March 25, 2017
A cloudless sky. Crunchy spring snow. Longer, warmer days—I finally got in some good skiing, twisting around moguls like an arthritic champ. It’s all in the mind, as my old wrestling coach would tell me: If you think the other guy’s better, you’re bound to lose to him. The same goes for the slope. If it scares you, stay in the club and have another drink. Otherwise, attack it with gusto and feel like a champ again.
The same applies to the fairer sex, too. If you’re too nervous to speak to her, keep moving. We have four of the prettiest young women at The Spectator—all taken, alas—and I’ve managed not to make a fool of myself with any of them (well, a tiny bit with one of them, but what the hell, no one’s perfect). And speaking of girls, during The Spectator’s last summer party, toward the end of the affair and while well fueled, I met Olga, a very pretty Russian who works for Russia Today. Olga has perfect manners, something her male counterparts are not famous for, and is well-spoken and graceful. Even the MoMC thought her too good for me when they met at my birthday party.
I’ve recently been reading rather a lot about RT. My friend, the film director James Toback—who directed the greatest movie of all time, Seduced and Abandoned—tells me it is the only news channel he watches in New York. I may be biased against the BBC and American networks because of their hypocritical claims of impartiality—as impartial as Saudi clerics judging a Jewish smuggler—but I love RT and find it innocent of faking or fake news. And, unlike American broadcasters, it has a sense of humor.
What amazes me is that if you bring up anything Russian in America or Europe today, people react the way academics used to back in the ’30s if one criticized Stalin and his purges. Fifty to one hundred million died in the gulags, and lefties the world over turned a blind eye; now you say one nice thing about Putin and you’re toast. Let’s take it from the top: From the establishment of the Truman Doctrine in 1947 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, only conservative journalists and a few policy makers demonized Russia, and no one more than the greatest Greek writer since Homer.
Toward the late ’80s the Soviet ambassador to Athens had befriended my father, the coldest warrior of them all, and had convinced him that all Gorby wanted was to conduct business with the West. He also reminded him what Georgi Arbatov had told Dad when my father had been a guest of the government during the Moscow Olympics of 1980: The greatest danger Russia faced was from the 40 million Muslims within the Soviet Union, not America and the West.
One hundred years ago, after the Tsar’s murder, Westerners thought of Russia as a savage, benighted land yearning to become a second America. This was a crock if there ever was one. Russians are a spiritual people, yearning to connect with Christ, not Wall Street. After the collapse of communism, America committed its greatest mistake until the Iraqi invasion eleven years later. Instead of listening to George F. Kennan, a Russian expert and diplomat extraordinaire, as well as Richard Nixon, who both advised helping the new state financially as well as politically, Uncle Sam listened to neocon siren voices and encircled Russia via NATO. Neoconservatives then doubled down on their folly by convincing an idiotic president and his poodle Tony Blair to invade Iraq. A trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of dead later, not a single neocon has been jailed or tried for their crimes. But Putin has been demonized by the same neocons and their networks and newspapers, like the Mexican-owned New York Times.
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