New York, New Jerusalem

What is New York? According to E.B. White, “It is to the nation what the white church is to the village—the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying the way is up…” Others have had different answers. Ayn Rand thought it was “the will of man made visible.” “What other religion do we need?” she asked. It is “appalling, fantastically charmless and elaborately dire,” said Henry James. It’s a beautiful catastrophe, said Le Corbusier. It’s the dirty city, the city of dreams, it’s a hell of a town.

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Madeleine Witt
In Russia, It’s the Realists vs. the Ethno-Nationalists

Dmitry Drobnitsky, in his article “The foreign policy objectives of the party of internal development,” raises a question about the sort of ideological baggage we bring to bear when we talk about reaching a “grand bargain” with the United States.

The possibility of such a deal is increasingly the subject of discussion in Russia. In the West, some fear the very idea, while others see in it the hope of a finding a way out of the impasse in which Russian-American relations currently languish.

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Paul Grenier
Nikolai Starikov and the Problem of History

People who care about Russia – its culture, its history and traditions, and, most importantly, its people – have had reason to feel fearful and frustrated in recent years.  Among other reasons because the media in the United States has gotten into one of its by-now all-too-familiar campaigns of simplification and demonization of a foreign country and its leader. Such campaigns (remember Nicaragua? Iraq? Libya?) usually signal that the US government is getting itself ready for the attack.

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Anya Grenier
The Cult of Nicholas II

Ever since the USSR collapsed, tourist stalls in Moscow and St. Petersburg have heaved with Soviet knickknacks: Red Army caps and badges, prints of Stalin’s propaganda posters. Today, while much of this is still available, they also tempt visitors to Russia with an increasingly elaborate array of Putinkitsch. On T-shirts, mugs and key rings, Vladimir Putin strikes his signature sunglasses-wearing pose, the image of Russia’s latest strongman ruler.

Taking its cue, much Western reporting increasingly assumes that, in time-honored fashion, the Russians have made a personality cult of their leader, with Putin its subject as Stalin was before him.

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Anya Grenier