By Dave Hodges
It’s a reality show in which we are tasked with “Finding Putin”, at least that it is how it is starting to feel. Rumor has it that Vegas is considering laying odds on Putin’s fate. The Whitehouse is strangely quiet about the possible fate of Putin. There is no story that is bigger and has more implications than the fate of President Putin.
Claims of incapacitating poor health and unwed fatherhood have been denied by the Kremlin. If the goal of Putin’s disappearance was to increase his popularity, Russia’s strongman leader, according to pro-Kremlin pollsters, has hit an all-time high.
The rumor mill peaked when Putin missed an annual meeting of officers from the Federal Security Service.
Has Putin suffered a stroke? Had he been deposed? Then it was said that he had been at the side of a pregnant mistress this past week, in Switzerland, as this rumor was bolstered by the Swiss tabloid Blick. Again and again, his Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said that this too, was not accurate.
The rumors reached a higher level when, on Wednesday, the summit that Putin was to attend in Astana, Kazakhstan, would be postponed. Will Putin show up tomorrow for another round of high level talks with foreign dignitaries?
Mystery Solved, Kind Of….
State television footage has surfaced which purports to show the missing Russian leaders meeting with Russian Supreme Court President Vyacheslav Lebedev. The Russian government claims that video was shot on Friday. This makes one wonder when Putin was shot, because this video proves nothing as there is not one shred of provable real time footage of Putin. I feel like I am watching a bad outtake of Wag the Dog. There is a toothless clip which claims Putin is alive and well, but it is not authentic and not worthy of our consideration.
Meanwhile the Kremlin is festive as the Russian government is preparing to celebrate the first anniversary of the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. These last two events have increased speculation of Putin’s whereabouts and ultimate fate. Let’s examine the possibilities under the lens of common sense.
Putin Is Dead of Natural Causes
After 10 days of being missing in action, some have speculated that this man’s man, a picture of health, has died from a massive stroke or heart attack. This is unlikely, however, even if this is true, his death could serve as a catalyst for even greater Russian gains by playing the sympathy card and having Putin serve as a martyr. Remember, JFK’s civil rights legislation was stalled in Congress and did not get passed until LBJ invoked the sympathy card after JFK’s death. This possibility may possibly be used to cover up an assassination at some future date, but Putin did not die of natural causes.
Putin Has Been Deposed for Bringing the World to the Brink of Nuclear Armageddon
This possibility has some teeth because Russian leaders typically do not leave office alive. I have received copies of tweets and claims that Putin has been deposed because he has acted with reckless disregard and has brought the world dangerously close to a catastrophic World War III and its economy faces ruination.
Although it is true that Russia’s inflation rate is on pace to hit 11.5% in 2015, largely due to American-imposed sanctions, Russia has accomplished many economic goals. The first and most obvious is the fact that Putin has undermined the long-term solvency of the dollar because he has convinced the BRICS to only buy oil in gold from Iran, thus marking a departure from the Petrodollar. Putin has signed a pair of historic energy deals with China, thus linking China with Russia, both economically and militarily. The one deal, permanently links the China and Russian economy through Russian gas shipments. Further, the BRICS seem committed to a new financial New World Order as they have announced the formation of a BRICS bank which will be underscored by the use of Gold as the primary medium of exchange.
A Russian-Chinese alliance is an American military commander’s worst nightmare. At a time when NATO is encircling Russia and being highly provocative in Syria, Putin has acted in kind, but with a measure of restraint as evidenced by the fact that he has not yet militarily attacked NATO forces.
As I pointed out in yesterday’s article, Putin has forged military alliances around the world and right in our own backyard in Latin America. In fact to those that doubt the veracity of these alliances, please refer to the recent Sputnik News article in which Venezuelan military is conducting massive air defense and artillery drills involving visiting Russian troops and hardware stated the nation’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, this past Saturday. These are 10-day war games that have been ordered by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who spoke of pressure coming from the United States earlier this month. Again, Putin is forging alliances with our neighbors in Latin America and is continually proving to be a master chess player in any lead up to World War III. Additionally, Putin has also recently undercut NATO by inking a large energy deal with one of America’s key NATO allies, Turkey. These are risky, but highly successful accomplishments obtained by Putin.
As some have suggested, could Putin have been deposed, because he has taken the world to the brink of war and some in the Kremlin do not have the stomach for what could be coming. It is possible, but not likely that Putin has been deposed by the Doves in Russia.
