Monday, February 13, 2017

Kasparov v. Trump

Garry Kasparov is known not just for his feats on the chess board — he became the youngest world chess champion ever in 1985 at age twenty-two, holding the title until  2000 — but for opposing Vladmir Putin's tyranny and before Putin, that of the Soviets. A citizen of the United States now — it would be dangerous for him to remain in Russia — he has a wealth of experience in supporting democracy against its enemies.

It should be said that Kasparov's politics veer to the right; he has supported John McCain's run for presidency, for example. But politics are transmuted in the age of Trump, and if you care about preserving democratic values, Kasparov is a wizened ally.

Here are excerpts from a recent interview:

We gave Putin a chance in Russia, and it was the last free election we ever had. It’s far better to act and later admit you overreacted than to do nothing until it’s impossible to act.

Modern dictatorships have become far more sophisticated still in how to achieve their ends. They learned that by constant bombardment, your senses become overwhelmed. You start to doubt, to shrug your shoulders, to tune out, and that makes you vulnerable. Instead of pushing one lie, one fake, they can push a dozen, or a hundred, and that’s pretty good odds against one lonely truth. They win when you say: “Who can be sure what really happened?”

But honestly, the carnage in America isn’t my greatest worry. Even the power of the presidency has considerable limits inside US borders. It’s the rest of the world I’m more concerned about, because it may look very different very quickly with Trump stomping around. If he continues this “America first” claptrap, regional powers like Russia, China, and Iran will grab the chance to expand influence, including militarily. The European Union may fall apart, and the far right may continue to make advances across Europe.

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