Epicenter, Chapter 7 (2006): “Future Headline: A Czar Rises In Russia, Raising Fears of a New Cold War.”

A Czar is born.

A Czar is born.

(Washington, D.C.) — Recently, I was criticized for describing Vladimir Putin as a “Czar” and a danger to the U.S., Europe and Israel. On that charge, I plead guilty.

I do believe Putin is a Czar, and I believe he sees himself that way. It’s a case I’ve been making going back at least as far as 2004.

In the fall of 2006, I published my first non-fiction book, Epicenter. Chapter Seven was titled: “Future Headline: A Czar Rises In Russia, Raising Fears of a New Cold War.” (I’ve included excerpts from that chapter below.)

We are certainly seeing such headlines and commentaries today. Consider a brief sampling:

That said, let me be clear that it is too early to say that Vladimir Putin is in any way connected to the figure of “Gog” that Bible prophecy speaks of building a Russian alliance with Iran and other nations in the “last days” to surround and attack Israel. Such prophecies are found in Ezekiel 38 & 39. At this point, I cannot rule out the possibility that Putin could eventually prove to be “Gog,” but much more would have to happen before we could fairly draw such a conclusion.

Nevertheless, Putin poses a serious threat to U.S. and allied interests.



In September I was in Russia for ten days doing research for my next novel. I met with a senior member of the State Duma (legislature), senior officials at the U.S. Embassy, leading Russian political analysts, and the New York Times’ Moscow bureau chief and an economic reporter for the Times.

To each one, I tossed out a possible scenario: a fascist, ­ultra-nationalist coup in Moscow leads to the assassination of the democratically elected leader of Russia and leaves a ­nuclear-armed dictator in power itching for a dangerous new confrontation with the West. One by one, each told me there was no need for a coup; the dictator is already in place. And so he is.

Over the past eighteen months or so, Vladimir Putin has steadily turned the clock back on Russian democracy, centralizing power back in the Kremlin and slowly morphing himself into an all-powerful Czar.

He has nationalized Russian television networks; thrown political opponents in prison on suspect charges; all but threatened to seize and nationalize one of Russia’s largest petroleum companies; announced Russia’s governors will no longer be popularly elected but rather appointed by the Kremlin; and steadfastly supported a presidential candidate in Ukraine even after international observers protested the candidate was trying to steal the election.

Meanwhile, Putin is selling nuclear power plants, fuel, and technology to Iran—the most dangerous state sponsor of terrorism on the planet—has announced a 40% increase in the Russian military budget, and just announced the development of a new class of Russian strategic nuclear missiles.

“We are not only conducting research and successful ­testing of the newest nuclear missile systems,” Putin told commanders at the Ministry of Defense, according to the New York Times (11/17/04). “I am certain that in the immediate years to come we will be armed with them. These are such developments and such systems that other nuclear states do not have and will not have in the immediate years to come.”

The Times added that the Russian military “is widely ­reported to have been trying to perfect land- and sea-based ­ballistic missiles with warheads that could elude a missile-defense system like the one being constructed by the Bush ­administration.”

Which brings us to today.

During a speech in India, Putin lashed out at Washington, accusing the Bush administration of seeking a “dictatorship of international affairs.

“Even if dictatorship is wrapped up in a beautiful package of pseuo-democratic phraseology, it will not be in a position to solve systemic problems,” Putin said in New Delhi.


To be sure, the situation in Russia isn’t nearly as bad today as it was during the Cold War. And Putin has done some things right; he has, for example, been supportive of U.S. efforts in the war on terror; has permitted U.S. and NATO planes to fly over Russian territory to support war efforts in Afghanistan; opposed but didn’t directly attempt to block the U.S.-led war against Iraq; and his 13% flat tax plan, among other pro-market economic reforms, has, in fact, helped the Russian economy grow significantly in recent years and attract U.S. and Western foreign investment and companies.

That said, however, the trend lines are disturbing. Russia is lurching back in the wrong direction. Putin is a dictator in the making.


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