Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Blogging is extremely fun when media items that fall into your wheelhouse appear. Just such a piece appeared in Monday’s Baltimore Sun.

Steve Chapman, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune wrote an excellent piece about Vladimir Putin’s revising the blood soaked legacy of Josef Stalin. Putin, a former KGB man, publicly lamented the fall of the Soviet Union, as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” is now pushing an effort to “rehabilitate” both the image of Stalin and the Soviet Union among Russians in order to build pride in their history. One officially sanctioned textbook labels Stalin as “the most successful Soviet leader ever.” Chapman does a fine job explaining the intellectual acrobatics needed to delude your self into believing that. Sadly, many of Stalin’s American contemporaries at the time believed it, and some American professional historians still believe it.

In addition to reminding us of the Ukrainian Terror Famine, and the Great Terror, Chapman also reminds us Stalin was not always our ally during World War II. In fact, Stalin allied with Hitler against the democracies, and he planned to remain so before Hitler turned on him in 1941.

There is an old Soviet-era Russian joke that says, “the future is known it’s the past that is always changing.” In the case of Stalin’s victims, this is quite literally true. See it, or more accurately don’t see it here.

Putin’s steering of Russia away from democracy and freedom, the assassinations of Alexander Litvinenko, journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and the attempted assassination of Putin critic Paul Joyal right here in Maryland is truly disturbing. Although, given the history of Putin’s former employer it is not shocking. Like his idol Stalin once said, “Death solves all problems - no man, no problem.”

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

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