Monday, November 12, 2007

"Russia is becoming our enemy again"

I moderated this debate two weeks ago in New York.

Here is a link which will lead you to the edited (50 minute) version, courtesy of NPR.


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16020502

And this will take you to the transcript

http://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/TranscriptContainer/Russia103007.pdf

best

Edward

15 comments:

mkorchemk said...

I think the anti-Americanism is just a smokescreen Russian officials use to distract public attention from the real problem - large-scale corruption.

rusak said...

The debate was just a bunch of nonsense of course. The fact that someone like you, Edward Lucas, would be allowed to moderate any such debate is ridiculous and outrageous in itself. It's like Hitler "moderating" a debate on anti-Semitism.

Moreover, "Russia" was never historically an enemy of the United States. Maybe one could say the Soviet Union was, but even then most Soviet citizens preferred to think of their country as a "rival" rather than an "enemy" of the US. In the US of course it was different, with downright racist propaganda setting the tone for decades, with no significant Russian ethnic lobby there to oppose it.

But regardless, the Soviet Union != Russia. Why do you disagree with that, Lucas? I can understand why various ethnic nationalists (Ukrainians, Balts, etc) want to push a view of the USSR as some kind of Russian empire - to further their own agenda in the present, using this to explain and justify it. But wherein lies your gain, Lucas?

I see that nowadays you like to throw out a little disclaimer along with your nonsense to the effect that you're not Russophobic, that you're not against Russia, you're only against the Kremlin, this terrible regime... But any Russian person even remotely familiar with your work will see right through that BS. Your "problem" isn't any Kremlin regime, but Russia's very existence, or at least its existence as a power of any note whatsoever. It's funny though that you include any such disclaimers at all. What happened? It's like you're on the defensive there a little bit, Lucas. So who are you talking to? What, did someone accuse you of anti-Russian bias or something?

Edward Lucas said...

Hi Rusak

Please note that anyone comparing anyone to Hitler or anything to Nazi Germany tends to devalue the rest of what they say. Please have a look at the transcript of the debate and let me know specific instances of bias if you can spot them.
Your point about the word "again" in the motion was made forcefully by Mark Medish and I think swayed some of the audience.

Regards

Edward

Giustino said...

I can understand why various ethnic nationalists (Ukrainians, Balts, etc) want to push a view of the USSR as some kind of Russian empire

Hmm, a conglomerate state stretching from the Baltic to Bering Seas with a capital in Moscow, and Russian as the mandatory public language.

Sounds nothing like Tsarist Russia. Nothing at all. Whoever thought of such a thing must be just like Hitler.

Har. Har. Rusak, you kill me!

cabrero said...
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cabrero said...
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cabrero said...

OK, here is an example. One of the participants (Bret Stephens I guess) declared with full confidence that russian-iranie nuclear cooperation will end up with mullas having 330 kg. of used fuel equal to ... (around 50) Nagasaki bombs. If you ask an expert how useful for a weapon this fuel (from PWR reactors) can be, he will say that it is practically not. It will take decades of stealing fuel rods and decades to convert them into one nuclear warhead.
Also it's not the US that has to decide our format of cooperation with anyone, but the UNO. Only this organization has right to put sanctions upon a state and restrict relations with it. Somebody is also forgetting that there exists such a structure like IAEA, that knows better about the Busher project and monitors closely our cooperation with Iran. Till now no violation of any international laws on proliferation and e.t.c. was recognized. All the fuel cicle is closely monitored.
Or declaration about justification of Stalin - there is no facts proving that. No one ever declared, and in no history book is written that Stalin was a good and great person. We do admit and condemn the atrocities and repressions he is responsible for.

Most of those paranoids who think that Russia can be an enemy to the US are just incompetent.

Giustino said...

Some thoughts:

* The US is the successor partner to the British Empire. The Anglo-American-Australian alliance is serving a similar function to the British Empire.

* Since the 1830s, the British Empire and the Russian Empire have clashed in Central Asia. It's been called "the great game." Are we in the midst of a new "great game"? I think so. It revolves around petroleum products.

* The bad news is that the Russian Empire (and successors) and the British Empire (and its successors) both lost the game. Think of both British and Soviet failure in Afghanistan.

* I would posit that the very idea that either the Anglo-Americans or the Russians could maintain influence in Central Asia in the long run is fueled by greed and delusions of "power" that neither actually has (see Iraq, Chechnya).

* As a final thought, the reason Russia's European neighbors are willing to help out in places like Georgia is not only because they are such nice guys (though they are).

Every one in the part of Europe that was previously under Soviet military occupation knows quite well that the more time Russia spends thinking about Georgia, the less time it has to think about its former possessions in Europe.

Blair Sheridan said...

Although I often take issue with things Edward Lucas writes, I have to disagree with Rusak, inasmuch as I find that Edward's description of his moderation of the debate was absolutely correct: he was scrupulously fair.

I disagreed most vehemently with a couple of the points raised by J. Michael Waller and Brett Stevens. I don't think that Russia's military modernization is necessarily a sign of its assuming enemy status again. Any military force that had been so badly left to rot is in need of modernization (to say nothing of the much deeper reforms required to put the Russian forces back on a combat-ready force.) A state that wants to play a significant part in worldwide statecraft certainly needs an effective force and one that is _seen_ to be effective. That said, I wish the Russian authorities would go about the business of force re-tooling much more quietly, as I think that the incessant publicity of new weapons systems, etc. has a less than salutory public relations effect, particularly in former Soviet bloc states.

Furthermore, Waller seems to claim that admitted improvements in Russian infrastructure under Putin and the availability of more money to the Russian public are only intended to keep Putin in power nd popular. I'm not sure how he makes that leap.

