Fighting Forms, Franz Marc, 1914
‘Fighting Forms’ by Franz Marc, 1914. Photo credit: Franz Marc / WikiArt

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I’ve been chatting with a friend who has covered Russia etc. for a quarter century and written a couple of books on Putin. On his platform, he’s just weighed in with a somewhat long mulling on the horrific attack in Moscow. 

I texted him with my short summary, cutting to the chase, and he basically agrees. 

So here it is:

Putin just won an orchestrated new term as president of Russia. With that “overwhelming mandate,” he is looking for ways of ramping up and trying to decisively win in Ukraine. He really has no other options. Fail there, and he’s truly a dead man.

He needs ways to rally his country and shore up what is continuing and growing doubt and dissent. He needs something dramatic. 

So here comes this horrible attack on Russian citizens out for a pleasant night of music. 

We are hearing that Russian media and other assets are putting out a line that Ukraine was behind the attack. 

But Washington is saying it was ISIS, and supposedly ISIS is confirming. Washington says it picked up chatter that ISIS was going to launch an attack in Russia. 

So how to reconcile the Ukraine vs ISIS dichotomy? Simple. What if the real sponsor was neither Ukraine nor ISIS? 

What if Ukraine and the West knew that Putin, like Hitler, was utterly capable of anything, including conceiving his own “Reichstag Fire” as a way of consolidating power and achieving ends? 

What if they picked up hints of this? Now, they could never warn that Putin was planning something, because of course that would be criticized as reckless “conspiracy theory” by a media that always does that. It would also be dismissed as self-serving. 

A better plan would be to deflate Putin’s opportunity to stage something and to blame Ukraine — by already putting out the word that “ISIS” was up to something. In terms of ISIS itself supposedly taking credit, that isn’t necessarily so hard to arrange through allies and surrogates in Islamic countries. 

I’m not saying that’s what happened. I’m saying that Putin is utterly capable of something like this against his own people, whom he has been murdering, harassing, and jailing for a long time now. I’m also saying that the world opposed to Putin couldn’t stand by and let him use such an act, if he were behind it, to further harm Ukraine, and Western funding for Ukraine, and to unite Russians behind an even more vicious prosecution of their war on their neighbor. 

Ultimately, nuclear weapons are also in the picture, and so the need to control these volatile situations may be rationally seen as grounds to manipulate propaganda and analysis and affix blame in a misleading fashion. 

Unfortunately, while this is completely understandable, it does let Putin off the hook for something he may, just may, know more about. 

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