- Dear Mr. Garfinkl, what, in your opinion, will the reaction of Democrats and Republicans to news from Russia that Putin and Medvedev “swapped places”?
- Most people perceived the statement of your leaders not as a sensation, but as a formality. The response has already been - appropriate.
If we talk about some kind of interparty difference, and she, I repeat, is not great, the Republicans, perhaps, reacted to the changes in Russia more realistically, simply noting: “Well, Russia is like Russia; what changes could there be? To this, everything has gone in recent years, and it will go in the same vein for another eight or twelve years. ” Perhaps the Democrats, this news was to plunge into despair, given their inherent idealism. No wonder - Russia "missed the biggest chance since the fall of the communist regime"! They always react to such things emotionally. Republicans have better nerves.
At this stage, perhaps, where internal differences in the ranks of Republicans and Democrats are more important, they are no less significant than the external distinction between these two parties. Among the democrats, there are enough leftist-wing isolationists, who currently do not care about the rest of the world, because they are deeply concerned about the situation inside the country. They are opposed by traditional liberals, idealists, obsessed with the global export of democracy, but at the same time there is a certain percentage of traditional democrats, the hawks, whose views are more realistic.
Republicans have serious controversies over foreign policy. In the wing of John McCain, terry internationalists were concentrated, so to speak, to whom it does not occur that an excess of US involvement in international affairs (albeit from a position of strength), coupled with excessive military spending, ultimately to the detriment of our power.
Another wing was chosen by the Tea Party, whose position is close to isolationism. A striking example of an isolationist is Congressman Ron Paul. But many other Republicans believe that America is too expansive, that its ambitions exceed its capabilities, and so on. I repeat, these internal differences are no less important than inter-party ones.
- There is an opinion that it is more convenient for people from Russian special services to cooperate with Republicans. How true is this statement? If it is true, then how do you explain the apparent deterioration in US-Russian relations in the last years of Putin’s rule?
- As I have already said, Republicans are inclined to greater realism and look at the world calmly. They are business people and love to get things done. It is more comfortable for them to deal with one partner, if you like, with one reputable "owner" who will ensure that the transaction takes place - both in politics and in business. To the democrats, of course, the authoritarian style is sickening, their element is loud negotiations and fabrication of consensus, and equally in the United States and abroad. As a rule, democrats are less organized, less prepared, they neglect the business side, and it is not surprising that foreign leaders and officials (especially in Russia) prefer to deal with Republicans, seeing in them a lot in common.
I do not think that the noticeable weakening of ties between the United States and Russia in the last years of Putin’s and Bush’s rule is somehow related to their psychological differences. In my opinion, President Bush overestimated the importance of the personal factor in relations with Russia. What is worth one of his attempt to "look into the soul of Putin," as he deigned to put it. In addition, Putin, I think, very cleverly and very timely put on the neck a symbol of the Christian faith - it was an almost surefire way to circle the pious Bush around the finger, and it worked not only in Russia.
The obsession ended when Bush realized that personal sympathies could not replace the magnetic power of state interests, which every leader, of course, understands in different ways. And Bush understood this epiphany as a personal drama.
On the other hand, for Russia, more or less recovering from the collapse of the former system, this was a period of internal reconsolidation. Power without hesitation used patriotism as a lever to control public opinion, and the elite, feeling more comfortable, also changed the political vector, at least outwardly. The movements of Putin at that time eloquently made it clear to the Americans that the malleability of the Cold War was over forever. And Putin showed his courage very skillfully. The deeper Bush’s disappointment got, the more aggressive your president acted. Such a combination could not but affect the relations of the two countries.
Plus, well-known events also played their part, because something is constantly happening in the world. The new relations between our countries are the result of September 11, the war in Iraq, the result of Iran’s claims to leadership in the region, the result of what happened in Transnistria and Georgia. And the correspondence sympathy of the two leaders only slowed down the solution of all these accumulated problems. One entailed another. The Russian-American portfolio of negotiations more and more resembled a heap of insoluble contradictions, whose bitterness only aggravated the mutual understanding of the two leaders on a personal level. In my opinion this was the case. Talking about the attitude of Democrats and Republicans towards people from state security, I think, is not appropriate here.
