Vladimir Putin, the man who murdered my neighbor

I run at least six miles every day, and three quarters of a mile into my favorite running route lies the former home of the late Dawn Sturgess. I pass her house four times on my route so her tragedy serves as my constant reminder of the depth of degeneracy that exists in the world. Dawn Sturgess was murdered by the most powerful evil man alive, Vladimir Putin.

Dawn was a woman who struggled most of her life with addiction, and her plight was made all the more poignant by her determination to turn her life around so she could be a better mom to her little girl. That chance was taken away from her when she accidentally ingested a deadly binary nerve agent called novichock and died on July the 8th, 2018, aged 44. The poison was intended for a Russian defector living in England. Dawn got in the way.

I never knew her. She was just another neighbor in a neighborhood of thousands. But she was a human being who lived nearby, and when she died it became personal. We’re supposed to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and I and everyone else in the community bore the common sadness of her tragic end. Somehow we had failed her.

The lead story in the British newspaper, the Guardian, says that the same Russian intelligence unit behind Dawn’s death secretly offered to pay Taliban-linked fighters to kill British and American soldiers in Afghanistan. But I know better. It wasn’t a Russian intelligence unit behind those killings anymore than it was the guns or the bombs or the poisons. It was Vladimir Putin — and no one else. Russian intelligence was merely the tool he used. Nothing like this is ever done without Putin’s express command, personal deliberation and detailed instruction. No such operation could exist inside Russia without it being Putin’s idea, and anyone who tries to do otherwise won’t be alive for very long.

Naturally, Donald Trump’s White House denies any knowledge of this latest outrage against America’s fighting men and women emerging from Putin’s Russia. Whether that’s true or not will come out in the end. There are too many John Boltons still at work inside the West Wing who will get betrayed, forgotten, abandoned and disavowed by America’s most faithless friend, Donald Trump. In the end they will be happy to turn state’s evidence on the narcissistic bastard’s knowledge, if any, of the doings of his buddy in Moscow. As Chaucer put it, murder will out.

Meanwhile Trump’s outrage at the revelation of the doings of his best Russian friend is nonexistent. His tweets these days are full of distractions, endless recyclings and renewed focus on footage of the minority of Black Lives Matter protesters who have turned violent, “Sleepy Joe” Biden has now suddenly become “Corrupt” Joe Biden. Fifteen tweets in a row are a series of wanted posters, “attempts to identify” unlawful protesters painting graffiti on or toppling racist statues. Not a single word about Putin’s call to murder American soldiers in Afghanistan. Not one.

It’s important to note Vladimir Putin’s cynical use and manipulation of Donald Trump. Putin knew that ordering the murder of American troops probably wouldn’t matter to Trump. But it was still a chance he took. But Putin loves the thrill of the chance. It’s why he left behind his novichok calling card here in England. He could have just as easily gone after his spy with a gun or a knife, or made it look like an accident or suicide. But no, he wanted to use a rare and deadly binary nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union in the early 70s.

Similarly, Putin knew sooner or later his bounty on American soldiers would get out. In fact, he knew that the bounty served very little strategic or even tactical advantage, at least not enough to justify the inevitable blowback. It was just a supremely evil thing to do and he wanted to add it to his resume. Like the novichok, the murder of American troops is Vlad shouting to the rest of the world “Look at me, I’m Vladimir Putin, the most dangerous man in the world. I can kill anyone and I will get away with it!”

And so he has, without so much as a peep of protest from the weakling Donald Trump. The official word from the White House on this act of war was a noncommittal disavowal. Trump had no knowledge of the operation, the tepid denial goes. Meanwhile Trump’s boast at how he’s “rebuilding the military,” rings hollow against the backdrop of his indifference at Putin’s order to murder American troops. Why, if I didn’t know any better, I’d wonder if Trump’s 2016 emphasis on the deaths in Benghazi on Hillary Clinton’s watch wasn’t counterfeit outrage after all.

By the way, back to the murder of Dawn Sturgess, the Russian nerve agent novichok is virtually undetectable. More of it could be scattered around England and no one would know about it. It is virtually indestructible and it will persist in its current lethal state on the order of fifty years. The world’s most evil man, Vladimir Putin, inflicted it on me and my neighbors for the next two generations, and the world’s second most evil man, Donald Trump, doesn’t care. That’s one of the many reasons this election is so personal for me. I want Joe Biden to defeat Donald Trump this November for a number of reasons, among them is that Trump is best friends with the man who murdered my neighbor. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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