Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Role of Consistency in Foreign Policy - Sam Welles (1948)

I've transcribed the first page of my grandpa's book, 
Profile of Europe (1948), because I believe his theory on 
being "patient, firm and above all consistent"  in 
matters of foreign policy to be a timeless one:


          Joseph Stalin is the man who has put most bluntly the tug of the two magnets. In 1927, Stalin told a group of American workers who visited him in the Kremlin:

          "There will emerge two centers of world significance: a socialist center, drawing to itself the countries which tend toward socialism, and a capitalist center, drawing to itself the countries that incline towards capitalism. The battle between these two centers for command of the world economy will decide the fate of capitalism and of communism in the entire world." 

          Today those two centers, or magnets, do exist. They are Russia and America. As Stalin predicted, the tug between the two has drawn in the whole world. It centers in Europe, where the last two world wars began.
          In 1939, when World War II started, seven nations could be called major powers. Alphabetically, they were America, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia. China was not then and is not now a major power in the sense that any such nation must be a strong one, unified enough at home to be able to intervene decisively in affairs abroad.
          By 1948, when the dust of World War II had settled somewhat, the world had no major powers. It had two superpowers: America and Russia. Germany and Japan were under military occupation. Britain, France, and Italy were so much weaker, and so busy trying to recover at home, that they had only a fraction of their former world influence. If these three make a good recovery, they may be major powers again. Their best chance for such a recovery lies in their forming, with as much of the rest of Europe as they can, a close-knit political and economic federation. They cannot even do this much without a great deal of American aid.
         That means, as Stalin predicted more than twenty years ago, that many countries are being drawn toward America, the capitalist center of the world. These nations are not necessarily capitalist - Britain, for example, has a socialist government - but they all have more sympathy with capitalism than with Communism. It also means that many other areas, from Albania to those held by the Chinese Communists, are being drawn toward Russia, the world's Communist center. Stalin oversimplified. Many people in other countries want other systems than these two. But he was right in calling capitalism the chief opponent of Communism. He was wrong in using the word "battle," Stalin's euphemism for "war" when speaking to non-Communists. War between the two great magnets is not necessary and can be avoided.
          While Soviet Russia can never have warm, friendly relations with America or other nations, America and the rest of the world can have a lasting, peaceful relationship with Soviet Russia if they are prepared to be patient, firm and above all consistent.
           That is controversial and not easily proved. I shall spend the rest of this book trying to prove it.

On back of book:

          Sam Welles Author of Profile of Europe is an associate editor of Time and one of its top foreign news writers. During the war he served for three years in the State Department and in our London Embassy, where he was the Special Assistant to Ambassador Winant.
          At Oxford University, on a Rhodes Scholarship after Princeton, he took an honors degree in modern history. Ever since 1935 has spent a considerable part of his time traveling over Europe. In one thirty-nine month period he logged more than 100,000 miles from Connemarra to Constantinople; and during the Conference of Foreign Ministers in Moscow he walked more than 300 miles through that city and its suburbs. In the months that followed, he visited sixteen other countries, making his way across most of them by car. His equipment-including extra cans of gas, spare tires, tools, food and mountains of documents- would almost have outfitted a polar explorer.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Russia: Alexander Semin - Insight into NHL/Post-Soviet Relations

          An acute sense of euphoria spread across the nation on Sunday, May 20, when Russia defeated Slovakia 6-2 in the Gold Medal match of the 2012 World Hockey Championship. As a whole, the tournament provides insight into the modern interrelationship between the Western Hemisphere's National Hockey League and post-Soviet Russia. Additionally, Russian professional hockey player Alexander Semin provides an example of an instance where these two cultures diverge.
          One reason Sunday's victory generated euphoria among Russians is that the 2012 Russian national team was the first to remain undefeated in the World Hockey Championship in the post-Soviet era - the last team to do so was the Soviet Union in 1989. Until the fall of the Soviet Union, political borders nullified the possibility of regular East-West hockey collaborations. The post-Soviet era marked a reorientation of both the NHL and Eastern Leagues.
         The 2012 World Hockey Championship provides insight into the interrelationship between the Western Hemisphere's NHL and post-Soviet Russia. The example of Alexander Semin illuminates an occasion where a Russian player has faced opposition within his NHL team, but is highly valued by Russian coaches.

