The US Must “Get it Right About Russia,” Expert on Russia Says
WASHINGTON, January 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –
Anthony T. Salvia, Director of the American Institute in Ukraine, and consultant in
international public advocacy and governmental affairs, has called on the US to
re-evaluate its narrative on Russia in light of its comments following the Russian Duma
elections in December of last year:
“Secretary of State Clinton’s reaction to evidence of vote fraud in Russia’s
parliamentary elections of last December 4th hammered one more nail in the coffin of
President Obama’s reset of relations with Moscow.
“If President Obama had stuck to his guns on the reset, he would have justified in
dramatic fashion his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize-deemed premature by many-and entered
the 2012 presidential campaign able to argue plausibly that he was one of America’s great
foreign policy presidents.
“He was poised to complete the work, started by Reagan and Gorbachev, of bringing
about a definitive settlement of the Cold War — and, indeed, of the European civil war
that broke out in 1914 — by forging a new pan-European entente from Lisbon to Vladivostok
and including North America.
“But the bipartisan US foreign policy elite had other ideas. Why settle for entente
when there is a world to be won? They want nothing less than global strategic dominance,
or benevolent global hegemony, or empire, or whatever you choose to call it.
“And so Mrs. Clinton brands the elections “neither free nor fair.” She insists on
investigations into all allegations of fraud, and will brook no contradiction. Channeling
Woodrow Wilson, she champions the right of Russians to have “their voices heard and their
“But there is another possible narrative: On December 4th, despite clear evidence of
electoral shenanigans, the final result as reported by the Russian Central Election
Commission conformed broadly to the actual vote as evidenced by exit and pre-election
“For the first time in Russian history, a ruling party was rebuked at the polls,
effectively losing the election. According to experts, ballot stuffing and other forms of
skullduggery cannot have skewed the results by more than 5 per cent.
“When it takes office, the new State Duma will approximate to the real shape of public
opinion. No longer enjoying an absolute majority, United Russia will forge a coalition
with other parties, and the Duma will become a venue for the kind of give-and-take and
political horse-trading that parliaments are meant to be.
“Washington’s Russia policy is badly out of whack. It is rooted in a plethora of false
narratives about the meaning of Russian developments, some of which stem from ignorance,
some from a desire to give moral justification to its single-minded quest for global
dominance. These include: Russia is a defeated power (it is not); Yeltsin fomented
democracy (he did the opposite), while Putin seeks to restore Soviet great power status
(he seeks nothing of the kind; his aims are confined to stability on Russia’s borders so
as to develop internally); what Washington says and does is important to Russians (it is
not.) If you have no intention of talking seriously to Russia, of offering it strategic
partnership, to say nothing of friendship, because all you really want is to absorb it
into your globe-girdling hive of compliant states, then there is no need to get any of
“But in view of our declining economic fortunes (our total indebtedness is as large as
our Gross Domestic Product; our military and foreign budget of some $1 trillion per year
is as large as our yearly federal budget deficit), we may be approaching a time when we
have to start getting reality right. Our elite may have to ditch their grandiose ambitions
for global hegemony sooner than they think, so now is a good time as any to get it right
about Russia and its enduring strategic importance.
“Dr. Stephen F. Cohen of New York University, one of America’s foremost Russia
experts, describes Russia’s strategic significance in concise fashion:
“Russia still possesses devices of mass destruction capable of destroying the Western
power and tempting international terrorists for years to come.
“Russia…remains the world’s largest territorial country, a crucial Eurasian
frontline state in the conflict between Western and Islamic civilizations, with a vastly
disproportionate share of the planet’s essential resources, including oil, natural gas,
iron ore, nickel, gold, timber, fertile land and fresh water.
“Moscow’s military and diplomatic reach can still thwart or abet vital US interests
around the globe from Afghanistan, Iran, China and North Korea to Europe and Latin
“Dr. Cohen correctly points out that in the absence of an expansive, cooperative
relationship with Russia, there can be no real US and pan-European security.
“To this end, the policy of the next US administration, whether Republican or
Democratic, should call on Moscow to reaffirm the sovereignty of all former satellites and
Soviet republics. At the same time, it should insist that NATO halt further expansion
eastward, and desist from basing military forces, including missile systems, anywhere east
“Thus, the newest NATO members in central and eastern Europe would have the benefit of
Article 5 protection while post-Soviet Russia would achieve stability on its borders, thus
allowing it to develop internally and repair the damage of 70 years of Marxist-Leninist
misrule. The path would then be open to a strategic partnership with Moscow — much needed
if pan-Europe is to meet the strategic challenges posed by a rising East Asia and
resurgent Islamic extremism.
“In addition, the U.S. should scrap any notion of deploying missile defenses in Europe
pointing towards Russia, and instead opt for a joint U.S.-Russian system designed to
defend against threats from rogue states — if indeed it proceeds with missile defense at
“The next administration should conduct an agonizing reappraisal of American foreign
policy with a view to pan-European solidarity rather that a global hegemony we do not need
and cannot afford. We should have conducted such a review in the immediate wake of the
fall of the Berlin Wall, but never did. We must make up for lost time. The time to act is
Anthony T. Salvia
A consultant in international public advocacy and governmental affairs, the author
served as Special Advisor to the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in the
SOURCE Russia Insights