THE WORLD is changing fast; it is changing by leaps and bounds which makes it next to impossible to explain what is going on and to foresee possible repercussions.1 An unsophisticated observer in the West and elsewhere in the world where Western propaganda is heard and believed might imagine that the forces of freedom and democracy are waging an uncompromising struggle against despotism and tyranny (in the widest sense of the terms). It is implied that the United States and the rest of the civilized West are on the side of the forces of good confronted by an obscure conglomerate of the forces of evil, of which Russia is part if according to President Obama and certain other Western leaders. Former President of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has written in his memoirs that according to this interpretation the forces of good insist on democratic elections, human rights, and freedom of trade; America does not hesitate to use its might to defend good and oppose the forces of evil interfering with the fulfillment of these ideals.2
We all know how houses are built: a firm foundation is indispensable for a solid construction. The former French president spoke of the principles of representative democracy as the main element of the foundation of the “Western house.” It remains to be seen whether these principles have remained intact in the West or were reassessed or even eroded. As the standard bearer, Washington insists on them while pursuing the policy which pushes the world further away from them. The United States and its allies are engaged in the selfless struggle for universal happiness which has already spread far and wide to all corners of our planet but have been ignoring the problems closer at home. Indeed, the Western world is changing, probably not to the best and probably faster than the rest of the world. It seems that not only common people but also members of the Western elites are unaware of this.
It seems that they are living in a closed world unable or unwilling to look outside; they remain convinced that their familiar and well-organized world remains unchanged. In fact, their world has changed; it is no longer the world of democracy, freedom and human rights – it is a world of total electronic control and total spying on certain categories of citizens. The West knows a lot about this from the ideologically biased products of the Hollywood “Dream Factory” and Western propaganda conveyor which tells how brave American guys and their selfless and honorable allies fight totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.
This trend is clearly seen in short-sightedness or even blindness of those who speak of themselves as the creative class of the Western countries (which is expected to think and assess) and who are unable to create new or non-trivial ideas. This is true of the political class and of a wider circle of intellectuals – academics, writers, political scientists, journalists, etc. Their articles and televised comments (frequently vulgarly Russophobic) are based on a very primitive idea that the world is divided into “friends” and “foes.” This brings to mind a fairly banal idea that we have already heard all this and that a copy is always worse than the original. They use old patterns; they are imitators of their Cold War predecessors who operated with these weapons. It should be said in all justice that during the Cold War there was much more freedom in the West and much more those who spoke freely.
The relationships in the Western world fit this pattern: indeed, never before American domination over its allies was as obvious as today. Hegemony is an apt definition. In the past, the West was eagerly holding forth about Brezhnev’s Doctrine meaning the doctrine of limited sovereignty of the Soviet allies in Central and Eastern Europe. Today, there is enough evidence to say that Western countries, the NATO countries in the first place, have lost part (in some cases a large part) of their sovereignty. This is too obvious – France and Britain are partially dependent. As two permanent members of the UN SC they should be completely independent in world politics. Instead, they have to make excuses to their Washington boss every time they have gathered courage to act independently. London has no policy to speak about – it acts together with Washington on every issue.
The West has based its relationships on discipline, minimum of independence and “Eyes on the hegemon!”
Western counties and many of those who have taken the same approach treat everything coming from Washington as gospel truth.
Washington, on its side, has monopolized the right to assess everything worth of assessment, tag countries and their leaders, and interpret international law. Many take this state of affairs for granted and look at the United States as a super-arbiter of sorts, a model state superior to the rest of the world in military, political, and, most important, moral respects. One cannot help but wonder whether there are real foundations behind ambitions and claims.
