THE Russians are alcohol-sodden bar barians, but now and then they vomit up a genius.
Prime Minister - and now generalissimo - Vladimir Putin is Mother Russia's latest world-class wonder.
Let's be honest: Putin's the most effective leader in the world today.
That doesn't mean he's good news for anybody - not even for the Russians, in the long run. His ruthless ambition and gambler's audacity may end terribly.
But, for now, give the devil his due: After a long string of successes, from his personal mastery of Russia's government and media to his coldblooded energy brinkmanship, Putin has capped his performance with a stunning success in Georgia.
Not a single free-world leader currently in office can measure up to Czar Vladimir the Great.
Following his turnaround of Russia from bankrupt kleptocracy to flush-with-cash autocracy, he's now openly determined to restore Moscow's old empire.
And he's getting away with it.
they're good at propaganda too.
Equally as remarkable was the Kremlin's ability to lead the global media by the nose. (Oblivious to the irony, a BBC broadcast yesterday portrayed tiny, poorhouse Georgia as a propaganda powerhouse and Russia as an information victim - an illustration of the Russian propaganda machine's effectiveness.)
Related (from Times of London): Kremlin: Conflict in Georgia a plot by Dick Cheney to stop Obama from being elected US President.