Mr. Semin Released from NHL Obligations

         When Alexander Semin left to join the Russian national team after he was released from his obligations to the Washington Capitals, both Russian- and English-language news outlets reported that, as a result of conflicts between Semin and the Capitals' coaching staff, he was not expected to renew his contract. Mark Gandler, Mr. Semin's agent, made a statement contextualizing the interests of the parties concerned:
"It was good while it lasted. With the lack of playoff success, with the direction they are going. They decided to change directions. That's within their rights. Alex doesn't fit into that system obviously. It just doesn't make any sense to him. He plays, he did the best he could under the circumstances and he earned his right to be a free agent. 
"I think the issue is with the organization, not necessarily with the coach," Gandler said. "They told us Alex is not going to play short-handed, he's not going to play in the last minute. He's going to get the same icetime as everybody else ... Alex is not ready to be a role player. He wants to be a full-time player. It's important to him."
         A comment to an English-language On Frozen Blog post titled, "Pride, Regret, and Questions" suggested that the Capitals' coaching staff was in fact responsible for the team's playoff performance:
[Why] does it not surprise me that Caps “fans” are blaming Ovechkin & Semin for the playoff failure? These so-called “fans” are an embarrassment to the whole Washington DC area! The team’s superstars bought into Hunter’s system wholeheartedly. That system put a major leash on their offensive freedom. Also, on most nights, the Caps 4th liners got more ice time than the 1st liners. Why is no one asking why that 4th line didn’t put out more on offense? Someone has to score and someone on the ice that much HAS to do more! Hunter’s system was a failure.
Mr. Semin Joins Russian National Team

         RuNet Echo discussed in a post titled "NHL Stars Return to 2012 World Hockey Championship" that, in addition to discussing Mr. Semin's future in the NHL, the Russian-language internet was filled with eager tweets, status updates, and mainstream articles pertaining to Mr. Semin's role on the Russian national team.
         A Lifesports.ru article was quoted in the publication's LiveJournal blog, which discussed how the Russian national team's coaching staff was eager to add Mr. Semin to the lineup - specifically, he was to join superstars Alexander Ovechkin's and Pavel Datsyuk's line:
Овечкин сыграет с Семиным и Дацюком - Тренерский штаб определился с партнерами для российского суперфорварда.
Ovechkin will play with Semin and Datsyuk - Training staff determined partnering for the Russian superforward

         Mr. Semin then made headlines all over the internet when he scored two goals and earned an assist in the Gold Medal Match of the tournament.

LJ user chipstone captured the Russian reaction to Russia's 2012 Gold Medal:
Я не являюсь ни хоккейным фанатом в частности, ни любителем занятия спортом по телевизору в принципе. Но вчерашняя игра нашей сборной поразил. Это был просто фантастический хоккей. Корректный, на огромных скоростях. Комбинационный. Это действительно была не игра отдельных звезд, но звездной команды, жившей на поле единым организмом. Слава нашим ребятам!
I'm not a hockey fan in particular, nor do I enjoy doing sports via TV in principle. But our team's yesterday's game was astonishing. It was simply fantastic hockey. Correct, at tremendous speeds. Combinational. It wasn't a game of individual stars, but of a star team that lived on the field as a single organism. Kudos to our guys!

          Aware of the apparent contradiction, RuNet Twitter users passed around a Russian-language NHL.com article titled, "Semin - not the [Stanley Cup], but the Gold," which discussed how Washington Capitals' management allegedly perceived Mr. Semin's play as inconsistent, whereas Russian coaches seemed to view his style as dynamic. The article went on to speculate that Mr. Semin's character might be more compatible with another NHL team, such as the Detroit Red Wings.

