- - Thursday, November 19, 2015

“I shall never, under any circumstances, agree to a representative form of government because I consider it harmful to the people whom God has entrusted to my care.” - Tsar Nicholas II

In the days before the Soviet revolution, when the Russian aristocracy reigned supreme in its glory days, many of this elite group refused to speak Russian, they would only speak French, the language of beauty, sophistication, snobbery. The French hold a special place in the Russian heart. Wealthy Russians today flock to France on a monthly basis, import French furniture and adore French wine.

With this in mind, I found it fascinating that Russian President Vladimir Putin masterfully manipulated his domestic audience by commanding Russian forces in the Middle East communicate with and work with France as allies against the Islamic State. In one fell swoop, the chess master stroked Russian public opinion, drove a wedge into NATO, and pushed America further into the shadows of irrelevance.

Russia is now king in the Middle East. Vladimir Putin is leading the world against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). Barack Obama is angry at Republicans again and has succeeded in his goal to mortally weaken American power around the globe.

If you play this scenario out a few months in advance, you can see the West relaxing sanctions on Russia for its help in keeping the ISIS wolves at bay. France is practically begging Tsar Putin to fight the bullies. I would put serious money down in Vegas that Secretary of State John Kerry has opened a backdoor channel to the Kremlin to make that exact deal. Meanwhile, the conflict in Donbass simmers with Ukrainian soldiers dying regularly.

What you are seeing is nothing short of Mr. Putin masterfully playing the Great Game. Regrettably, this will not end well for freedom-loving people. For as he builds his following around the world, Mr. Putin is turning Russia into a dark place.

Freedom of the press is withering. Any serious opposition is dealt with harshly. On top of this, there is a sense the population has given up any desire for freedom and instead worships at the altar of Russian dominance, which Mr. Putin encourages skillfully.

I went to an exhibition in Moscow recently which was put together by the Russian Orthodox Church. It was a grand infomercial focusing on Russian history from before the October Revolution to the end of the Great Patriotic War. Of course it was patriotic and informative; however, there was a palpable sense of propaganda about Russia’s proper place in the world power structure. Walking through the exhibits and seeing the throngs of young Russians who have no idea of what the Cold War was like, one felt as if the Russian people were being weaponized into a support structure for whatever agenda the Kremlin has in mind.

One thing is for sure, the agenda doesn’t include freedom, at least as the West knows it. Today in Russia, freedom is laughed at whenever a school shooting happens or a terrorist attack murders dozens in a Western capital. This is what freedom gets you, they sing in chorus. There is a different kind of freedom in Russia. It’s the freedom from being confronted with any politically correct dictates, the freedom of having many mistresses, the freedom of paying off a judge if you have enough money.

One of the art exhibits I perused showed brilliant work from the Soviet era, masterpieces Lenin had commissioned to spur on the Young Pioneers. Today however, the church added a different twist that I didn’t expect, prominently posted for all to see were instructions on how to see God in the Soviet work. I found that fascinating. The portrait of the young boy reading a letter from his brother at the front was really the Good News of Christ being spread. The Soviet woman confronting the Nazi was really Moses confronting the Pharaoh.

There is a manipulative combination of Soviet propaganda and power, tsarist aristocracy, and mafioso offers you can’t refuse in Russia today. I don’t think it will end well for the West.

Mr. Putin is winning. The people are behind their God-fearing leader.

America is losing, and so is our way of life.

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