[The Telegraph, U.K.]



Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Russia

Russia's Opposition and Liz Cheney: Allies in Confronting Obama


"There are two versions of the end of the Cold War: 'The Russian version and the real one,' rails Liz Cheney in the Wall Street Journal. And now President Obama has revealed himself as an advocate of the Russian version."


By Alexei Victorovich Chadayev*


Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


July 18, 2009


Russia - Nezavisimaya Gazeta - Original Article (Russia)

Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. It appears to some Russians that Cheney and her fellow critics on the American right have more in common with Russia's opposition than President Obama does.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Vice President Joe Biden heads to Georgia for talks with Georgian President Saakashvili, who is facing mass protests calling for his resignation, July 22, 00:02:06RealVideo

Contrary to expectations, Obama-mania hasn't taken hold in Russia. This was noted with some alarm by American newspapers, as they commented on the outcome of the U.S. president’s visit to our country. You bet. In other countries, masses of curious onlookers lined the streets where the U.S. leader's motorcade passed. All the local radio stations, newspapers and Internet forums gushed over the visit of the 44th president of the United States. Local TV networks interrupted their entire schedules to show every minute of the global megastar. But to the surprise of American journalists, nothing like that happened in Russia. And by today’s global standards, that's clearly an anomaly.


Reporters and political scientists are divided over the reasons for this. Russia is out of touch with global trends, is the conclusion of some newspaper reporters. But a more insightful analysis suggested precisely the opposite hypothesis: It is the kinship and fundamental similarity of the nature of political support for Obama and Russian leaders. Roughly speaking, the never-failing Obama magic "doesn’t work" in Russia, because Putin and Medvedev have their own magic at work. "Would you like some tea?" - "No thank you, I have my own."


Perhaps the best confirmation of this theory was offered ... by Barack Obama himself, in his extremely surprising Moscow speech to graduates of the New Economic School [watch video below]. What he said was much more like recent statement by United Russia [Russia's ruling party] than traditional American foreign policy rhetoric. The things that are backed by the Kremlin - and which were explicitly opposed by the Bush Administration - are literally part of every thesis in Obama’s speech.



"State sovereignty must be the cornerstone of international order. … America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country. … Just as all states should have the right to choose their leaders, states must have the right to borders that are secure, and to their own foreign policies. That is true for Russia, just as it is true for the United States. Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy. … Every country charts its own course." And then: "… America seeks an international system … where we hold ourselves to the same standards that we apply to other nations." [Editor's Note: Quotes are not in the order that they were expressed in Obama's speech].


As I listened to this, I had the impression that the U.S. president was reading aloud a famous article by Vladislav Surkov, Paragraphs in Favor of Sovereign Democracy.


Surkov: "To be on the side of the community of sovereign democracies (and the free market) - is to be against any kind of global dictatorship (or monopoly). Maintaining national sovereignty is a factor in any fair globalization and democratization of global relations. These ideas emerge out of the concept of a just world based on a community of free societies (sovereign democracies), and cooperation and competition conducted according to reasonable rules."


Despite theories about globalization, the concept of sovereignty remains the foundation of the global order - and that's not the only point of U.S.-Russian convergence.


Obama: "… the future doesn't belong to those who gather armies on a field of battle or bury missiles in the ground - the future belongs to young people with the education and imagination to create." This is an almost verbatim quotation from Surkov, where we read: "Cutting-edge science, moral advantage, industrial dynamism, just laws, personal freedom, and everyday comforts appear increasingly salient as symbols of power. It's not the military industrial complex that matters most - but comprehensive competitiveness that is recognized as the chief means of ensuring sovereignty."


Looking back at the history of the 20th century, particularly Russian-American history, one can see why Obama has been subject to such scathing criticism from the U.S. right, which accuses him of "bowing before the Russians."


Obama: "The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful."


There are two versions of the end of the Cold War: "The Russian version and the real one," rails Liz Cheney in the Wall Street Journal. And now President Obama has revealed himself as an advocate of the Russian version. That’s true. Here’s what Surkov said on the topic in 2006: "It would not be superfluous to note once again: Russia embraced democracy not by a 'defeat in the Cold War,' but due to the very essence of European culture." And also: "We don't believe we were defeated in the Cold War. We believe we defeated our own totalitarian system."



Interestingly, it turns out that the nostalgia for "Bushism," put into early retirement by Obama, isn't peculiar to American conservatives. No less grief in this regard can be found in Russia's opposition media. In an article dedicated to the creation of a Russian-American working group on questions of civil society, the Ezhidnevniy Journal complained indignantly about Obama for the, "triumph of ‘realism,’ and the  rejection of the principle of support for democratic reforms and civil society in other countries."


The perfect reflection of this indignance was a public denunciation written to President Medvedev by a group of conscientious citizens. The pathos of the text: "there's no place for slayers of liberty like Surkov amid the bright and promising affair of Russian-American cooperation on the building of civil institutions." Perhaps there's an element of rationality in this. But one would need to clarify the point by adding that if this is the case, then there's no place for people like Barack Obama. Or, in any event, people like his political adviser Michael McFaul, who co-chairs the group on the American side (Surkov, as we know, is co-chair on the Russian side).



Kayhan, Islamic Republic of Iran: Obama's Trip: 'How they Laughed in Moscow'
Rceczpospolita, Poland: At Kremlin, Mr. Obama Keeps Faith with Allies
Rceczpospolita, Poland: Obama's Russia 'Gambit'
Gazeta, Russia: Obama in Russia: Symbolism Between Unequal Partners
Gazeta, Russia: Medvedev and Obama: 'Resetting' U.S.-Russia Ties Won't Come Easy
Gazeta, Russia: The Kremlin Balanced 'Between Two Chairs': Iran's and the West's
Gazeta, Russia: Anti-Americanism for Russian Public Consumption Only
Gazeta, Russia: Beyond Capitalism and Communism
Novosti, Russia: Why Medvedev Can Meet Ahmadinejad - But Obama Cannot
Izvestia, Russia: Russia Can Help Obama With Muslims
Izvestia, Russia: 'Overloaded' With U.S. English as the Language of Diplomacy


Incidentally, the first thing I would do if I were in the place of McFaul or Surkov, would be to create a special subcommittee on which I would include, from the Russian side, the authors of the letter to Medvedev, and from American - Liz Cheney and likeminded authors from the Wall Street Journal. The "Other Russia" and "Other America" would quickly find one another and have much to say to the world.   



"Realism," in their words, has now almost become a mark of shame. For it turns out that the "realism" of Obama has much more in common with the sovereign democracy so hated by [Russia's] anti-regime fighters than the customary slogans, accusations and promises of American leaders (and the Russian opposition).


And that means that the unique competitive advantage of our opposition media-missionaries no longer works: in order for us and the Americans to understand one another and build a normal relationship, it's not necessary to come to one - and only one - correct point of view ("truthful," as Liz Cheney put it), printed in golden letters on the pages of The Wall Street Journal. There is more constructive and understandable language for communication than the mantras of the "Ministry of Truth." In other words, the "Russian version" of realism.


*Alexei Victorovich Chadayev is a political scientist and member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation



































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US July 22, 5:49pm]