          Hockey World Blog quoted Mr. Semin himself upon his arrival in Europe to participate in the World Hockey Championship:
“This is all just talk. Words can get twisted,” Semin said. “There was no talk at all that I am not going to sign with the Capitals for sure. I have not talked to them [the Capitals] about leaving. And please don’t ask me questions about the next season anymore.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Russia: NHL Stars Return to 2012 World Hockey Championship

          Undefeated after seven games, and boasting an All-Star lineup of Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Semin, and Alexander Ovechkin, the Russian national team will face Norway in the quarterfinal round of the 2012 World Ice Hockey Championship, tomorrow on May 17.
          The 2012 World Ice Hockey Championship is being held in Stockholm and Helsinki. Both cities hosted tournaments during the preliminary round, where eight teams competed for the four slots advancing to the single-elimination quarterfinals. Helsinki's group consisted of: Belarus, Canada, Finland, France, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Switzerland, and the U.S., while Stockholm's had: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
           Russia started the tournament on Saturday, May 5, with a 5-2 victory over Latvia, before going on to beat Norway 4-2 on Sunday, Germany 2-0 on Tuesday, and Denmark 3-1 on Thursday.

Russia's Emotional 7-3 Victory Over Sweden

          Dmitry Mikhaylov announced in his bilinguial blog how the Russian team came from behind to beat the host country on Friday, May 11.
STOCKHOLM – In a highly anticipated match-up, Russia and Sweden met tonight at the Globe Arena in an emotional battle of undefeated teams at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Down 3-1, Russia scored six unanswered goals to win 7-3.
          In response to this highly emotional victory, both the mainstream and citizen media outlets of the Russian Internet devoted dramatically increased coverage to the tournament.

Bloggers Respond to Russia's 2-0 Victory Over the Czech Republic

          Planet's Sporting World discussed [ru] how, although Russia scored after only 24 seconds of play, the Czech Republic dominated much of the game, but could not capitalize. NHL Pittsburgh Penguins player Evgeni Malkin scored for Russia in the third period, before he and two of his teammates -- Pavel Datsyuk and Milan Mikhalek -- were charged with minor penalties.
          As is often the case when mainstream outlets build attention on an event, many Russian bloggers quoted their reportage, as a way of spreading popular analyses. Ruslan's News reposted [ru] a quote from Evgeni Malkin, taken from a Vesti article:
Тяжело всё выполнить. Но, конечно, здорово сыграли. И в обороне пять минут выстояли в третьем периоде. Это, наверное, дало всплеск эмоций, и после этого мы забили быстрый гол.
It's difficult to accomplish everything. But, of course, we played great. And our defense held out for five minutes in the third period. This, probably, generated a lot of emotion, and afterwards we scored a quick goal.

Alexander Semin scores the first goal in the World Ice Hockey Championship final, 18 May 2008, photo by Alexey Chernyadyev, CC BY-SA 3.0; Wikimedia Commons.
News Spreads of the Return of Alexander Ovechkin & Alexander Semin

         Similarly, news of the return of Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin from the NHL, following the Washington Capitals' 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers, spread rapidly in both mainstream and citizen media outlets. (Evgeni Malkin's Pittsburgh Penguins and Pavel Datsyuk's Detriot Red Wings were eliminated even earlier, in the previous round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.)
          Most bloggers framed the story as a homecoming for Ovechkin and Semin, while some Twitter users indicated their familiarity with mainstream journalism, such as Sport.rbc and Lenta.ru.

Lisbeth Armel:
Прочитала, что овечкин любит хип-хоп и r'n'b. представила. 5 минут сидела с фейспалмом.
I read that Ovechkin likes Hip Hop and R&B. I sat down and thought about it. For five minutes I just facepalmed.

Sanya Belovka:
Овечкина и Семина Ждем с нетерпением....В россии....2-1 Вашингтон домои)!!!А Овечкин В ШВЕЦИЮ!!!!
We're anxiously waiting for Ovechkin and Semin….[to be] in Russia [again]…..[He lost] 2-1 to Washington, and now he's homeward-bound.) !!! But [it turns out] Ovechkin is headed for Sweden!!!!

