The Corner

World

Bears and Tigers

They understood each other.

In Impromptus today, I have a number of items concerning the state of the world, then get to the important stuff: Detroit Tiger baseball.

I begin with the idea that Putin is popular (in Russia, that is). To people in free societies, dictators often look popular. I was told for decades that Fidel Castro was popular in Cuba. Funny how he didn’t allow a free press or free elections.

Dictators have a much better grasp on their standing with people than most outsiders do.

In the Soviet period, anti-Communists like me would often hear from the Left that we were anti-Russian or “Russophobic.” No, we said: We were anti-Kremlin, anti-dictatorship. We wished the Russian people nothing but the best.

You hear the same charge from the Right today: that those of us who are anti-Kremlin or anti-Putin are “Russophobes.”

I give you a Pat Buchanan column from last week: “Time to Get Over the Russophobia.” Uh-huh. When the U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act — which imposes sanctions on Russian human-rights abusers — Boris Nemtsov, looking on in the gallery, said, “This is the most pro-Russian law ever enacted by a foreign government.”

Exactly.

Nemtsov was the leader of the opposition to Putin. Three years later, he was gunned down on a bridge within sight of the Kremlin. That kind of thing happens to Putin critics.

Here is a choice line from the Buchanan column: “True, Vladimir Putin is an autocrat seeking a fourth term, like FDR.” Between Putin and FDR, there is no moral equivalence whatsoever. FDR didn’t off his opponents or ban them from running; he beat them in free elections.

Buchanan also writes,

China, not Russia, has the more repressive single-party Communist state.

Indeed, which of these U.S. allies shows greater tolerance than Putin’s Russia? The Philippines of Rodrigo Duterte, the Egypt of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the Turkey of President Erdogan, or the Saudi Arabia of Prince Mohammad bin Salman?

On this, I agree with Buchanan entirely. (There are considerations of foreign policy, however. Many of them.)

Okay, on to the Tigers. In my column, I mention Aurelio Rodriguez, our erstwhile third baseman. A friend of mine writes, “For many years, he led the majors in Vowels in a First Name.”

Ha, true, I never thought of that. He touched ’em all. But sometimes there’s “y,” right?

Most Popular

World

NATO’s Challenge Is Germany, Not America

During the recent NATO summit meeting, a rumbustious Donald Trump tore off a thin scab of niceties to reveal a deep and old NATO wound — one that has predated Trump by nearly 30 years and goes back to the end of the Cold War. In an era when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact are now ancient history, ... Read More