Required Reading for All Lovers of Democracy

Winter is Coming, Why Vladimir Putin and the enemies of the free world must be stopped, by Garry Kasparov book cover Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped by Garry Kasparov, available in several formats and multiple outlets. Visit the author’s website at

Not exactly a happy book! I’m cross-posting this from my “Personal and Political” blog as my book of the week. But no one can be truly happy in a fool’s paradise. If I could, I would require that every single US citizen sit down and read at least the introduction to this definitive book, written by former world champion chess player and now political activist Garry Kasparov. I would also require listening to this episode of Slate’s ”Trumpcast” in which Kasparov is interviewed about his opinions regarding Donald Trump. As he says, “I hate to say ‘I told you so.’” And his perspective on the nomination of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State is indeed frightening. (I know I keep using that word in my political posts, but I don’t know what other word to use. “Disturbing” is too mild.)

Of the many quotations I could give, here’s probably a definitive one from the conclusion:

“I will not say that we are reaching a crisis point or a fork in the road because the tragedy is already unfolding. The decisions made by the leaders of the free world—and by the voters who select them—will decide how tragic it will be. The aggression of Putin and ISIS caught the complacent free world off guard, but that excuse cannot be used any longer and we still have no plan of action. Any politician running for office should be asked what they will do to make the world safer.”

Kasparov is absolutely eviscerating with his criticisms of the Obama administration’s weakness in opposing Putin. He wanted very much for John McCain and Mitt Romney to win the 2008 and 2012 elections. As I said in an earlier post. I regret my lackadaisical attitude towards Romney. McCain kind of scared me, although I voted for him, and his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate was a big mistake. Kasparov quotes both men approvingly, though, and of course the media is awash right now with “Romney was right about Russia” encomiums. But so what? Romney’s chances of being Secretary of State have been dashed, mainly because he would not issue an apology for his past criticisms of Trump. I wonder if his opposition to Putin also played a role—almost certainly it did. And John McCain is still in there a-fightin’, calling for investigations of Russian influence on our election, but he isn’t being backed up by many Republicans. And the man’s 80, for heaven’s sake! How much longer is he going to be able to stay in the fight?

If I had to pick one idea from this book, it would be this: There is an overriding issue that is more important than political parties. The first question that must be asked, before one is labeled conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, free trade or protectionist, is simply this: Are you for or against freedom? And the second question is: What are you willing to do in order to protect that freedom? This fundamental principle has gotten lost in our badly-splintered politics. We squabble and bicker among ourselves and then we turn and fawn over a monster like Putin. We are so eager to see progress that we allow ourselves to be duped.

But the gradual turn towards Russian appeasement started long before 2008. Kasparov’s praise for Ronald Reagan is as unstinting as is his criticism of those Presidents who came after him. Bush 41 started the slide, and it has only continued to this day. Kasparov has some insights gained from his many years of playing world-class chess: The moment you have won, you start losing. You relax. But the loser starts plotting and planning how to win next time. And that, he says, is what happened with the end of the Cold War and the fall of the USSR and of the Berlin wall. The West relaxed. “We won! Woo-hoo!” But the enemies of democracy did not go away.

Kasparov is a living exemplar of the Reagan quotation I posted a couple of days ago on Facebook:
“Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

​Please, please, read–read this book!Save



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