"We are not a gang. We are not the mafia," Russian television host Vladimir Solovyov vehemently declared, but actions speak louder than words. * The US stands as a nation of laws, a claim Russia can't sincerely make.
An ominous cloud looms over Russia and its political dynamics, echoing similar but differently-contextualized challenges in the United States. A recent article by Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times dissects the unsettling parallels between the leadership styles of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former U.S. President Donald Trump, painting both nations in a rather disquieting light.
According to Rachman, Putin and Trump share a mobster-like code of ethics. The emphasis on personal loyalty and the dangerous, almost Shakespearean obsession with revenge cast both leaders in the role of mob bosses. Rachman traces this to Putin's history with St. Petersburg's criminal underworld and Trump's dealings in New York construction and casinos. "Betrayal and disloyalty are the sins that can never be forgiven," Rachman aptly points out, a line that could well have come from the mouth of Don Corleone.
This unnerving narrative fits neatly into the wider context of the role of corruption and organized crime in international politics. It brings to mind the biblical verse, "When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers" (Proverbs 21:15). The Torah warns us against corruption and the abuse of power, underlining how these ills can erode the very fabric of a society. The relevance of this ancient wisdom is all too clear in today's geopolitical climate.
Quoting further from the source, Rachman observes that in Russia, there is "zero chance that Putin will be investigated for involvement in the murder of Yevgeny Prigozhin—or any of the other crimes he may have committed." The contrasting situation in the U.S., where Trump is currently under legal scrutiny, echoes the differentiation in the two systems. One appears as a 'nation of laws,' while the other remains shrouded in dark practices.
While this divergence speaks volumes about the resilience of American institutions, it also serves as a warning. As we contemplate the approaching Moshiach, it is prudent to acknowledge that even a system built on law and order can teeter on the edge of becoming something far less noble. It calls for vigilance, for as the Talmud advises, "A judge who judges truthfully ... turns the Shechinah into a shield for Israel."
In conclusion, Rachman's article is a chilling exposé of two leadership styles that seem eerily similar. It serves as a warning to both nations, imploring them to reevaluate their paths and inviting citizens to take note. The Torah's timeless insights serve as a moral compass, imploring us to follow a path of justice and righteousness. As we tread these uncertain waters, let us seek the clarity and hope that the coming of Moshiach promises, for it is in such times that the need for a messianic vision becomes painfully evident.