Avatar Of Hope (And Industry)


by Zoe Pollock

Bill Donahue has written a great dispatch in the current Atlantic on Mongolia's comeback efforts, beginning with a 131-foot stainless-steel statue of the infamous Mongol warlord:

Genghis Khan sits astride a stallion, grimacing as he clutches a gold-tinted stainless-steel whip. The statue’s pedestal is a columned, white-granite rotunda, and everything inside the rotunda is calibrated to impress and make money. There’s a collection of Bronze Age artifacts, a screening room wherein a stentorian video (with English subtitles) heaps praise on the Mongolian construction industry, and a luxurious conference room and restaurant, both empty when I visited. The landscaping is brutal: not a tree or bush in sight. The black iron fence surrounding the complex goes on for more than a mile. Cumulatively, the place shouted, “Watch out, folks Mongolia is back on its horse!” But I detected an undertone of desperation too. A more plaintive voice seemed to whisper, “Believe in us, please. We’re trying very hard.”