Tuesday 1 March 2022


Lost his mind? Is this what that looks like? I’m asking for you, a friend;-) I dunno. Depending on whom you ask, his state of mind is any number of places lost and found. God knows we’ve had in our lifetime plenty of analyses of various world leaders’ mental states, including our own and including unironic psychological classifications.

You’d love to hear my take? YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!!!!11 You’ll regret that remark! Serially, tho, I appreciate the interest because I probably need to say something and therefore thank you for extending the offer, which I believe to be a reflection of your generous spirit.

I’ll begin by painting a background that I expect will come off as unnecessary and obvious, but it’s something I have given much thought and can’t crystalize my thinking on this matter without bringing it up. It involves degrees of empathy. Oh, man! Just as my left pinky stamped the completion of that last word, it occurred to me that I’ve told you this already. Well... as an old acquaintance slash friend was keen to recount regarding a time he had accidentally shit his pants while passing gas, I already started, so…

Imagine you’ve gone to visit a friend and arrive to find them apparently troubled by something. Then they tell you they’d just received a call from another troubled friend, this one less familiar to you, who shared the news that their spouse had just passed away. You, being a friend, believe you understand how the friend in front of you feels. This is a normal sense of understanding; something we call empathy. However, for empathy to become sympathy, that is, something you share with the person in front of you, you’d have to be equally affected.

Now it could be that you believe you are, in that moment out of love for your friend, as distressed in sympathy, simply because that’s just how great a friend you are. However, I ask you now, as a friend… yes, as one friend to another, but also, I ask you, a friend, to try to empathize with me as a friend by understanding this dilemma of degrees of familiarity, not just from the perspective of great distance but also much smaller degrees of proximal awareness. Have you ever thought, Oh, man! What the fuck am I supposed to say? How do you choose between “That’s horrible” and “I’m so sorry”?

Now it could be that you already knew I was getting at something like the burden of someone else's emotional duress and how to deal with it. And regarding an additional someone else, no less. Fortunately it's someone else's someone else, too (another degree of distance), so your friend's duress is respectively limited, as would be your response to it. I’d say “That’s horrible” comes quite naturally when you’re trying to express empathy for your counterpart, while “I’m so sorry” is a slightly less honest expression, albeit one of accuracy insofar as it really expresses a kind of helplessness. What you are sorry about is just as much that you cannot relate enough to say anything more helpful because you do not truly share the same level of affected-ness.

Compare this to the moment when you and your friend begin to talk about other things, and laugh and carry on, much in the way you had anticipated prior to the visit. This is helpful, of course. For you. For your friend. It’s just what your friend needs and it didn’t require you feel the same feelings toward the other acquaintance. And it doesn’t mean your friend is cold-hearted for sharing in the relief of thinking about other things. And while the relief is inversely proportion between you and your friend, that is, you needed it much less than they, it doesn’t mean you’re cold-hearted for having hoped you could move past talking about your friend’s friend’s freshly demised spouse all evening. Although, this distraction, too, can lead back to that topic in more comforting context. And you certainly don’t feel guilty when, at the conclusion of your visit, your friend thanks you, because that was just what they needed. As a matter of fact, it probably makes you feel better than it should.

Now, as to how good a friend your friend was being that evening, by not cancelling your visit and going to be with their other friend… well. Let’s just say there are too many unknown details in this hypothetical to confirm or dispute this notion and assume the best (whatever would make us feel best about about our friend, about humanity, as in ourselves, or maybe even whatever would make us feel best about our one self).

It is with this in mind that I posit the following: Any of my rants regarding politics you’ve been on the receiving end of amount to nothing for me personally, notwithstanding the price of gas in Berlin, what its convenience lends to my lifestyle and that of my immediate environment versus the environment in general, however that may gnaw at my soul. Even if it only does because it doesn’t. Or should. Or, as is convenient enough, the things I can indeed do amount to the proverbial drops we’re all dripping. Empathy. Sympathy. These distresses come in waves and crash down upon us in moments of unavoidable proximity.

As you can imagine, my activity and location leads to a familiarity with real people who hail from places proximate to this current state that's in their own fresh hell, which we deem just awful. One such familiarity led most recently to that expression of helplessness – my explicitly writing that I’m so sorry. Hm. Explicitly? Well, I did not go into detail as to why I was so sorry, but managed to generalize it much in the same way that the expression that preceded it generalizes helplessness.

For it was not my goal to catalog the causes of the regret I was expressing, even though my reasons for expressing it included a hope for an inference that understands why I, of all people, might be one to express it the way I had. And though I’d like to believe my goal was to mitigate someone else’s potential suffering, what gnaws at my soul is the inescapable helplessness that sneaks to mitigate my own. Still, the distress is more acute due to the proximity. The image of distress is rendered more real, even if it still remains in my imagination. I can assign a personality to the pictures.

The thing is, I was expressing that helplessness because I wanted to write anyway in order to fulfill another practical purpose for which I had promised responsibility, and I felt no way I could do it without acknowledging that which might already be rendering my original purpose pointless.

Now, if I may impose upon you by applying my degrees of empathy axiom, what prevails in your mind as approximating the most appropriate response to me now is either “That’s awful” or “I’m so sorry”. Neither is an indication of inadequacy on your part. I would expect the former expression. Less helplessness, more acknowledgment of my one degree removed of affectedness, or the understanding thereof. Were you to say how sorry you were, I would infer I had implied and/or you had inferred a more acute level of distress than I might currently feel. I would be very forgiving, on the other hand, if your immediate response were to be “Jesus, fuck. Give it a rest!” Still, this is helping. If only me.

Waves and moments determine the emotional response. A moment of contemplation can be so intense. Another can make a previous feeling seem so remote. Contemplate again, and there it is. Hence how this visit to a friend can be just what the doctor ordered, even if it’s, as so often, only the symptoms that get treated. This relief is not just three dimensional artwork. It comes also by way of the words on this page — one dimensionality of self-interest expressed, in this case, in two dimensions.

Be this as it may, I feel free to express to you the details behind the generalization inherent to my aforementioned attempt at an empathic offering. For I do not believe now is not the time to discuss such things. We can feel and think at the same time. And you are not under fire. Thank goodness, right? But for the grace of the powers that be, aka the gods of the known universe. Those little devils.

Which brings me to most if not all of what we know about the object of your original question, or, as I have seen it expressed in our two dimensional press: What is he thinking? In short: Who really knows?

What we do know is we live in a society well constructed on bad faith actors manipulating the masses for their own competing self-interests, certainly not least of which would be the object of your original question. Also included would have to be people who game our ostensible knowledge of that fact for their own unspoken purposes. That people leap between apparent alternatives without regard to logic would be expected to some extent — to the extent that we are paying attention. In the face of otherwise obvious cognitive dissonances, there seems to be a tendency to engage in the same manner of spin as the institutions we've grown up with. Imagine that.

I am reticent to express an old cliché of such long lineage, for those who go on about how much worse things are these days are often just venting their own deeper misunderstandings or personal insecurities. I have to admit, however, that it’s plausible we find ourselves in a time with more information and less real-ness than ever before. There will always be diamonds in the rough, in terms of honest dealers in dialog, but we shouldn't ignore when there's blood on even those.

That’s not just rhetoric. We have concurrent to the massive amount of bullshit achieved by us little people in an attempt to counter the top-down version heaped upon us from the board of directors (more for entertainment than discernment) witnessed the creation of a complexity of supply chain management that leaves the idea that we can strive toward better accountability incredibly irrational. There are due diligence guidelines created by government orgs that are supposed to have had multinationals volunteering to develop plans for oversight of their supply chains, you know, to enhance the cause for human and labor rights and environmental protection. Having, shockingly, fallen of meeting the goal of anyone volunteering, some have revised that approach to include legislation. In the German instance, the language of the law includes "immediate suppliers". Imagine that. 

I was going to add “let alone sustainability” to the above supply chain, but if you read the literature on that subject, it becomes clear it’s not so clear what is meant by the term. At any rate, moral scruples do not come to mind in the quarter by quarter sense, and as far as what is viable for the long-term future...

It makes me just a little queasy to use the phrase “conveniently enough”, even though it is so often an ironic expression of someone else’s convenience. Unfortunately, these someone elses lie on all sides of the topic at hand, for conveniently enough, they back society into corners from which the only solution would seem to be to set aside any concerns about certain causes until they can be forgotten once the immediate danger (that's suddenly just popped up) is taken care of. Whatever hell that may entail.

The short and acceptable answer to your question is “Whether he’s lost his mind is secondary to the fact that he is wrong and must be dealt with.” The method of this tactical negotiation varies. Did you happen to read the piece in the paper where all the news is printed to fit? Nothing short of death was but part of the suggested solution, which as you may surmise was non-negotiable. For a pundit of that shade and pay-grade, the very hint that even the immediately affected president himself might be considering the negotiation of a neutrality agreement with his aggressor is either unacceptable appeasement or treasonous toward a concern he does not share, which would be that of real politics of the US.

Not only its global self-interest, mind you, but its internal politics, which, surprise, surprise, receives an assist in not needing to take responsibility
from that bloviating asshole. For its seems, always on cue, he will be granted full page coverage to point at anyone but himself, which works wonders for two reasons: because his clueless wonderers will think he’s speaking truth to power, and because by bloviating alone on a subject, he removes the possibility of a polite discussion of the responsibility of those he’s just pointed his fat fingers at. Whether as useful idiot in that regard, or idiot savant achieving someone else's control of his apparent opposition, this trump card has been played to great effect on a number of issues, representing a semantic symmetry similar to his predecessor’s by way of his bombing would-be terrorists from, o! way up on high. Sorry. I told you you’d regret asking. Where was I? Oh, yes, negotiation. It should seem at least odd that the talk of needed diplomacy would accompany the sentiment of intolerance for the talk of the very details that diplomacy needs to consider. So much for democratic principles.

Now, I don’t know if the man who may have lost his mind had a neutrality agreement floated to him by his counterpart subsequent to the invasion, or if that is his end game. I guess we have to assume the aggressor didn’t get it from the US at any point because they say as much. The half-hidden logic being, anyone should know Ukraine's inclusion in NATO is untenable... but it’s still up to them if they want it. If neutrality meant showing respect to no-one, then the US has done a bang up job at it. Look who’s reaping the rewards of our support for democracy. Makes me want to watch Super Bowl commercials.

Whoops. What I meant was none of that is relevant. Vlad the Impaler is responsible and once we take care of him [redacted for accuracy of nuance] he’s taken care of, then we can talk about what should and shouldn’t result. But just for the sake of hypothetical improvement, let’s imagine if there is anything short of treasonous appeasement to consider in making someone not lose their mind.

To be even more clear at the outset, I acknowledge the existence of the bad faith actors spinning their wheels of word-craft to justify the action taken by the Russian president. Not only do I not believe his reasons stated match his real reasons, I also know they’re only intended for an audience limited in scope, which is more an obfuscation than representation of how most of his people actually feel. Nor do I mean, when I say this places him on par with his opposite numbers in all the countries of his adversaries, to suggest that he is not worthy of the worst evil prize.

Ironically, it might be due to misleading propaganda that I would place him in the category of world's most dangerous man, and it makes me shudder because that's what those who lionize him would say, but in a good way, like, he's owning the libs, or some shit, but it's what leads me to happily employ cliché when I say one would be wise to be careful how one deals with his actions.

And because your string of questions included a snippet about his having been unopposed and in control of ten percent of the world's landmass for twenty years, what comes to mind is the discrepancy between being biggest boy on the block and world pariah at the same time. I'm sure that has some effect/affect.

I remind you that it’s not just one fraction of one American political party who suggest he (and his) had not been isolated robustly enough, that this would not have happened if Ukraine had been made a member of NATO in 2014, and a number of other suggestions. The implication being a threatened retaliation from a full force coalition would have made invasion unthinkable. Forget that anyone who thinks such a thing is, one, probably from the Ukraine, i.e. thinking from the perspective of the self-interest of self preservation, or, two, someone who fails to consider how little that theory jibes with a NATO that was relieved at not feeling the need to escalate what’s already happened. In other words, whatever he’s got in mind, that NATO was going to go all in against Russia was not a logical conclusion. Just yet.

Why not? It’s fair to ask. Well, it could be that in spite of all the rhetoric that would indicate otherwise, there is a palpable difference between an incursion that crosses one’s own border and one that extends beyond that. I don’t personally believe a NATO membership would have made a difference in that regard, save for perhaps expediting the inevitable. Which brings us to the inevitable.

The difference Ukrainian membership would have made, I think, would have been that NATO would have felt the pressure to engage, which it doesn't really seem they want. The west operates on the model of the asshole of the American century, which is proxy wars wherever they feel like. Whenever they can, they skillfully avoid using the words "boots on the ground" in the affirmative, "peace keepers" notwithstanding.

There’s an ad nauseam effect to repeating the following, if I haven’t made you wretch already, but it warrants a what-if: What if NATO had refrained from expanding eastward, as is said was promised when negotiating the terms of German reunification? (Appreciate for a moment the fact that this falls into the disputed-but-so-what category: Nobody made that promise, but so what if they did? Times change. My advice whenever you're tempted to dispute-but-so-what something, skip the dispute and go straight to the so what.
Not that it matters, but it lends credibility.)

