a terrifying proposition, even though under Article Five of the NATO Charter, all NATO countries are obligated to repel Russia and defend the Baltic region.
Clapper is concerned that an unstable mind could kick off World War III, which is what a NATO war versus Russia would be. Of course, a “world war” in 2022 is far different than that fought in 1942. Both superpowers have missiles that could be launched within their own borders and hit targets a meter apart on the other side of the world. The war would be fought “around the world” (if it got to that degree). Putin could attempt to take out American carriers docked in Norfolk or San Diego and has the weaponry to make a run at it.
It is a terrifying consideration. We have not even mentioned nuclear weapons which, the presumption goes, renders war unwinnable. But an unstable mind might make a run at it.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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