Long ago, the world used to beat about the bush called Bush, first the Elder and then the Younger, for attacking a fellow called Saddam Hussein who was a liberal and did not even require women to wear burqa, niqab or even hijab. He had two sons and they had a role in this liberal policy. They used to drive around Iraq in their Ferraris, looking for women that suited their fancy. Now, that would be difficult if women covered themselves, even hijab covers the hair, such a vital part of a woman’s appeal. They wanted to extend their search area to Kuwait, where the West had set up shop, particularly the shops whose business is to enhance female looks. The need to integrate Kuwait with Iraq came also from the desire to revive an old brotherhood; Kuwait was a district of Basra province for more than a hundred years and this was recognised by the Ottoman Caliph and what other proof can one require? So Saddam was duty bound to restore the tradition as well as the desire of his sons. The fun and frolic Kuwait and its stinking rich never bothered to do anything about their defence as their big land neighbour Iraq, though Shia majority, was ruled by Sunni Saddam and so Sunni majority Kuwaiti brothers had no reason to think of him as a threat. But Liberal Saddam was a liberal Sunni too and he did not let that minor issue come in the way of his historical and filial duty of making Kuwait a part of Basra district again and so he marched into Kuwait.

Bush the Elder did not like the idea since Saddam was expected to take prior approval of the Big Brother and so he “liberated” Kuwait but left Saddam in place because he was, after all, an old ally and had bashed Iran for ten years and Iran was the thorn in America’s whatever. Bush visited Kuwait in 1993 to celebrate his victory over Saddam and the latter, no more an ally, sent a few man with a car bomb, made possibly with Chinese components and so it failed to go off. So, when Bush the Younger became President, CNN reported that he said of the need to go after Saddam, “After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.” Bush the Younger blitzkrieged Baghdad to get rid of Saddam and his car bombs for ever and found him hiding in a cellar (without any wine) and had him hanged.

Having accomplished this mission of eliminating the main threat to Iran and thereby making Iran a bigger threat to the US, the Americans had to find another bush to beat about and the intelligence reported that Putin, who had by then established his unquestioned control over Russia, was looking for an external enemy to further consolidate that hold. The model of Kuwait being before him, Putin marched into Crimea as easily as Saddam had done in Kuwait. But surprise was in store for Putin because the US did not attack citing the larger stock of nuclear weapons with Putin while Saddam was only accused of trying to make a small one. A disappointed Putin waited for eight long years, attacking some neighbours and threatening others but the US still did nothing citing the same reason of his biggest stockpile of nukes.

Putin was finally compelled to invade whole of Ukraine to make the US do something. But no shells landed in Russia, no missiles were fired at it, US tanks did not roll towards Moscow. The Americans just made a long litany of grievances against Putin, who was understandably shocked, to say the least. He was wronged and was being accused of wrongdoing. They said he does not compromise; who could have compromised more? He had started the invasion with the goal of de-Nazification of Ukraine. Then he compromised, withdrew his 64-kilometers long convoy from around Kiev and declared the goal of liberating Donbas. Then he withdrew from there too and said his aim was to make Kherson part of USSR and even created the legal rigmarole for that. Then he withdrew from Kherson too. If it would remove the stigma of being a hard-headed, uncompromising ruler, he would withdraw even from Crimea. But the US is so hard to please. Do they want him to vacate Moscow?

They accuse him of frequently rattling the nuclear sabre. He comes from a noble line, the bearded Lenin, moustachioed Stalin, Gorbachev, who had alopecia areata and designed transparent clothes called glasnost and Yeltsin the Drunk. All of them possessed nukes and never used them, unlike Americans in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but Putin accepts those as mere experiments. Somebody had to find out out what a nuke does and if Americans had not done that, he might have been compelled to do the experiment in Chechnya. He even removed all the nukes from Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia, to make the world safer. But for his foresight, the silly Lukashenko of Belarus might have used these on the protestors who were trying to topple him. The removal of nukes from Ukraine ensured that the sagacious Putin is doing the nuclear sabre-rattling, not the comedian Zelensky. Putin moans, “They say I have no sense of humour; they made such false accusations against my idol Hitler too.” Yet, the Führer had many jokes up his sleeve, like telling Heinrich Hoffman who had drunk too much, “Don’t stand too near the fire Heini – you might burst into flames.” He distinguished between his ideologue Goebbels and his Reichsminister Göring, “A goebbels is the amount of nonsense a man can speak in an hour and a göring is the amount of metal that can be pinned on a man’s breast.”

Putin’s jokes are more famous than those of Hitler. When his forces were beating a hasty retreat from Kharkiv, like any great man he kept his cool and went off to inaugurate the world’s biggest Ferris wheel named “Sun of Moscow”. That was the carelessness of the copywriter; it was supposed to be “Son of Moscow”, a thinly veiled allusion to Putin, who proudly points to the praise heaped on him by BBC’s Steve Rosenberg. “On the day Russian forces retreated from occupied areas of Kharkiv region and Ukrainian forces reported major gains, back in Moscow Vladimir Putin was inaugurating a giant Ferris wheel and there was a fireworks display to celebrate city day. Surreal.”

Surreal? Yes, Putin the artist has many such artworks to his credit. In February 2014, as the occupation of Crimea was being contemplated, the Sochi Park, which his admirers call the “Putin World” was contemplating completion of its record-breaking roller coaster. But his pet project is what The Guardian called the “Military Disneyland” inaugurated by Putin with the entertaining announcement that Russia had added 40 ICBMs to its stockpile. Happy children milled around grenade launchers and armoured vehicles, lunch was military rations and the souvenir shops had, what else, Putin accessories. Life was fun in Saddam’s Iraq and in the USSR, if you believe the official releases. Putin is successfully keeping up the tradition. Let the world keep beating about the bush called putin; he believes that he is keeping the Russians happy.

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