Sunday, July 19, 2015

tonight's lessons

It's great to spend time with smart, informed people, who have history and geography and current events at their fingertips, whereas I flounder in idealistic generalities with only the vaguest sense of where and why. At Monique's usual delicious and fascinating francophone dinner tonight, we talked a lot about Greece, what the Germans have done to the Greeks and what it means. But also many other things. Here are a few of the things I learned, while drinking and eating vast quantities:

Stalin did not believe the Nazis would invade Russia because he had signed a pact with Hitler. When he realized they'd begun to cross the border, he had a kind of nervous breakdown and vanished for ten days. So for the first days of the German invasion, Russia was essentially leaderless.

Kruschev was the commander in charge of Ukraine, and not long after the Russians began their onslaught, he told Stalin the war was over; he was going to surrender. Stalin’s commander in chief told his boss to inform Kruschev this was unacceptable. Stalin told Kruschev that if he surrendered, Stalin would take his mother, wife and children, who were nearby, and kill them. Kruschev did not surrender.

Germany has always wanted to annex Ukraine, one way or another. Hitler wanted it for “lebensraum” – more space for Germans.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are waging a kind of proxy war in Syria.

Greece has been eviscerated by punitive Germany and may never recover. The euro was a mistake – to tie the currencies of large prosperous nations to smaller southern ones with much further to go, was disastrous. The ideal was good. But the reality should have been to attempt to bring the southern nations further up the economic scale before liason.

Francois Hollande is a feeble disaster. The smartest economist in Europe is Dominique Strauss-Kahn. If he'd been able to keep it in his pants, the world would be in much better shape.

According to Jack, the Iran nuclear accord is a mistake because too many dangers have been ignored. Iran, for example, he says, still has huge military and espionage presence in Cuba, Venezuela and Argentina. But then, Jack is 1000% pro Israel. He is not a fan of Obama. 

There’s a great restaurant on Wellington St. called Pravda, that serves many kinds of vodka and has a big ironic picture of Lenin. Lenin, however, did not drink. He had a very soft voice, and so at Soviet congresses, with no mikes, could not be heard. That’s where the famous banging a shoe on the table came from – started by Lenin, continued by Kruschev.

How's that for a bunch of interesting stuff? There was more, but I'd drunk a great deal - Prosecco, rose, beaujolais nouveau - by then and can't remember. And a happy Sunday to you too.

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