It is not impossible for an innocent to wonder whether the psychology we’re keen to analyze when the tanks are rolling might have taken different form had the head not felt besieged at its feet [when], in order:
When the free world proved unwilling to consider at least as uneasy allies those who had just co-operated in defeating the literal Hitler, or when one party was so hell bent on containment that it cost millions of Vietnamese lives (enter catalog of democracy spreading adventures here), or when the US drew the Soviets into a prolonged war in Afghanistan (a "mistake" they'd not learn from later), or when both belligerents took part in the joint scientific project of mutually assured destruction, or when the leader of the free world involved itself pre-Facebook, post-Iron Curtain in the first Russian re-elections (when with the help of the IMF, they spun Boris to victory), or when the American-led armed alliance had the defense industry loosening its belt, getting fatter and fatter, as they added three customers to NATO in 1999, seven more in 2004, two in 2009, and one each in 2017 and 2020, or whenever American politicians deliver speeches from the floor, as did Adam Schiff in 2020, when he said that US aids Ukraine so that "we can fight Russia over there". So what we're seeing is the US fighting Russia, which might explain the Ukrainian President's anger at the US leading up to this. Apparently he was unaware that being a member of the club is not the point, being a target is. Is there anyone who would conclude that the final border states would not eventually complete the containment, including one day Belarus if and when the less desirables get Yanked from the helm of their government? And let’s see a show of hands of those so certain this would be in everyone’s best interest. Joe Sixpack's certainty on this reflects his consumption habits.

But that’s neither here nor there, because only one man (and anyone following his orders) is responsible for what’s happening. And this is true even if the admission is coerced by potential shaming. But, in the privacy of our secret communication (just between you and me, okay?), we can contemplate how best to go forward by looking at how things were handled thus far. Again, not that it matters.

What is it, again, beyond that land to the south? Oh, yeah. The Black Sea. Whose importance became apparent with great emphasis when Ukraine gained an American approved president and lost Crimea almost immediately. If you’ve ever heard a Ukrainian of your acquaintanceship express the conviction that the US government is not a reliable partner, you don’t immediately respond by saying, “Oh, yeah…” and wouldn’t need to anyway. If anyone understands the expression “between a rock and hard place” it would be them.

I suppose it would be edifying to ask you how much you know of Nord Stream 2. Contrary to how it’s most often put, I don’t mean to diminish the average American capacity for the opposite of ignorance when I say I don’t expect an American to know shit about it. I don’t expect anyone except those who handle the stock portfolios of its tangential investors to know shit about it. What comes through the Anglo sphere of influence is stuff about how the Germans (the good Germans, mind) have stupidly made themselves reliant on Russian natural gas. That interpretation has been amended to include innuendo of more unholy implications in recent days.

Entered here for your consideration is a relationship between any form of the expression “pot kettle black” and its opposite number “whataboutism!” Whoever establishes the topic of discussion can determine what is not an acceptable entry into the debate, assuming a debate was ever on offer. It’s fair enough not to desire a discussion’s derailment at the behest of some non sequitur. However, if the pot is still ass deep in blackness that was the subject of the kettle, well…

To wit: Who is reliant on energy from murderous autocrats they enable with tools meant to kill on a mass scale? If your answer works its way toward “in fairness, everyone”, then touché. Or, rather, Udar! But we both know what I’m talking about.

Now insert an image of every president kissing a prince's hands. And compare your price at the pump to every else's. [Fact check: US consumption has transitioned to North American reliance, which is another issue, but makes my equivalence less than immediately modern. What level of whataboutism does that entail? What it also means, as the US has become a net exporter, is the drive to eliminate Russian participation in this market will drive up the price and profits. And improve sales of the US' liquefied natural gas, which I suppose if you try, you could spin that into being a more sustainable supply chain.]

And so i
t’s not lost on avid consumers of the financial pages that a former Chancellor, a Social Democrat, remains on the board of Gazprom today. Sure, it raised a little of a stink (pun intended) when he, as every free world leader before and since, secured this sinecure for his time of service. But his endeavors actually led to the sweetest (no pun applicable) of deals whose warmth is emanating as strong as ever from across my room as I type these words.

