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In contrast to the projections of a crushing defeat of the Red Army, that were churned out on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in June, 1941 but eventually proved inaccurate, Churchill`s belief that Russia was ready to make an all-out effort to fight the war fully withstood the test of reality. The story, though, took a long time to unfold...

The British leader is portrayed in Winston`s War. Churchill, 1940-1945, a recent book by journalist and historian Max Hastings, as a true «warlord» and a man to be credited with steeliness as the prevalent personality trait. After the 1940 crisis, when the invasion of the British Islands by Nazi Germany seemed imminent but did not materialize thanks to the courage of the British pilots in the Battle of Britain, Churchill was considering various overland war theaters. The former First Lord of the Admiralty vehemently opposed the idea that the strategic objective of the Sovereign of the Seas in the global conflict could be limited to defending its own coastline and kept questioning himself what course Great Britain had to steer at the moment to deserve a positive historical verdict in the future.

The outbreak of Germany’s war against the USSR gave rise to much diversity in the projections. Three years later, Deputy Secretary of State Welles recalled: "Even the highest military authorities in this country and in Britain did not believe in the summer of 1941 that Russia would be able to resist the brutal attack for any length time." Henry Stimson, the U.S. Secretary of War, in an official document to President Roosevelt, two days after Hitler attacked, issued a terse statement: "Germany will be fully occupied by beating Russia in at least a month, and most probably within three months.

I do not know about you, but I am impressed with the European official. I admire and am morally crushed by his principles. Are you saying: "play it safe"? Of course. But after all, admit it, you were not personally touched by the princes of aviation’s "heroic" flights through volcanic clouds in empty airplanes... would you fly when you are losing tens of millions. When the European official would say, 'I will not allow you to! "And he must have known that he would have to experience for himself the effects of a fire-breathing lava of anger from the airline companies and consumer dissatisfaction, yet he persisted, even during the economic crisis. 

Cain was the first murderer, and at the same time committed fratricide. In Scripture, there are no mistakes. Terrorism is organized fratricide, especially in historically multiethnic Russia. Any polarity of opinion, any difference in cultures, is no excuse. Apart from kinship and common parents, Adam and Eve, were there many similarities between Cain and Abel? Neither by character nor in temperament, nor, finally, by occupation they were similar: one tilled the land, the other tended sheep. After the murder, God called out to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" "I do not know, am I my brother's keeper?" Replied the man who had committed fratricide.

Moscow is an amazing city. Anything can happen here ... Take for example, an average book store. Here the choice is slightly above the average. All appears uneventful, but, most importantly all is quiet, without any jostling, so what more does the Moscow intelligentsia need? It is not like it was in the past, when you could buy a book, put it under your arm, and go to a nearby cafe with portraits of different writers on the walls, grab a tea or a coffee, or maybe 50 grams or even 100 grams of vodka, and you are good! You could sit and read, write something, or contemplate something sad. Just like some Montparnasse.

"The elephant in the boa hat," was drawn by a little prince and resembled an ordinary hat, touching in its naivety the correctness of the child's drawing. "The man in the boa hat" is a scary, but prophetic dream of today’s world. Today Gogol would more likely to have exclaimed: "it is stuffy to live in this world, gentlemen!" However, one can get used to the stuffy atmosphere ... And therefore of particular interest to us are the people, or rather, those of their thoughts, which were born in the unclouded atmosphere that failed to absorb the miasma of the stuffiness of the mind.

Among the other freedoms, the spirit of our age has been and remains largely defined by freedom of enterprise. Of course, it was not always so. Why an era makes a preferred choice in favor of one freedom or another, fighting for it, suffering for it and shedding blood for it, is a special question. Let us remember for how many centuries the struggle for religious freedom served as a dramatic and sometimes tragic leitmotif in European history.

"It seems that Moscow, will never forgive NATO for being the alliance that survived the Cold War," so wrote one influential European newspaper a few days ago. This is not so at all, but try to agree with me that it is difficult to forgive those who, having survived the Cold War, have not learned their lessons. Down to the 60th anniversary of NATO, a lot has been said about the fact that it saved the world from a Third World War, consolidated Europe and provided a peaceful conclusion to the Cold War. These words are similar to the views and opinions once expressed by Margaret Thatcher, that nuclear weapons saved us from a Third World War.

Receiving the Nobel Prize in Oslo, US president B. Obama painted a grim picture of the problems the world would have to face if — not getting the due assistance from other countries — the US lost the war in Afghanistan. At the moment, it would be unfair to complain that the NATO allies, Russia, and several other countries did not help the US in the Afghan campaign. While the Talib forces in Afghanistan are no match to those of the Western coalition with the US at the helm, the key objective behind the mission — to make launching new terrorist attacks against the US or other countries from the Afghan territory impossible - remains out of reach after nine years of efforts. History routinely dispels triumphalist illusions of those who tend to rely excessively on military might.

The natural comparison between the 1979-1989 Soviet and the current US-led campaigns in Afghanistan highlights the fact that, confronted by the Mujahidins who were backed by the US and other countries, the Soviet forces in Afghanistan never enjoyed the vast superiority over their enemy such as the one the Western coalition maintains in the country nowadays. The budget of the Soviet war in Afghanistan was also fairly modest compared to the amounts of money poured by the US into the Afghan campaign. In this light, it may seem surprising that the US control over the Afghan territory is chronically patchy and that the Talib leaders are not serially standing trials in the Hague yet.

Brainstorming is a remarkable American invention, but the practice may be untimely amidst serious fighting. At the moment the war against the Talibs in Afghanistan is raging while, according to European expert estimates, the extremist groups are at the peak of power and therefore unreceptive to negotiation offers. With the Talibs entrenched in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq and Somalia, even seemingly sober plans for political reform in Afghanistan stand no chance.

Unlike Great Britain and France, the US has no colonial experience, but it must be credited with learning fast. At present Washington is demonstrating an unprecedented level of tolerance to local customs and traditions in Afghanistan. Aware of the Afghan population's adherence to tribal independence and of its resulting allergy to hypercentralization of governance, Washington is increasingly leaning towards the model of distributed administration for the country. Currently the US is looking into the possibility of considerable autonomy for Afghanistan's provinces.