I have no idea if I told this story before. If you already read it on this blog, please disregard this post. But I discovered that people are unaware of the story and even find it hard to believe, so I want to share it.
After Nazi Germany was defeated, the British government decided to give a gift to Stalin. The gift consisted of 30,000 kossack soldiers who had fought against the Soviets in the 1920s and then found refuge in Europe. The British government just handed them over, like they were unwanted furniture. The wives and the kids were handed over, too Stalin sent them to the concentration camps. Almost all of them died. You can read the story in detail in Solzhenitsyn, for example.
In any case, some of these cossacks knew what was coming. They knew that Stalin had a long memory and that the Brits would hand them off easily. So they ran. A bunch of them ended up in Canada, in the North of Quebec under the theory that nobody would look for them here, in the wilderness. They were right. Those who reached Quebec survived. They founded the little wooden church you can see in the picture. There’s a little cemetery next to the church. My father is now buried here, and there are all the graves of these cossacks. “A graduate of the Odessa law school, class of 1914,” proudly says a headstone of one of them, born in 1891 and dead in 1965.
Why my father would have wanted to be buried next to the cossacks, who knows? But it’s a very restful, beautiful place.
For the past 6 years, Russian mercenary troops have been active in 18 countries of Subsaharan Africa. They engage in violence, create chaos, disrupt elections, and conduct targeted killings. Russian military presence in Africa keeps growing.
This started right after President Obama allowed the Russian conquest of the Crimea (which was NOT conducted “without a single shot fired”; you’ve been lied to) to take place. And right after the New York Times assured us that there’s a civil war, not an invasion, happening in Ukraine and Ukrainians are all Nazis anyway.
So why are Russians are so active in Africa? What’s the point? There are three crucial goals to this engagement.
1. Africa has natural resources that are important for modern technology. Controlling them is lucrative.
2. Creating chaos in Africa and preventing Subsaharan countries from enjoying peace and living better lives sends streams of desperate migrants to Europe. This keeps Europe occupied and too weak and busy to notice much else.
But these are marginal benefits. The most important goal is always and only:
3. To be more important in the world than Americans. Or anybody else. That’s the nature of the narcissistic injury I keep talking about. Nothing is ever enough. Nothing satisfies. Killing Ukrainians, torturing Africans, starving Venezuelans – it’s all good fun but it’s never enough.
There’s something really malignant and ominous happening in the world. But we never hear about it. We never hear about the really important stuff. I wonder why that is.