Over the last few years, Russia and Putin – Russia’s president/dictator – have created a time warp, dragging the world back several decades to the Cold War. Vladimir Putin has demonstrated that he is perfectly willing to invade his neighbors in order to expand Russian territory or carry out reckless military actions to intimidate the West. The policies of Putin seem like an anachronism in the current world, and they have left many people wondering about the psychological motivations that may underlie many of Putin’s decisions. In short – pun intended – does Vladimir Putin have a Napoleon complex because he’s so diminutive?
— Junior Campbell (@Poeticjazztice) February 12, 2015
It’s probably best to preface this article by making it clear I’m not suggesting that short people can’t be strong, rational, great leaders. The question isn’t what you or I think about the relevance of height. The question is what Vladimir Putin thinks being short means and how it might affect his thinking.
There’s plenty of evidence to support the notion that Vladimir Putin is extremely self-conscious about his height. And such self-consciousness – and the feeling of inferiority that can go with it – could lead him to make reckless decisions to compensate.
@Thereidreport Vladimir Putin is much shorter than President Obama. Maybe that is Putin's problem. He suffers from Napoleonic complex
— Sharon Jones (@sharblom) November 11, 2014
One clear indication of the concern that Putin has about his height is seen in the fact that he has carefully selected bodyguards that are even shorter than he is. Putin doesn’t like having tall people around him and does everything he can to avoid that situation.
As The Express points out, this is also demonstrated by the fact that he requires any Russian women who are going to be in a photo with him to remove their high heels. Many of these women – who would otherwise tower over Putin in these photos – are also asked to crouch slightly to make him look taller.
The frequent photo ops in which Putin demonstrates his strength and masculinity are further evidence of his innate insecurities. Russians – and Western commentators – are frequently treated to unintentionally hilarious photos of Putin riding a horse, Putin hunting dangerous animals, or Putin demonstrating his questionable karate skills. Like Elvis before him, Putin is supposedly a “master” of the martial arts.
What does all this mean? It means that it’s quite possible – even likely – that Putin’s threats of nuking the United States, his invasion of Crimea, his shoot-down of a civilian airliner, and Russia’s current involvement in Syria could all be related to Putin’s height-based feelings of inferiority. The Wall Street Journal reports that even now, Russia is building up its forces along the Ukrainian border.
Russian hybrid forces’s attacks increased https://t.co/sQ8Eg6Xcge
— Geir Storvik (@geirstor) August 29, 2016
Is there further proof of this psychological quirk on Putin’s part? Yes indeed. For example, Putin claims that he is 5’7″ tall. This is what the Russia media insists, what the government itself states, and even what the Wikipedia article about Vladimir Putin indicates.
But the simple fact is that photos of Vladimir Putin standing next to individuals whose height we know make it very clear that he is nowhere near being 5’7″ tall. For example, when Putin is standing next to Dmitry Medvedev – whose height we know to be 5’4″ – Putin is revealed to be at least two or 3 inches shorter. This means Putin’s actual height is between 5’1″–5’2.”
Again, Putin’s actual height isn’t the point. No rational person cares about the height of an individual when judging his or her competence and ability to lead. But the fact that Putin is so desperate to hide the facts about his true height – from Russia and everyone else – demonstrates that he may not be entirely rational when it comes to this topic. And it’s a disquieting thought that an individual with the capacity – and authority – to destroy the world might not be entirely sane.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]