Putin, Parkinson’s, and History’s Ultimate Power Trip

History repeating itself. That’s the phrase du jour; a way to try to understand what is happening in Ukraine. Enigmatic Putin, and the parallels with Hitler taking over the Sudetenland and all the invasions that followed on from that, reverberate like an echo from history.

The past is repeating itself, but then it always does. Think back to the attack on Pearl Harbor, on 7/12/41- an out-of-the-blue challenge to American might that was repeated almost 60 years later on 9/11/2001 when planes went crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Once again, America was challenged, and it responded.

My childhood was a literary diet of Victor, Warlord, and Commando comic books, where the Allies battled the Nazis – white hats versus black hats. It was simple to see who the bad guys were. Even as a child I knew who I would fight for.

And here we are again – an easy-to-understand conflict, where we root for the feisty underdogs, and the brutish invaders are plain to see, as is their despotic leader. History repeating itself.

Those comic-book tales and all the movies that went with them – of nations at war against a ruthless enemy – have returned. But it’s different, because instead of imagining what it must be like to live in a time when people have to find the gumption needed to defeat a dangerous megalomaniac, we now must face that challenge ourselves.

A crucible of historic proportions is upon us. How we deal with it will define generations to come. We are in the midst of epoch-making history.

How does it feel? Like in the comic books? Will we live up to the deeds of the heroes of Warlord and Victor, or of our ancestors who brought a Nazi despot to heel?

Will history repeat itself for Putin, too? Will he end his days holed up in a bunker and with only a bullet for company in his final moments, or will he use the technology at his fingertips – tech that Hitler never had – and push the button to go out with a real bang.

After all, what has he got to lose? His country’s economy is soon to be in freefall, he is ostracised across most of the globe and will soon be a pariah in his own country. And on top of that, of course, there are the health rumours…

Russian leader Vladimir Putin
Rusia’s leader Vladimir Putin (wikimedia commons)

That walk of his, for starters – the ‘gunslinger’s gait’… the way Putin rolls his body as he moves and usually swings one arm… you’ve seen him do it, but maybe never gave it a name. Well, the medical experts have, and some of them say it’s an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease. So, if Putin has Parkinson’s and he’s on a downward physical trajectory, what has he got to lose if he decides to push the big button.

If you were him under those circumstances, what would you do… watch as your body betrays itself and forces you to relinquish the almighty power at your fingertips? Yes, of course, you have your hundreds of billions of dollars squirreled away, but what is that without the power, the fear and the accolades that come with holding the highest office in the land?

For a man in pole position like he is, would mere billions be enough of a consolation to forsake his position as numero uno? Maybe sanctions mean nothing when you’re body is failing you. Maybe getting to play with all those military ‘toys’ at your disposal, truly testing their capability, is preferable to going out with a whimper and with Parkinson’s.

The analysts talk of an ‘off ramp’… something that will help Putin climb down from the perilous height upon which he has placed both himself and the world. But maybe there is no ‘off ramp’. Maybe he really does want to go out with a bang.

We were here before… on the edge of nuclear catastrophe, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. History repeating itself. Thankfully, Nikita Khrushchev, the Russian leader at the time, blinked first and nuclear destruction was averted.

Whatever Putin decides to do next, though, we can only respond to the challenge before us. There are people in desperate need; people on our doorstep, dying before our eyes. So, do we stand up to the despot or let him ride roughshod all over them and all over our consciences… the very thing that makes us human?

That choice may not even be ours to make. There might be a nuclear winter whether Nato sends in troops or not. Putin might do the terrible deed anyway. So, I ask again – do we stand up to the despot now or not?

I don’t think history has all the answers, but it does tell us what the outcome was when our grandparents stepped up and took on a dictator.

We are in their shoes now and must make history of our own.

Warlord, Victor and those Commando comics are no longer idle fancies – the dilemmas they posed about courage and sacrifice face us right now.

We must decide. We must act; for failure to do so risks us losing that most important treasure of all, our consciences – the essence of our very humanity.