Ilgiz Taipov:
Приезд Овечкина и Семина по разному комментируют, кто то вспоминает его прошлогоднюю игру за сборную, и пишут типа зачем он нужен и т.п.. Надо уметь использовать потенциал этого игрока, а мы то знаем что он может играть, что потенциал у него огромный. Семин тоже хороший игрок, то что с Вашингтонгом Кэпиталз случилось это чисто тренерский просчет.
People are saying different things about the arrival of Ovechkin and Semin. Some recall how [Ovechkin] played [poorly] for last year's national team, and wonder why we need him, etcetera. We have to be able to use this player's potential, and we know that he can play -- that he has enormous potential. Semin is also a good player, and what happened with the Washington Capitals was purely an issue with the coach.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Russia: Putin's Return Rouses Online Polemics

          In the wake of protests against Vladimir Putin's inauguration, the reactions of Russian bloggers demonstrate a wide spectrum of opinion online. That oppositionist activism has suddenly taken on a more radical tone has only further inflamed the passions of already polemicized observers.

In the Eyes of History

          Certain bloggers have raised vivid, though not always convincing, historical analogies in their posts about the May 6 protests.
          Vladislav Naganov, oppositionist blogger and frequent author at Novaya Gazeta, authored a post [ru] titled, "This is War," where he compared police brutality on May 6 to the French invasion in 1812, as well as the Nazi offensive in 1941:
Скажу сурово, без прикрас – как оно есть. Это – война. Идёт битва за Россию. Я надеюсь, что каждый, кто до сих пор этого не понимал – теперь, наконец, это понял. Уже сброшены все маски. Расставлены все точки над «i». Отныне война народу объявлена публично.
I'll say this harshly and without embellishment -- just how it is: this is war. The battle for Russia is underway. I hope that each person, who didn't understand this before, finally understands now. Everyone's true colors are at last revealed. All the i's have been dotted. From here on out, war has been declared publicly on the people.

          In a post [ru] titled, "The Bloody Sunday of the 21st Century," blogger Sparkman likened the violence outside Bolotnaia Square to the 1905 massacre [en] of protesters outside Tsar Nicholas II's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.
Собственно, ведь и демонстрация 9 января 1905 года рассматривалась не как начало Революции, но как последний всплеск петиционной кампании, начатой осенью 1904 года – сперва банкетами во славу призывов к реформам, затем принятием либеральных обращений от имени земств, адвокатских и профессорских собраний.
In fact, the actual demonstration on January 9, 1905, is seen not as the beginning of the [Bolshevik] Revolution, but as the final episode of the petitions campaign, which first began in 1904 as a series of banquets celebrating the calls for reform, and then grew into various liberal public appeals from groups of councilmen, lawyers, and professors.

Putin and his wife in the Kremlin's Cathedral Square in Moscow after the inauguration ceremony, (7 May 2012), photo by the Presidential Press and Information Office, CC BY-SA 3.0; Wikimedia Commons.
What It Means For the Future

          Rather than turn to the Imperial or Soviet past, other bloggers have focused instead on what the current protests mean for Russia's future.
          Viacheslav Egorov, who blogs as jurist_egorov, discussed the recent violence in a post [ru] titled, "Who Scares the Authorities?" exploring possible motives for what he believes was excessive police force:
Чего она боится, заставляя полицию применять слезоточивый газ, избивать митингующих, задерживать спокойно сидящих на земле оппозиционеров Навального и Удальцова, задерживать сейчас спокойно митингующих на «народных гуляниях» Алексея Навального и Ксению Собчак??? Чего боится Власть? Чего боится Король? Революции? Бунта уставшего народа? Так бунт неизбежен, если Власть будет так вести себя. Революция неизбежна, если Правительство (новое) и Король (старый новый) не станут прислушиваться к своему народу!!!
What are the authorities so afraid of that they force the police to use tear gas, to beat protesters, to detain the oppositionists Navalny and Udaltsov, who sat calmly on the ground, and now to detain Aleksei Navalny and Ksenia Sobchak as they protest calmly in the 'people's walks'??? What are the authorities so afraid of? What is the King so afraid of? Revolution? A rebellion of Russia's weary people? Ah, but a rebellion is inevitable, if the authorities continue to behave as they have. And a revolution is inevitable, if the Government (the new one) and the King (the old-new one) don't learn to listen to their own people!!!

          Blogger Nazavrik reviewed [ru] a controversial statement made by President Putin's Press Secretary, Dmitri Peskov, who said that police displayed too much self-control and should have used greater force against the May 6 protesters. Nazavrik posted photos of similar police measures used against crowds in Italy and Chile, arguing cynically that Moscow's police are increasingly eager to hone their skills studying the West's police history:
Он прав. У нашего омона пока ещё недостаточно опыта для разгона массовых мероприятий. На Западе давно уже отточены все действия по применению газа, резиновых пуль, провокаторов, водомётов и прочей спец.техники. На Западе в этом плане и законы жёстче и полномочий побольше. [...] Но теперь, когда стабильность вновь воцариалась в стране, наш омон быстро нагонит зарубежных коллег и все приёмы, годами репетируемые на учениях, отработает на протестующих, действуя жёстко в угоду переживаниям Пескова.
[Peskov] is right. Our riot police still lack the experience to disperse mass public events. In the West, they have already fine-tuned the use of [tear] gas, rubber bullets, provocateurs, watercanons, and other special tactics. In the West, in this respect, the laws are stricter and the police powers are greater. [...] Now, however, when stability in the country reigns again, our riot police will quickly overtake their colleagues abroad, and every technique they've spent years studying and rehearsing will be employed against the protesters, and done so severely, in order to allay Peskov's worries.

A Digital Delusion?

         Other bloggers have pointed out that Moscow's street demonstrations are far from the concerns of average citizens, dismissing as hysteria rumors about "revolution." In a reversal of the typical oppositionist claim that digital and citizen media breaks through censorship to reveal a truer picture of everyday life, Dmitri Kotukov argues [ru] that protesters have constructed a false reality by tweeting and writing endlessly about their adventures with the police:
Несколько дней практически не открывал ноутбук, не использовал айпад, короче как и положено в праздники - отдыхал. Сегодня открыл ленту и удивился. Читаю все эти надрывные истории о столкновениях непонятных людей с ОМОНом, какие-то нелепые призывы куда-то выйти, про марши миллионов-триллионов, революции […]. [...] Что самое удивительное, эта видимость существует только в инете. В реалии люди отдыхают, радуются весне, гуляют, встречаются на праздники.
For a few days, I practically didn't open my laptop, didn't use my iPad, and -- in short and as is appropriate during the holidays -- I relaxed. Today I looked at the headlines and was surprised. I'm reading all these hysterical stories about clashes between these incomprehensible people and the police, about various absurd calls to march off somewhere, about million-man marches and trillion-man marches, [and] revolution [...]. [...] The most remarkable thing is that this illusion exists only on the Internet. In reality, people are relaxing, enjoying the spring, taking walks, and meeting for the holidays.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Russia: Open Hostility in Moscow Surrounding Putin's Inauguration

          Both civilians and those charged with keeping order in the city displayed open hostility on Sunday, May 6, when protesters took to the streets of Moscow in anticipation of Vladimir Putin's inauguration.
          Russian LJ user gyperbol provided [ru] readers with a detailed city map where the events of the day took place, along with the following numbered explanations:
1. Демонстранты пришли по Большой Полянке.
1. Demonstrators arrived along Bolshaya Polyanka St.
2. Поперек улицы Серафимовича от «Ударника» до угла сквера тянулась тройная цепь ОМОНовцев и солдат внутренних войск.
2. Across Serafimovich St. from the «Udarnik» [movie thater] to the corner of the park ran a triple chain of riot police and soldiers of internal troops.
3. Болотная площадь также была оцеплена и никого туда не пускали. Демонстрантов загоняли на Болотную набережную.
3. Bolotnaya Square was also blocked off and nobody was allowed in there. Demonstrators were driven to Bolotnaya Embankment.
4. Мосты, ведущие в центр, были перекрыты грузовиками и огромными кордонами ОМОНа.
4. Bridges leading to the center were blocked by trucks and huge cordons of riot police.
5. Сцена находилась далеко в стороне, в конце узкого коридора Болотной Набережной.
5. The stage was located far away, at the end of the narrow corridor of Bolotnaya Embankment.
6. Проход к сцене был перекрыт рамками металлоискателей. […]
6. The entrance to the stage was blocked by a metal detector. […]

          The Russian blogosphere has surged with photographs and videos of the events that followed when protesters clashed with police.

