The United States spends a great deal of time worrying about the state of Iran, which is dominated by theocratic cliques who relish apocalyptic dreams, and who hope someday to obtain a handful of nuclear weapons. We don’t have to travel too far from Iran to find another state where ambitious theocrats shape the national ideology of a government that presently disposes of some 1,500 active nuclear weapons, not to mention another 8,000 or so in storage.
In Russia’s case, like Iran’s, we will not understand the state’s ideological motivations without appreciating that religious dimension.
Philip Jenkins is the author of Images of Terror: What We Can and Can’t Know About Terrorism. He is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University and serves as co-director for the Program on Historical Studies of Religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion.