Some straight talk for Putin

Vladimir, we had this thing some of us call the Cold War. It cost the West a lot of lives, time, money, and aggravation. We won. You lost. You consider your loss to be a catastrophe to be rectified. We consider it to be a blessing to be preserved at all cost. That’s a pretty wide gulf. We’re not likely to bridge it. So let’s cut to the proverbial chase.

Vlad, you and your buddies are not only losers, you are bad guys. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you jail and kill people who want nothing more than the rights they are entitled to as human beings. You want to increase your power to do so. We protect such people and resist your ambitions. That makes us the good guys. When the bad guys get out of hand, the good guys shouldn’t worry too much about the details of the Treaty of Westphalia. We just have to make sure that you stay losers.

So with regard to the current unpleasantness, if you relent, you can continue doing your thing within the confines of Russia until the people get tired of you or you run out of oil and natural gas. But you are not going to expand your reach. If you don’t relent we’re going to make your life miserable and make you look as bad to your people as you have made me look to mine. Think NATO expansion, a Europe no longer dependent on you as an energy source because they can rely on the U.S. Think about the stashes and travel of your oligarchs. They will. And that missile-defense system we abandoned in the Czech Republic and Poland? Deployment will start in about a month. Bottom line? We’ve noticed you like to lose your shirt. This time, we’re gonna help with that.