Police beat a detainee at the May 6 opposition rally in Moscow. Photo by ALEXEY NIKOLAEV, copyright © Demotix (06/05/2012).
          LJ user berendeishche published several photographs of the more peaceful events of the day, including the sit-in.
         Twitter users spread around a ridus.ru article [ru], which included several powerful photographs of people being arrested. One video that appeared (see below) on Twitter showed a giant crowd pushing against a police barricade. (More of May 6 Twitter reactions [ru, en] are here.)

          Novaya Gazeta's Facebook page posted photographs from one of their articles [ru]. User Nickolai G. Bondarenko, in a comment, included a link to a YouTube video (see below) that showed police using force.

          RIA Novosti, a state-owned Russian news agency, published an article on Sunday titled, "Moscow Riots Show Anti-Putin Drive Sustainable – Pundits" along with a photo gallery of images from the day.

          Many bloggers have already begun to analyze both the immediate and long-term causes of the clash. 

         Activist Yevgeniya Chirikova discussed [ru] what she viewed as the two immediate causes of Sunday's events:
1)Сотни тысяч людей вышли зимой на площади с вполне конкретными, осмысленными  и реализуемыми требованиями - реформы избирательной системы, перевыборов, отставки Чурова, освобождения политзаключенных. НИ ОДНО из этих требований не было выполнено 
2) Преступное и бессмысленное решение полицейского руководства начать разгон "сидячей забастовки" (вероятно, санкционированное на "самом верху", судя по заявлениям Пескова)  - которое, собственно, и запустило насилие
1) Hundreds of thousands of people came out [to protest] last winter with concrete, sensible, and realistic demands - reforms of the electoral system, a re-vote, resignation of [the head of the Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov], and the release of political prisoners. NONE of these demands has been honored. […]
2) The criminal and pointless decision made by the police authorities to break up the "sit-in" (probably sanctioned at [the highest level], judging by the statements of [Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin's spokesperson]) - that, in fact, was what set the violence in motion.

LJ user drugoi further condensed [ru] the causes of Sunday's events:
Я думаю, что настоящий виновник произошедшего — нынешняя власть, которая, выкрутив народу руки, устроила жалкое посмешище из основного инструмента управления демократическим государством — выборов. Сначала парламентских, а потом президентских. Люди чувствуют себя обманутыми и точка кипения вчера пришлась на Болотную.
I think that the true culprit of the events is the current regime, which, by twisting the people's arms, organized a pathetic mockery of the basic instrument of managing a democratic state - the elections. At first it was the parliamentary, and later the presidential elections. The people feel cheated, and the boiling point came at Bolotnaya yesterday.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Russia: Tolstoy's ‘War and Peace' Legacy Today

          RuNet Echo continues its series examining the 200th anniversary of Tsarist Russia's Victory over Napoleon by examining Leo Tolstoy's novel 'War and Peace' and the role it plays today online. Although the book was initially published in 1869, its story begins in July 1805 and progresses through the 1812 French invasion, the Battle of Borodino, and the occupation of Moscow, all the way to the French retreat and rebuilding of Russia.
           A recent survey of over 100 respected British and American authors revealed that 'War and Peace' is considered to be one of the greatest works of the past two centuries. Russian blogger paradise-apple enthusiastically reported these results in a post titled, "Anna Karenina Won!"

These works were listed as the nineteenth century's best:
'Anna Karenina' by Leo Tolstoy, 'Madam Bovary' by Gustave Flaubert, 'War and Peace' by Tolstoy, 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' by Mark Twain, Anton Chechov's short stories, 'Middlemarch' by George Eliot, 'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville, 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens; 'Crime and Punishment' by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and 'Emma' by Jane Austin.
          Additionally, TheRussianAmerica.com reviewed the authors whom the British and American judges selected as the greatest writers of all time. Again, Tolstoy was listed at the top, followed by William Shakespeare, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Kramskoy's portrait of Leo Tolstoy (1873), public domain. 
          On the RuNet today, discussions about 'War and Peace' and Tolstoy's literary style are common, often addressing a variety of issues such as the proper translation of the title, the length and depth of the work, and Tolstoy's use of the French language.

