KasparovWelcome to “Q&A,” a podcast hosted by Jay Nordlinger. Jay will be handling the “Q” part; a variety of guests will be handling the “A” part. On occasion, Jay may be doing some answering himself.

“Q&A” will be weekly, more or less. Some weeks will have more than one episode; some weeks will be without episodes. The show will be fairly regular, regardless.

The guest in this inaugural episode is Garry Kasparov, the great chess champion, Russian democrat, and human-rights defender. (Garry says to Jay, “You mean ‘democrat’ with a small ‘d,’ right?” Right.) The discussion concerns Putin, the Nemtsov murder, Ukraine, and other subjects. Jay asks the old, old question, “Do Russians desire a democracy?” At the end, the conversation turns to Kasparov’s original game, chess.

The music, incidentally, is Russian. The show begins and ends with Glazunov’s Symphony No. 5, last movement.

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There are 14 comments.

  1. captainpower Inactive

    Holy cow those were some great questions.

    Learned a few things.

    1) 1995 US pressured Ukraine to disarm (President Bill Clinton signed some kind of memorandum) and they gave up their nuclear arms in the expectations that we would defend them (or at least arm them) in the face of nuclear aggression.

    2) No one ever said the Crimea (or any part of Ukraine) belonged to Russia until recently. When the Soviet Union dissolved, no one voiced their displeasure or hinted at wanted part of Ukraine. No political movement within Ukraine for 20-something years voiced the desire to be part of Russia.

    3) He has some chess foundation involvement where he meets to encourage particularly bright students.

    4) Kasparov’s of Jewish/Armenian descent and considers himself Russian culturally.

    4) Kasparov is properly pronounced more like Kasp-A-hrov than Kaspa-hrov

    6) Gary Kasparov ostensibly is able to enjoy his public relations chess games with mere mortals because the game of chess still offers a “mental refuge” even though he retired 10 years ago. (I like this one a lot since he makes it seem like this is not beneath him, which is big points in my book for someone who has lots of reasons to feel it’s beneath him.)

    • #1
    • March 12, 2015, at 4:48 PM PST
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  2. Titus Techera Contributor

    captainpower: No one ever said the Crimea (or any part of Ukraine) belonged to Russia until recently. When the Soviet Union dissolved, no one voiced their displeasure or hinted at wanted part of Ukraine. No political movement within Ukraine for 20-something years voiced the desire to be part of Russia.

    Crimea has been a big deal for Russia for centuries. Massive fights were fought there in the 1850s & 1940s. Whoever expects Russia to give it up without being forced to give it up must expect to be thought a fool in the Kremlin, as well as everywhere men have cause to know what the Kremlin wants & fear what Russia will do.

    • #2
    • March 12, 2015, at 5:01 PM PST
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  3. Bruce Caward Thatcher

    More Jay Nordlinger. More Jay Nordlinger. Just when I thought Ricochet couldn’t be improved. Happy now.

    • #3
    • March 12, 2015, at 8:00 PM PST
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  4. captainpower Inactive

    Titus Techera:

    captainpower: No one ever said the Crimea (or any part of Ukraine) belonged to Russia until recently. When the Soviet Union dissolved, no one voiced their displeasure or hinted at wanted part of Ukraine. No political movement within Ukraine for 20-something years voiced the desire to be part of Russia.

    Crimea has been a big deal for Russia for centuries. Massive fights were fought there in the 1850s & 1940s. Whoever expects Russia to give it up without being forced to give it up must expect to be thought a fool in the Kremlin, as well as everywhere men have cause to know what the Kremlin wants & fear what Russia will do.

    Perhaps I mischaracterized it. I would be interested in your thoughts after listening to the podcast. Please give it a go if you have time.

    • #4
    • March 12, 2015, at 8:27 PM PST
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  5. Titus Techera Contributor

    captainpower:Perhaps I mischaracterized it. I would be interested in your thoughts after listening to the podcast. Please give it a go if you have time.

    Not at all–you & I simply disagree on what goes on in politics. Let me state my opinion in answer to Mr. Kasparov. I will preface my observations, however–I admire the man & do not want to say or imply anything against his courage & decency.

    But I will talk politics now, & there is not a lot of room for respect or decency in politics, especially if it is foreign policy. I think everything Mr. Kasparov says about the fall of the USSR can be simply put this way: Russia was weak, her leadership either stupid or humane. Russia is no longer as weak & her leadership has nothing of humanity. I believe one could reasonably understand Mr. Putin by thinking that he thinks his success is predicated on avoiding humanity, unless he can confront it violently with some chance of success. I believe Mr. Kasparov understates the extent to which Mr. Putin takes humanity as a personal insult & provocation.

    That the Ukraine was left with a nuclear arsenal, never mind how awesome, shows you how far political judgment had failed the USSR. Rule in Russia means empire & Mr. Putin does not know or want to know anything else. Small things like what happened in Georgia, or the creation of states previously unknown to man, like Moldova, are smaller confirmations of the situation. Every small assault on what Europe ended up looking like circa 1991 is a confirmation of the new situation…

    I confess I do not know with any certainty what is Mr. Kasparov’s intended audience. What he does is propaganda, in the best sense of the term. He seems to me wise & public-spirited, I am sure he takes more risks & faces greater dangers than I know–& all in order to tell people the truth about the political facts, in a world where people do not want to learn about politics. I fear for him for all these reasons. I hope I can contribute something to efforts like his, but I know it is very little. That so many great Russians have told the truth to Americans & in America in the last several generations, I think, says something about their high estimation of America.

    I will turn to my disagreement with his judgment of the European situation. I hesitate to disagree with older, wiser men than I am, but I hope I am not disagreeing too much, but merely rhetorically, as a matter of emphasis. I think I am saying many things Mr. Kasparov knows as well; if any there be which he does not know, I assume I must be making a mistake. What happened at Yalta was a mere confirmation of the military facts: Mostly, that’s what diplomacy is & does. Those who do not think so today are also those who hope to prevent deeds by speeches & then to use speeches to conceal horrible deeds. It was Soviet & American arms that made Europe what it is, not any set of treaties. Those are mere ways of managing impotence. Those treaties are not even the cause of Europe’s prosperity, although we reasonably may say they have made a contribution. But you can see they also blind people to the political facts, which are fearsome–precisely because they are fearsome. NATO means that all of Europe disarms. That is the effectual truth of the matter. America does not ask that European nations pay for their own defense, much less that they pay America for defending them. Americans are seen by Europeans to be silly & easily exploited, & therefore deserving of nothing better than contempt. Not many Europeans admire or feel gratitude for America, certainly not in politics. Americans do not understand that & therefore persist in their moralistic opinions concerning foreign affairs. A people with such mighty arms & such natural defenses may afford this kind of moralism. Othello is far the nobler man, Iago far the weaker. But that is why all men of sense who are not Americans fear America: Too many peoples have trusted Americans & were led by this humanity to their ruin. The Ukraine is a good example, which Mr. Kasparov shows you in the best light, perhaps because he hopes to appeal to your better angels. I am under no such obligation, not least because I am less hopeful than Mr. Kasparov, which is perhaps because he is so much braver than I am.

    I look at the past to recall to you one reason for America’s reputation: Those Vietnamese who trusted America have died by the millions & Americans shamelessly go on talking moralistic talk. No Vietnamese man, woman or child thought that God or nature intended that Americans should come fight that war with talk of freedom. What came after the miracle? What was the effectual truth of American ideals? Were the Vietnamese less deserving than the Germans West of Soviet arms? However many other examples could be produced. Americans are a nation of children or philosophers: You sound like an American, it seems to me, though not quite as American as Mr. Nordlinger. Have you ever thought, like so many in my position do, that you treat your enemies far better than your allies? Perhaps this is because of Christianity… To mankind, when it is necessary to have an opinion about America, America looks this way–a lot of moral talk, & then evil men profit.

    Mr. Kasparov is right to appeal to a combination of interest & morality. But I fear he must fail. America answers a different, far bloodier call. Mankind is never at rest, but always makes that call, & there is only so much peace America can make.

    • #5
    • March 13, 2015, at 1:35 AM PST
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  6. thebeekeeperkissedme Inactive

    I love Jay’s interview style and can’t wait for more interviews with (70s) heroes. The image of Jay interviewing Alice Cooper is one I’d like to see.

    • #6
    • March 13, 2015, at 1:43 AM PST
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  7. Pencilvania Inactive

    I so enjoy Jay & Mona’s ‘Need to Know’, and now this excellent new podcast! Jay has mentioned many interesting personalities in Need to Know just tangentially, I’m looking forward to his expanding on some of them here.

    • #7
    • March 13, 2015, at 6:29 AM PST
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  8. jzdro Member

    Thanks for the chance to listen in on this conversation.

    “. . . dictators. . . need muddy waters. . .”

    • #8
    • March 13, 2015, at 11:48 AM PST
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  9. Profile Photo Member

    Love it! Subscribe button?

    • #9
    • March 13, 2015, at 1:27 PM PST
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  10. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti Post author

    Nanda Panjandrum:Love it! Subscribe button?

    Coming in a few days. In the meantime, use the SuperFeed.

    • #10
    • March 13, 2015, at 2:41 PM PST
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  11. captainpower Inactive

    Titus Techera:I look at the past to [remind] you [of] one reason for America’s reputation:

    Those Vietnamese who trusted America have died by the millions & Americans shamelessly go on talking moralistic talk.

    Every time we betray an ally it is a stain upon us. I suspect a lot of Americans just don’t realize it. I am in the Millennial generation and never learned about our betrayal of the Vietnamese in school. I learned it in the course of my appetite for information and love of history. I was not raised to spit in contempt at the mention of a name, but I might consider starting for when I hear or John Kerry (or Ted Kennedy) mentioned.

    My understanding is that both of these Democrats have a history of conspiring with foreign governments.

    That is part of the reason I am not a Democrat.

    But even then, in 2008, when John McCain was the only voice in favor of aiding in the defense of Georgia against Russia, most Republicans weren’t with him.

    Do I accept culpability for their malfeasance? Only so far.

    Much of this happened before I was born. Perhaps it’s the extreme individualism of the American at play here, but something in me bristles at accepting blame for something done by someone else or something I have no control over.

    I did not elect them. In fact, I voted against John Kerry for President, and yet we have him today as our Secretary of State.

    What can I actually do as one person?

    Vote, inform myself and inform others who vote, contact representatives recommending how they vote, and protest. Anything I missed?

    Titus Techera:

    & Americans shamelessly go on talking moralistic talk.

    Political parties betray principles.

    But does that mean Americans should also betray those principles and stop talking about them?

    To take a page from Dennis Prager on morality. We are hypocrites (if such a term is even valid) because we hold ourselves to high standard and fail. If the response is to abandon standards whenever someone violates them, then we will have no standards. Likewise, I believe in espousing American ideals even if we fail to live up to them. Perhaps our leaders can even live up to them once in a while if we are lucky.

    Titus Techera:

    […]

    However many other examples could be produced[?]

    This is a good question, and I wouldn’t mind having a list. I don’t want what Dennis Prager has called “a proctologist’s view of America” (the late Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States), but the more history I learn, the more I know I don’t know.

    Here are some recent entries:

    2008 – Present: Eastern Europe (Georgia, Poland) When allies are under threat from Russia, Americans don’t help all that much, and after the Democrats gain power we even remove “missile shield” aid.

    2006?-Present: Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan). As the United States pulled out of Iraq/Afghanistan, congress passed legislation to help our allies (translators and their families, for example) get into the United States via the “Special Immigration Visa” program but our bureaucratic and prioritized immigration system and broken/compromised State Department (full of leftists) can’t seem to get the job done.

    related:

    Titus Techera:

    […]

    Have you ever thought, like so many in my position do, that you treat your enemies far better than your allies?

    Yes, this is something I hate and we are not alone.

    Michael Rubin wrote a book about it and our foolish State Department.

    There are/were also several blogs out there by ex-State Department folks who were not leftist but surrounded by them at State.

    To woo our enemies we try to distance ourselves from our friends.

    Dennis Prager points to the Talmud with his phrase: those who show mercy to the cruel will be cruel to the merciful.

    I believe it.

    • #11
    • March 14, 2015, at 12:44 PM PST
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  12. Titus Techera Contributor

    I’ll try to answer briefly. You seem to have put some thought into these matters, so I do not see that I have much to add, & it were presumptuous, too… Does not your inquiry show you what a great distance there is between American rhetoric & the political facts of our world? If one does not attribute to virtue what belongs to fortune; does not congratulate oneself & one’s own for the mistakes of one’s enemies; does not assume that the policy that fit some circumstances reasonably well really was wise; well, then, the American men who wish to defend their own have to become able to have the capacity to understand the necessities of this world of ours.

    1.I suppose no individual is really guilty, barring the ones who decided–the Dem Congress &c. But as Americans, there is a collective responsibility, partly because you stand together against foreigners, partly because you do live together. America lived out the consequences of Vietnam. Soon America abandoned the Iranians in whose affairs you had so long meddled &c. The more moral American political talk got, the worse the consequences!

    2.Yes, some Dems are really reprehensible creatures–again, creatures of moralism. These are your hippie politicians. If you want to know what’s so wrong with peace, love, & understanding, read’em’n’weep.

