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Europa wordt aangevallen. We kunnen deze dreiging alleen afwenden als Europa eensgezind is. Zolang eensgezindheid ontbreekt, is Europa een speelbal van kwade machten.

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About the Russian soul

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Tucker Carlson’s visit to Russia some time back (early February 2024) was very illuminating – not so much because of Vladimir Putin’s condescending lecture to the former Fox News host, in which he used selective history and lies to justify his war on Ukraine, but because of a telling and tragic juxtaposition that followed.

Over the past week, Carlson has posted videos marveling at everything from the grandeur of the Moscow Metro (built by Stalin just as he began his Great Purge) to the low cost of food (sold in a country with a per capita income of $15,000 and skyrocketing inflation) to the cleanliness of the streets (in a country where 20 percent of households has no indoor plumbing) to perceived traditionalism (in a country where less than 10 percent of the population is Attends church regularly). Meanwhile, anti-corruption campaigner and opposition leader Alexei Navalny entered his final hours, in a Western Siberian prison some 1,200 miles from the capital – he died suddenly, another victim of Putin’s regime.

There are corners of Russia that are not suitable for short video clips on the platform formerly known as Twitter, let alone primetime.

Carlson is not the first American traveler to Russia who has been willingly seduced by the regime, fascinated by the depth of the “Russian soul,” and captivated by the country as the “Big Other,” at once so similar to and so different from the United States. States of continental size and border societies bridging Europe and Asia, their ambitions a

Perhaps the most famous of these visitors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was journalist and explorer George Kennan, whose travels in Russia are described in detail in Into Siberia by Gregory J. Wallance, published in late 2023 and dedicated to Alexei Navalny.

Kennan was a distant cousin of the diplomat who became so famous for advocating containment (the U.S. containment policy) of the Soviet Union. He traveled thousands of miles, covering the moral distance from an admirer of the tsarist regime to its fiercest critic – a telling contrast to the small but vociferous number of Americans who today admire the Russian government.

Kennan’s transformation came from personal experience. Born in 1845 to a modest family in Ohio, he began his career as a telegraph operator during the American Civil War. In 1865 he volunteered to join Western Union’s Russian-American telegraph expedition, which sought to lay a line under the Bering Strait and through Russia as an alternative to a rival’s transatlantic cable that had repeatedly encountered technical difficulties.

His journey began in Kamchatka, where he braved temperatures of -50° F, traveled overland by dog sled and relied on his wits and the kindness of native Siberians and Russians to survive. I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have not failed in anything I have undertaken,” he noted, recalling moments when he rescued members of his group stranded in icy rivers and mountains. According to Wallance, Kennan eventually arrived in St. Petersburg “to behold a dazzling, snow-covered, gold-fringed fairy tale of a city, part architectural masterpiece, part Potemkin village.”

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