Why was I in Moscow? It was not a secret mission. Let’s call it a mission of peace. I was invited to speak at a round table on multi-polarity and the future of Russian/American relations by the International Russophile Movement. The IRM or “MIR” (in French), is a recently formed organization. Pepe Escobar wrote about the inaugural meeting, which took place in March 2023 (you can read about that here.)
This was a much smaller gathering and I was fortunate to be invited to share the company and listen to the words of podcast luminaries like Dmitri Simes Sr., Pepe Escobar, Alastair Crooke, Alexander Dugin and Eva Bartlett. It is alway humbling to be in the presence of greatness, and I was surely surrounded by such company.
The only negative about the event was its relative brevity. But we packed a lot into the time allotted and carried on discussions long after the official meeting terminated. I was particularly pleased to catch up with Dmitri Simes.
Twenty-two years ago, Dmitri held a senior position with the Nixon Center in Washington, DC, and hosted round tables like this one. I vividly recall a previous experience with Dmitri. We sat in a conference room at the Nixon Center in January 2003 with former CIA Director James Schlesinger, Charles Krauthammer, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Col. Patrick Lang, and Marc Sageman to discuss the impending war in Iraq. Dmitri moderated the discussion. I would note that Joe Wilson did not say a word at that event about his secret mission to Niger. Nor did he mention that he was married to my old friend, Valerie Plame (I learned about that months later after she was outed by the Bush Administration in July 2003). Joe was still under the illusion that George W. Bush was an honorable man and that he would listen to reason. Joe learned the hard way that he was wrong.
Dmitri Simes came to America in 1972 seeking political asylum from Soviet persecution. He became an American citizen and enjoyed the freedoms of America until he made the “mistake” of providing foreign policy advice to Donald Trump. That made Dmitri an enemy of the Deep State. He was investigated relentlessly and unfairly for “crimes” he never committed. He was wrongly smeared as an “agent” of Putin. Dmitri has left his adopted country and returned to Mother Russia. There he enjoys genuine freedom and respect for his years of scholarship. What happened to Dmitri in America is emblematic of the cancer that is destroying the vision of America’s founding patriots.
Moscow is an amazing city. If you’re looking to an item to add to your bucket list, put Moscow at the top. I was fortunate to arrive on Sunday, when Moscow set an historic record for snowfall for 2 December. I found that terribly funny because only 13 centimeters piled up. When I lived in Maryland we had a Snow MaGeddon of 7/10ths of a meter on January 23, 2016.
Moscow, by contrast, was like a print by Currier and Ives. Shortly after my noon arrival on Sunday, I went to see the iconic Red Square, newly frosted with a layer of snow.
I shot footage of the legendary GUM department store and caught a surprise guest at the end of my clip. I do not know who this lady is, but she was typical of the cheerful Muscovites swarming the square.
Instead of tens of thousands of captured Nazis tromping over the bricks, Red Square was festive and flooded with light as well as with people — tourists and locals.
What about the war in Ukraine? There were no visible signs of a war economy. I did not see any uniformed soldiers walking around. I did have the chance to speak with a Russian official and was not surprised to learn that the Russians are troubled and puzzled by the inept diplomacy of the Biden Administration. Excuse me. Wrong word. There is no diplomacy nor skilled diplomats in the Biden Administration. During the entirety of the Cold War, U.S. diplomats never referred to the Soviets as “enemies.” That is not the case now. Many American government officials and politicians routinely refer to Russia as an enemy. That is stupid and foolish on our part.
The most surprising revelation is the rebirth of the Russian Orthodox Church. Faith is vibrant and the people of Russia have rediscovered and fully embraced their historic Christian roots. I met three Americans who have moved to Russia and are serving in various capacities as clergy/priests in Russia. I attended a service on Monday at the Sretensky Monastry. It is the oldest monastry in Moscow, founded in 1397. It stands now as a testimony against the efforts of the Communists to eradicate Christianity. The Communists are gone and the Christians are alive and free to worship.
That was an exquisite moment for me. A genuine highlight of the visit. Listening to the choir of Russian men singing praises to God is perfect medicine for anyone with frayed nerve or high blood pressure.
Now for the funniest and most unusual experience of my life. I did a taped interview on Wednesday morning in a studio dedicated to Stanley Kubrick. That is not the funny part. The cab driver who picked me up to ferry me back to my hotel is an opera lover. As soon as I entered the car he turned on a performance by the Three Tenors (José Carreras, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti) from their 1994 Concert and proceeded to sing to me during the 45 minute ride back to the hotel. His name is Vazha. He is from Georgia and bubbled with life and joy. You have not lived until you’ve ridden in a taxi along the Moscow River and outside the walls of the Kremlin while being serenaded by a gent from Georgia. I will carry that memory forever.