Lastly, Waller went slightly hysterical, saying that not even al-Queda maintains a nuclear arsenal capable of wiping out the U.S. True, as far as it goes. However, Russia had that arsenal in the Yeltsin years too, when Russia was considered - if not a solid friend and ally - at least a potential one. I'm not sure if Waller expects unilateral disarmament from Russia but, if he does, would ask him "On what grounds?"

Brett Stevens brings up Litvinenko, Yushchenko and the explosions on the pipelines to Georgia, saying "facts are facts," meaning that these events show Russia's true, hostile face. Perhaps I'm being too scrupulous here, but as none of these have been convincingly tied to the Kremlin or to Putin, I hesitate to call them facts.

Both Claudia Rosett and Stevens seem outraged that Russia pursues its own interests, regardless of what the U.S. seeks to define as Russia's legitimate interests. I think Mark Medish was much closer to the mark by suggesting that Russia may be its own worst enemy (a feeling I sometimes share, with sadness,) and feel that it is simply unreasonable to expect Russia's interest to align perfectly with those of the U.S., to say nothing of the idea that Russia should allow its interests to be dictated by any other state. As a Canadian Brit, I see that the interests of my two countries (I'm a lucky fellow) don't always coincide with those of the U.S. and wouldn't expect them to. The difference lies in how states approach resolving those differences, or at least in removing as much of the potential for conflict from them. _That_ is where I would like to see both Russia and the U.S. find a new approach.

If someone feels that I've misquoted the debaters, feel free to let me know. I've kept the podcast and will happily go back to review it, if necessary.

rusak said...

Please note that anyone comparing anyone to Hitler or anything to Nazi Germany tends to devalue the rest of what they say. Please have a look at the transcript of the debate and let me know specific instances of bias if you can spot them.
Your point about the word "again" in the motion was made forcefully by Mark Medish and I think swayed some of the audience.


Learn to read, Lucas. I did not compare you to Hitler. I compared you "moderating" a debate on Russia to a person with an obvious, well-known bias "moderating" a debate on the object of that bias.

rusak said...

Although I often take issue with things Edward Lucas writes, I have to disagree with Rusak, inasmuch as I find that Edward's description of his moderation of the debate was absolutely correct: he was scrupulously fair.

Oh, that's really nice. So tell me, how did Edward Lucas get to be the moderator of this debate? Out of all the people in the whole world? Some coincidence or accident? Or do you think someone forced him into it against his will? His "triumph" here is in the fact that this debate even took place at all. Just look a little closer. Lucas is ridiculously see-through with his BS.

Hehe, look at the title of his book - this person is supposed to be a "moderator"? And it's not just this book in a vacuum, but in the context of the anti-Russian crusade that this nut has been on for decades. As for the debate itself, I'll put it like this: the prosecution was there, ready (in collusion with the judge too, but let's pretend we don't know that), and looking for the maximum penalty. But Russia couldn't get a real defense in this kangaroo court, just some garbage public defenders.

rusak said...

Hmm, a conglomerate state stretching from the Baltic to Bering Seas with a capital in Moscow, and Russian as the mandatory public language.

Sounds nothing like Tsarist Russia. Nothing at all. Whoever thought of such a thing must be just like Hitler.

Har. Har. Rusak, you kill me!


The language thing is the only "argument" they have. And by those standards (capital and language), the UK is without a doubt an English empire.

Let's say it does "sound something like" an ethnic Russian empire, Justin. That doesn't mean it actually IS. A housecat and a lion have some notable similarities too, but I don't think a sane, reasonable person would claim they are the same.

Random Eesti apologist: "EEEAAAAAAAAHHH!! But the Russian empire and the USSR were about the same size! And a lion and a housecat clearly are not! Aha! I have exposed your lies! Good Western folk, do not be fooled by this Russian imperialist scoundrel!"

OK, OK, Justin. Say a dog and a wolf. (etc, etc)

There.

See how I cut you off at the pass there, Juss? You gotta love it. Show some appreciation.

Giustino said...

The Anthem of the Lithuanian SSR

Lenin lit us the path to freedom,
The great Russian people helped in the struggle.
The party leads us to happiness and good,
The friendship of our nations is as firm as steel.


Anthem of the Uzbek SSR

Assalom, Russian brother, your nation is great!
Glorious be, immortal chief, our own Lenin!
The way of struggle for freedom led us forward,
And the Uzbeks have been glorified by the Soviet state.


Anthem of the Turkmen SSR

Bulwark of peoples' friendship is unbreakable.
The whole Soviet Union became a united family!
And the Russian people became a stronghold of friendship.
We're blessed with happiness in our native land.

rusak said...

Why didn't you post up the anthem of the Estonian SSR, Juss?

As for the words of those anthems, it's just a bunch of corny nonsense and does not prove anything.

It's funny, Juss...

You want to claim the fact that the official website of the Ida-Viru county (70% ethnic Russian) did not have a Russian-language version before the second half of 2004 somehow is not evidence of discrimination against the Russian minority in Estonia... but on the other hand, you want to claim that a few basically innocent words in those anthems is good evidence for your claims?

Giustino said...

As for the words of those anthems, it's just a bunch of corny nonsense and does not prove anything.

What exactly were my claims? That the Soviet Union acted as a successor state to the Russian empire and continued many of its imperial rivalries and policies? I think that's fairly evident.

More to the point, the Russian Federation is the successor state to the USSR. The RF claims disputed territories on the basis of the settlements of the '40s and '50s, for example in the Kuril Islands.

You want to claim the fact that the official website ...

Can you explain to me why you think Empire Strikes Back is superior to Return of the Jedi?

Also, while your at it, why didn't the Boston Red Sox win the 1986 World Series.

Also, why are you just like Hitler? Furthermore, what about South Africa?

Exactly my point, Dmitri.