The United States is a relatively young state, its independent history being less than 250 years old. It is a contemporary of the Bolshoi in Moscow founded in 1776. The U.S. was set up on the lands which belonged to the autochthonous Indian population whom the newcomers, having captured their lands, short of exterminated. The North American Indians failed to integrate into the new enlightened milieu while the Indian reservations in the contemporary United States are a disgrace. The invaders destroyed millennia-old Indian civilization, its unique lifestyle and traditions. This is not surprising: very much like Francs and Goths, the Anglo-Saxons, the most active part of American society, are descendants of the barbarians who lived on the fringes of the Roman Empire. Today, this is one of the frequently discussed subjects: West European history (and American history as its continuation) is based on wars. Here is what Michael Wood has to say: “Western European culture was by no means as deeply rooted as that of the Near East, China and India, and its social and religious beliefs nowhere were as solid, as some Mediaeval Arab commentators noted. Nor did Western Europe ever have political, cultural or linguistic unity, though there were ancient affinities between the northern European people who spoke Germanic dialects, and those around the Mediterranean who spoke Romance. As a result warfare has been prevalent throughout the history of Western Europe [Italics mine -A.O.]. Only since the 1990s has it moved towards unity after centuries of ferocious inter-state wars which have claimed millions of lives two in our own lifetime. Whether Western history is uniquely violent is difficult to say. All civilizations have been prey to the contradictions between their ideas and reality, none, after all, has succeeded in containing violence.”3
Michael Wood is right: there is a deep precipice between the ideal and the realities of history. American history is brimming with precipices of this kind, the Monroe Doctrine (1823) which claimed the right of the United States to dominate in the Western Hemisphere, meddle in the domestic affairs of the Central and South American countries, indulge in regime change, and bring to power its puppets.
This brings to mind what is going on in the world which the United States has made a “sphere of its interests.” It seems that every time when the ideals of freedom and democracy interfere with Washington’s real policies they are merely pushed aside. This is best illustrated by the unilateral and unconditional support Washington and its retinue extended to the unconstitutional and bloody coup in Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies invariably choose interests and forget their principles. To borrow a well-known dictum of a classic of political thought of the late nineteenth century, we can say that the Western establishment treats principles as nothing but the interests as everything.
This contradicts the statements coming from Washington, which insists that the principles of democracy have been and remain the reason of interference, including military interference, of the United States and friends, into the domestic affairs of sovereign states. Should we treat the case of Ukraine (and earlier Kosovo) as an individual case rather than a precedent? We cannot accept this! This leads to another logical question which calls for a clear answer: What is an international precedent in the twenty-first century? Is it part of the interests of one particular state or a group of states?
Well, so far, the United States has been and remains the only country which used atomic weapons against another state. It dropped atomic bombs on the heads of the people living in Nagasaki and Hiroshima who presented no direct or indirect threat to the Americans. This barbarous crime against humanity caused tens of thousands of deaths; it took Japan several decades to liquidate the effects. At the concluding stage of World War II, the U.S. was actively using carpet bombing against German and Japanese cities or, rather, their civilian population. In Vietnam, Washington perfected this tactics by adding napalm and toxic agents leaving vast stretches of land unsuitable for human habitation and agriculture. This can hardly be called high morality.
The Soviet Union, the empire of evil in the American political parlance, never used nuclear weapons against military targets of its enemies, let alone civilians. It never indulged itself in carpet bombing. While the British and American aviation was destroying Dresden, Soviet troops, at the peril of their lives, were saving Cracow which the Germans had mined before retreating.
It is a habit with Anglo-Saxons to hold forth about the right to avenge the aggressor. Atomic bombs were a retribution for Pearl Harbor; German cities paid a fine for the German air raids on British cities and towns. According to this logic, the Soviet Union should have also repaid in kind thousands of destroyed cities and tens of millions of lost lives. The Soviet Army, which those who revise the history of World War II try to tag as an aggressor, did not destroy; it was liberating and rescuing. Who are the carriers of high morality? This is a rhetorical question.
Let’s have a look at the recent events. Bombing of Yugoslavia and its capital, war in Iraq, the ISAF strategy – liquidation of militants with the use of drones without investigation, trial and sentence – does not hold the water in the context of international law; there was regime change in Libya followed by the slaughter of its leader which caused joyous comments from some of the top American officials; Syria was destabilized so that to remove the unpalatable government and internal disagreements developed into a protracted civil war. A long string of blunders of the United States and its allies in the Middle East created a black hole of lawlessness in this vast region which was filled with the so-called Islamic State, its continued existence being fraught with unpredictable consequences.
There is no chance to count the number of deaths caused directly or indirectly by Washington and its cronies in the regions of “managed chaos”; the number is huge, the scope of destruction ditto. The world is told that this was well-intentioned; deaths and destruction paved the way toward an order based on the principles of democracy which, as we have seen above, are only taken into account when they harmonize with the American, and Western, interests. How does everything what is being done by the Western carriers of good correlate with the elementary principles of morality common to mankind? Will hundreds of thousands or probably millions of lost lives and crippled people be written down as “cost of production”? Who allowed to experiment in an inhuman way with these people, among whom there are people from Donbass?
