In the November 21 issue of The Weekly Standard, I have reviewedThe Maisky Diaries, edited by Gabriel Gorodetsky. This fine volume covers the personal writings of Ivan Maisky, Soviet ambassador to the United Kingdom during the critical period of 1932 to 1943. Here’s a bit of my judgment of the man:
In the 1930s, British foreign policy was still a matter of balancing the continental powers, particularly France and Germany; and if we avoid the arrogance that hindsight can bring, we should also remember that Neville Chamberlain genuinely thought he was securing a course for peace in Europe. Britain knew how weak its armed forces were—its army, especially—and this knowledge, as Lloyd George told Maisky, was doubtless a factor in Chamberlain’s “deal” with Hitler at Munich.
Maisky, however, had nothing but contempt for such calculations, coming across at certain times here as a kind of thirties neoconservative. Indeed, it’s hard at times to discern that Maisky was a Communist at all, or that he represented a brutal, totalitarian government. His comportment in these pages is measured; his language free of cant. Even his looks—the well-fed, portly body, the kindly eyes, the authentic smile—will strike the reader as very different from the dour, self-defensive faces of that era’s most prominent Soviets.
I have written the cover story for the October 21 issue of The Catholic Herald. My piece concerns the controversial pilfered emails from John Podesta, released by Wikileaks, that point to Democratic activists’ use of certain Catholic groups to influence the U.S. Church.
Here’s a taste:
It’s hardly surprising that liberal activists would create organisations devoted to left-wing goals. But these comments should open up fresh debate about the use of religious groups for political ends – and the often close relationship between a small circle of powerful Democrats and liberal Catholic groups.
In the August 12 issue of The Catholic Herald, I ask whether Christians in Turkey can stay out of danger in that troubled country. The piece is available only in the print and app editions, but here is a snippet:
In 2010, the Austrian politician Ewald Stadler delivered a rousing speech from the floor of the National Council in Vienna. For more than eight minutes, he harangued the Turkish ambassador, who was present in the chamber, for complaining about the treatment of Turks in Austria. Listing ignored crimes against Catholic clergy in the ambassador’s homeland – the kind of crimes Austrian imams don’t face – Stadler pulled back the veil of hypocrisy that covers any discussion of anti-Christian violence.
Here’s another bit:
Violence against Christians in Turkey may not be endemic, as it is in other Muslim-majority countries. But the periodic glimpses we get are every bit as horrific. One of the crimes mentioned by Stadler, for instance, was the gruesome murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese in 2010. The apostolic vicar of Anatolia was stabbed more than two dozen times and decapitated outside his home in İskenderun. The culprit was the bishop’s driver, a young Muslim man.
All these incidents prove that vile hatred lurks not far beneath the surface. It will only worsen if Turkey further embraces political Islam.
When Pope Francis visited Turkey in 2014, he called for greater tolerance and acceptance of Christians. There is little indication this will happen.
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In the July 15 issue of The Catholic Herald, I write about how our concepts of “left” and “right” are Cold War-era relics. The rupture of these obsolete ideas is behind the current breakdown in conventional politics in both the United States and the United Kingdom:
Millions of Americans and Britons don’t accept a bipartisan consensus that was formed without their input or permission. Its partisans grew so resistant to reform they treated their own citizens as a kind of plague to be contained in the hinterlands, not as stakeholders with genuine concerns.
How did this mushy consensus come about? That’s a difficult question. One thing’s for certain: The political elite misread the fall of communism. They thought, as the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama did, that history had ended, and that at the climax of this great Hegelian unfolding was a Western liberal democracy that would never die.
This bred arrogant complacency – the belief that you could sit back, relax and think only about small matters like tax rates. Why worry about immigration? After all, history was over. We had won. The little people would soon see how glorious the future would be.