Our policy towards the former Soviet Union has always puzzled me.  

Wounding a dangerous adversary, and then walking away… not really caring if it lived or died, but apparently assuming that if it lived… it would be on your terms, not theirs.

Well, you know what they say about assumptions…

Follow me over the fold and see how well they’ve worked out this time.
LA Times Stalin Has Foot Back on the Pedestal

MOSCOW — The last public statue of Josef Stalin in Moscow stands forlornly in a postmodern graveyard of Communist-era monuments here, missing part of his nose.

But more than 500 miles away, in the city once known as Stalingrad, the infamous Soviet leader is getting more respect.

Authorities in Volgograd are planning to unveil a statue of Stalin next week as Russia celebrates the 60th anniversary of its victory over Nazi Germany. The dictator’s supporters see it simply as proper recognition of the key role he played in World War II.

And really, what could be more innocent than that? He may have been a tyrant, but he was our tyrant, after all.

To critics, however, the move reflects an ominous and growing infatuation with a tyrant many Russians revere as a symbol of strength — never mind that he killed millions of his own citizens.

“Stalin’s return to the pedestal…. would signify the political rehabilitation of one of the bloodiest dictators in modern history,” said Memorial, a Russian human rights organization…


At the Reading City Bookstore, a window display is filled with copies of “Stalin: Throne of Ice,” a sympathetic account of the dictator. “Without Stalin, neither this Great Victory nor this country in general would have been possible,” author Alexander Bushkov says. “Those were heroic times, and such people will never be born again.”

The store carries about two dozen titles on Stalin, reflecting the sharp increase in interest over the last year, said Olga Panina, 24, a sales clerk.

“It’s our history. We can’t change it or get away from it,” she said. “During the war, our grandmothers and grandfathers were fighting and dying with the name of Stalin on their lips.

“I don’t think we can whitewash Stalin,” she added. “On the other hand … we should remember that we are all human, and it’s in human nature to make mistakes. Some make small mistakes, and some make huge mistakes.”

Whitewashing history seems to be the “in” thing nowadays… not that it’s every been out of fashion, I imagine. I guess as these days the brushes are working double-time to paint out history even as it happens, one shouldn’t complain about those who wait 60 years.

After all, “mistakes” are only human, even if your “mistake” was to kill millions.

A recent poll by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center found that half of the respondents looked favorably on Stalin, with 20% describing his role in the life of the country as “very positive” and 30% calling it “somewhat positive.” Only 12% described it as “very negative.”

In Russia today, Stalin is a kind of poster boy for those who favor a stronger state and are angered by the post-Soviet erosion of job security and government-paid social benefits.


Igor Dolutsky, author of a high school textbook banned for being too critical of both Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and Stalin, said that popular memories of the dictator amounted to a myth that could do great harm in the future.

“The essence of this myth is that violence, terror and repression can be effectively used to build a great country,” Dolutsky said. “I think that the return to Stalinist traditions is actually dangerous.”

Putin has taken care not to associate himself too closely with Stalin nostalgia. But he and those around him still benefit from the strong-state symbolism, Dolutsky said.

I’ll just bet he has.

There’s lots more to the article, and very interesting reading.

I am far from an expert on Russia, but years ago when some were looking at Putin’s “reforms”, I was looking at the increasing rumours of his stifling of independent media, because that’s where it all begins.  Well, and Bush seeing into his soul and seeing someone he could work with and understand, or whatever… that was fair warning right there.

Not that Putin will turn into another Stalin or anything… I hope. But trying to change over to a capitalist society, or whatever they did, seems to have been a basic disaster for Russia. Between the oligarchs, the Russian mafia, people freezing in the streets, starving to death, and lacking the basic social structure that used to be there, no matter how repressive… I’d say the stage was well set for a strong-man/state government to establish itself.

Hopefully, some of you guys know way more than me about this stuff (not difficult at all), and will give the benefit of your analysis.

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