Paleo Pat Pines for Powerful Putin

Self proclaimed paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan loves him an anti-gay, bear-back ridin’, judo flippin’, ex-KGB operative named Vlad. It’s just about the most absurd thing imaginable, and it’s all under the title “Which Side is God on Now?

In his Kremlin defense of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin, even before he began listing the battles where Russian blood had been shed on Crimean soil, spoke of an older deeper bond.

Crimea, said Putin, “is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptized. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilization and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.”

Russia is a Christian country, Putin was saying.

Everybody in the news has been explaining how this Crimean conflict is not comparable to the last Crimean war. But is seems like Putin is dusting off some of the old propaganda, and Buchanan is buying it.

The ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers who exposed Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy, was, at the time of his death in 1964, writing a book on “The Third Rome.”

The first Rome was the Holy City and seat of Christianity that fell to Odoacer and his barbarians in 476 A.D. The second Rome was Constantinople, Byzantium, (today’s Istanbul), which fell to the Turks in 1453. The successor city to Byzantium, the Third Rome, the last Rome to the old believers, was — Moscow.

Putin is entering a claim that Moscow is the Godly City of today and command post of the counter-reformation against the new paganism.

The idea that Moscow is the “third Rome” is an old one. In fact, this idea had a lot to do with why the West tangled with Russia in Crimea last time.

It seems that in the 19th century a lot of high ranking Russians imagined Moscow to be the capital city of the Eastern Orthodox faiths. Their meddling in Crimea as the Ottoman Empire weakened was partially in the service of idea. Some leaders sought to establish an Orthodox Empire that would rival that of Constantinople under the guise of protecting the Orthodox population from Muslims.

But now, I think that idea has faded. Putin and the other Russian leaders strike me as too practical to get caught up in the dreams that died at Sevastopol.

Of course, I would have said the same about Buchanan. But instead I find that Buchanan clearly longs for a powerful state that will wage a cultural war with the West. It’s a complete inversion of the usual conservative viewpoint.

I think we’ve seen the real ideology of the far right laid bare. All the talk of small government and liberty is a sham. What they really want is Vladimir Putin to ride in and save them from the gays.


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