(Washington, D.C., August 11, 2008) -- Is anyone out there still hesitant to describe Vladmir Putin as a dangerous, destabilizing Czar who is an enemy, not a friend, of the West? When Epicenter was first published in September 2006, some thought I was overstating Putin's threat to the free world. If anything, I was understating it. The last 96 hours have made that quite clear, has it not?
Russian forces at this hour are still bombing the daylights out of the citizens of Georgia. They are still trying to overthrow Georgia's democratically-elected leaders. They are still trying to eliminate Georgia as a pipeline route for Caspian Sea oil flowing to the West. But controlling this former Soviet republic is not Moscow's highest objective. Putin and his Kremlin cronies want to control (if not own outright) Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, as well. They are Hell-bent on dominating all of the peoples of the Caucuses as part of a revived Russian imperialism that sees the future of the country inextricably tied to pushing southward and linking up with Islamic allies throughout the Middle East.
And as I noted in Friday's Flash Traffic, Putin is unmistakably the man in charge, not President Dmitry Medvedev. Who else but Putin would have had the gall to sit there on Friday night at the (visually stunning) opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing -- a time to celebrate international unity and cooperation -- smiling and glad-handing when he had just launched a war that has already killed more than 2,000 people?