I'm Fine! Thank You! I'm Just Busy Fighting Communists
Thank you, everyone, for the kind messages asking what happened to me and for your expressions of concern that I may have been arrested, run over by a marauding football team, or eaten by my cats. No, no: I am absolutely fine; I'm just swamped with deadlines.
I'm working now on a review of Pavel Stroilov's new book, Behind the Desert Storm: A Secret Archive Stolen From the Kremlin that Sheds New Light on the Arab Revolutions in the Middle East. He blames the Reds for everything, and I'm mostly inclined to agree with him. Here's a choice extract from the book to amuse you--or to outrage you, depending on your frame of mind:
In the final months of the [Iran-Iraq] war and the first months of peace, the Soviets persistently sought secret contact with Tehran through Assad and Arafat. In response, Imam Khomeini suddenly made a wide gesture, without worrying much about secrecy. In early January 1989, he sent one Ayatollah to Gorbachev to deliver a personal, handwritten epistle—an honor never afforded to any other foreign leader. The text, alas, is still unknown to historians, but the whole Politburo is on record laughing their heads off when reading it. The contents of the message can be easily deduced from the transcripts of the Politburo discussion and of Gorbachev’s meeting with Khomeini’s envoy, Ayatollah Abdullah Javadi Amoli, on January 4, 1989. Khomeini learned from the Western press that Gorbachev was a great reformer, so he suggested that Gorbachev should forget Marxism and convert to Islam.
Gorbachev (laughed at length before speaking): He suggested I should destroy communism! …
This was hardly much sillier than the attitude of most Western opinion-makers, who hoped that Gorbachev would miraculously transform from a communist to a democrat.
When talking to Khomeini’s messenger, Gorbachev politely declined to convert to Islam, and then reminded he was the leader, not a destroyer, of the Soviet Union and its Communist Party:
I am not going to try and persuade Imam to join the Communist Party […]
I must disappoint Imam: my associates and I see our goal as fully restoring the values of Socialism, the Marxist doctrine. That doctrine has absorbed all the best achievements of human thought.
After that discussion, Islam and Marxism were put aside, and the discussion focused on the more practical matter of joint struggle against the American Satan. “Without diplomatic niceties,” as Gorbachev said, he told Ayatollahs how Americans and Pakistanis were undermining the well-known Soviet efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan, and hinted that, détente and disarmament notwithstanding, he disbelieved all the US assurances of friendship. This he contrasted with the sincerity of the Soviet-Iranian relations. Soon, Comrades and Ayatollahs would note they were in complete agreement, not only about the situation in the Middle East, but also about South Africa, Latin America, East-West disarmament, and especially about “turning the Indian Ocean into a peace zone,” which meant ousting the Americans. Soviet-Iranian joint committees working on these issues mushroomed in 1989, while Foreign Ministers Shevardnadze and Velayati had four meeting in six months.
I'll let you know when the review's online.
Meanwhile, I've just received an advance copy of Michael Totten's new book, Where the West Ends. I get to read that before any of you, because you can't even buy it on Amazon yet. It looks great. But because this is a super-secret advance copy--and because I haven't read it yet--I can't tell you any more about it.
And for those of you dying for news from Turkey, you can have a gander at a review I wrote of Orhan Pamuk's new Museum of Innocence. Here's the original review I submitted, and here's the version the editors revised and published. I'm curious: Which one do you prefer? I ask in all seriousness. I thought mine was much more interesting, but writers are notoriously bad at figuring out when they're just being boring. So you tell me.
I'm working on a lot of other things, too, so stay tuned.
Thank you again for all the concerned messages. Nothing bad has happened to me. In fact, life is great. I've just got bills to pay.