Translation of the Title

           The title 'War and Peace' is written in Russian as 'Вoйнá и мир' (Voina i mir). 'Voina' is the Russian word for 'war.' In the context of Tolstoy's novel, 'mir' is traditionally translated as 'peace,' although an alternate translation of 'mir' in a variety of contexts is 'the world.' Recently, two RuNet Twitter users debated whether or not the common translation, 'War and Peace,' is what Tolstoy intended, rather than 'War and the World.'

Вчера узнал, что слово "мир" в "Война и мир" Толстого имеет значение "сообщество", а не "перемирие".
Yesterday I learned that the word "mir" in Tolstoy's "Voina i mir" carries the meaning "the world," not "peace."

А я не согласен. Я считаю, что он сравнивал их. Ведь у него через том описывается то война, то мир (перемирие).
I disagree. My reading is that he was contrasting [war and peace]. Why, he writes about war and about peace throughout the book.

Влияние войны на общество.
[Tolstoy wrote about] the influence of war on the world.

Ты так говоришь, как-будто сам Толстой встал из гроба и тебе об этом рассказал :) Это же не математика!
You speak as though Tolstoy himself somehow rose from the grave and explained everything to you. :) This can't be explained like math!

Добавь к моему мессаджу "мне кажется"))
Well, add a postscript that this is my personal opinion. :)

Length and Depth of the Novel 

          Famous for being one of the longest books ever written in either the Cyrillic or Latin alphabets, 'War and Peace' is divided into four volumes. The novel is unique for its detailed and realistic discussion of the nature of war. Tolstoy combined his own Crimean War experiences with interviews he conducted with survivors of the French invasion to write something that resembles Thucydides' 'History of the Peloponesian War' as much as it does a traditional novel.
          On Twitter, RuNet users often focus on the magnitude of the work in terms of both its size and gravity, frequently referencing other Russian authors like Pushkin, Dostoevsky, and Bulgakov.

Школьники, которым предстоит прочитать 4 тома «Войны и мира» очень жалеют, что на дуэли убили не Толстого, а Пушкина!
Schoolchildren, who will have to read the four volumes of 'War and Peace,' are filled with regret that it was Pushkin who died [prematurely] in a duel, and not Tolstoy!

Ruslan Tomatov:
Читал войну и мир, только позже, когда проникся мировоззрением толстого. у булгакова до сих пор люблю только записки юного врача
I read 'War and Peace' only later, when I appreciated Tolstoy's worldview. Until now, of Bulgakov's I've only liked 'A Young Doctor's Notebook.'

Tolstoy's Use of French in the Novel

           The French language was effectively the language of Russia's nobility, when Napoleon's army invaded in 1812. Tolstoy underscored the elite's relationship to this foreign language by writing parts of 'War and Peace,' including the opening paragraph, in French.
           In comments following an April 2012 post, Russian LiveJournal blogger dohlik_nemruchi discussed the practice of creating art in a foreign language, comparing 'War and Peace' to Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov's award-winning 2011 film 'Faust,' which was made in German. LJ user menelik3 reminded readers that some of Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' had been written in French, arguing that Sokurov had likely used German simply to incite controversy. dohlik_nemruchi responded that Tolstoy's use of French was a tool to show progression in the novel -- that 'War and Peace' is initially in both Russian and French, with the latter fading as the plot develops and anti-French sentiments grow.
           Some Russian bloggers prefer not to analyze Tolstoy's literary style, instead simply posting notable and perhaps timeless lines from 'War and Peace' to their journals as status updates:

 **Lovely Girl**:
Обратите все ваше внимание на самого себя, наложите цепи на свои чувства и ищите блаженства не в страстях, а в своем сердце. источник блаженства не вне, а внутри нас...
Turn all of your attention inward, restrain your feelings, and look for bliss not in passion, but in your own heart. The source of bliss is not outside, but inside us...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Anne's Mink Coat: Miller Art Museum Exhibit

Present Day Miller Art Center
Donated in 1956  to the town of Springfield, VT

Last fall I donated my Aunt Anne Miller Collins' mink coat 
to her childhood home - now the Miller Art Center in Springfield, VT:

Donna Welles, the grand niece of Anne Miller has graciously donated her aunt's fur coat to the Springfield Art and Historical Society. It was the Miller family who, in 1956, donated their family home to the town to Springfield. The building is now know as the Miller Art Center and is home the Springfield Art and Historical Society.

