playing a patient game

Putin vs ObamaVirtually every caricature cartoon has Putin always beating Obama at chess. Stupidparty love to suggest that Obama is playing checkers against a chess grand-master. Odd since chess would be beyond their powers. Perhaps we should revisit this issue.

Not long ago a strapping Russian super hero, overwhelmingly proud of his disturbing mix of a jedi judo six-pack physique and chess thumping grand master heritage, was strutting half naked across the world stage seemingly out maneuvering any mortal who got in his way. A Palin with a brain, his task made easy by a disingenuous myopic American administration through 2008 being held in contempt in the court of world opinion (barely more respected than the Russian oligarchical dictatorship – see below chart), a booming Russian oil economy, opposition oppressed, and popular rule on the back nationalist fervor to restore the empire to its former delusional glory – but now, with the help of the West, Russia is being built on more solid economics. The re-acquisition of Crimea, the undermining of Ukraine, the strategic noose holds of surplus oil production and consequent controlling pipelines, the awarding of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, not surprisingly devoid of natural snow, the successful campaign to host the 2018 football World Cup, a terribly weak US President—what could go wrong. Wait a minute, weak President? – the 2018 World cup? Something just does not add up.

Putin, who is clever, has over the years become extraordinarily confident and arrogant. Dealing with George Bush know doubt helped feed his superiority complex, plus Russia was rebuilding from a crisis and needed western capital – and with an incoming Obama administration preferring to trust that stronger economic ties would logically lead to a deescalation of disputes. But Putin is nothing if not cunning and he waited to sow his wild oats, to let his true self begin the task of taking on Western interests to allow his imperialist soul to get it’s hearts desire. By being the one to make first move he by default assumed the advantage getting the white pieces on the chess board. His aggressive opening gambits were thus bound to give him the strategic advantage. He had so little respect for the chess playing capabilities of Obama that he proceeded to aggressively attack with his queen – but in doing so left his queen exposed.

GALLUP: Rating World Leaders: U.S., China, Russia, EU and Germany
Obama, getting to know his opponent, played a patient game, advancing his pawns in order to minimize the threats to his key strategic pieces. So the game was afoot. Controlling the center of the board, Putin aggressively moved his supporting pieces around the board seemingly gaining territory all the time. If it had been a Stupidparty President only conversant with tic-tac-toe – escalate, escalate, escalate – huff and puff – countries like Ukraine would have been destabilized to the point of collapsing back into Putin’s camp.

Patience is a virtue, waiting for an error – inevitable within the context of an overly confident predator, under the impression that he was playing “speed chess.” The shooting down of the Malaysian Airline Flight 17 with the loss of 298 civilians was the result of Putin’s lax control of his agent provocateurs acting on Ukrainian territory. Putin in seeking plausible deniability had allowed an environment to brew that would create such a catastrophe because every one knows it was Russian equipment and Russian know-how that allowed this tragedy to unfold. So even though Putin feigned innocence – everybody knew the truth. His queen (any semblance of credibility) had sacrificed itself and Putin know longer controlled the central region of the board. Obama could now move his more powerful pieces from behind the protection of his pawns. He now knew that passively going for any type of stale mate – with both Kings unable to corner the other – would likely lead to further advances by the white pieces, belligerent even with out their queen.

The still in play black queen started marshaling her forces – the various pawns and rooks were able to maintain a gradual advance, applying greater sanctions, applying specific pressure to specific high value pieces, specific Oligarchs – making it difficult for them to rove the board – marauding the weaker regions. Having moved his rooks into play – Obama now brings out his knights to attack the Russian economy with even greater speed than Putin could possibly have anticipated, thus out of left field totally blindsiding the adept grand master, the price of oil plummets. (Every now and then it helps to have the CIA protectorate, that is Saudi Arabia, on the board). This would lead to a reversal of Russia’s booming economy to the point of a contraction – thus undermining the base upon which Putin is able to freely move his pieces – popular support. Note to analysts predicting a quick rebound in oil prices -this can not happen while OPEC is producing significantly more oil than is actually demanded.

Meanwhile Putin refuses to relinquish his advantage, fully understands that attack is the best form of defense, he remains determined to carry on with is agenda in the Ukraine and elsewhere– figuring that Obama chess skills will fade via attrition. This is Putin’s new game, the longer he stays in it, his opponents focus must surely slip, especially since Obama’s is operating in a domestic political environment shadowed by a kindergarten Congress of spoilt brat kids acting out an unending tantrum of Stupidparty vitriol and absurdity. They only want to throw the chess board into the garbage, so that they can play “call of duty” on their “Game Box Nintendo’s.” But Obama is not only a chess player he has rapidly had to acquire the skills of child psychiatry and is able deal with Congress using the following rules:

*When a child has a temper tantrum, it is important that you stay calm. It helps to remember that tantrums are normal. They are not your fault. You are not a bad President. Shouting at or hitting children will only make the situation worse. A quiet, peaceful response and atmosphere, without “giving in” or breaking the rules that you set, reduces stress and makes them feel better.

You can also try gentle distraction, switching to activities a child enjoys or making a funny face. If a child has a tantrum away from Congress, lead this child to a quiet place, such as the car or a rest room. Keep the child safe until the tantrum has ended.

Temper tantrums are an attention-seeking behavior. One strategy to minimize the length and severity of the tantrum is to ignore the behavior. If a child is safe and not being destructive, going to another room in the house may shorten the episode because now the drama has no audience. Your child may follow and continue the tantrum. If so, do not talk or react until the behavior stops. Then, calmly discuss the issue and offer alternatives without giving in to your child’s demand. (*quote with poetic license)

Vintage Tupperware Shape O Sorter Ball ToyWithin this context, give these horrid brats some toys to play with –to keep them distracted, but toys that will not break when hurled across the room. Let them play with marriage equality, gender pay equality, feeding the needy, healthcare etc. They can throw these toys at each other and hopefully causing some self inflicted bodily harm, but the toys should not break, lest the public ground the miscreants off to their bedrooms.

If they master these kindergarten lessons then they might be ready for a formal fact based education — but do not let them near toys that can cause harm to others such as Guns, an Army, Nuclear Weapons.

But Putin is no child with a temper tantrum. He is fully aware of truth and consequences and knows full well he is playing a deadly game of chess with a guy forced to multitask by having to deal with actual world crisis’s during his 24/7 kindergarten class. Back to Ukraine – what few people understand is how fragile the Ukrainians are to Russia’s economic and nationalistic fervor. Obama has resisted populist jingoistic taunts, threats of military action that would threaten the pro Ukrainian alliance that he has been nurturing. Resorting to hyperbole would make him equal with Putin, and retaining moral authority is vital as was the patiently waited result of Putin sacrificing his queen. It is not understood by many how far worse the situation in Ukraine could easily get, have gotten. It would be easy for Obama to send high tech arms to Ukraine, but there can be no guarantee that these would not fall into the wrong hands- and regardless such weapons could not stand up to Russia’s military might. But Obama retains that option to train and arm the Ukrainian army. Politically this is easier to do, but playing chess is all about strategic thinking, which requires brains and courage. If Crimea and other territorial regions in Ukraine had representation in parliament – one could easy have a pro Russian Government in Kiev – which would be Putin’s end game. Obama, having more sanctions, more options up his sleeves uses these tools to maintain the status quo, with Putin no closer to being able to veto Ukraine’s merge into Europe. During this status quo the Ukrainians should, when ever possible, use it’s resources to building a functioning economy rather than a war of attrition against Putin’s agents, even if that means avoiding a global scale crisis over small pro Russian regions. The Crimea was never quite such a black and white issue anyway.

