Donate to JWR

Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 3, 2008 / 6 Kislev 5769

Moscow's Empire of Dust

By Anne Applebaum

Applebaum
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Nyet! Nyet!" That's what a Russian bodyguard told a reporter for McClatchy newspapers when the latter asked the former to comment on an incident that took place on the Admiral Chabanenko, a Russian destroyer carrying Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which had docked off the Venezuelan coast last week. Following the pomp, circumstance, and 21-gun salute that are mandatory at such meetings, there had, it seems, been a bit of a misunderstanding. As Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez boarded the vessel, his beefy bodyguards had tried to follow him up the gangplank. They were stopped, however, by their equally beefy Russian counterparts. The Venezuelans, who presumably spoke no Russian, tried to push their way through. The Russians, who presumably spoke no Spanish, fought back.


It was all over quickly. "Everything is fine," said a Russian official afterward. And indeed it was. The rest of Medvedev's visit to Latin America proceeded smoothly. During his trip to Venezuela, Medvedev reportedly added a couple of passenger planes to the $4.4 billion worth of military hardware Russia has sold to Venezuela since 2005. In Cuba, Medvedev met the ailing Fidel Castro and went sightseeing with his brother Raúl. On Dec. 1, Russian ships began exercising in the Caribbean. But there were more than weapons and armies at stake in this visit. As Chávez himself said in September, the whole show was designed to send "a message to the empire": Russia is back, and it can play the imperial game just as well as the United States.


And yet — the lingering image of those thuggish bodyguards, shouting at one another in mutually incomprehensible slang, remains weirdly appropriate. For the truth is that Medvedev was in Cuba and Venezuela last week in part because he wouldn't get that warm a welcome in Tblisi or Kiev, let alone Warsaw or Prague — and also because Russian foreign policy, at the moment, is based on a strange paradox. On the one hand, the Russians have returned to the language, the iconography, and even the historiography of imperialism. With every passing year, the anniversary of the end of World War II — and the moment of the Soviet Union's greatest imperial triumph — is celebrated more elaborately. Soviet songs and symbols are back; threats to deploy nuclear missiles are frequent; and Russian leaders pointedly refer to themselves as "global players."


But at the same time, the Russian political system is uniquely unattractive in the one sphere of influence that the Russians have always cared about most: Europe. There are, it is true, Russian-speaking minorities across the eastern half of the Continent that rely on Russia for financing and political support. There are also extremely powerful business lobbies across the Continent, notably in Italy and Germany, that can be counted on to praise Russia's leaders, whatever they do. But the Russian political system — based on crony capitalism, democratic rituals without democracy itself, heavy media controls, omnipresent criminality — isn't itself of interest to anyone, and the Russians have trouble creating an empire around it. During the Cold War, there really were European (and American) Communists who really did admire the Soviet Union and whose support really could be manipulated for Soviet ends. By contrast, I'm not aware of a single popular movement in any European country — east or west — that is currently calling for a greater economic role for a Russian-style oligarchy or more Russian thugs of the sort who were lurking on the gangplank of the Admiral Chabanenko last week.


Some dictatorships to the east are more amenable, of course: Many of the regimes of central Asia do indeed operate on something like a Russian model, some without the elaborate democratic facade. But influence in those countries doesn't give the Russian ruling class the sense of importance it craves, nor the domestic legitimacy it needs to survive. Hence Medvedev's need to travel somewhat farther afield. Venezuela and Cuba may not be as significant as Germany or Georgia from the Russian point of view, but the image of Russians in Cuba evokes a certain nostalgia. At the very least, it proves that Medevedev, like his Soviet predecessors, can play games in America's own backyard.


One only hopes President Obama will have the good sense to ignore the whole affair, as President Bush has apparently done. In fact, the best way for the United States to deal with this particular Russian escapade is to treat it like the public relations exercise that it was designed to be. Let Russian ships practice all they want in the Caribbean; let Russian and Venezuelan thugs fight it out at the top of the gangplank; let Medvedev spend as much time with Chávez and the Castros as he desires. Their friendship will last only as long as the high oil price holds out, anyway. A Russian visit to Venezuela isn't a Cuban missile crisis, even if it's supposed to remind us of one — just as Medvedev isn't Khrushchev and Castro isn't quite what he was 50 years ago. History repeats itself, as Marx himself once said — the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

APPLEBAUM'S LATEST
Gulag: A History  

Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. JWR's Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion Sales help fund JWR.

Comment on JWR contributor Anne Applebaum's column by clicking here.


Previously:

11/20/08: Getting Past Mythmaking In Georgia
11/12/08: In Praise of Political Rock Stars
10/03/08: Election Day myths you must resist
09/30/08: Not just a metaphor: Lehman Brothers was economic's 9/11
09/04/08: Class of '64
08/28/08: Did Hillary really help the Barack cause?
08/27/08: ‘Show of Power,’ Indeed
08/19/08: What Is Russia Afraid Of?
08/13/08: When China Starved
08/11/08: Two of the world's rising powers are strutting their stuff
08/05/08: How Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago changed the world
07/29/08:‘The Hour of Europe’ Tolls Again … But are European politicians up to the task?
07/15/08: Why Does Obama Want To Campaign in Berlin?
07/01/08: Citizen Athletes: How did a guy who can't speak Polish end up scoring Poland's only goal of Euro 2008?
06/24/08: Why do we expect presidential candidates to be kind?
06/17/08: Pity the Poor Eurocrats
06/12/08: Is the World Ready for a Black American President?
05/28/08: The Busiest Generation: America seems to value its children's status and achievements over their happiness
05/20/08: Leave Hitler Out of It: The craze for injecting the Nazis into political debate must end
05/13/08: A Drastic Remedy: The case for intervention in Burma
05/07/08: A Warning Shot From Moscow?
04/23/08: Radio to stay tuned to
04/17/08: China learns the price of a few weeks of global attention
04/01/08: Head scarves are potent political symbols
03/26/08: The Olympics are the perfect place for a protest
03/19/08: Could Tibet bring down modern China?
03/12/08: Have political autobiographies made us more susceptible to fake memoirs?
03/05/08: Why does Russia bother to hold elections?
02/20/08: Kosovo is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences
02/06/08: A Craven Canterbury Tale
02/06/08: French prez' whirlwind romance reminds voters of his political recklessness




© 2008, Anne Applebaum

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles