The high-flying rhetoric of the Sputnik scare

Sixty years ago, the Soviets put the first satellite in space, sparking concerns about technology and weapons superiority

The high-flying rhetoric of the Sputnik scareOn Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union set the world agog with the launch of Sputnik, the first space satellite. And the pioneering achievement sent much of the United States into a panic. Assumptions about American superiority in science and technology were suddenly called into question. The hostile Soviets were winning the space race and…

Was the Ukrainian Red Famine genocide or incompetence?

Historians are divided on Josef Stalin’s intent in the Ukraine that resulted in millions of deaths. Anne Applebaum’s new book has revived the dispute

Was the Ukrainian Red Famine genocide or incompetence?Chances are Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine will set the cat among the pigeons with respect to the horrendous Ukrainian hunger of 1932-33. It’s already touched off a rhetorical skirmish between the author and an early reviewer. Applebaum is an American journalist-historian whose Gulag: A History won a 2004 Pulitzer Prize. Russia is a particular specialty of…

‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’

While it might be silly to argue the Berlin Wall came down because of Ronald Reagan, he demonstrated unusual prescience about the Soviet Union’s fragility

‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’The relationship between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev has been described as “among the most remarkable forged by any two world leaders in modern history.” And one of its most famous public moments occurred just 30 years ago. Speaking in front of the infamous Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, Reagan issued a challenge: “Mr.…

When Khrushchev spilled the beans

60 years this month Nikita Khrushchev blew the whistle on (the safely deceased) Josef Stalin’s crimes

When Khrushchev spilled the beansIt’ll be 60 years this month since Nikita Khrushchev blew the whistle on (the safely deceased) Josef Stalin’s crimes. And while the revelations were no surprise to savvy observers, it was a punch in the gut for many true believers and fellow travellers, particularly in the West. What they’d fondly imagined as a Marxist utopia…

The world was safer in the Soviet era

Today, principled conversation is impossible, and that’s dangerous

The world was safer in the Soviet eraRecent threats on the world stage cause me to wonder whether perhaps we should be mourning the passing of the Soviet era. With the eruption of ISIS in the Middle East and the ongoing autocracies in Russia and China, pause for a moment and think back to the last century and compare the challenges then…