During the Cold War, President Reagan appealed to the God-and-country base in America, contrasting the Christian values on which America was founded with the godless, totalitarian sham that was the Soviet Union. When Reagan confronted the Soviets, he derided their “Evil Empire”, calling attention to their horrible, murderous track record.
Thirty years later, as Pat Buchanan points out, the sides are in the process of doing an about-face.
My take on Putin: he’s a gray hat. While many on the right will excoriate him as a KGB man who is reviving the old Soviet Union, I absolutely disagree. In fact, Putin is a pragmatic, old-school Russian nationalist who is trying to save his country from demographic disaster. He has many issues, but he’s trying to keep his country from imploding.
Putin, as a Russian who grew up in the old Soviet Union, has seen firsthand what seventy years of institutional Atheism can do to a country. I cannot answer for his Christianity; for all I know he may just be a pragmatist who is latching onto Orthodoxy for political reasons. Having said that, whatever his motives, he is acting within the interests of Russia in the face of a near-insurmountable demographic tide–a low birth rate, a high abortion rate, high alcoholism–that has been working against his country for many decades. Whether he wins or loses, we will not know for at least ten years.
Having said that, an understanding of Russian history is critical for Americans.
As Buchanan correctly pointed out, Russia was once a historical torch-carrier of Christianity, the “third Rome” if you will. They were once the standard-bearers of Christian civilization.
And yet, they would descend into the Totalitarian, communist abyss for seventy years. During that time, tens of millions of Russians would die in war, purges, starvation, and gulags. Christians would become enemies of government. Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, were not just Atheist; they were anti-Christian. They promoted brutal repression against Christians not just in Russia but also in Cuba, Eastern Europe, Africa, Central America, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cambodia.
A country that was once the standard-bearer for Christianity became one of the biggest promoters of Atheist totalitarian oppression of Christians.
Remember that as the West becomes increasingly hostile to Christians and Christian values.
Make no mistake: what happened to Russia can happen here. To deny this is to deny history.