Putin Up With Putin

That feeling when you get thrown out of the club

If you had asked me in the 1990’s, “What regulation is needed to keep corporations in check?”, I would have said “Individuals don’t realize the power they have at the cash register”. I no longer have to say such things. The era of the “Values-driven buyer” has arrived like a Tsunami, and in the current Russia / Ukraine drama, we can also see the arrival of Values-driven nations; one begets the other.

Putin with a dart in hand attempting to burst a balloon, but bursts himself instead
Image Source: John Sweeney / Twitter

Putin’s rationalizations for the invasion and attempts to draw parallels with America’s invasion of Iraq, may strike some analytical/logical appeal, and appeal to those in the world that already see America as the evil to be concerned about. However, Putin is going to lose this argument, because emotions are strong, and two wrongs don’t make a right. If there is a marketing angle to this story, it is how the brands of people and entities are not always, perhaps ever, driven by cold hard logic, they are often driven by emotion. If you are losing the argument in the public square, you can either keep digging, or you can about face, apologize, and throw yourself on the public stage of self-flagellation. Putin is doing the former.

Relationships are voluntary. There is no fair there. If the people of the world, and more precisely the richest trading nations in the world, decide they don’t want to hear what you have to say, or have simply decided you are too annoying to be part of the club, then, adios, all the appeals in the world too logic are not going to move the needle. Just like that, in a New York minute, and a Silicon Valley nanosecond, you are cancelled.

As much as I celebrate individuals, corporations, and nations making choices that shape the world, it does not mean I will always agree with those choices. In this case I do, but in the social media age, we all know mobs can be fickle and relentless.

The most recent example of this is the predicament that champion golfer Phil Mickelson found himself in with his comments about Saudi Arabia, which I will not repeat here. I have worked in Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh, and I met many liberal minded people in the business community. Much like Putin’s actions don’t represent all Russians, the headlines from the Kingdom don’t represent all Saudis. Phil’s comments were the kind of blunt throw away lines among friends you would expect at a cocktail party, lacking any nuance or balance.

At the same time, the speed and scope of Phil’s blacklisting by Corporate America does not necessarily fill me with joy, or bring me closer to understanding why Corporate America behaves the way it does. Yes I get it that there is offense when entire groups of non-white people are discarded in a generalization by a white person. At the same time, you have to wonder if the Kingdom was not so wealthy and influential, whether the reaction would have had the same velocity and scope. Anyway, Phil is rich and famous, enough tears, I’m just saying, it is not as if there is nothing in the Kingdom that concern Americans. There are. They also concern some, if not many, Saudis.

However, as I posted last Friday, I am 100% supportive of those networking companies, in fact all companies, that are distancing themselves from Russia in words, and especially in actions. I’m not going to get into the reported imperfections of the Ukrainian government, or dwell too deeply on the challenge of Russian dominated Ukrainian territory. I will simply say what has happened is unacceptable.

If any nuclear superpower invaded any country, regardless of the location and dominant race of that country, they should be treated with the same expulsion from the world community. I’m generally in favor of mending fences with nations that are different than ourselves, but there are deal-breakers.

We can argue about human rights violations from country to country and other issues that concern us, but invading other countries, causing death, dismemberment, and economic ruin is a deal breaker. It is especially a deal-breaker on Wall Street which would rather discount Russian economic activity than deal with the uncertainty of Putin’s next rush of blood.

In America today, the tactic/strategy of shaming people who have different views is way too pervasive, and extremely corrosive. In addition, it is not clear the mob or Corporate America always get it right. However, as a global community, we have to draw a line in the sand. Invading other countries is that line in the sand. There is no place for it in the 21st century and excluding nuclear countries from the world community is, sadly, the best response we currently have. Not quick, but the best statement we can make as a global community of what we stand for. For now, it is the best way of Putin up with Putin, and I applaud all the individuals and corporations who have done so.

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