The U.S.'s demonizing of Moscow will not stop Russia from seeking a multipolar world order based on respect for national sovereignty. Washington must come to terms with this — or get out of the way
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Wildfires of Russophobia have been raging in the West since the failure of the U.S./EU’s regime-change activities in Ukraine that peaked on February 18, 2014. The events leading up to this coup are among the best-documented in regime-change history.1
The intercepted phone call between then Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt is well known, in which they discussed which persons to put “in play” and how “to glue this thing.”2 Pres. Obama admitted in a CNN interview that the U.S. had “brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.”3
Events went awry, because the Ukrainian coup government included strong fascist elements that carried out systematic violence against the Russian-speaking populations of the Donbas territory and Crimea. Crimea, through a legitimate referendum, reunified with Russia. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
The West has chosen not to admit its appalling transgressions against Ukraine, finding it more convenient to blame Russia and hide behind spurious accusations only the ill-informed would believe. The various waves of U.S. / EU sanctions on Russia have been imposed without any legitimate documentation of Russian wrongdoing; it seems enough for an accusation to be leveled in Russia’s direction for it to take root and become a hydra of insanity.
Russians are not a protected group in the U.S. If one substitutes different linguistic/ethnic markers for “Russian” in any recent Russia- or Putin-bashing article in the New York Times or Washington Post, the result is not only disturbing, but unacceptable to fair-minded people. But it may well be that Russians represent the last persecuted, non-protected group on the frontiers of U.S. laws. Russophobic journalism is so ubiquitous in the U.S. and the EU that it does not seem abnormal.
Among lawmakers in the U.S. Congress any taint of a Russian connection, real or imagined, is tantamount to betrayal of U.S. national and security interests. The recent accusation by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), that Paul is “working for Vladimir Putin” because he does not support the accession to NATO of Montenegro, is troubling in its impropriety, viciousness, and equation of anything Russian with collusion with the ‘enemy.’
This kind of thinking is badly out of date and diplomatically narrow-minded. It is shocking that those members of Congress present at McCain’s tirade did not challenge him. No debate on major, serious international issues can take place under conditions of such intimidation. When one considers the recent witch-hunt and hacking-accusation frenzy taking place in the U.S. government, it is clear that Americans are led by those who have lost their sense of dignity, open-mindedness, and intelligence. Common sense has left the room.
The Russian government repeatedly expresses its willingness and desire to collaborate with the U.S. on a host of issues, ranging from a peaceful resolution of the war in Syria, to fighting terrorism, to strengthening the security architecture of Eurasia, to business and economic partnerships. Every offer is refused. At the same time, Russia extends its hand of cooperation to all countries without exception for communication in a reasonable manner. It sponsors high-profile annual international conferences that bring representatives of many professions to its cities for spirited dialogue on intellectual, economic, and political issues.
Examples include the prestigious Valdai International Discussion Club, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, and the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. In addition, part of China’s Silk Road economic trade route will run through Russia. If the U.S. is not careful, it will fall out of step with the rest of the international community; rather than Russia’s being ‘isolated,’ it may be the U.S. that finds itself in this position.
While U.S. corporations ruin the country’s food supply by keeping farm animals in horrific states of confinement and pumping antibiotics, carbon monoxide, growth hormones, and steroids into their tormented bodies, Russia refuses to allow agri-chemical giant Monsanto (now under the wing of Bayer) into its territory, preferring instead to keep the country’s food organic and export non-GMO food. The Russian government has created an initiative to make Russia the world’s number one exporter of healthy food by the year 2020.4 Where is this reported in the West’s mainstream media? It is hidden from the American public, for it does not fit the ‘evil’ stereotype.
The Russian government is taking genuine steps to care for its people and improve their living conditions. By any statistics and other legitimate demographic indicators, Russia as a whole is recovering from the economic genocide it experienced at the hands of international oligarchs and U.S. politicians in the 1990s.5
The U.S. Congress wastes its time on artificially-manufactured Russian ‘threats’ and squanders taxpayers’ money on endless discussions, in order to thwart attempts at cooperation and making peace with Russia. Empty, fact-free rhetoric and name-calling abound, instead of informed debates on real issues. It is more profitable for lawmakers to demonize Russia and President Putin than to address the U.S.’s domestic problems: to provide for the poor, create a workable national healthcare system, modernize the country’s infrastructure, and reallocate the billions of dollars spent on the military’s full-spectrum dominance operations to funding a cash-strapped educational system.
Perhaps by keeping the American people at only a modest level of education, the government and mainstream press can manipulate them any way it wishes. It is advantageous to American political elites to present to bewildered constituents an image of Russia that is forty years out of date, to perpetuate stereotypes that were never accurate in the first place.
Do Americans really need a scapegoat onto which they can heap their frustrations, prejudices, and inability to create a decent and sustainable life for themselves? Do they find it unacceptable that Russia has evolved into an independent democratic, spiritually-rich society? That all the American efforts over the last hundred years to remake Russia into a mirror-image of the U.S. have failed? The U.S. would be well-served by understanding that countries have their own histories, languages, cultures, and values. However, it is easier for the U.S. to cling to a globalist unipolar world order, than to acknowledge that other countries support a multipolar one.
Pres. Putin’s celebrated Speech at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy in 2007, which made clear that a unipolar model for global world order was not viable, paved the way for Russia’s being treated as an equal partner by the West.6 In his 2016 speech to the UN General Assembly Putin’s pointed references to “economic selfishness” and the “rules of the game” being changed “in favor of a narrow group of the privileged” angered American exceptionalists by underscoring that Russia would no longer allow itself to be treated by the West as a second-class citizen.7
As the U.S. searches for its own meaningful core values, its plutocratic government wages endless wars and denies its people genuine debate on pressing international issues and a mainstream media whose news seeks the truth. Let us hope that American society has the decency and common sense to cast off Russophobia and reject the far-right politicians who would plunge the country into a nuclear holocaust from which there will be no return.
NATO’s Russia-baiting, with routine provocative naval exercises on the Black Sea and a large military build-up on the borders of Russian exclave Kaliningrad that includes the outrageous participation of Germany, is designed to produce such a holocaust. And who would benefit from the final conflagration?
There are glimmers of hope: In the U.S. Congress brave, sensible souls such as Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speak out regularly to challenge the U.S. government’s interventionist narratives and provide content-filled correctives. A growing number of Americans suspect that Russia cannot possibly be the ‘evil empire’ whose ‘dastardly deeds’ are fed to them daily by the mainstream media. For a fuller understanding of world events they are turning to independent media sites, the best and most honorable of which support their claims with evidence and reliable sources. The American people deserve better. And so do the Russians.
*Valeria Z. Nollan is professor emerita of Russian studies at Rhodes College, and a faculty affiliate in media and communications, and classical and modern languages and literatures at Texas Tech University. She was born in Hamburg, West Germany; she and her parents were Russian refugees displaced by World War II. Her books and articles on Russian literature, cinema, religion, and nationalism have made her an internationally-recognized authority on topics relating to modern Russia.
1 See Diana Johnstone’s Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton (Counterpunch Books, 2015).
5 See Stephen F. Cohen’s Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia (W.W. Norton, 2001).
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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