Stop the Talk About Removing Putin

Commentary A few weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) indelicately stated his opinion about Russian boss Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine: “The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.” The past weekend, President Joe Biden got in on the act, calling Putin a “butcher” and declaring, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” While not an explicit call for Putin’s assassination like Graham’s, it’s difficult to interpret Biden’s rhetoric as anything other than a call to Russians to stage some sort of coup. Both of these politicians were indulging the long-established political expediency of cheap grandstanding. Gentlemen, please: Keep those thoughts to yourselves. Before I explain why such statements should cease, let me emphasize that I have never been nor am now in any way a fan or admirer of Vladimir Putin. But I can think of at least three reasons why Americans should be quiet about wanting Putin to disappear. First, such talk lends credence to Putin’s stated concerns that the United States has aggressive designs against Russia and wants to dominate her. Nothing could be further from the truth. The United States is already too overextended financially and logistically to even consider trying to manage the government of Russia. Even if it were not so, who would want the thankless task of weeding out the extensive endemic corruption and trying to govern one of the most anarchical populations on Earth? Russia is broken, and only Russians can fix Russia. There’s zero evidence to support the notion that the United States has designs on Russia. NATO is a completely defensive alliance. It expands eastward only because Russia’s treatment of neighboring countries has been and is so abominable that it drives nations into the much kinder arms of the West. All that the United States and NATO have ever wanted has been to keep Russia out. The West isn’t trying to move into Russia; we just don’t want Russia moving into Europe. Second, the scuttlebutt has long been that President John F. Kennedy made some not entirely clandestine plans to take out Fidel Castro. We all know who it was who got taken out. Let’s not have our leaders talk about removing Putin with either explicit or implied suggestions to assassinate him. Our enemies can concoct such plans, too. Let’s not put an American president in the cross-hairs of a notoriously murderous regime. I say that as one who can still feel the pain from when I heard of JFK’s assassination. Also, think of the ramifications of Joe Biden being taken out (God forbid!): We would have Kamala Harris as president. Putin would eat her for lunch. Third, this would be a good time to heed the wisdom embodied in the saying, “Be careful what you wish for—you might get it.” Let’s say some as-yet little known or unknown Russians engineer a coup to remove Putin, either violently or nonviolently. Putin is gone, end of problem, right? Not necessarily. We don’t know if Putin’s successor would be just as bad, or possibly even worse. What if one Russian faction takes control at the outset and a competing faction believes that their new leaders are American puppets? Then the second faction wrests the reins of power away from the perceived “American” faction. Talk about stirring the pot and escalating tensions between the United States and Russia! No, we need to resist the temptation to vent our frustrations through careless verbiage. All politicians should avoid openly expressing the desire to see Putin removed from the world stage. Instead, our policy should be to continue to supply Ukraine with sufficient firepower to wipe out large sections of the invading Russian army—to inflict such great losses on Russia that nobody in the Kremlin can come to any other conclusion than that Putin led his country into a humiliating defeat, utter disgrace, and a historic disaster. In desperation, Putin might figure he has nothing to lose by letting the nukes fly, taking millions of innocent lives to the grave along with him. I can’t help but believe, though, that those around Putin don’t share such a death wish. Not wanting to die, they would strive to avert nuclear war with the United States. The outcome of such a war would wreak massive destruction on both countries, leaving China, by default, as the dominant superpower in the world. No sane Russian patriot could want such a dismal outcome as a nuclear-devastated homeland next door to a ruthless, dominant China. Such a prospect would trigger a reset in Russia that would end Putin’s reign. Let’s have no more reckless chatter about removing Putin from power. Instead, let’s adhere to the Teddy Roosevelt formula: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. contributor Follow Mark Hendrickson is an economist who retired from the faculty of Grove City College in Penns

Stop the Talk About Removing Putin

Commentary

A few weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) indelicately stated his opinion about Russian boss Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine: “The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.” The past weekend, President Joe Biden got in on the act, calling Putin a “butcher” and declaring, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

While not an explicit call for Putin’s assassination like Graham’s, it’s difficult to interpret Biden’s rhetoric as anything other than a call to Russians to stage some sort of coup. Both of these politicians were indulging the long-established political expediency of cheap grandstanding. Gentlemen, please: Keep those thoughts to yourselves.

Before I explain why such statements should cease, let me emphasize that I have never been nor am now in any way a fan or admirer of Vladimir Putin. But I can think of at least three reasons why Americans should be quiet about wanting Putin to disappear.

First, such talk lends credence to Putin’s stated concerns that the United States has aggressive designs against Russia and wants to dominate her. Nothing could be further from the truth. The United States is already too overextended financially and logistically to even consider trying to manage the government of Russia. Even if it were not so, who would want the thankless task of weeding out the extensive endemic corruption and trying to govern one of the most anarchical populations on Earth? Russia is broken, and only Russians can fix Russia.

There’s zero evidence to support the notion that the United States has designs on Russia. NATO is a completely defensive alliance. It expands eastward only because Russia’s treatment of neighboring countries has been and is so abominable that it drives nations into the much kinder arms of the West. All that the United States and NATO have ever wanted has been to keep Russia out. The West isn’t trying to move into Russia; we just don’t want Russia moving into Europe.

Second, the scuttlebutt has long been that President John F. Kennedy made some not entirely clandestine plans to take out Fidel Castro. We all know who it was who got taken out. Let’s not have our leaders talk about removing Putin with either explicit or implied suggestions to assassinate him. Our enemies can concoct such plans, too. Let’s not put an American president in the cross-hairs of a notoriously murderous regime. I say that as one who can still feel the pain from when I heard of JFK’s assassination. Also, think of the ramifications of Joe Biden being taken out (God forbid!): We would have Kamala Harris as president. Putin would eat her for lunch.

Third, this would be a good time to heed the wisdom embodied in the saying, “Be careful what you wish for—you might get it.” Let’s say some as-yet little known or unknown Russians engineer a coup to remove Putin, either violently or nonviolently. Putin is gone, end of problem, right? Not necessarily. We don’t know if Putin’s successor would be just as bad, or possibly even worse. What if one Russian faction takes control at the outset and a competing faction believes that their new leaders are American puppets? Then the second faction wrests the reins of power away from the perceived “American” faction. Talk about stirring the pot and escalating tensions between the United States and Russia!

No, we need to resist the temptation to vent our frustrations through careless verbiage. All politicians should avoid openly expressing the desire to see Putin removed from the world stage. Instead, our policy should be to continue to supply Ukraine with sufficient firepower to wipe out large sections of the invading Russian army—to inflict such great losses on Russia that nobody in the Kremlin can come to any other conclusion than that Putin led his country into a humiliating defeat, utter disgrace, and a historic disaster.

In desperation, Putin might figure he has nothing to lose by letting the nukes fly, taking millions of innocent lives to the grave along with him. I can’t help but believe, though, that those around Putin don’t share such a death wish. Not wanting to die, they would strive to avert nuclear war with the United States. The outcome of such a war would wreak massive destruction on both countries, leaving China, by default, as the dominant superpower in the world. No sane Russian patriot could want such a dismal outcome as a nuclear-devastated homeland next door to a ruthless, dominant China. Such a prospect would trigger a reset in Russia that would end Putin’s reign.

Let’s have no more reckless chatter about removing Putin from power. Instead, let’s adhere to the Teddy Roosevelt formula: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Mark Hendrickson is an economist who retired from the faculty of Grove City College in Pennsylvania, where he remains fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith and Freedom. He is the author of several books on topics as varied as American economic history, anonymous characters in the Bible, the wealth inequality issue, and climate change, among others.