Anyone remember that “reset” button Obama talked about back in 2009? Remember when Romney’s campaign team went ape-shit over Obama being caught telling Dmitry Medvedev that he could be more “flexible” after the election? Do you? Well now this is happening:
Yup, another espionage accusation, this time coming from the US. I don’t have much to say about this except a comment on this excerpt:
Zaytsev’s case comes amid friction in U.S.-Russian ties, which have been strained over differences on Syria, Moscow’s decision to give refuge to former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden and the Kremlin’s crackdown on the opposition and rights activists.
First off the bat one should eliminate the bit about the “crackdown on the opposition and rights activists” part. Washington feigned concern but ultimately doesn’t care. In fact much of the opposition seems to have fallen in line with the Kremlin thanks to the actions of the US in the past year, and that brings me to the second point. Nowhere in the list of reasons for poor relations between the two countries do we see any mention of the Magnitsky Act, a ridiculous law which basically punishes people without trial or even investigation, and more importantly is entirely selective in the sense that it is aimed at Russia and not countries friendly to the US despite far worse human rights violations on an almost daily basis. There is also the issue of the US blundering ahead with the “missile defense” shield, a ridiculous plan which costs untold billions and which is designed to counter a threat which does not currently exist.
Of course Russia’s reactions to many of these moves have not been positive, and some like the outright adoption ban for US citizens are absolutely monstrous. That being said, here we can see a very basic cause of hostility between Russia and the West, and we also see why understanding hasn’t flourished between the two nationalities in the past twenty years. Western media sources are happy to cite Russia’s reactionary moves without mentioning what they were in reaction to. You can see this going back to 1999 with the bombing of Serbia. The truth is that regardless of what they might say in public or on the internet, most people in Russia today, and probably even more so back then, do not truly, deeply, care about Serbs. I doubt many could even say anything about Serbs other than that they are Orthodox by religion and that they were attacked by NATO. But what I think deep down many people did care about, and I’m basing this on my own reaction as well, was NATO’s sheer arrogance. Here was an organization which was supposedly created for defense against the USSR(even though NATO was formed in 1949 while its equivalent, the Warsaw Pact, formed only in 1955), and yet for some unknown reason it not only lived on after the “end of the Cold War” but it actually expanded. In 1999, that very same “defensive” organization basically told the world, Russia included, that it would decide who was right in a civil conflict and if the “wrong” side disagreed it would use overwhelming military force to punish them. Now if you’re a Gen X-er like me and you remember the years immediately after the collapse of the USSR, you surely remember all the celebration surrounding the end of the Cold War, and the popular idea that now the United States and Russia would be “friends.” So popular was the idea of US/Russian friendship that it actually appeared in the blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgement Day. But before the decade was out the US and NATO began to engage in a series of distinctly unfriendly actions.
The obliviousness of both American politicians and Western journalists to this context is quite infuriating, so much so that when responding to certain statements or comments I end up sounding like I’m on Team Russia. What choice do I have? I can’t just sit by while some politician or idiot journalist launches a salvo against Russia’s “human rights abuses” while utterly ignoring those of their own country and allies. Regardless of what side it’s coming from, the attitude of “It doesn’t count if we do it,” is something I cannot tolerate. It’s one of the things I left America to escape, only to find it alive and well here.
The point is that the United States has a lot of choices and luxuries that Putin simply doesn’t have. Obama can choose to save the US taxpayers hundreds of billions and cancel the missile defense shield. He could have saved a handsome sum and possibly secured American lives by not lending support and legitimacy to Salafist terrorists in Syria. He could have not made such a fuss over Snowden, as it was not Russia’s fault he ended up there. American corporations are making good money in Russia but they’d probably make a lot more if Obama and the State Department stopped prodding Russia with sticks.
The truth is that the Russian regime is not strong, it is weak. This is why it needed to lock up three stupid performance artists for so long. This is why it supplicates in the face of racist rioters who attack police, and does not search for connections between the ensuing property damage and people who might have organized it for their own benefit. This is why the government bans or at least proposes bans for any speech it finds offensive. It all shows signs of weakness. Now while these things cannot be justified, we do need to understand why they get such support and garner little opposition. If the US and NATO, having a clear advantage, continuing prodding and provoking Russia, political liberalization is simply not going to happen. The regime will clam up and make more appeals to nationalism and patriotism. It really is this simple. I realize that many political scientists and pundits may say otherwise, but you also have to keep in mind that many of these people are the same idiots who lend to support to infantile notions such as the Democratic Peace Theory. So you know, take it with a grain of salt.
Of course there always is another side of the coin: Perhaps the reason why the US doesn’t reach out to improve relations with Russia is because the ruling regimes of both countries do not wish such a reconciliation.