Many of us encountered this type in our early years. The school bully. What should you do when faced with the threat of a slap in the face?
Such encounters can be a rite of passage in the culture of adolescent men.
It may be a consolation that a young thug can sometimes be faced with more brains than brawn in the making.
The key to a bully’s sense of superiority is trusting that they will come out on top in any physical encounter. If this one is dented, he’ll think twice about starting a scrap.
Self-preservation is a primal instinct. So even when it comes to tough guys, few dare go where their own safety is at stake.
The more we see, hear, and learn about Russian President Vladimir Putin, the more we recognize some of the hallmarks of the schoolyard.
Even that proud walk of his seems to be part of a carefully constructed don’t mess with me persona.
And just like the brawler on the playground – behind all the bravado – there is an ever-calculating mind.
How far can he push things? How much will he get away with?
As Ukraine’s agony slides from one abyss to the other, there is a sense that this particular tyrant is getting away with too much.
There is a lot of blood on his hands from the wars in Chechnya and Syria. Those who fear him say human suffering is irrelevant when he chooses to face an enemy.
If he gets a bloody nose from the Ukrainians – who continue to puzzle with their courage – will he put up with being pushed around with no end in sight?
As with the oft-cited tale about the time he faced a cornered rat in his early years, we know he’s at his deadliest when the options narrow.
Putin has already commented on the nuclear option. This is clearly designed to terrorize those who would try to help Ukraine directly.
More immediately, however, his frustration is vented at the use of chemical weapons.
If such a mass murder takes place on the fringes of the European continent, it will change the world forever.
In particular, it will be the biggest crisis in American foreign policy since World War II.
It can signal a moment when it’s finally time to confront the bully. The big question is whether US President Joe Biden has the will to oppose him.
And will the US public support the President when there is a risk of large numbers of American troops dying in foreign fields?
Will the rest of the free world, not just NATO members, support an as yet unspoken action that could trigger World War III?
When things get a certain way, hopelessly hoping that somehow it will work out may not be an option.
If Putin poses an existential threat to international order, he also poses the sort of threat to America that no government in Washington can ignore.
When it comes down to it, and its nuclear security is at risk, the US needs to be the world’s policeman.
As we know from schoolyard bullies, they sometimes resort to desperate and dangerous means to maintain their power.
For example, young men determined to secure a place in the pecking order of their choice are credited with an alarming level of knife crime in London.
Putin has already used weapons in Ukraine that have tested the limits of “conventional war.”
Will he remain at stake if his forces remain grounded and suffer heavy casualties as public unrest spreads across his home territory?
Within the Kremlin circle there is a palpable sense of anger, resentment and jealousy – particularly fueled against America.
This week, in a rare outburst in English, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov could barely conceal his dislike for “Uncle Sam.”
A desire to confront the United States and all it stands for prompts Putin and his followers to raise the risk ratio to unprecedented levels.
A moment of truth could soon come for Biden when he knows he must finally confront a bully.
Then he must weigh the unthinkable against the unimaginable.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/its-finally-time-for-biden-to-square-up-to-bully-putin-41481199.html It’s finally time for Biden to take a stand against Putin