Confronting Chaos

ABOUT A CENTURY AGO, LEO TOLSTOY REputedly remarked, "Imagine Genghis Khan with a telephone!" What the author of War and Peace had in mind, of course, was the device's military potential. But Genghis Khan as symbol stands for something much larger in the Russian psyche: a force of upheaval that can intrude as suddenly as an arctic gale or a Mongol horde. In the convulsions that wracked Moscow last week, as in the ambush that slaughtered American soldiers in distant Somalia, chaos demonstrated once more that it has long since mastered the long-distance message. Genghis Khan today not only has telephones...

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