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Step Away from Putin’s Head

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Let’s get one thing straight: No one knows what Vladimir Putin is thinking. Not Tom Friedman. Not Walter Russell Mead. Not even me.

No one knows what Vladimir Putin is thinking because there is no way to know what he is thinking. There is no window into his head, no wire from his brain to the wonkosphere, no running commentary scrolling by under his resolute little chin. Which doesn’t stop the likes of Friedman and Mead from trying to convince us all that they – and only they – know what Putin is really thinking, and because we don’t know what they know, we’ll never get Russia policy right.

Here’s the thing: Whenever the world (or some part of it) thinks it has a grip on what Putin is thinking, he’ll surprise us. Not because he’s so inscrutable, but because there’s profit it in it. And that’s my…

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