How many know enough about Russian history to know about Mikhail Bakunin, Alexander Herzen, Nicholas I, Nestor Makhno, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, Anton Denikin, Serge Witte, P.N. Wrangel, A.V. Kolchak, or even perhaps U.S. General William Graves on their relevance to current Russian history? Would they know anything about Nicholas Danilevsky, who dreamed up Pan-Slavism, a principle based on the hypothesis that a common cultural tie and language formed a brotherhood, or ought to form one, among Slavic people?
My guess is that few will. Most are instant experts. What we now see and read are how my friend, a longtime reporter, once described journalism: the first draft of journalism rather than the first draft of history. Our media chatter is of another Munich, a new Cordon Sanitaire, or encirclement, of Russia, spheres of influence, the Crimean Anschluss (memories of the Nazis marching into Vienna in 1938 and being hailed by Austrians) even the unthinkable possibility of Cold and nuclear wars.