Rumors have also surfaced, among dozens of others, that Russian Dove, Foreign Minister Sergey Shoygu, has led a successful coup against Putin to keep Russia from being plunged into World War III. This theory has one major flaw. The Russian military has been restored from merely being a regional power to a global power, once again. Further, for Shoygu to have pulled off a coup of this type, he would have to have the blessing of the military leaders in this “Et tu, Brute” theory.
There is no evidence that the Russian military wanted less aggression from Putin. In fact, it is likely that they wanted more. What is far more likely is that Putin has been deposed for not following through on his military provocations.
Putin Has Been Deposed by Military Hawks
When it comes to heightening world tensions, Putin got off to a rousing start when he imitated Adolph Hitler’s bloodless takeover of the Sudetenland similar to what Putin accomplished when he did virtually the same thing in Crimea exactly a year ago. However, since that time, it has been downhill on the Russian home front. Ukraine is a mess and threatens to disrupt the lifeblood of the Russian economy, its gas shipments through Ukraine. Further, Russia is becoming encircled with NATO troops. Now it may be true, that NATO is a shell of its former self, however, the threat posed to Russia by NATO must be taken seriously.
There is another development which could easily turn the Russian military leadership and the banking interests of Russia against Putin. Russia was surviving in the Petrodollar era in which nations must buy Federal Reserve Notes in order to buy oil. Despite this handicap, Russia was still becoming an energy player. Putin has based Russia’s economic future on gold and on securing some of its oil needs through securing Iranian oil through the use of gold as the medium of exchange. Some forces within the Russian government may have viewed this as unnecessary.
A year ago, Putin had built up an almost cult following in opposing American imperialism. He has been militarily proactive through allied airspace incursions and threatening naval war games in allied territorial waters. He has further militarized the North Pole and has greatly increased the rate of GDP spending on developing various weapons systems.
Putin has kept the Russian military on a steady stream of one alert crisis after another. Any military commander will tell you that a military cannot be kept in a prolonged state of military readiness. Eventually the saber rattling becomes counterproductive and wears one’s military down. This had to become a concern for the Russian military.
There is yet another concern that the Russian military would have about Putin’s conduct in that he has based the entire fate of the Russian economy on “gold for oil” and the subsequent undercutting the Petrodollar. Putin has gone so far as to threaten the United States with being nuked if it touches Syria or Iran. As the US prepares to chase the CIA created ISIS into Syria and begin the process of toppling Syria and Iran, Putin has been impotent. The quickest way to draw the ire of the military is for a leader to keep a military on a prolonged state of alert and have nothing to show for it after a year of blustering.
On the other hand, the Federal Reserve needs to topple Assad in Syria by having the US military launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran for a number of reasons. The chief reason is that Syria’s territory holds the key to protecting Iran. If the US is allowed to occupy central Syria, they can quickly install a series of missile batteries that would block any Russian military advance into Syria. In short, if Putin was going to protect Iran, he should have already had boots on the ground in Syria and its Navy anchored in Syrian seaports and he has seemingly hit the chicken switch. Further, the last thing Iran wants now is a Sunni-dominated Syria and this is what likely would happen if Assad is deposed. This would further isolate Iran.
On the issue of military prowess, Putin, with regard to Syria, has proven to be a paper tiger.
Implications for the United States
At one time, I thought it possible that Putin disappeared for a few days as part of a nuclear preparedness drill. That ship has sailed and we are way past considering this as a viable possibility. Can we imagine what would happen if Obama were to go missing for 10 days? Further, Putin has proven to be a media hound and this disappearance is so out of character. Subsequently, the odds that Putin is deposed, or deposed and dead, are increasing with each passing day. Something is indeed terribly wrong.
The only thing left to decide is whether the doves are running Russia and there are secret negotiations with the West on normalizing relations. Or will Russia emerge from this period being ruled by a military dictatorship who will be highly aggressive and perhaps launch a first strike without warning? This latter possibility frightens me the most and the so-called evacuation of the London Embassy could easily fuel this fire.
There is another factor that every American should consider and that is the fact that Wall Street does not like volatility. The longer that Putin is MIA is another day that the market risks instability. And in this day of economic vulnerability, and given the fact that the repeal of Glass-Steagall Act has led to all of our bank accounts being placed at risk because they have been used to collateralize the derivatives debt. Therefore, our bank accounts are at risk of being confiscated. I reiterate my warning to take the bulk of your money out of the bank without hesitation.
One final note, the silence of the Whitehouse on this matter lends credibility that there are ongoing negotiations between the West and whoever is running Russia. However, there is no clue as to the purpose or direction of these talks. May we live in interesting times.