Russia and the West
Guest Blogger: Tom Vinci
Our New “Guest Blogger” Segment Kicks Off!!!!
Welcome dedicated Lefty Righty Readers. We are finally introducing our new “Guest Blogger” Segment and we are very excited. Can you tell from my four exclamation marks? Our first Guest Post will be on the topic of Russia and the West, a point of sore contention for decades and more recently inflamed by the alleged Russian interference in U.S Elections in 2016.
Our Guests will range from amateur historians to Professors, Business people, Scientists, Politicians, Economists and anyone respected in their fields that want to share their views on important issues in the world today. If you are interested in being a “Guest Blogger” contact us here.
Dr. Tom Vinci
Our “Guest Blogger today is Dr. Tom Vinci, retired Philosophy Professor from Dalhousie University. He has numerous publications in his field of study and his most recent book published from Oxford Publishing was quite the read, (though I struggled to understand it at times), called Space, Geometry and Kant's Transcendental Deduction of the Categories.
We encourage you to jump into the comment section and engage in a civilized discussion with Dr. Vinci. Discussion and compromise forge success, so please participate as Dr. Vinci will be responding himself.
So without further ado, Dr. Vinci has prepared a blog post on a very relevant topic facing the world and the U.S today.
Russia and the West
Are Russians really the Bad Guys?
So, you think Russians are the bad guys? Sure, you say, Russians are the bad guys: they are the bad guys because they do bad things – takeover and annex parts of a nation that means them no harm (Ukraine), help the Syrians with their unjust civil war, interfere in the run-up to the recent democratic elections in the US, etc.
But what if these events are not part of a world-domination plan by Russia, but are part of a tit-for-tat between Russia and America that stretches back decades?
Did American Actions Post-Cold War create a situation where Russia is simply protecting herself?
Recall what the US has done to states supported by Russia in the period after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990.
First there is the attack on Serbia carried out by US military forces in the 1990s when President Clinton was in office. Then there is the attack on Iraq carried out in 2003 when President Bush (Junior) was in office. Next we have the attack on Libya carried out under the direction of Secretary of State Clinton, in President Obama’s Presidency, that led to the overthrow of the existing government and the assassination of its leader; finally I note US military support of rebels trying to overthrow the government of Syria. All of these governments had been supported by Russia politically and militarily.
American Good Intentions
Well, you say, these were all actions justified by good motivations – staving off genocide in Kosovo (part of Serbia) for example. Maybe, but I note that while original estimates in the Western news media of the number of deaths that occurred in ethnic cleansing in Kosovo rose as high as 100,000 prior to the intervention, I recall reading that the number of bodies actually found by post-intervention UN investigators numbered around 2,500. Compared to other genocides going on at that time, e.g. in Rwanda, where around 900,000 deaths were reported; this is a relatively small number.
If President Clinton wanted so much to save lives, why not save them in Africa rather than in Serbia, a country that Russia always had taken under its protection? (Recall that Russian commitment to Serbia in 1914 was so strong that it led to war.)
Recall also what has happened closer to Russia’s borders, in Georgia -- the tiny country at the eastern end of the Black Sea, not the state north of Alabama! Georgia invaded Russia – yes, dear reader, you read that right, Georgia invaded Russia – with American support and probable CIA involvement.
More recently, the democratically elected government of Ukraine, with an ethnic-Russian Prime Minister, was replaced through unconstitutional means – making the takeover an illegal coup d’état –with a pro-Western government, also with American encouragement and probable CIA involvement. These actions occurred on the very borders of Russia. Would Russia herself be next?
NATO Expansion and the Betrayal of Gorbachev
And then there was the expansion of NATO eastward, to the borders of Russia in the period after 1990, (with Montenegro, the most recent entrant into NATO, being accepted on June 5, 2017).1990 was the year that Russia’s President Gorbachev, with the Soviet army still in Eastern Germany, agreed to allow the reunification of Germany and the entrance of Germany into NATO. Given Russia’s recent history with a unified German state in the 1940s, this was a courageous and generous act on the part of Russia’s president that would destroy his political career at home soon after.
How did the West respond?
With the appreciation and generosity that one would have expected?
I end with a quotation from a recent review by Neal Ascherson of a book entitled, Gorbachev: His Life and Times, by William Taubman:
Though Taubman doesn’t put it like this, the West took Gorbachev’s co-operation for weakness. He expected an economic and financial reward for his concessions: it didn’t come. Crucially, in February 1990, James Baker, the US Secretary of State, and Chancellor Kohl assured Gorbachev that NATO wouldn’t expand eastwards, certainly not toward the Soviet frontiers. But Gorbachev failed to make them write it down and Bush later told Kohl that he and Baker had gone too far. “To hell with that! We prevailed. They didn’t. We can’t let the Soviets clutch victory from the jaws of defeat.” A few years later, by 2004, all the ex-Warsaw-pact nations, including the Baltic republics and Poland, had been brought into NATO. After their triumphant experience with Gorbachev, Western leaders figured they could get away with it. But the “broken promise” grievance smolders under Putin’s European policy to this day. Most Russians, whatever their view of Putin’s autocracy, still look on NATO’s surge up to their borders as the treacherous breach of an international agreement.
(Neal Ascherson, Review of Gorbachev: His Life and Times by William Taubman, London Review of Books, Vol. 39, # 24 (14 December, 2017), pp. 3-8: at p. 8)
They say that even a dog can distinguish between being stumbled upon and being kicked. Small wonder, then, when it bites.