Party leaders: Comrade Leonid, Comrade Donald

The National Security Archive, an under-appreciated jewel in the crown of the George Washington University, has now made available in English translation its latest volume of Anatoly S. Chernyaev’s journal. A long-time adviser to senior Soviet officials, Chernyaev was a diarist in the tradition of the American diplomat George Kennan—shrewd, uncompromisingly honest, both a patriot and something of a romantic.

This new volume begins in January 1980. The month prior, the Red Army had intervened in Afghanistan, touching off a sequence of events destined to culminate in the dissolution of the Soviet Empire and the USSR itself. In his diary, Chernyaev acknowledged that the Soviet Union was already in a state of advanced political, economic, and moral decay. The problem started at the top, Chernyaev describing party leader Leonid Brezhnev as “completely senile.” (p. 1)

While little evidence to exists to suggest that President Donald Trump suffers from senility, the resemblance between the Soviet leadership in the Age of Brezhnev and America’s in the Age of Trump is unmistakable and more than a little troubling. Here are some of Chernyaev’s more telling observations.

On the supreme leader’s work ethic: “He does not read anything himself anymore, except for short public speeches. Texts are read aloud to him, and only the ones that someone deems necessary within the ‘sparing regimen’ he is on to avoid worrying him.” (2)

Read the full article here in The American Conservative.

More from Andrew Bacevich