The violent history of Eastern Europe and a real-life villain inspired Irish author Bram Stoker to create the frightening character Dracula in 1897. Stoker based his vampire on the 15th century Romanian ruler Vlad III, who took sadistic pleasure in carrying out unspeakable atrocities, among them roasting little children and mutilating women. Old Vlad's favorite tool of terror was impaling, which he did to thousands of his enemies.
The tyrant is known to history as "Vlad the Impaler."
Now we have Vladimir Putin, the Russian martinet, who has annexed Crimea and made it part of his Russian Federation. Using the old Third Reich ruse of "protecting" ethnic Russians living in Ukrainian territory, Putin instigated an action that has angered most decent people.
This modern tyrant should be known to history as "Vlad the Invader."
But why is Putin doing this? Well, like Dracula, it is in his blood. The former KGB thug relishes using harsh methods to achieve his goal of expanding Russia's scope and power. Under his rule, Russia has become a crime-ridden state where dissenters (and homosexuals) are beaten, imprisoned, and even murdered.
His vision is a Russia that dominates the countries on its borders and competes with the United States and China for global influence. But with Russia's economy moribund and its population in a downward spiral, Putin is forced to look outside his own borders.
A few weeks ago Fox News strategic analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters predicted that Vladimir Putin would run wild after the Sochi Olympics. Peters was prescient then, and his crystal ball is clouded with violence now. He says Putin has only just begun, and that his next target will be eastern Ukraine. "We are witnessing an aggressive dictator," Peters warns, "dismantling a major European country. Putin has never backed down from anybody. He has Obama's number, and Obama's number is zero!"
Meanwhile, President Obama, while ruling out military action, tweaked Putin by imposing sanctions on a handful of Putin confidants. Wow, can't you just feel Vlad the Invader trembling? This brutal man senses weakness in America and Europe, weakness that will likely drive him to become bolder. The only thing a guy like Vlad understands is the stick.
But how to wield it, that is the question. President Obama is organizing an emergency G7 meeting for next week, hoping to convince other leading economies to come down hard on Russia. But Europe needs Russia's natural gas and oil and is not likely to challenge Putin by supporting tough sanctions.
If the West doesn't find a way to effectively neutralize Putin, Vlad the Invader – much like Vlad the Impaler – will continue to run roughshod over Eastern Europe while thumbing his nose at the West. The dire situation makes a missing airliner in Asia seem, well, downright trivial.