The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Putin tries to brainwash Russia’a children

Posted by Bill Nance on September 18, 2008

Leon Arin has written a deeply disturbing article in the New Republic today about new history textbooks being mandated in Russia.

The Juice:

The sections on foreign policy in The Modern History of Russia could have come directly from Soviet textbooks. The origins of the Cold War are covered in three sentences. The United States was bent on “world domination.” The Soviet Union’s might was in America’s way. A “serious confrontation ensued.” Churchill’s Fulton speech on March 5, 1946, the “Iron Curtain” speech, was a declaration of war, and the reliable Stalin is cited at length from a Pravda interview to that effect. Since there is no analysis, no alternative view, and certainly no refutation of Stalin’s words, the Russian schoolchildren are supposed to accept what he said at face value.

Let there be no mistake. Putin’s goal is nothing less than to return Russia to the clutches of Stalinism. This development is frankly more frightening to me than the recent bellicosity over Georgia.

According to Putin:

“As to some problematic pages in our history–yes, we’ve had them. But what state hasn’t? And we’ve had fewer of such pages than some other [states]. And ours were not as horrible as those of some others. Yes, we have had some terrible pages: let us remember the events beginning in 1937, let us not forget about them. But other countries have had no less, and even more.”

Just for the record, the events to which he’s referring were the great purges by Stalin, in which 17-18 million people were arrested and at least 10 million Soviet citizens died.

This is Putin’s notion of “not as horrible as those of some others.”  Mister Putin, these numbers make Adolf Hitler look like a rank amateur.

This is the threat we are facing. It’s still an emerging one, and hopefully it’s possible to have some effect before the iron hand of dictatorship takes complete control of Russia again. This would be challenging for the world’s greatest diplomat. Bombs won’t solve the problem. Bellicose statements on Georgia won’t solve the problem. This is far more complex than an approach of simplistic, tough-talking rhetoric and expanded NATO membership can fix.

The answers will be economic, diplomatic and yes, military. Poland in particular must be reassured of NATO’s unqualified support, and Russia needs to be made well aware of this fact. No Russian interference with Poland can be tolerated. Attempts to intimidate the Baltic states, who are NATO members, must be met with reinforcements of both military force and economic assistance in the form of energy delivery.

But at the same time a balance must be struck so as not to play into Putin’s hands. Putin is trying very hard to win the “hearts and minds” of the Russian people. We must do everything within our capability to make sure all the information is made available to them, and not to make moves which will be viewed as threatening.

The Russians have a long and consistent history of xenophobia. Putin is trying to exploit this. We must not, as John McCain would like to do, make his job easier.


One Response to “Putin tries to brainwash Russia’a children”

  1. Ludwik Kowalski said

    The return of “Russia to the clutches of Stalinism” would indeed be a great tragedy. Unfortunately, many American students are also ignorant about dark pages of Soviet history. Moreover, Russia is not the only country in which totalitarianism can emerge.

    “Hell on Earth: Brutality and Violence Under the Stalinist Regime” (ISBN 978-1-60047-232-9) is a short and easy-to-read book, written for Americans who know little about this topic. Coincidentally, it was printed this summer, between the day on which Solzhenitsyn died and the day of his funeral. Excerpts can be seen at

    The book can be ordered at (or at a bookstore, such as Barnes and Noble, or Borders).

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