RICHMOND

Surely, I can’t be the only one who has noticed the resemblance. Russian President Vladimir Putin looks as if he could be the never-found brother of our own self-appointed leaders, David H. and Charles G. Koch. Not in looks, but in outlook.

Putin has in mind to be the head of a new Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics that will make the former conglomerate look like a Lego facsimile.

The Kochs see a whole new world where our president is mauve and where minimum wage means minimum wage. These predators must be stopped and with their tracks erased.

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Putin, of course, is the latest manifestation of Winston Churchill’s unearthly ability to analyze both politics and history. All those years ago he summarized Soviet policy as "a puzzle wrapped inside an enigma and the key is Russian nationalism." The last three American presidents tried to deal with Putin on a rational basis, George W. Bush going as far as saying he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw "a soul mate" there, but history has revealed how deep Bush was as a politician, leader and thinker.

There is no skill to analyzing Putin, either as a man or a giant nation’s leader. He is a cold-blooded, single-purposed tyrant with ancient credentials and all the nerve he needs to restore his nation’s position as a world leader and enforcer, Those regions over which he has regained control will quickly know the indignities and loss of power over their nations’ destinies.

The changes in Russia over the past few years are not that different from as far back as the realms of the czars. The entrepreneurs who suddenly became billionaires as they exploited the country’s natural riches were soon in jail or at least out of the magic circle if they did not "cooperate" with Putin’s team. The Russians are not far out of the way of gulags if push ever turns to shove.

So there we have Putin sitting there imperturbably, staring at us with his "soul" eyes, ready to do whatever will satisfy his need for power and control. Can we deal with such a man under present pressure when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have destroyed our willingness to put new boots on new ground? Or do we let things go on as far as he keeps his military might on the other side of Lanesborough?

My wife and I have been to Russia twice. And what we remember is that the Russians still think of the German invasion as though it happened yesterday. They won the tough one and are ready to go it again if need be. How far do we want to go?

As far as the Koch brothers are concerned with our country and its future, they want to go only as far as it can be done cheaply, no matter what the cost to humanity.

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle
contributor.