Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said. [New York Times]
The world of modern diplomacy is premised on the belief that, saber-rattling and propaganda aside, world leaders are basically rational actors whose behaviors are subject to incentives and credible threats. A lot of what happens next in Ukraine may be riding on whether or not Merkel is correct. Or maybe some nuance was just lost in translation.
In the happytime world of Merkel and Obama, where everybody holds hands and sings the Internationale on the yellow brick road toward a socialist utopia, brutal realists willing to spill blood with both hands are always regarded as being “insane.”
But their world is not the world Vladimir Putin – or reality – perceives. In that world, Nikita Kruschev pounding on a lectern and screaming “We will bury you,” is the norm. In that world, the pen and the phone are not mightier than the sword, and the long fields of history are littered with the corpses of people and nations that thought otherwise.
Vladimir Putin may be crazy by their standards, but will it matter when he’s standing atop their graves?