But this status quo ties into Obama’s long game, taking advantage of any missteps by Putin. The latest Putin error comes from a most unexpected quarter, but a mistake that Obama may have been privately aware of for the last three years. This all revolves around the FIFA scandal. Under any normal scenario it is absurd that it should be the Americans who are taking down FIFA. Americans have virtually no interest in Soccer at an adult level, – yet after the Summer Olympic Games, the World Cup Football tournament is the worlds biggest sporting event, a spectacle that might make for a few sound bites on the American news horizon- but dominate the rest of the planet – with a build up that make the Olympics pale in comparison.

Blather with Putin Cartoon by Marian KamenskyHosting the World Cup will cost the Russians a massive $20b, likely much more – but in return they get international respect, greater acceptance, more tourism and long term benefits to the economy. This will theoretically be a massive propaganda boost for Putin, thus giving him more political and economic capital to spend on an ever more aggressive foreign policy. But Obama is now playing offense, while Putin has had to play defense to protect his main pieces who have lost the protection of the queen. For many moves he was apparently oblivious to the fact that his castle had become exposed, could be gone in three or four moves. Obama seemingly strikes out of no where – dramatically arresting numerous top FIFA officials in Zurich in a predawn raid . He has known that he has had these characters dead to rights for months. Putin, horrified, caught off guard, trips up. In his panic, he publicly and vehemently supports the FIFA chairman Sepp Blatter. Putin called the arrests a “clear attempt” to stop Blatter’s reelection, which he said had the support of Russia, which won the right to host the 2018 men’s World Cup back in December 2010. Vladimir Putin suggests FIFA probe is a U.S. plot to take 2018 World Cup away from Russia.

Who cares? He’s missing the point! Corruption on a massive scale is corruption on a massive scale – you are either OK with that or you are not. Thus this spontaneous, vociferous support for a doomed man was ill considered. Yes Blatter did win reelection – two day s after the arrests – but even that worked in Obama’s favor. It just needed another little American push or two. FIFA is so institutionally corrupt (this has never been a well-kept secret) that anyone associated with Blatter’s re election showed that they are likely fully OK with all that corruption. Some of the arrested are just simply deeply stupid people, such as Ex VP Jack Warner, quoting a piece from the Onion about FIFA awarding the Olympics to America—”turning” him should be as easy as having “Jack Bauer” never going to the bathroom even once in twenty four hours, unless it is the venue to successfully persuade people like Jack Warner to tell the truth. It did not take long to topple Blatter. How did they do it – first the US just kept leaking details suggesting that Blatter was also implicated in the corruption and secondly FIFA’s main sponsors like Coca Cola, MacDonald’s and others desperately do not want their brand to be associated with corruption. Publicly they simply stated that they were reviewing the situation – but I can virtually guarantee that at least one of these sponsors insisted that Blatter quit. With Blatter quitting and others likely to be extradited to the USA – FIFA corruption has nowhere to hide. It is obvious that world cup venues where chosen as a result of bribery—Qatar, hosting the 2022 world cup? You got to be kidding.

Sepp Blatter meets with Vladimir Putin by Ria NovostiNow we may never know the extent of Russian cheating in securing the 2018 games. This is because the world cup scandal has become the equivalent of Obama exchanging one of his pawns for a second Queen. The US Justice Department will be able to find out the truth – but may choose to play the long game. Yes they could threaten to cancel the 2018 world cup, America’s European allies and others could be covertly pressured to play along –at the very least turning the 2018 World Cup into a ramshackle humiliation for Russia –empty stadiums turning into expensive symbolic white elephants of failure. Assuming that Russia played the FIFA corruption game, hard to believe that they did not – this would be further leverage to use against Putin— that if handled correctly, could turn popular support for Putin (gained by securing the games) into hostility as a result of Putin’s being caught with his hand stuffing cash into the barrel. His immediate rabid support for Blatter will come back to haunt him. So now Putin cannot even consider doing anything outrageous in Ukraine and other places in the European sphere until well after the 2018 World Cup tournament. This whole worst case breakdown scenario could end up as a checkmate against Putin, with Russia’s economy continuing to struggle against a world not eager to trade with a rogue nation. A check mate move made by a different US President –the details of such a move having been provided in a sealed envelope the day Obama leaves the White House.

