I have always believed that the greatest tragedy for the United States and the other free countries would be if they are attacked with new, unexpected weapons by one of the new slave states such as (in order of appearance) Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, or Communist China.
However, with the latter’s military growth, I came to realize that it is China (with its population of 1.3 billion), not Russia (with its population of 147 million as of 2006), that poses such a threat.
True, Russia helps China with some post-nuclear weapons. But Vladimir Putin, who succeeded Boris Yeltsin, may be doing this for the same reason Stalin supplied Nazi Germany with strategic raw materials and proposed that Hitler send his army across Russia to India to conquer it.
Stalin hoped to be Germany’s partner in her world domination. Possibly, Putin hopes to be China’s partner in hers.
For Russia to fight China? Ultimately, the fact that the population of China is more than seven times larger than that of Russia may mean seven times more scientists and technologists in China’s development and use of post-nuclear superweapons, such as molecular nanoweapons.
Russia and China are neighbors. The Chinese military thrust will cut Russia into her sparsely populated (and hence virtually indefensible) Siberia in the east and the European part of Russia in the west.
The unarmed Tiananmen Square rebels in China were destroyed by the dictators’ army. Boris Yeltsin’s advance to presidency in June and July 1991 can also be regarded as a rebellion, and in August an attempt was made by the supporters of the old regime to crush the rebellion by the military force. But Yeltsin repulsed the attempt successfully.
The photograph of Yeltsin on a tank, with his fist raised to show the determination to fight the attackers, became world-known. Boris Yeltsin was the first genuinely elected president of Russia (of the Russian Federation) after about 70 years of the state slavery.
Yeltsin meant to convert Russia into a modern free country, complete with economic freedom. But if the United States has been suffering from depressions since the beginning of the 18th century, how could he, who was not even an economist, create a modern free society, complete with a free market?
During his presidency, Russia’s gross domestic product fell by 50 percent, and vast sections of the economy were wiped out. State spending on welfare decreased.
The fact is that with the same material basis of the same country, its population as slaves may be fed and given better care than if they become free people in a free country.
Nor was Yeltsin consistent outside the economy.
In his initial drive for freedom, Yeltsin did what no Western statesman had done: He publicly addressed all non-Russian populations of Russia, “Take as much independence as you can cope with!”
The Ukraine and Byelorussia responded and became independent. But in December 1994 Yeltsin ordered the military invasion of Chechnya to restore Moscow’s control over this small separatist nation.
But let us not forget that a new society requires not only a new, enlightened leader, but also a new, enlightened majority.
I recall that the biggest, or one of the two biggest, parties in the Russian parliament believed that Hitler was wrong: He secretly ordered his subordinates to begin the “industrial extermination” of Jews only after his defeat at Moscow and in order to prevent his subordinates from betraying him to the “Anglo-Saxons.”
Actually, it was necessary (that Russian party proclaimed) to exterminate the Jews in Russia immediately. When it was discovered that the father of the leader of this super-Nazi party was a Jewish lawyer, the joke was, He is PURE Russian — his mother is a Russian, and his father a lawyer.
In 1991, after living and publishing in New York for about 20 years, I also began publishing columns in Russian in Russian periodicals, such as Izvestia, which was as well known as Pravda, but even before 1991 it had not been so purely propagandistic and boring as Pravda.
I could conclude that the freedom of the press in Russia under Yeltsin was as total as it is in the United States. Of course, Pravda did not publish me. ( Nor did The New York Times!)
Vladimir Putin succeeded Yeltsin in 2000. In his interview, Putin (a former minor KGB official) explained that the KGB is necessary for every civilized country, since it is a link between society and the government.
At that time I wrote a weekly column for Moscow Pravda (which had nothing to do with Pravda). In my column I described Putin’s opinion of the KGB in his interview.
The newspaper was so scared (a new epoch of fear had begun or the old epoch of fear was back) that it did not print my column, but in New York I did not know that and continued to send my weekly column to the newspaper, which was afraid to publish them and was afraid to tell me that.
They knew I published in the U.S. press, and imagine the hullabaloo I could raise!
Putin was dangerous to them, but so was I, due to the U.S. press.
There is too little in today’s Russia a foreigner can read about with interest.
Russia is known abroad for its literature and music, created under the tsars or by those who grew up under the tsars. The post-1917 owners of Russia began to develop a culture that created a false social reality and the new slaves.
Yet the owners of Russia did not have to destroy the classical Russian culture, valued so highly abroad. Hence some of those who lived after 1917 could contribute to the pre-1917 Russian culture. Today that generation is gone.
It is difficult to translate poetry, and hence in contrast to prose and music, Russian poetry has been unknown in the West. Yet Osip Mandelstam, who perished in a concentration camp in the 1930s, wrote in Russian probably the world’s greatest poetry.
Imagine him celebrating a New Year and recalling the splendors of old. No, I do not attempt to translate him, but just retell him in English:
I drink to the asters of officers’ epaulettes,
To everything I have been reproached for,
To an aristocrat’s fur coat, to his asthma,
To the jaundice of his Petersburg.
To the music of pinetrees in Savoy, and yes,
To the gasoline of Champs-Elysées,
To the red-haired arrogance of the British
And to their colonies’ distant quinine.
In conclusion, I am choosing the wine,
But I have not yet decided which: The youngest Asti Spumante
Or from the Pope’s cellars the oldest Rhine.
You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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