If the Soviet Union or the Russian Federation did anything of this kind there will be no end of noisy statements, speculations, and moaning in the West. We would have heard endless speeches filled with ire, accusations, and righteous maxims. There will be no end of it. Today, the West have crossed the line: its politicians are very liberal about the choice of words when accusing Russia and its leaders of all sins. That’s their guilty conscience speaking as they say in Russia. Russia is not a defendant; it is a prosecutor vested with the right to ask the West: Why is it stirring up trouble? Why is it building an extremely aggressive environment along our borders while heaping the blame on Russia? Western leaders are fond of talking about predictability of their counteragents as an indispensable condition of international stability. Today, we can ask the United States and its Western partners: What should we expect from them in future? Russia’s policy will depend, to a great extent, on the answer.
Peace and cooperation are one thing. Confrontation, the arms race, and continued encirclement of Russia as part of the deterrence policy are a different thing. This context suggests a question about the meaning of the sanctions policy. According to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, sanctions as measures employed in the cases of “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” are determined by the UN SC as the only international structure empowered to pass such decisions in the name of the international community. If adopted by a closed international organization or a group of countries by their own discretion, sanctions can be interpreted as a hostile act, as an economic or political war which can be also called a soft war.
There are enough questions which should be answered promptly and clearly. The West which provoked a confrontation with Russia is trying to resolve the resultant problems by increasing its pressure on it. The effect is opposite to the expected. After the Crimean War of the nineteenth century, Russia was “concentrating” as Chancellor Gorchakov put it. Today, it is consolidating in front of our eyes. Consolidated Russia is a much heavier factor of world policies than Russia of the 1990s – disunited and disoriented which the West liked very much. On March 26, 2015, speaking at the board meeting of the Federal Security Service, President Putin said: “They are using their entire arsenal of means for the so-called deterrence of Russia: from attempts at political isolation and economic pressure to large-scale information war and special services operations. It was recently stated quite openly: those who disagree will have their arms twisted periodically. However, this does not work with Russia; it never has and never will…. nobody has ever managed to intimidate this country or put pressure on it, and nobody ever will. We have, always had, and always will have a proper response to all internal and external threats to our national security. Another point I would like to make is that the situation cannot remain like this forever. It will change, for the better I hope, including the situation around this country. However, it will not change for the better if we succumb and yield at every step. It will only change for the better if we become stronger.”4
“To become stronger” is an aim, not wishful thinking. It is a long-term aim related to different spheres of our life both material and spiritual. Fortitude and confidence are two main components of success.
At all times, the best representatives of our people demonstrated high morality and sense of duty and selflessly served the Fatherland. None of them were cynics or hypocrites; sincerity was one of their best qualities. I think that for many decades the West was deliberately and purposefully distorting the image of Russia in an effort to downplay its own moral degradation and the gradual deformation of the basic principles of Western democracy.
Recently, in the book of reminiscences by Andrei Gromyko, patriarch of Soviet diplomacy, I came across something directly related to the present article: “The majority of those who are related to the foreign policies of imperialist states [today we call them Western states – A.O.] believe that they serve their societies. As representatives of their class, bourgeoisie, they concentrate at defending its interests, social and economic privileges and remain convinced that the end justifies the means. They pass their lies for the truth. Violence and arbitrariness in international affairs are passed for high morality. The politics of state terrorism is justified by the vital interests of the United States.”5 And further: “It seems that the political figures of the imperialist world which act on the international scene objectively move against the will of mankind and increase the danger of nuclear catastrophe. In this respect their plans and views are amoral.”6 This sounds highly adequate today.
Russia is gradually regaining its role of a beacon for many countries and peoples. I am convinced that it has all chances to become a moral landmark in the highly intricate and contradictory world of today in which, regrettably, so far double standards and distorted ideas about norms of morality predominate.
1 On the state of international relations see: Orlov A.A. “Rossia v okeane mirovoy politiki,” Ezhegodnik IMI. 2013. Issue 3-4 (5-6). Moscow, MGiMO-University, 2013, pp. 10-15; Orlov A.A. “Novaya paradigma mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenii,” Mezhdunarodnaya zhim’. 2014. No. 10, pp. 66-73.
2 Giscard d’Estaing V. Frantsuzy: Razmyshleniya o sud’be naroda. Moscow, Ladomir, 2004, p. 67.
3 Wood M. In Search of the First Civilizations. London, BBC Books, 2005, p. 170.
4 Federal Security Service board meeting (March 26, 2015) // http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/page/6
5 Gromyko A.A. Pamiatnoe. Book 2. Moscow, Politizdat, 1988, p. 303.
6 Ibid., p. 304.