Greetings Friends, August 4, 2013
The front page of last Friday’s New York Times bears an article under the heading. “U. S. Is Infuriated by Decision on Leaker.” This regards Russia’s decision to let Edward Snowden stay there for one year.
A moment’s consideration about where Snowden has found “refuge” might show that this fury on the part of our officials is misplaced.
Snowden is in Moscow, a city that Scottish writer Daniel Kalder, who lived in Russia ten years, described as, “The most soul-crushing city on earth.” Moscow is such a miserable place that the primary reason the Czars and the Soviets sent their enemies to Siberia is that its the only place in their country more dismal than Moscow itself.
Russia is basically a third-world country, without the amenities those countries usually have, such as balmy climate, spicy food, and spicy women. It is a petro-state, which renders its economy a one-trick pony, and though it has a huge land mass and is awash in resources, its GDP is little more than a tenth of ours.
Russians yearn for the glory days, when they were considered a super-power, but that glory was an illusion. While here in America, for decades, we dug air-raid shelters, fearing Armageddon, our fear was produced by our own CIA’s gross exaggeration of the Soviet nuclear threat, and it was later revealed that the USSR was the geo-political equivalent of The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
These days, to assert itself on the world stage, Russia must resort to stunts such as harboring Snowden, an act whose single purpose was to tweak Uncle Sam’s nose.
Since its origins in the fifteenth century under Ivan the Great, to the present rule of Vlad the Putin, Russia’s primary legacy to humankind has been six hundred years of misery.
Oh sure, it has produced great music and literature. Leo Tolstoy, in his novel The Death of Ivan Ilych, takes less that 100 pages to lay bare the principle vanities of the human soul, and at the end, shows clearly the single remedy available to us as balm for our weaknesses.
And Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s novel Cancer Ward is a profoundly moving, though deeply depressing book, but when old Al was kicked out of the Soviet Union and welcomed to live here in America, he never hesitated to denounce us as rank materialists, proving that Russians are not only morbid, but ingrates as well.
This is the world in which Edward Snowden finds himself.
If you support what Snowden did, you must sympathize with his fate. But if you are a civilian who considers him a traitor, a staffer at the NSA whose naughty behavior he has revealed, or a CIA ghoul lusting to clamp your electrodes onto Snowden’s private parts, you should be dancing with glee.
Frankly, if the writer of this blog were forced to choose between a bullet in the head, or living out his days in Russia… he’d have to think it over.
Das Vidanya, Comrades,
On the USSR’s nuclear threat,The Public Record, Sept 14, 2009.
Daniel Kalder, Lost Cosmonaut
New York Times, Aug 2, 2013
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich
On Russia’s GDP and economy; NYTIMES.com