Thursday, March 6, 2014


I do not see Putin as a strong man.  I see him as a man obsessed with a false idea of strength.  He has hammered body and mind into tempered steel, and made of himself a rigid wall that no humanity may penetrate.

Those in this country who rattle their swords and make public proclamations about the President's weakness do themselves and the country a disfavor.  Do they imagine themselves to possess the strength they accuse the President of lacking?  Making a show of it is the easy part of strength.  Exercising it wisely is the hard part.

Real strength, as I see it, comes from the collaboration of mind and heart.  It's a consistency, an understanding of how to proceed with thoughtful and, yes, compassionate persistence; a steadiness of purpose, a clarity of intention, and a willingness to admit mistakes and change course when circumstances require; it's a knowledge of when to go forward and when to retreat; a rejection of rash and foolish judgment, of thoughtless, unskillful action; it's a sense of values and a commitment to justice.

Putin is Russia's George W. Bush on steroids.  Bush thought of himself--and wanted to be seen--as a strong man.  Those around him, the Cheneys and the Rumsfelds and their ilk, saw themselves in the same light.  They were false-hearted warriors, all.  Their eventual defeat is the proof of their ultimate weakness.

Our current company of saber-rattlers would do well to keep quiet for long enough to read Sun Tzu's "The Art of War."

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