Putin has taken so much already, can we really allow him to take that, too?

About historywithatwist

I am a journalist, author and book editor. I have published five novels - four (Tan, The Golden Grave, A Time of Traitors and Patriots' Blood) set during the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, and the fifth (High Crimes), a modern thriller. I'm a history enthusiast who loves a good yarn.
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6 Responses to Putin, Parkinson’s, and History’s Ultimate Power Trip

  1. vxxc says:

    Putin has taken so much already…?
    Can you read a map?
    Putin is defending his borders.

    We Took.
    We took and now we took more than we can hold.

    We took Ukraine in our 2014 F– the EU coup, we being the US State Dept.
    We just mounted a failed color Revolution in Kazakhstan in January.
    We had our pet comedian Zelensky threaten to make Ukraine a nuclear power again in Munich on Feb 19, the invasion starts Feb 23d. Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors and massive human capital to go nuclear on their own quickly – the Clown Zelensky could have done it then announced it.
    Instead he provoked a war he wasn’t even close to ready for even with the forces he had.

    Putin isn’t taking, he’s defending. He’s also been warning us publicly to stop since 2007.
    When we tried this in Georgia we got the same answer we’re getting now.
    It’s also not helpful to threaten the Russians with regime change.
    That has predictably horrific results for the nation in question, Putin is defending Russia.
    Any other Russian leader and the Russian people would do the same.

    If you feel so strongly go and join the Ukrainian foreign Legion.
    Some of us who serve see this as the corrupt farce that it is…and by the way it’s almost over.
    Go and fight then. Go and see, then come back and rally us to the fight.


    • The clown Zelensky..? Who are you kidding! Let’s see how Putin deals with the ‘clown’. Vlad has done a tip-top job so far – destroying his own army, his country and what paltry reputation he himself (a criminal billionaire who has stolen his nation’s wealth) has. All he has left is his nukes and the SOB that he is will probably use them, too. Russia is a great country – neither she nor the rest of the world should have to that cowardly, lying snake.

      Liked by 1 person

      • vxxc says:

        Zelensky is indeed not a professional clown.
        He is however a professional comedian.
        I stand corrected on this point.

        The others stand not that they were addressed.
        The Russians are moving methodically, slowly and essentially maneuvering freely.
        They are not using but a fraction of their firepower yet and are not foolishly going into cities that can expect no relief, indeed the ancient tactics of siege and hunger are working fine.

        When are you going to Ukraine? When I believe in war I go.
        Go and see. I can quote your own words back I suppose, cheap points- but go.
        You appear to be a fit man – go.
        It will be an education.
        Warning: it is unwise to be America’s pawn as the Ukrainians have discovered as so many before them…but go if you must see for yourself.


      • ‘The Russians are moving freely’ – tell that to the soldiers in the stalled 40-mile convoy who risk freezing to death tonight. You are spporting the actions of a tyrant – why don’t you put YOUR life on the line for his despicable cause?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. herb wildman says:

    You have mis-charachterized parkinsons disease with an oversimplification. Parkinsons is a spectrum of disorders and its effects vary widely from case to case. There is no definitive certainty that Putin has exhibited parkinisonian charachteristics.. Diagnosing someone from a distance is a very dicey business especially with a disease like parkinsons with its many variables and inconclusive effects. As an at least , 7 year parkinsons patient myself, I make these remarks from the standpoint of close familiarity with the disease.
    What we do know, from the remarks of Condelezza Rice . and Andrew McFaul, among others, is that people who have known and worked with Putin over a long period of time have noticed marked changes in his appearance and particularly his behavior. No soviet/Russian head of state, other than Stalin who was a vicious psychopath, would have acted as Putin has in Ukraine. Unless Ukraine is a deliberate campaign to intimidate Russia’s neighbors, it is completely irrational. It reeks of Genghis Khan more than Napolean. A campaign of burning whatever can’t be carried off , driving off the inhabitants and destroying the rest is the hallmark of a savage or a mad-man.

    Liked by 1 person

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