By Edward LOZANSKY (USA)
As Germany and many other nations celebrate the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Berlin Wall, the event which symbolized the end of the Cold War, it is important to analyze why U.S. – Russia relations are presently at an even more confrontational state, and why Francis Fukuyama’s famously-proclaimed the “end of history” due to West’s triumphal victory over USSR was just wishful thinking by a great philosopher.
A recent poll in Russia has shown that 87 percent of Russians believe that Western criticism of Russia and Putin over Ukraine – and practically over everything else – is hostile, unfair, and eventually aimed at regime change in this country and at its ultimate ruin and disintegration.
It is nowadays hard to believe that a mere 25 years ago the situation was exactly the reverse. All Russia was in love with America and Europe, seen as an embodiment of all that was civilized, a world of human rights, democracy, and freedom; in short, the opposite of the totalitarian system imposed on the people by the Communist Party.
The Russians sincerely believed that the moment they threw off the Communist rule, they would be heartily welcomed into the family of free and democratic nations as equal partners in the new brotherhood of men.
Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and later Russian present Boris Yeltsin naively expected that Moscow would be quickly integrated into European economic and security structures, and judging from the public rhetoric of George H.W. Bush and some leaders of “old” Western Europe there was at least an impression that they were inclined that way.
Bush’s declarations of a “new world order” and “new security arch from Vancouver to Vladivostok” was cheered by the Russians who were looking forward to a sort of Marshall Plan to help their country overcome the disastrous consequences of the disintegration process.
However, as Mary Elise Sarotte writes in LA Times, once-secret historical evidence shows that all these statements were just smoke and mirrors. In reality Bush, working closely with the West German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, “left Moscow on the political periphery of post-Cold War Europe by design.”
The consequences of that tragic decision signified a catastrophe for Russia — devastating economic decline worse than in World War II; collapse of education, science, health services, of the military; two Chechen wars; thousands of Western “advisers” helping implement criminal privatization of state assets; the IMF’s crude policies.
Russian oligarchs, some of them cheered by the West were grabbing not only economic and financial power, but also openly buying up politicians, wholesale and retail. (…)