So I'm reading the Boris Yeltsin piece at Rolling Stone, getting a chuckle at watching a writer wax so venomous in his efforts to describe just how nyekulturny ol' Absolut Boris was without stopping to think that it might be a little... well... uncultured to mock a dead man for his rural origins, when I'm suddenly overcome by a vast ennui. An emptiness. I suddenly realized that I missed the commies.
It has been said that a man can be judged by his enemies, and one would assume the same holds true for those agglomerations of men known as "nations". And, while they lacked the suave black-and-silver menace of the Nazis, the postwar Soviets were as worthy a foe as any to have played The Great Game. Fortified borders, huge military parades, drunken madmen who pounded shoes on lecterns while threatening to bury us; these things were the stuff of a generation of air raid drills and spy novels and military speculation. Of course, the tiger turned out to be paper in the end, and the oligarchy was replaced by a kleptocracy so inept as to have to sell off unfinished aircraft carriers to the Chinese to use as riverboat casinos in order to generate the hard currency needed to keep the secret police payroll out of the red.
They've been replaced by our new foes, as depressing a lot as one could imagine: self-immolating neolithic goatherds drunk on a theology that makes the most ignorant snake handler in the backwaters of the Ozarks look like a regular Thomas Aquinas by comparison. May Day parades and fleets of ICBMs have been replaced by a comic opera dictator in a Southwest Asian banana republic hilariously flaunting a Weapons of Mass Destruction program that could be wiped out by the Massachusetts Air National Guard as a weekend training exercise if push came to shove. In the 1980s, Tom Clancy became a gazillionaire by writing a novel about the theft of a submarine that the Soviets had managed to pack full of secret technology. It's hard to imagine getting excited reading a novel about the theft of a Camry that Achmed has managed to pack with an extra couple hundred rusty nails.
Sic transit gloria mundi.