Written by Vladimir Moss



     Victory in war is attained only in two ways: either by completely destroying the enemy, or by converting him to your side. There is no third way: a victory attained in any other way is no real victory, but only a battle won, which may end in final victory – or in defeat. The victory of the West over the Soviet Union n the Cold War in 1989-91 was one such inconclusive victory, a battle won that may yet end in final defeat in the war.

     The victories won by annihilation of the enemy are many. One of the most famous in ancient times was Rome’s victory over Carthage. The Romans so respected their enemies, who had dealt them their worst ever defeat at Carrhae that they did not stop at reversing that defeat and defeating them at Zama in 202 B.C. Cartago delenda est, “Carthage must be destroyed”, said the Roman senator Cato the elder. And Carthage was destroyed – completely – in 146 B.C.  It never rose again.

     Another victory by annihilation was the Allies’ conquest of Germany in 1945. The victory over the Kaiser’s Germany in 1918 had been incomplete. No Allied army stepped foot in Germany; its economic and war-making potential, though damaged, was not destroyed. Most important, the Germans did not feel defeated; they had been “stabbed in the back”. Reparations were insufficient to repay the losses suffered by the Western powers, especially France. By the time Hitler came to power, they had been remitted completely. So the still living snake was able to rise again because the seat of its power – its head – had not been crushed. That took place only in 1945, when Nazi power was crushed utterly, as was its capital. This was a real “twilight of the gods”. The false gods of German nationalism had been truly destroyed.

     Victories by conversion are much rarer and much greater from a moral point of view. Such a victory was the triumph of the Anglo-Saxon King Alfred the Great over the pagan Danes under King Guthrum in 878. Alfred defeated the Danes in battle at Ethandune; but, knowing that his victory could not be final, and that his enemy still occupied the whole of East Anglia, he offered him something quite different: baptism into the Orthodox Church (Alfred became Guthrum’s sponsor), followed by a twelve-day baptismal feast and the present of East Anglia as a baptismal gift. Nor was this a superficial charade. The Danes remained Christian, and were fully integrated into Orthodox England…

     Now let us turn to the Cold War. A very long war, beginning almost immediately after World War Two, in which many millions died around the globe. And yet the main antagonists – the NATO allies and the Soviet Union – never fired a single shot against each other in anger, preferring instead to fight by proxy and by the threat of mutually assured destruction. Nor did the supposed victors ever set foot on Soviet soil. The Communist enemy simply melted away, changing its name and its ideology at the same time…

     There was an attempt at conversion, but it was feeble and unconvincing. The Germans after 1945 were subjected to a denazification programme which eventually produced good fruits – real repentance for the horrors of Nazism. Moreover, they were given a vast sum of money in the Marshall Plan which helped them rebuild their economy and become again a prosperous and peaceful nation. But there was no decommunization programme in Eastern Europe after 1991. Not a single Communist leader or Gulag commandant was brought to trial for his crimes. As for economic aid, there was some of it, but – with the exception of the aid given to the former East Germany by West Germany – it came nowhere near the levels needed or asked for.

     Thus, as Simon Jenkins writes, “There was no lowering of tariffs or other barriers to trade with the east, and therefore little stimulus to growth in the post-communist economies. Brussels lobbyists opposed any inrush of low-cost produce, especially food, into the EEC’s protected markets. Despite initial please from Gorbachev, there was no new Marshall Aid, nor substantial inward investment, at least until former communist states joined the EU. At the same time there was a torrent of low-cost labour migrating westwards, bleeding the east of talent and further aiding the west’s economies.

     “More dangerous was an instant NATO welcome to Russia’s former Warsaw Pact allied. Those republics closest to Russia, such as Belarus, Ukraine and the central Asian ‘stans’, formed a Commonwealth of Independent State under Moscow’s aegis. But the Baltic states together with Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary turned their backs on the east and began negotiations with NATO as guarantor of their future security. There is no doubt this is what these countries wanted, but the alacrity with which NATO seemed ready to advance its frontier eastwards rubbed salt into the gaping wound of Russia’s national pride. Yeltsin pleaded with the west to hold back, describing NATO’s expansion as ‘a major political mistake’. He warned that ‘the flames of scar could burst out across the whole of Europe’. He was ignored. In this respect, there was an ominous sense of the cold war’s demise replicating the casual triumphalism of Versailles…”[1]

     And just as the incomplete and mismanaged victory celebrated at Versailles led to the rise of an avenging angel from the still intact nest of the undestroyed enemy in the form of Hitler, so the undestroyed enemy of Communism has given birth to Putin. “In 1999,” continues Jenkins, “Yeltsin anointed a former Leningrad KGB boss, Vladimir Putin, as his successor. The contrast was total. Putin was the epitome of a tough, communist-era apparatchik. The ex-intelligence officer had no time for the niceties of democracy, but a keen sense of the need to restore Russian pride. He would issue pictures of himself hunting and bare-chested on horseback. His court of oligarchs made sure he secured as much overseas wealth as they had. Putin’s policies endorse at increasingly rigged elections, made no mention of civil rights or market economics. He was a populist and a nationalist, his pledge merely to restore Russia’s integrity and self-confidence. Opponents were bribed imprisoned or killed. The west might have felt able to humour and torment Yeltsin. It now faced the pastiche tsar of a macho state. That Russia’s economy was debilitated was irrelevant. Dictatorship thrives on poverty.”[2]

     Putin has openly declared his intent to avenge Russia’s defeat in the Cold War, just as Hitler set out to avenge Germany’s defeat in World War One. He is able to do this because Communism was not truly defeated in the Cold War. Its leaders were not tried and punished, its ideology was not exposed for the fraud it undoubtedly is (only the economic aspect of Communism was denigrated, not its atheist heart), its secret service agents retained their stanglehold over the Orthodox Church. Therefore the day of reckoning is still in the future – and it is not at all certain who will win. For it is possible to win all the battles in a war while losing the last, ultimately decisive one…

     Even if Communism loses the final battle of this coming war, a deep and long-lasting peace is guaranteed only if the whole Enlightenment philosophy which gave birth not only to Communism, but also to Fascism and Democracy, is renounced by the victors. The only teaching which does not simply oppose this triple-headed monster but conquers and destroys it is the Orthodox Christian Faith. It was the renunciation of that faith by Russia in 1917 that set in motion that long cycle of extremely bloody and inconclusive wars that we have witnessed over the last century. Only the resurrection of that faith, and the true repentance of Russia, will bring the final victory and true peace…


December 13/26, 2018.

[1] Jenkins, A Short History of Europe, London: Weidenfels & Nicholson, 2018, pp. 288-289.

[2] Jenkins, op. cit., p. 293.

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