Book Review: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Five Stars)

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Book Review: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

(Five Stars)

“It is not beauty that endures, it’s love that makes us see the beauty.”

This is a book about love: love of self, love of country, love of others. A monumental work: over a thousand pages of text with a huge cast and historic sweep. Yet draws the reader intimately into the lives of a circle of families on the eve of a catastrophe which will transform their lives and their culture.

“The entry of the famished army in the rich and deserted city resulted in fires and looting and the destruction of both the army and the wealthy city.”

Two stories intertwine: the intimate inner life of a circle of young friends worthy of an Austen or Dickens and a detailed analysis of Russia’s role in the Napoleonic wars worthy of a Gibbons or Churchill. For the young adults, the real war is within. For the soldiers, Continue reading

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Musings

DOJ says native Americans can grow and sell pot. You know where this is going: “Native American” Casinos, Part Two. Remember growing and selling marijuana is against US law. So, what is DOJ doing? (Holder’s parting shot? Not yet.)

No one expects Putin to grow up, do they? So far, the Russians love him; don’t expect change from within. Sanctions have hurt him, but sanctions (and paranoia) are what triggered the attack on Pearl Harbor. And the Russians do paranoid better than anyone.

Obama’s current unpopularity will work for him in the long run. Anything he accomplishes the next two years will seem a big deal. And the economy is finally improving, while everyone else’s economies are going south. So he’ll take credit for that.

The Summer Olympics in Washington, D. C. during an election year (2024)? What can they be thinking? (That maybe the games will distract us from The Game.)

Il Duce of the Kremlin

image from Wikipedia

Several times I’ve referred on line to Vladimir Putin as this century’s Adolf Hitler. I suspect his twentieth century hero is Joseph Stalin. But viewed objectively, Putin comes off more like Benito Mussolini. All the strutting and bombast is more comic opera than world changer. And in the end his people suffer unnecessary lose.

Putin’s vision of paradise is so flawed that he and his former KGB cronies are probably the only ones looking back on the failed Soviet Union with nostalgia. Continue reading

Putin Expands his Empire

Having reduced Ukraine, Putin begins his putative campaign against Estonia. The seizure of an Estonian official on spy charges is just the opening shot of the next phase Putin’s campaign to reestablish the Soviet Union, in fact if not in name.

Our own President may have brought Estonia higher on Putin’s list by his recent visit and claims of defense when, of course, the united States has neither the will nor the means to defend Estonia against Russia.

As with Hitler, western division and ambiguity only increases Putin’s imperial urges.

Shades of 1956

Now, as in 1956, the America administration was distracted by three crises, hindering it from effectively leading the country.

Then, as now, center stage was taken by a crisis in the Middle East: the AngloFrenchIsraeli seizure of the Suez Canal, after it had been nationalized by Egypt. The European crisis was the Hungarian effort to throw off the iron grip of the Soviet Union. The Hungarian people bravely attempted to free themselves from Soviet hegemony, AKA the Warsaw Pact. The third crisis was domestic, though the public of that time did not realize its severity: President Eisenhower had suffered a major heart attack. (A detailed analysis may be found in David A Nichols, Eisenhower 1956)

Today, political paralysis may stymie effective American leadership in the current Middle East and Ukraine conflicts. If that happens, Ukraine (and more of the former Soviet Union) may slid back under Russian control and the entire Middle East may dissolve into chaos and bloodshed.

No Wonder No One Trusts America.

For the last fifty years, America’s allies have learned that we aren’t dependable. We abandoned the Shah of Iran, after we engineered the coup which brought him to power. We declared victory in Southeast Asia and abandoned South Vietnam.

Russian tanks are showing up in Ukraine. Tanks. You know, those really big military things. Things which your neighborhood revolutionary—even in Europe—is not apt Continue reading

Putin on Russian Exceptionalism

An essay by Leon Aron in Wall Street Journal: “Why Putin Says Russia Is Exceptional: Such claims have often heralded aggression abroad and harsh crackdowns at home” makes thought-provoking reading. If we don’t understand how others think, we can hardly hope to deal with them effectively.

On one thing I agree with Putin, Russia is a unique civilization, apart from Europe. So are we, Britain, Canada and lots of others. Russia, like Britain, is figuratively as well as literally on a pole of Europe, sharing some aspects, differing in others. Treating Russia like another France is a mistake.

Still, resurgent nationalism, such as Putin seems to be fanning in Russia, may threaten to world peace. Especially when neighbors with delusions of grandeur bump.

Putin Set to Score

As usual Putin is having it both ways. He publicly says he’ll respect the Ukraine election results, but behind the scenes his surrogates are still trying to dismember the country. Should they fail, he will moan that he has been “forced” to intervene for the sake of peace and safety … and add the former Ukraine to his burgeoning empire.

Is anyone paying attention?