Shame Awaits the US: It Will Have To Ask Russia for Forgiveness

The West is debating how to respond to Russia’s “red lines.” Simply rejecting the draft agreements with the U.S. and NATO drawn up by Moscow is not an option. Proponents of a hard-line strategy — those in favor of the continued demonization of Russia and full-scale confrontation — fear that the lack of an unambiguously negative response, let alone an agreement to discuss the Russian proposals, would not only be a concession to Russia but also encouragement to Vladimir Putin, and would directly drive him toward attacking Ukraine. According to The Wall Street Journal, Putin’s demands are insulting to the U.S. and NATO and “show his growing confidence, and perhaps a belief that the West will do nothing serious to stop him.”

It makes no sense for Russia to convince the Atlanticists that it has no intention to attack Ukraine. Moreover, in the current atmosphere, where the West has already fallen for a self-invented “Russian threat,” it is simply not beneficial to Russia to prove it has peaceful intentions. Let them be nervous — as Putin said a month ago, “our recent warnings are having some effect.” As such, Russia needs to maintain such tension with the West for as long as possible.

In other words, Russia is trying to turn the collected Russophobia in the West to its advantage. Since fear makes one paranoid, even if is largely false and deliberately manipulative, it is necessary to use the agitated mood among the Western partners to begin a serious conversation. It is even more vital since a reasonable number of Atlantic strategists understand the senselessness of ignoring Russian interests. Hence, it is not only possible but necessary to come to an agreement with Russia. While it may not always be successful, it is often possible to reach a deal if there is an overarching attitude about considering mutual interests instead of intending to outmuscle or hurt the opponent. This also applies to a number of regional problems and conflicts.

Russia does not only have interests in the post-Soviet space, it simply draws the most stringent “red lines” with respect to that region. Russia has interests in practically every region around the world; given its location, these regions are, for the most part, its neighbors. Indeed, Russia is not just a Eurasian power that borders Norway and Mongolia, but it is also a Pacific power. In other words, Russia is close not only to China and Japan, but the entire Southeast Asian region through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Even the Middle East is a border region because Russia is neighbor to Iran through the Caspian Sea. Hence, only South America (although separated only by the Pacific Ocean) and Africa are far from Russia’s borders. Still, Russia has serious interests and historical ties in those parts of the world, too. It would be unwise for the West to consider the world as a battleground against Russia, as it did during the Soviet era. This is so because first, Russia has no intention of building an alternative global system. In fact, for most of its history, the Soviet Union did not have such a goal either, even though the West continued to believe so. Second, this is true because the West no longer has the strength or means for global dominance. Moreover, on the way toward a new multipolar world order, Russia acts as a constructive and responsible player rather than an uncontrollable power seeking fire and destruction.

Only in the West’s propaganda mythology does Russia dream of revenge for the humiliation caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union and is ready to attack the U.S. and Europe at any cost, undermining their position on the world stage and cause division from within. Of course, Russia is not averse to playing on contradictions and taking advantage of Western mistakes and criminal acts. However, it is fundamentally crucial for Russia to prevent chaos in the world order or destabilization in some regions of the world from prevailing. At the very least, most of these regions are Russia’s neighbors; it doesn’t need any conflict in its own backyard.

Russia wants a new world order and is working on developing one. The nation is confident that it can build it together with other superpowers. But Russia doesn’t need to accelerate the collapse of the Atlantic project at any cost, it needs to ensure a controlled transition from the now-finished Atlanticist and Western era to a new world. This, by the way, is in the strategic interests of the West and its position in this new order. The West needs to carefully withdraw from the state of failed hegemony and transition to the role of being an influential global player, to plan for a careful retreat from the Middle East so that the situation does not result in a chaotic withdrawal as we saw in Afghanistan.

Hence the article by Anatol Lieven, one of the leading British experts on the Middle East, in Foreign Policy: “Russia is Right on the Middle East.” Lieven speculates on why the West keeps asserting that Russia seeks to undermine international order: “In this region, over the past 20 years, it is in fact the United States that has acted as a disruptor of the existing status quo, and Russian opposition to U.S. policies on key issues has proved in retrospect to be objectively correct, from the point of view not only of Russia and of the region but also of the United States and the West.

“Of course, Russian policies were designed to serve Russian interests. All the same, the fact that they turned out to correspond to Western interests as well was not purely accidental. These Russian policies were founded on an analysis by the Russian foreign policy and security establishment of Middle Eastern states that has turned out to be correct in itself — and is also very close to those of many in the U.S. establishment.”

Lieven writes, “Underlying Russian analysis is a perception that might be called anti-democratic but is more accurately characterized as a profound sense of the fragility of states and fear of chaos and civil war, coupled with deep skepticism about projects of rapid revolutionary change.

“This attitude has its roots in Russia’s own terrible experiences of the 20th century … The Soviet experience has made Russians deeply skeptical of revolutionary projects to transform other societies according to one universal ideological template — because this is what Soviet communism tried to do around the globe, thereby embroiling Russia in a series of horribly expensive disasters. Thus Russians (correctly) saw the U.S. project in Afghanistan as resembling in key respects the Soviet effort of the 1980s, and as doomed to similar failure.”

Lieven recalls that Putin opposed the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Libya and generally condemned attempts to “export democracy” by foreshadowing the destruction of states and ensuing chaos. That is what happened — the Russians were right, and the Americans were wrong. Lieven notes that in 2011, both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton advised Barack Obama not to support the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because there was no suitable replacement. They were scared of chaos in an Arab country important to the U.S. In the same way, Russia was not willing to see Bashar Assad fall in friendly Syria. Moreover, the general crisis in the Middle East was the fault of the U.S. The Americans opened the Pandora’s box with the invasion of Iraq.

It is hard to understand why Russia deserves to be condemned for following the same approach as America’s sensible advisers, Lieven argues. However, clearly, Washington is simply driven by the logic of containing and fighting Russia. Now that the Biden administration says it is determined to cooperate with Russia in areas where the two countries’ interests coincide, Lieven recalls, “The history of the Middle East over the past 20 years suggests that, in this area at least, a strong basis for cooperation does in fact exist. To develop such cooperation will, however, require U.S, policymakers to acknowledge — at least to themselves in private — the number of times that Russia has been proved right, and America wrong.”

Is there any chance for such an acknowledgement? The answer to this question is essential primarily for the U.S. since America needs to get out of the hole it has dug itself in the Middle East. And it is totally impossible to act in the region without considering Russia’s interests. This concerns not only the Middle East. However, only in this region do the superpowers have a real chance to adopt a policy of coordinating each other’s interests. The new world order is already upon us — there is no need to ignore it.

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About Nikita Gubankov 55 Articles
Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, I am currently a student at University College London, UK, studying for an MSc in Translation Technology. My interests include history, current affairs and languages. I am a keen translator from Russian into English and vice-versa, and I also translate from Spanish into English.

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