The coat, dating to the 1950s or 60s, is made entirely of mink and is in beautiful condition. It has a maker's label which readsHolt Refrew. The coat, along with other new donations, will be on display at the Miller Art Center beginning in June.
The museum asked that I write Anne's bio for the exhibit which opened June 2, 2012:

          Anne Miller was born on Jan 2, 1912 in Perkinsville, VT to Grace Spencer and mechanical engineer, Edward Whitney Miller who worked with Fellows Gear Shaper from 1898-1968. She graduated from Springfield High School before going on to study Italian at Wellesley College. Anne married David "Dave" O. Collins of Hingham, MA and they lived in Hartford, CT until WWII began.
          Dave took his saxophone with him to the European theater where he served as a combat medic in the 63rd Infantry Division of the 7th Army under General Patch. He helped repel the German Offensive called Operation Northwind. After the war, the couple returned to Vermont where Dave worked at the Fellows Gear Shaper plant.
          Never having any children, Anne and Dave explored artistic interests by listening to classical jazz - they saw every great act that came through New England. Highly intelligent, Anne collected art and Hester Bateman Silver. The two of them were genuinely happy until Dave died in 1981. Anne lived another 20 years until September 2001.
          In 2004 Donna Welles, Anne's great niece, took this coat with her to Russia where she spent a year at St. Petersburg State University, before graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas in Dec 2005.

Me Wearing the Coat Before It Went Back to Vermont
Portrait of Anne Miller Collins
Photo by Miller Art Center and Historical Society
Wider view of the exhibit
Photo by Miller Art Center and Historical Society 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Joe Louis' Decision to Turn Pro - Margery Miller Welles

A founding author of Sports Illustrated, my grandma has been 
nominated to join the International Boxing Hall of Fame. 

Margery Miller Welles -my grandma- witnessed one of the 
most important sporting events in American history in 1938 at age 15 when 
her father took her to Yankee Stadium to watch Joe Louis fight Max Schmeling. 
For her Wellesley College thesis she wrote a bio of Joe titled, 
"Joe Louis: American" which was published before she graduated in 1945 and 
reviewed by Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer and Eleanor Roosevelt. 

An excerpt from Joe Louis: American

          One of the reasons Joe Louis decided to become a professional pugilist when he did was a colored girl named Marva Trotter, whom he had met in Chicago.
          While training for one of his amateur bouts at Graftson's Gymnasium on Randolph Street in 1933, Joe was approached by a friend, Gerard Hughes, a rabid sports fan. Accompanying Gerry was a young golden-colored lady. "Joe," Gerry said, "I finally persuaded this girl to come in here and meet you. Her name is Marva Trotter. Marva, meet Joe Louis, the next world's heavyweight boxing champion."
          Marva was a beautiful girl, and Joe did not easily forget her. He took her to the movies fairly often. But one thing about their relationship bothered him-Marva seemed far above him in many ways. The Trotters were high up in Chicago negro society. Marva had graduated from Inglewood High School and then from the Gregg Business School. Her grammar was perfect, her manners above criticism. She even had a brother who was a minister. She had known advantages which were denied to Joe, and her every word and action showed it. Certainly she was not the type of girl to be won by a laborer in a Ford plant who made only five dollars a day, could not express himself well, and saw very little hope for a bright future, unless… Suppose Gerry Hughes had been right, and Joe could become world's champion? That vision caused Louis to do a good deal of thinking. Coupled with his family's need for more money, it determined him to resign his job at the Ford plant and become a professional boxer.

Margery Miller Welles' senior thesis from Wellesley College (1945)

Back Cover of Joe Louis: American