How Russia & China May Benefit from “Breaking Bad”

Vern Scott
6 min readMay 3, 2022


EVER NOTICE HOW POPULAR THE “BAD GUYS” ARE IN WWF WRESTLING? AND HOW ROGUISH PEOPLE LEARN TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF VIRTUOUS/TRUSTING PEOPLE? This is essentially what is about to happen with Russia/China and their minions, on several fronts, in the areas of global warming, human rights, and weaponry, relative to the rest of the world!

Are Russia and China becoming some combination of Walter “Heisenberg” White and Saul Goodman, in the areas of human rights/clean air/nuclear proliferation?

Forget all the right-wing noise about how NATO or Joe Biden started the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Russians are clearly the bad guys here, invading a sovereign nation with no intentions of playing by the international rules. In fact, they seem to revel in “breaking bad” as a means of intimidating their foes, while China is giving them quiet support, probably thinking “hey, this sorta works!” Most alarming is iconoclastic bombast that has far-right rules-breakers all over the world dreaming of a racist, machismo, immigrant-hating, climate-change denying utopia. In a strange way, this end-run is working, at least in the short-term. Here are some examples:

NUCLEAR SABRE-RATTLING: Putin seems to have borrowed a page from the North Korean nuclear missile playbook as of late. Since the “civilized” Western nations are vested in behaving themselves (not bragging about their nuclear capabilities, which are collectively more powerful than the rogue nations) this allows the rogue nations to make nuclear noise to get their way (sort of like the way a little dog yaps more than a big dog to compensate for his weakness). Ordinarily, the nations vested in responsibility, human rights, and peace could ignore all the yapping and wait for the day when they could tear apart the little dog, but in nuclear war there are no winners. Some day, North Korea or Russia’s bluff may be called and nuclear missiles may go flying (otherwise, Russia in particular would continue to bully Eastern Europe). If this happens, one hopes that we win and the conflict ends early (something like they strike Warsaw while we melt Pyongyang and Moscow, game over). Otherwise, very very bad for everyone.

FALSE-FLAG OPERATIONS FOLLOWED BY INCESSANT BOMBING: The Chechnyan conflict in 1999 turns out to be the template for Putin’s actions. Putin planted a few bombs in Moscow, and then blamed them on Chechnyan terrorists (falsely). He then used this as a pretext to level the city of Grozny with incessant bombing. I suppose the rest of the world thought it an isolated internal matter at the time, and perhaps no Chechnyans were left to complain (while Putin gained popularity with Russians, forced loyalties from Chechnyans, and money from the rebuild/dependencies). The pattern repeated itself in Syria and now in Ukraine, and it seems no one survives to hold Putin accountable for his lying nor the bombing, a devilishly effective strategy, it turns out (Putin to rest of world, “Chech-nya-nya-nya-nya-nya”)

GLOBAL WARMING/CLEAN ENERGY: Next to the obvious “threatening nuclear warfare” version of “Breaking Bad”, this is the next most insidious example of taking advantage of more civilized nations. Russia and China have given some lip service to Paris Accord-type lower carbon commitments, but they now appear to be doing an end-run by ganging up on the world’s coal and oil reserves as a means of feeding their war machines and starving ours. This is because “clean energy” costs more and doesn’t come in energy dense packages (like coal, oil, and natural gas) so that we’re at a big disadvantage trying to wage war with expensive wind, solar, or biomass commitments. This is quite a sinister development, as it pretty much penalizes the good long-term intentions of more civilized Countries (if not making them prey to the evil ones). The Russians apparently have little regard for the long-term nuclear radiation dangers of Chernobyl (for example), and its like they’ve taken global warming/nuclear war denial to the point where they don’t even believe that radiation is bad! (note here: To quote Dana Carvey imitating G. Bush Sr., “It’s bad! It’s real bad!”)

HUMAN RIGHTS/DEMOCRACY: Ha! Nyet!!! Obviously human-rights and democracy are a bunch of clutter to some nations, especially large ones beginning with a capital “R” and “C”. Just when most of the West began to adopt a fairly universal democratic template, Russia and China appear to be destroying theirs in the name of Fascist efficiency (in Russia’s case with support from the Russian Orthodox Church). Sure its easier to jail/kill dissenters and run state sponsored propaganda with an economy run by a few loyal Oligarchs, but can this last? More likely, when the nationalistic fervor subsides, there may be a backlash, the economy may suffer, or Putin may have a succession problem (or all three).

CAN THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS?: Generally speaking, there isn’t much future in shrugging off climate change, nuclear radiation danger, or a corrupt and suppressive state that lives on lies. However, despite all the news of Russia’s failures during the Ukrainian invasion, they seem to be holding up pretty well. For one thing, they have the advantage of endlessly bombing Ukrainian targets and terrorizing their populace without worrying what anyone else thinks. Like Darth Vader and the Imperial Storm Troopers, they can’t shoot straight but they overcome that with nastiness (and are building a death-star?). The problem with all this is that its pretty much an incentive for Countries like Sweden and Finland to join NATO (I mean, what do they have to lose?) Russia would probably invade them eventually anyway (ala Ukraine) and at least this way they have protection. Just like Germany and Japan’s initial successes in WW II which caught everyone off guard, then led to their arrogance and overreach, Russia (and later China?) may make the same mistakes. Of course they are banking on the “West” being divided and soft, but that was true in the 30s also, and nothing unites a Democracy faster than a major war threat from the outside (or a nuclear weapon?). Additionally, there may be subversion from within, as many don’t like living with all that suppression (with apocalyptic overtones).

But for the moment, Putin is Walter “Heisenberg” White, roguish villain which plays well against the stulted and hesitant Democracies of the West (just as Heisenberg fiendishly/anti-hero-ly outfoxed the law and cartels in B.B.)

Volodymyr Zelensky?

WHAT CAN BE DONE?: Along with the development of clean energy (after all, great batteries might make better drones), we should hang onto our coal, gas, and oil reserves (which we can thanks to help from friendly countries, especially Canada). We may need these if a major war breaks out. In the interim, we should build our oil reserves. Unfortunately, it is also an incentive to continue nuclear capacities. We also need to defeat Putin-friendly right-wing elements in Western nations (are you listening Trump and Le Pen?) who would sell us out to Putin in a second, or rig/deny elections. The Ukrainian war would ordinarily be a great wake up call for all this, and Macron beat Le Pen 58% to 42%, yet you wonder how Le Pen even got that many votes in these times. It would help also to develop our own hypersonic missiles, advanced communication systems, and especially missile defense systems. However, weapons expert are saying that there is essentially no defense for hypersonic missiles and none on the horizon. Meanwhile, missile tech is good enough to destroy most ships, unless they are very fast. Until better missile defenses are developed (let’s say, by 2035) the world is very vulnerable, and Russia/China may know this and be acting upon this window.

Let’s hope a repentant Soviet “Heisenberg” (or Russian Luke Skywalker) appears to put an end to all this madness!



Vern Scott

Scott lives in the SF Bay Area and writes confidently about Engineering, History, Politics, and Health