The Russians Did It: The Arab Spring as the Final Act of the Cold War
For those of you who so kindly asked that I keep you apprised of my writings elsewhere, here's a piece that I hope you might find interesting--a review for Tablet magazine of Pavel Stroilov's new book about his collection of stolen Soviet documents and the light they shed on the Soviet Union's responsibility for the current state of the Middle East.
I've written quite a bit for City Journal about these archives--here, here and here. These pieces prompted lively debate and comment, particularly from Ron Radosh--to whom Stroilov and Vladimir Bukovsky responded, here.
I found Stroilov's book fascinating--and mordantly funny, by the way. Here's a sample:
An odd anecdote appears in Stroilov’s account of the final days of the Iran-Iraq war. Khomenei had learned from the Western press that Gorbachev was a man with whom one could do business—a great reformer. Obviously confused, he dispatched an Ayatollah to deliver a handwritten letter to Gorbachev. “The text, alas, is still unknown to historians,” writes Stroilov, “but the whole Politburo is on record laughing their heads off when reading it.” The contents may be deduced, he says, from the transcripts of the subsequent Politburo. Khomenei had proposed that Gorbachev should abandon Marxism and convert to Islam.
This, Stroilov remarks, “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.”
For those of you wondering how, precisely, we've arrived at such a mess, I think this book offers an important and neglected perspective.