American Elephants


The Clancy Brothers: “Carrickfergus” by The Elephant's Child

A New Cold War? by The Elephant's Child

Michael McFaul is the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. He left his position last month. From a March 15 Facebook post:

I am very depressed today. For those of us, Russians and Americans alike, who have believed in the possibility of a strong, prosperous, democratic Russia fully integrated into the international system and as a close partner of the U.S., Putin’s recent decisions represent a giant step backwards. Tragically, we are entering a new period with some important differences, but many similarities to the Cold War. The ideological struggle between autocracy and democracy is resurgent. Protection of European countries from Russian aggression is paramount again. Shoring up vulnerable states, including first and foremost Ukraine, must become a top priority again for the US and Europe. And doing business with Russian companies will once again become politicized. Most tragically, in [the West's] seeking to isolate the Russian regime, many Russians with no connection to the government will also suffer the effects of isolation. My only hope is that this dark period will not last as long as the last Cold War.



The Background to Current Events: by The Elephant's Child

Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin is the essential history to current events. We tend to think of World War II as “the good war,” celebrated in movies and fading memory. It was good in the sense that it was a war waged against true evil, but it was a desperate war in which the whole world was threatened. But we tend to forget the Cold War, a time when kids hid under their desks, and people built fallout shelters. Before World War II even began, index America’s wartime ally Josef Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens—and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was finally defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war’s end, both the German and the Soviet killing sites fell behind the iron curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.

Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of a single history, in the time and place where they occurred: between Germany and Russia, when Hitler and Stalin both held power. Assiduously researched, deeply humane, and utterly definitive, Bloodlands will be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the central tragedy of modern history.

Timothy Snyder has done a series of articles for the New York Review of Books about the current crisis. Worth your time:  “Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine,” “Ukraine: The Haze of Propaganda,” and “Crimea: Putin vs. Reality.




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