If one is to believe the newspaper headlines and TV talking heads, we are in the midst of “a new Cold War” as a result of Russia’s decision to seize Crimea. Perhaps for many people on both sides of the Atlantic the comparison is comforting: After all, the real Cold War was the last war that America and the West “won,” or seemed to have won. But it is seriously misleading.
A band of long-haired psychedelic rockers locked up in the 1970s proved a catalyst in the fall of Soviet communism. “The band’s lyrics have nothing to do with music or art and seriously threaten the moral values of society,” the chief prosecutor declared portentously in a crowded court room. “They display extreme vulgarity and their words expose anarchy, decadence ... and cause a negative influence on the lifestyle of our young generation.”
In Russia one of the biggest hits on YouTube is the dramatic scene in November when Vladimir Putin was booed at a martial arts contest. As he entered the ring at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow to congratulate the Russian winner of a bout against an American, cheers turned to catcalls.