A few days ago I heard something I hadn’t heard in YEARS since we moved here to Mongolia from the United States… the sound of fighter jets flying overhead. I only caught a glimpse of them, but they didn’t look like the ones I was used to in the USA. That’s right… these were Russian jets!

Turns out they were part of the upcoming 80th anniversary of the Soviet & Mongolian victory over the Empire of Japan at Khalkin Gol. It also happens that the Russian Federation president, Vladimir Putin, will also be coming here to Ulaanbaatar to attend the ceremony and sign a new strategic partnership with Mongolia. I haven’t seen the details, but given traffic closures I strongly suspect the ceremony will be held by the Zaisan Monument… barely a kilometer away from our house! The horror!!!

Yeah, well the thing is, I could care less. For the past two and a half years I’ve had to endure hysterical ravings claiming modern-day Russia is the biggest threat America’s ever faced and Putin is the next Hitler… a narrative built on 30% fact and 70% nonsense, primarily crafted and pushed to smear Trump and deflect attention from very real shortcomings in government leadership (shortcomings shared on both sides). And you gotta admit, Putin has a bad enough history to make him the perfect ultimate bad guy for public consumption (and most importantly, public distraction).

Now I could care less about Putin’s reputation, or Trump’s reputation either for that matter. But I care a great deal how it distracts from more serious threats, like the escalating government debt and budget, the growth of the surveillance state, and the ambitions of China’s government. Not to mention how it’s used to promote the further militarization of America and add to an already grossly bloated military budget. But dealing with those things would actually require taking a little political risk, talking to the American public like rational adults, and… heaven forbid… cut some of that lobbying cash going to their campaigns. Neither party has the stones to do any of that. Even Trump for all his supposed “hard stance on China” is IMO likely to cut some trade deal that falls far short of what’s needed just to score political points for 2020.

But all that is outside of my circle of influence, as is whatever Putin and Russia’s government decides to do. And judging from the continuing hysteria on cable news and Twitter, I also have little confidence in convincing people that Putin is NOT the next Hitler, but rather a ruthless yet ultimately rational dictator presiding over a nation badly hindered by corruption, heavy dependence on petroleum exports, and demographic decline. So I see this visit of Putin to my current little neck of the woods here to be no big deal. Heck, I’m a guest here in this country too, and it’s not my business what Mongolia decides. And while I think Mongolia would be better served having friends other than Putin, I understand that the two countries have a long relationship and can’t fault Mongolia’s leaders for building stronger ties to Russia. And when your only other big neighbor is China (whose butthurt government throws tantrums and threatens Mongolia’s economy whenever the Dalai Lama visits), it helps to have other big friends. Any port in a storm I suppose.

Given how close I am to tomorrow’s impending ceremony, I’m tempted to walk over and see it just out of curiosity. How often does one see such a notorious foreign head of state in person? Heck, this whole thing was the driver for Mongolia’s government declaring this Tuesday as a holiday, giving most people, including my wife, a day off work tomorrow. So maybe this Putin guy isn’t so bad. Maybe he’s not to blame for everything under the sun.


Wait wait wait… this day off now means my wife has to work this Saturday instead. Which totally screws with our weekend. She’s gotta work and leave me to watch our hyperactive kids all day.




It’s all Putin’s fault!!! 😡