The Case for Democracy
Joel C. Rosenberg writes of Natan Sharansky's new book.
When Natan Sharansky stepped into Condoleezza Rice's West Wing office at 11:15 last Thursday morning, he had no idea the national security advisor would soon be named the next secretary of state. He was just glad to see her holding a copy of his newly published book, The Case for Democracy.
"I'm already half-way through your book," Rice said. "Do you know why I'm reading it?"
Sharansky, a self-effacing man who spent nine years in KGB prisons (often in solitary confinement) before becoming the first political prisoner released by Mikhail Gorbachev, hoped it had to do with his brilliant analysis and polished prose.
Rice smiled. "I'm reading it because the president is reading it, and it's my job to know what the president is thinking."
Early in The Case for Democracy, Sharansky, 56, recalls another Soviet-era dissident named Andrei Amalrik, who in 1969 wrote, Will The Soviet Union Survive Until 1984? Predicting the Communist empire's inevitable collapse, Amalrik, who was imprisoned by the KGB for his observations (and whom Sharansky later had the privilege of teaching English), explained that "any state forced to devote so much of its energies to physically and psychologically controlling millions of its own subjects could not survive indefinitely." Sharansky writes: "The unforgettable image he left the reader with was that of a soldier who must always point a gun at his enemy. His arms begin to tire until their weight becomes unbearable. Exhausted, he lowers his weapon and the prisoner escapes." At the time, many so-called "democrats" in the West dismissed Amalrik as downright delusional. But his prediction proved to be off by only a few years.