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Vladimir Putin, Christian Crusader?

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. This speech recalls last December’s address where the former KGB chief spoke of Russia as standing against a decadent West:

Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.

Heard any Western leader, say, Barack Obama, talk like that lately?

Indicting the “Bolsheviks” who gave away Crimea to Ukraine, Putin declared, “May God judge them.” What is going on here? With Marxism-Leninism a dead faith, Putin is saying the new ideological struggle is between a debauched West led by the United States and a traditionalist world Russia would be proud to lead. In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God’s side. The West is Gomorrah.

Western leaders who compare Putin’s annexation of Crimea to Hitler’s Anschluss with Austria, who dismiss him as a “KGB thug,” who call him “the alleged thief, liar and murderer who rules Russia,” as Wall Street Journal‘s Holman Jenkins did, believe Putin’s claim to stand on higher moral ground is beyond blasphemous.

But Vladimir Putin knows exactly what he is doing, and his new claim has a venerable lineage. 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. Putin is plugging into some of the modern world’s most powerful currents. Not only in his defiance of what much of the world sees as America’s arrogant drive for global hegemony. Not only in his tribal defense of lost Russians left behind when the USSR disintegrated. He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West.

In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity. His recent speeches carry echoes of John Paul II whose Evangelium Vitae in 1995 excoriated the West for its embrace of a “culture of death.”

What did Pope John Paul mean by moral crimes? The West’s capitulation to a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide—the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values.

Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum writes that she was stunned when in Tbilisi to hear a Georgian lawyer declare of the former pro-Western regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, “They were LGBT.”

“It was an eye-opening moment,” wrote Applebaum. Fear and loathing of the same-sex-marriage pandemic has gone global. In Paris, a million-man Moral Majority marched in angry protest. Author Masha Gessen, who has written a book on Putin, says of his last two years, “Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world.”

But the war to be waged with the West is not with rockets. It is a cultural, social, moral war where Russia’s role, in Putin’s words, is to “prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.”

Would that be the “chaotic darkness” and “primitive state” of mankind, before the Light came into the world? This writer was startled to read in the Jan-Feb. newsletter from the social conservative World Council of Families in Rockford, Ill., that, of the “ten best trends” in the world in 2013, number one was “Russia Emerges as Pro-Family Leader.” In 2013, the Kremlin imposed a ban on homosexual propaganda, a ban on abortion advertising, a ban on abortions after 12 weeks and a ban on sacrilegious insults to religious believers.

“While the other super-powers march to a pagan world-view,” writes WCF’s Allan Carlson, “Russia is defending Judeo-Christian values. During the Soviet era, Western communists flocked to Moscow. This year, World Congress of Families VII will be held in Moscow, Sept. 10-12.”

Will Vladimir Putin give the keynote? In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now?

Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? [1] Copyright 2014 Creators.com [2].

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#1 Comment By AnotherBeliever On April 7, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

Leaving aside Mr Buchanan’s apparent sympathetic stance, and my own judgment of its merits – this assessment of Putin viewing himself as potential leader of a counterrevolution against the decadent West grants some possible insight into his psychology and current events. I am not sure whether Putin himself believes entirely in the standard he’s raising. It’s possible, though, if true, the man has a mixed set of motivations. What’s important is results. Does this counterrevolution have legs? Will it hold together coherently when on the one hand it decries the instability of the Maidan but on the other is at least taking advantage of pro-Russian demonstrations in eastern Ukraine? Parts of Anglican and Catholic Africa may well be sympathetic. Along with some fringe (?) evangelical groups. The Arab world could be tricky. What of China? What of the economics? The ruble is tanking. Can Russia sustain or stabilize any of this?

I could go on and on, it’s a fascinating topic. But I’m merely speculating and asking questions. The final one I’ll leave you all with, what is the potential for this anti-decadence platform going to some dark places? It wouldn’t be the first time in living memory. Things can get away from a movement. Think it through.

#2 Comment By HeartRight On April 8, 2014 @ 2:57 am

‘The Arab world could be tricky’
I think of the Arab world as congenially opportunistic.
But the potential with say, Turkish-speakers, is huge.

‘The final one I’ll leave you all with, what is the potential for this anti-decadence platform going to some dark places?’

Of course it does! It absolutely does! It unquestioningly does!

The thing is that you’ve got a got a good chance of getting a security officer at Yomo Kenyatta International to practise shut-eye and forget his duties by simply playing the Anti West Card. Heck, if I’ve understood some recent reports right, that even works at Amsetrdam International.

And I want to get this point hammered home: the other thing to remember is that playing the Anglosphere Liberal Democracy card gets you nowhere. That’s what led the Third Way Vietnam-problem solvers [ so ezcellently parodised by Graham Greene in the Quiet American ] down the garde path: there is no substantial support for that to build on – other than among the Monied Middle Classes.

My personal neutrality is based on my belief that the proferred solutions to the problem of this ‘decadence’ on the whole are not much of an improvement. But it certainly is not based on any positive regard for liberal democracy.

To give you a parallel from recent history: a man may very well refuse to become a cheerleader for Communism while at the same time explicitly rejecting Capitalism. Over to Michael Foot. Or Viktor Orban.

#3 Comment By Joe A On April 8, 2014 @ 11:08 am

Brutal, corrupt dictatorships who jail political opponents and invade their neighbors are now the good guys.

I understand traditional values a whole lot better now.

#4 Comment By Jeff On April 11, 2014 @ 3:51 am

How naive an author should be to write such a nonsense? Russia is losing its population due to widespread alcoholism. Russia has hundreds of thousands orphan children. The thievery and prostitution are the Russian trademarks. Corruption among the ruling elites is well known to the public. In Russia you can’t get without a bribe even what you are eligible for by law. Russian TV is so full of lies that it is called there “Putin’s zombie box”.
And despite all that Patrick Buchanan finds some basis to praise Putin for defending the Christian values? Putin, who doesn’t believe a word he’s saying to the public?

#5 Comment By henry wester On April 20, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

if you are a christian there should be no question about mr puting! But i am going to let God be his judge! i don’t need for him to speak for me as a christian!

#6 Comment By David Chambers On April 25, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

Mr. Buchanan: Thank you for citing my grandfather’s book _Cold Friday_ obliquely, above. (FYI, he died in 1961; my grandmother published the book posthumously in 1964.) Regards – David