In other words, if my squishy sentiment has not already, then this certainly ensures Vlad’s victory. But wait, the sanctions, right? Right. Either they don’t apply to the product in question, or the defaulted payment for services rendered has no effect on the service. Oh, the complexity of wanting to be seen as a reliable partner, while not playing by all the rules of that really rather wicked game. And by wicked, I mean ingeniously entangled.

As a wonky Yanky might say: The relationship is complex. Everything is so complex, yet adorably simple. Like, as the US had well before this winter been making clear to its allies in the EU, sanctions would have to be considered against both benefactor and beneficiary of, if not the Nord Stream in general, most certainly its replacement. You might imagine how this had already been received by any number of Russian– let’s call them elites (since that’s the going smear for leaders unloved by the 'Merkin Rebel battalion most empathic toward the Russians, post trump card). So if this body of folk and their domestic business partners who, like their counterparts, trade in the talk of a strong GDP, which is coupled to an apparent sustainability of existence, or determines democratic turnout, or at its base a sense of worth, well…
To recap, there's the emotional proximity of affectedness that might lead one to empathize with victims of war, or sympathize in the case of direct relationships. While I'm not quaking out of fear of things to come, there is something I feel that I cannot define other than by way of my emotional proximity theorem. I don't know if you can relate, but the unease that greets me as I receive no response to my recent email has a weight. And I am reminded of how cold whataboutism can be.

Here a proximity of association becomes relevant along with the degree of empathy. How callous would it be to chirp "What about Yemen?!" to someone lamenting the fate of the Ukrainian people? The quality of that coldness depends on the proximity of association of the complainant as well as a close relationship to the plight of the Yemeni people. Most often, it's cold because it comes from people parroting the clever spin of lay-dudes who couldn't care less. I know, because I'm projecting. Mea culpa.

It is maybe coincidentally by proximity of association that I nevertheless question the moral authority of the US government. Not as a way to relieve anyone else of culpability of misdeed, but as a way to suggest that the Americans are unhelpful. As in a net negative. I think this proposition is increasingly important to consider. If nothing else, they provide on their own all the fodder for rhetorical weaponry against themselves.

Even if you believe all the news that's printed to fit, you have to admit how fit-inducingly sensational it is. Still today it carries that white lady in distress tendency. If, for example, the plight of the Yemeni had been unrelentingly presented over the, however long it's been, with running tickers and big red headlines and Here's What's Happening Now blogs front and center, how might we otherwise view the world?

Even if editorial decisions are not influenced by xenophobic tendencies, there is the matter the strategic interests of the corporate holders of the world's legacy media. And public broadcasters receive loads of dough from foundations with similar financial ties. What we see now is more the result of what legitimately scares people and keeps them clicking & scrolling and/or refreshing & glued. I can't help feel I'm watching Planet of the Slavs, with all the same potential for ethno-bigotry, but with the final scene excised because it provides too much context. Or to keep us perpetually hanging from the cliff.

The Ukrainians are worthy of more than the brand of empathy currently allotted. Whatever you think of the legitimate news, you have to take it with a grain of salt. At the very least, the effect of the fog of war here is desperately biased spinning of who is most in trouble, with one channel spiking the ball at the fifty yard line, and the other wondering whether The End is could be nigh.
I know you are German in spite of your insistence that you spell your name wrong (winky-smiley), so I offer you the following: Es gibt kein richtiges Leben im Falschen. It doesn’t quite qualify as a winged-word but it should. It explains much, really. Our betters have, intentionally or not, captained the creation of a convenience-to-addiction pipeline. Whether the latest tech becomes something you need to do your job (or to get one, or to get paid), or the going energy standard has grown into a behemoth too big to transition away from (or met with such far reaching and rigid resistance and adaptable branding, one might think they themselves are what is meant by renewable energy), the only real way to live correctly in this particular wrong world is to leave it. Anything short of that operates as we all do to one extent or another, which is to say we can all lean back on the drop in the bucket excuse. This can sound fatalistic, but I like to think of it as a social science version of the Serenity Prayer. Dwelling on the helplessness is pointless and ultimately self-defeating. Seeing the world for what it is, on the other hand, can be life affirming.

The apparently all or nothing aspect that radiates from that aphorism is at once an opportunity to decouple oneself from practical concerns and decide to act on principle alone. This can in turn reveal alternatives to standard life practices as we've come to know them. If I go to the other side of the room and turn off the heat, it's not because it'll drain a resource that fuels the Russian war machine, because it won't. If I don't turn it off, it's to keep from getting too cold for too long when layers aren't cutting it. I can afford not to have anything delivered ever. Others can occasionally afford to get necessary delivery from someone other than you know who. Learning to know the difference prevents the self-defeating interpretation taking hold.

