Roger L. Simon

Good News for John LeCarré!

The Cold War is back! His books haven’t been very good since the fall of the wall.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia obliquely compared the foreign policy of the United States to the Third Reich in a speech Wednesday commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, in an apparent escalation of anti-American rhetoric within the Russian government.

Putin did not specifically name the United States or NATO but used phrasing similar to that which he has used previously to criticize American foreign policy while making an analogy to Nazi Germany.

The comments marked the latest in a series of sharply worded Russian criticisms of the foreign policy of the Untied States – on Iraq, missile defense, NATO expansion and, broadly, the accusation that the United States has striven to single-handedly dominate world affairs.

Some political analysts see the new tone as a return to Cold War-style rhetoric by a country emboldened by petroleum wealth. But Russians say the sharper edge is a reflection of frustration that Russia’s views, particularly its opposition to NATO expansion, have been ignored in the West.

Ah, those poor Russians – how could we ignore them? I say besides LeCarré it’s time to revive other aspects of the flotsam and jetsam of the Cold War, like cultural exchanges. I volunteer to go on one, since I have experience, having been on two such writers’ trips during Soviet days. (Are my old minders still alive – or have they died of alcohol poisoning?)

But seriously and sadly, we’ve come a long way since ebullient optimism of Yeltsin standing on that car. I wish it weren’t true , but the dominant trait of the Russian character – paranoia – evidently cannot be repressed.