Incidentally there is one set of Obama’s enemies that should be thanking Obama profusely. Netanyahu of Israel, along with his fundamentalist billionaire fans in the USA, who have pretty much bought up the Stupidparty. The thing is that under Blatter, FIFA was likely to expel Israel from FIFA. Americans are obliviously unaware that Israel has no unconditional allies outside of stupidparty. Israel’s offence is playing soccer in the West Bank (this they should not be doing) whilst at the same time restricting the ability of Palestinian players to travel. But Israel will likely dodge that bullet – because even though FIFA will become “corrupt” free, it will in turn likely become corrupted by politics rather than money. As America is the savior, America will have political capital — so I would not expect Israel to be expelled any time soon.

It certainly helps to have a smart President, and just maybe Obama will take his revenge out on Netanyahu (with plausible deniability) or he might threaten people like Adelson and his chums to cut out their odious crap –but now I fear I am just dreaming. The US is just too far down that rabbit hole. But this is an “X “ Obama has on his tic-tac-toe board, his specially designed game with Congress (Congress not being smart enough to play chess, whilst stupidparty enough to lose a game that should always end in a draw)

Soccer may be an irritating game, a game that for no good reason does more damage to the English psyche than the loss of the empire. (Because while better than the Americans, they are crap at it and will remain crap at it – whilst being extraordinarily good at numerous other sports that the English public ignore, because or their soccer fetish).

But this FIFA take down comes with real bonus’s that few Americans will ever recognize. America’s approval rating will continue to rise, Russia’s continue to fall, America unwittingly will have secured the admiration from peoples across the globe for salvaging their favorite sport from the clutches of an antiquated and fundamentally corrupt governing body. When was the last time an American foreign policy “plot” meshed so neatly with the interests of mankind even if it is all over this rather irritating game (at a professional level), so irritatingly called Soccer?

Editor's Note: This story first posted at Stupidparty Math v. Myth. Images: Putin vs Obama cartoon by Eric Allie licensed by at; Chart Rating World Leaders: U.S., China, Russia, EU and Germany by Gallup; Vintage Tupperware Shape O Sorter Ball Toy provided by the author; Blather with Putin Cartoon by Marian Kamensky licensed by at; Sepp Blatter meets with Vladimir Putin by Ria Novosti.
Patrick Andendall

Patrick Andendall

Patrick Andendall is a mathematician who loves statistics. Recently he focused his formidable quantitative abilities like a microscope in a quest to seek and find and describe whatever sanity he could find in the crazy world of politics. The result is a serious yet hilarious new book titled Stupidparty Math v. Myth: Unmasking the Destructive Forces Eroding American Democracy. His most recent work is focused on gun ownership and violence. Patrick Andendall has always had an interest in politics and, being multicultural, he views issues from a more international perspective. In 2004, five days before the election, he flew to Cleveland and pitched in to help with the political process. What he discovered was the dissolution of the American Dream, which he writes about in his book, Stupidparty.Educated at English boarding schools from the age of seven, Andendall went on to graduate from Lancing College. He started by sometimes working three jobs at once, trainee Underwriter/claim broker at Lloyd's of London, his own one man cleaning Company (cleaning the very offices of a Reinsurance Company he would transact business at) plus doing seasonal work on various farms. Having made some windfall profits by borrowing money in order to be a "Stag" to take advantage of opportunities created by Margaret Thatcher's de nationalization policies of the mid 1980's, Andendall evolved into an entrepreneur with a core specialty in Reinsurance in London and New York where he looks for patterns in numbers. Self-employed in a field not normally conducive to self-employment, he is able remain in control, juggle different jobs, travel and pursue his various interests. Ending up in New York via romance in the African bush, Andendall now lives on Long Island with his wife, two children and two dogs.