What’s Putin doing in the title? That’s to remind ourselves that if the first two items don’t totally exhaust our correlated capacities for worry, pessimism and despair, there’s always the reactivated cadaver of the Soviet Union to keep us in persisting dysphoria. There are Russianists and Russianists and lots of them still linger in Fukayamish optimism that at least the “cold war” ended years ago. A few of the best “on the scene” students of present Russian reality think otherwise and have good and easily demonstrable reasons. One is David Satter who has appeared here on two of our earlier podcasts. Another is Gary Saul Morson of Northwestern University who recorded this conversation with us a few weeks ago, just before the emergence of the ISIS and Ebola nightmares. Here, then, is his properly pessimistic reading of Putin and the anti-democratic culture from which he comes and by which he and his happy army of kleptocrats are sustained. In other words, when the Ebola scourge has passed and Islamic Jihadism has finally been brought down to a manageable level, the Russian threat to east European societies will still be there and may have done them a good deal more damage than Ukraine has already sustained. For a strong and persuasive analysis along these lines do consider closely what Gary Morson has to say here.