It's not that I don't admire off-the-grid homesteaders. And I admire people who work with the homeless, or who rescue and/or assist refugees. And anyone who continuously seeks to make those they interact with happier for the interaction. As to otherwise being the change... even the science tells us, collectively, we're just drops removed from the rising sea. The real change has to come from above, which (
unfortunately, because of our addictions) is tied to our collective action, which risks toxic solutions to poisonous problems. Nach dem Motto: Es gibt kein richtiges Leben im Falschen.

As we speak, the Elon Electric Car Corporation is set to be approved to suck away at Brandenburg’s water basin to manufacture its batteries. They’ve already cleared the trees, because their right to begin construction was approved provisionally, which seems to be a common method: Government grants something whose stated reservations and legal obstacles become instead the potential grounds for a lawsuit because "Look at all the money we lost because of the contract you gave us!" A cynic would say that is by design, but I digress. Just as I digress when I say that not even the entire party on one side of a contract necessarily agree on the particulars. Some have good intentions. Others special interests. The former are playing kick the can. The latter revolving door diplomacy.

Imagine the utopia once we’ve replaced each and every internal combustion engine with just such a battery, whose poop might be mixed with the nuclear waste that's coming back in fashion as the only remaining sustainable option to transition to a cleaner more powerful planet. Fuck! I’ve gotten off track. What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. For some crazy reason, the current leadership over by there believes the world will be better served if Germany and the EU are more reliant on another source of energy. But they aren’t offering solar panels. Speaking of the EU, there’s something like proximal irony as it relates to this discussion and the basis for the EU, which was the European Coal and Steel Community. What better to form a unity of industrialized nations other than the fuel of industry itself! The idea was that this community of nations would be so interdependent it would make war untenable.

There are a couple of philosophical approaches to foreign policy I'm aware of that relate to that idea of financial interdependence. One involves isolation and containment and the other making deals. I have honestly no idea what the standards are that result in the one or the other, except that words are selectively applied and expressions spun out of certain self-interests. A healthy skeptic could always ask which interests are of sound mind and institutional body.
Even if I myself have lost my mind, I know I won't be lashing out at anyone. But as I said, due to my proximity, present circumstances get my ire more than they usually would have. Figuratively, my soul lashes out at the big baddie. I'm also extremely angered at the adorable Corn Pop conqueror and his spokespeople for what appears to result wherever the containment option is so seemingly haplessly applied. That the midterm American elections are even suggested as an influence is heinous, and not because it's not plausible. The out that's given politicians involves the diplomatic notion of saving face. This too is sad because of what it says about the situational lack of empathy of human psychology, whether it's in need of face saving, or refusing to grant it. It's even sadder because here everyone has dutifully backed themselves into a corner.

I cannot say what turns the baddie's screws. He's been presented as so hands on. But even the most anti-conspiratorial theorizing mind knows that, like so much public policy-making, there are others that shape how he's to be dealt with, and they're not people keen on recusing themselves out of the appearance of conflicts of interest. Hence the diff twixt Germany and the US. As with the devilish deal to warm my room, so too do we purchase the wares of those who have primary influence over who on the globe to include and who to cut off, among whom include the lowliest in the supply chain, the less said about the better for the brand. Not that that matters in the big picture. Everyone knows the evils of Amazon, but there they are. Ditto weapons stocks. How craven the soul that's cashing in on that. Who doesn't know about how this computer gets made, yet here I type. If decisions of partnership versus punishment were a simple moral judgment by a good guy sporting a president costume, it'd be a no brainer. But then he'd have to be a totalitarian and damn sure would be branded as one.

Back to the baddie in question: Along the spectrum of "mindless world domination fixation" and "reaction on par with the threat of loss of geopolitical and financial influence", the former being batshit unpredictable and the latter a little easier to forecast (and, by god, they sure did!), as you can already tell, I tend toward the assumption he'd fall on the less disconcerting, latter area along the spectrum. But I'm not a professional and apologize for no one but myself (my previously mentioned and vaguely expressed letter notwithstanding, wherein I apologized for all the generations that preceded that of said person).

I suppose, if my understanding is correct, a person can vacillate between psychological states. So we have that going for us: Should the world end, it will have been all his fault. At least that's what the intel says. Intel inside.
So I have no qualified answer to your question. But now you have my take. Which helped. If only me only briefly. Thank you.