Opinions & Views

Trivial Spirits

Malcolm Bradbury: Rates of Exchange; Alfred A. Knopf; New York

Vassily Aksyonov: The Island of Crimea; Translated by Michael Henry Heim; Random House; New York. 

Signs of massive political fatuity abound. In the face of more than a decade  of relentless Soviet arms acquisition, righteous notables in the West chant for a (virtually unilateral) freeze on our  nuclear weapons with a disregard for consequences that could make us wish for the days of  "Better Red Than Dead," when at least some price for weakness was  implicitly acknowledged. Television news programs now solicit the opinion of Tass apparatchiks as if these men were journalists expressing their own considered analyses of events. Presidential hopefuls strive to outbid one another in proclaiming how many lands they would not defend against enemies of this country. All this seems more than routine silliness: the suspicion grows that many in the West no longer can conceive of a world in which we confront an unyielding rival power seeking...

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