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The Realism We Need

What Hitchens fails to spot is that the Soviet Union was not just about Communism, or about Russia. It was an empire. One hundred twenty million-plus of the Soviet Union’s two hundred eighty-six-million population were non-Russians. Almost none of them were Soviet by choice, any more than the one hundred million people in the other Warsaw Pact countries wanted to be under Soviet tutelage. To view the collapse of the evil empire solely from a Russian point of view is therefore misleading. Continue Reading »

The Cold War Is Over

The misreading of Russia’s geopolitical situation is especially sad because for the first time in many decades there is much to hope for in Moscow. Out of utopian misery has come the prospect of rebirth. It is as yet incipient. But I see great possibilities in it, in the many once-blighted . . . . Continue Reading »

The New Middle Ages

The past is returning. Any return assumes a preceding departure. Perhaps, though, the past never left, and its absence will turn out to have been an illusion. Certain traits embedded in genes don’t manifest themselves for some time. That doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared, though; they’re . . . . Continue Reading »

The War According to Isaac Babel

Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry, now granted an afterlife in Boris Dralyuk’s lyrical and fluid translation, consists of thirty-five episodic stories about the Soviet First Cavalry Army.

Taking the “Long View” on Russia

Queried about the Holy See’s less-than-vigorous response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, senior Vatican officials are given to saying (often with a dismissive tone, as if the question came from a dim-wit), “We take the long view.”

A Good Word for Locke

The lecturer was setting forth a biblical perspective on the role of government, with special attention to the Pauline text in Romans 13. At one point he introduced a rhetorical flourish with a passing negative reference to John Locke. The Bible sees the authority to govern as coming from God—“and not,” the lecturer said, “from a human contract, as John Locke insisted.” Continue Reading »

Putin, Stalin, and the Church

On Orthodox Easter, just weeks before Russia’s 70th Victory Day celebration, Russian Patriarch Kirill addressed scores of the faithful, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He likened the resurrection of Christ—who, in Orthodox parlance, “trampled down death by death”—to the Russian, née Soviet, victory over the Nazis.“When spiritual heroism becomes the substance not only of the individual but of an entire people... the nation acquires enormous spiritual strength, which no disasters or enemies are capable of overcoming,” he told those gathered in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. “The truth of these words is evidently attested by the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, achieved by the self-sacrificing heroism of our people.” Continue Reading »

Solzhenitsyn's Red Wheel

It is not uncommon for readers of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s final novel, The Red Wheel, to draw comparisons with another Russian masterpiece, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Like its predecessor, The Red Wheel is a massive, sweeping work, six thousand pages divided into four . . . . Continue Reading »

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