    3.Georgia, however, was not your ally. War there is very difficult to wage. I do not believe America really can save Georgia; or say, Tibet, Mongolia, &c. Part of avoiding moralism is seeing these things, which are worse than tragedy. This is not a problem of being hypocritical or simply discarding morality. This is measuring justice against necessity. Politics is guided by prudence, not by God’s heaven.

    4.I believe incompetence in foreign policy shows best Americans’ political weakness. Americans can associate for any domestic interest, but this is different. Mostly, foreign policy is expert inaction, poise, & occasionally, in favorable circumstances, it is hell unleashed. Americans find neither plausible, much less second nature. What can you do? America needs civic education, just your history & constitutional gov’t. That will gradually allow people to think meaningfully about foreign affairs. This is neither quick nor certain of success. It is only a palliative to the narrowness of view specific to democratic times…

    5.The phrase you attribute to the Talmud is also found in Adam Smith, The theory of moral sentiments, part ii, chp. ii. sec.3. (search II.II.21 for para)

    • #12
    • March 15, 2015, at 2:47 AM PST
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  13. captainpower Inactive

    Titus Techera:5.The phrase you attribute to the Talmud is also found in Adam Smith, The theory of moral sentiments, part ii, chp. ii. sec.3. (search II.II.21 for para)

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smMS2.html#II.II.21

    Such is the account commonly given of our approbation of the punishment of injustice. And so far this account is undoubtedly true, that we frequently have occasion to confirm our natural sense of the propriety and fitness of punishment, by reflecting how necessary it is for preserving the order of society. When the guilty is about to suffer that just retaliation, which the natural indignation of mankind tells them is due to his crimes; when the insolence of his injustice is broken and humbled by the terror of his approaching punishment; when he ceases to be an object of fear, with the generous and humane he begins to be an object of pity. The thought of what he is about to suffer extinguishes their resentment for the sufferings of others to which he has given occasion. They are disposed to pardon and forgive him, and to save him from that punishment, which in all their cool hours they had considered as the retribution due to such crimes. Here, therefore, they have occasion to call to their assistance the consideration of the general interest of society. They counterbalance the impulse of this weak and partial humanity by the dictates of a humanity that is more generous and comprehensive. They reflect that mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent, and oppose to the emotions of compassion which they feel for a particular person, a more enlarged compassion which they feel for mankind.

    Wow. I can’t believe you remembered that bit. Do you just have a fantastic memory or what?

    • #13
    • March 16, 2015, at 8:40 PM PST
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  14. Titus Techera Contributor

    captainpower:Wow. I can’t believe you remembered that bit. Do you just have a fantastic memory or what?

    You are too kind. I am not sure memory is much more than accidents–my education has required that I pursue arguments about justice & a bit of diligence goes a long way in such inquiries. However that may be, I can say a few things about this subject that might say why I know this phrase. One is that Smith is laying out there the common or political opinion about justice. This bears further thought–the old philosophers had a way of looking at how we think about our affairs & elaborating what we mean & whether we really know what we claim to know.

    In its harshest form, the opinion about justice is put by Aristotle this way: Bad laws enforced are preferable to good laws unenforced. In a certain sense, order is prior to law. Tyranny might install order in chaos. But this is never repealed by the emergence of law & legal reasoning, we just tend to forget about it. Always, the essence of law is punishment. This reflects the original chaos: Man is not capable of giving to the good all that they deserve, but only of giving the evil what they deserve.

    The awareness of the ancient chaos is never buried too deep, we are merely taught that it is there. This is why we are taught about great heroes & the greatest wars–to remind us we have no power of creating perpetual peace… But this is also why the American constitution creates a creature that might prove more powerful than its creators: The president, who swears to execute his office, & to protect the Constitution. The lesser cannot protect the greater, to speak like the philosophers… In certain cases, war powers are claimed by presidents who of a sudden show the awful majesty of the American constitution. No longer is it a predictable, peaceful, protecting majesty–it is unleashing hell & all Americans can do to conceal the ugliness is to wrap the bodies of the noble men in the noble flag for which they die.

    Judged against the deeds of Lincoln or FDR, even Reagan comes short–but if he was feared, & therefore obeyed, if he brought America to power & safety, it was because people the world over feared what he might do in his wrath. Judged against such men, your latter-day Commanders-in-chief cannot persuade anyone that America’s cause is just & mighty. They cannot scare evil men into submission; they cannot strengthen good men. They are satisfied with attempting to achieve the reverse…

    • #14
    • March 17, 2015, at 12:14 AM PST
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