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Russian recriminations: Feeling sorry for itself

President Bush has ordered a review of US policy towards Russia.  Policy makers should recall that Russian leaders are engaged in an orchestrated political offensive against the US.  Russians repeatedly complain that the US ignores Russia or doesn’t treat it as an equal, doesn’t provide it aid, trespasses into its sphere of influence, is reviving the Cold War and is launching wars using the pretext of terrorism – while interfering in Russia by criticizing Putin’s dictatorship.  At Munich, Putin indicts the U.S. for “overstepping” every legal, political, economic, military, and moral “border” – and many European leaders agree.The Russian Foreign Minister accuses the U.S. of proliferating weapons and acting as a global hegemon.  The head Russian general condemns basing of U.S. anti-ballistic missile radars in Poland and the Czech Republic and threatens Europe with the redeployment of intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and the German Government cowers.  The head of Moscow’s USA Institute echoes his Kremlin masters, yet bemoans the lack of a US-Russian partnership.

These outrageous, one-sided complaints against the US should not pass without rebuttal lest they be accepted as truth by appeasers, apologists, moral relativists and those ignorant of history.  Most of the complaints reek of the resentment, envy, wounded pride, self-pity and unsated imperial ambition that still inform the Russian false reading of history.

The Russians can’t grasp that reactions in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and the Trans-Caucasus since the demise of the Soviet Union are in actuality the well-deserved consequences of historic and recent Russian bad behavior.  The memories of Russian oppression everywhere the Red Army trod and the secret police followed, enforcing impoverishment of body and soul – the induced famine and mass murder in Ukraine; genocidal deportations from the Trans-Caucasus; theft of territory, decades of occupation, denial of freedom, murder of opponents, corruption of culture, falsification of history in Eastern Europe; deportations from and colonization of the Baltic States – are nightmarishly vivid, kept alive by the blatant absence of any Russian regret for their atrocities.  Indeed, the only Russian regret is that they lost all this.Putin even laments the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, that charnel house of nations.

The Russians bellyache that the U.S. does not treat them as a co-equal partner.  But the Russians have only themselves to blame for their decline.  It was their Communist regime that sapped their wealth, talents, culture, and faith.  As a result, Russia – except for its oil, gas, and nuclear weapons, none of which will last forever – is now, at best, a second-rate power – heading downward.  Russia asserts its right to be a superpower again, but it doesn’t and can’t rely on its own strength, skill, and attraction.  Instead, Russia strives to regain superpower status by limiting, diminishing, and encumbering the U.S.’s power worldwide and restoring Russian domination of Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and the Trans-Caucasus.  The Russians know that without Ukraine there is no Russian empire, without East Europe Russia is not a European power, and independent Georgia attracts the former Soviet “Stans” in the “near abroad” away from Russia.  These peoples have turned to the EU, which offers them the good life that Russia can’t and won’t, and to NATO because they are scared to death of a revived Russian threat.  They know that only the US can protect their independence.  The eminent correctness of their decisions was verified by recent Russian energy aggression against Europe and political-military machinations in the Baltics, both sides of the Caucasus, and Moldova.