I remember the Cold War – a war that was all about defeating Communism wherever it existed. There were books printed that said things like, “You can trust a Communist to be a Communist”. And, we bought the books and heard the speeches, waved the flag and utterly missed the point.
The pointÂ should neverÂ have been aboutÂ political ideology, but about the character of the peopleÂ brandishing the ideology. In our rush to defeat Communism, we forgot that the Russians have always been makers-of-empire. Always.
There has never been a point in their history when they weren’t imperialist. It started with Moscow 600 years ago, and it continues with Moscow today. The bloody-handedÂ collaborators of the Mongols,Â that threw off the Mongols in the 1400s, became the bloody-handed rulers that subjugated and destroyed those around them.
Think of what it would have been like if the Swedes had been successful inÂ their invasion of Russia in 1240. The Mongols would have been driven back, and the brutal Muscovite culture would not have dominated Russia.Â
I could go on ad nauseum from here, but I’ll spare you. The point is that you can trust Russians to be Russian, just as you can trust the English to be English and the French to be annoying.
What bothers me is that the defeat of Communism may have ushered in something worse. We very well may have traded a Stalin for a Hitler, but without Hitler’s insanity. Stalin was a murderous, lecherous drunk who shot his most talented military officers. Hitler was an efficient, murderous psychopath that eventually crumbled under the weight of his insanity.
Putin is neither the lecherous drunk that Stalin was, nor the insane psychopath like Hitler. He may turn out to be worse, an efficient, self-controlled imperialist building an efficient, self-controlled empire.
And that efficient, self-controlled empire will be pointed at a place that you and I care deeply about. Russians who seek to reclaim Russian greatness have only one direction to go, and that is south, into the Middle East. They will make common cause with Iran, Turkey, andÂ the Central Asian Republics. They will work with the Islamic Africans and the Islamic South and Southeast Asians. They will do deals with people like Hamas and Hizbullah and Al Qaeda.
And, those deals will be aimed at breaking the one power in the Middle East that can oppose Russia: Israel.Â
If we aren’t careful, the result will be likeÂ something straight out of the bible.