Sean Guillory

  • Our Men in Moscow

    As relations between Russia and the United States continue to worsen, one of the unexpected twists in the unfolding drama has been the dragging of each nation’s ambassadors into the limelight. Usually, these diplomatic figures spend most of their time hosting parties and attending state ceremonies. But the compulsion to conjure phantoms has made two recent ambassadors—Michael McFaul, Obama’s ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, and Sergey Kislyak, Putin’s ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2017—into the public faces of their countries’ treachery.

    Bizarre as the current situation is, the role

  • Arrested Development

    The word totalitarianism has an ominous ring. At the height of the Cold War, in the 1950s and ’60s, Western social scientists began using it to describe the political structure of the USSR, as part of an ideological effort to equate the Soviet system in general, and Stalinism in particular, with Nazism. That effort was very successful. The “totalitarian model” gained such a powerful grip on people’s imaginations that when, in the ’80s, a new generation of scholars began poking holes in it, they took a pummeling, accused of being Communist sympathizers or apologists for Stalin’s crimes.


  • Fear and Loathing

    THE LONG-STANDING ANIMOSITY and suspicion between Russia and the United States have reached such a frenzied pitch of late that the very idea of good relations has begun to feel impossible, almost ahistorical. You'd never know that, until the late-nineteenth century, the two countries were, in the words of the historian Norman Saul, more like "close friends in separate spheres," or that, thanks to a feeling of "mutual interest and common destiny," for the most part, "harmony and friendship prevailed." There are many nineteenth-century celebrations of this affinity on both sides. The Slavic