- Before the war in Ossetia 2008, the ideological standoff between Russia and the USA was moderate - the Russians promoted the idea of sovereign democracy, the Americans exported democracy to any end of the earth, both models were somewhat contradictory, but the level of tension was incomparably lower than during the Cold war or after xnumx. Is it worth it, in your opinion, to expect another recession of ideological tension?
“I do not think that the tension between the two countries in the Bush era is in any way connected with ideology.” The concept of "sovereign democracy" is nothing more than a demagogic device, invented to show that Russians have their own version of democracy, albeit incompatible with how Western politicians understand it. It was another slogan. I would not call it “ideology”, since it does not correspond to any actual ideology in our understanding of this term.
As for America, the period of strategic assistance to democracy (this is a short period) in the Middle East also only partially justified itself. The Bush administration actually rejected this political course when Bush again won the election. It is interesting to note that, according to the latest data from the Marshall Fund of Transatlantic Trends of Germany, the European public much more zealously supports the strategy of spreading democracy than the Americans. This is something new in international politics. But we also see the bitter fruits of this policy, the main purpose of which in the period from 2006 to 2008 was mainly the transformation of the Middle East. In general, by the end of Bush’s second term, the role of ideology in US-Russian relations was quite small.
And, as you rightly noted, now this factor, in fact, has been eliminated. Both America and Russia had their own reasons.
It seems to me that Vladimir Putin’s generation is nauseated tired of political abstractions with a Marxist-Leninist flavor. Cynical pragmatists with a great deal of personal experience justifying certain political steps, they live for today, driving your vast country. On the other hand, the USA is experiencing a crisis of the national soul.
The American establishment, especially the intelligentsia, is discouraged by a sharp sense of a certain fundamental error, but at the same time we do not know what exactly failed and how to fix it. So many things — culture, economics — have gone badly — that anxiety inevitably develops either into skepticism and denial, or, at least, the need to rethink the ideological tenets that have long been so inherent in Americans. So, the Russians at the moment have moved away from abstract systems "before exploring," while the Americans questioned the suitability of American abstractions, and there is much in common in this. It means that the sharpness of the ideological contradictions of the Cold War times was dulled, and their role in our relations lost its meaning as never before.
An important role, besides the personal qualities mentioned above, is played by the fact that both parties, trying to embrace the consequences of the cold war (especially its end), do not hear each other. The collapse of the USSR, the end of the bipolar system, which caused the gradual extinction of NATO, form a complex of interrelated phenomena with which both former adversaries cannot really cope, since they cannot really comprehend them. The collapse of empires and the change of systems takes time to figure them out. Such things cannot be settled over several years, and it may take decades to adequately understand them. Recall the fall of the Habsburgs or the Ottoman Empire after the First World War - debris hovered in the air for about twenty years.
The same with the Cold War - the dust has not settled. Therefore, an incomplete and incompatible understanding of this historical fact continues to aggravate relations between Russia and the United States. There is no full agreement on September 11, but, in my opinion, this is a trifle.
Let me remind you a number of details. At the beginning of 90, the Russian elite, especially Edward Shevardnadze, believed the promises of the United States, in particular, Secretary of State James Baker, that reunification of Germany using the 4 + 2 formula would not result in NATO expansion to the East, and, all the more, with the installation of NATO missiles. Perhaps they just heard it, or they didn’t understand the significance of these promises in a post-Soviet perspective. But then euphoria reigned.
And what really happened?
NATO has expanded three times, joining even the three former Soviet republics! From the American point of view (and here I express the opinion of a minority) this expansion of the military alliance was a monstrous mistake. America and its allies should behave in such a way that the subsequent rulers of Russia would recognize the territorial status quo of the end of the Cold War without harboring revanchist ambitions. It was necessary, following the advice of Churchill, to show magnanimity to the vanquished. But just this the United States did not. On the contrary, we in every way humiliated and weakened Russia, despite the sincerity of our assurances that the NATO expansion will not undermine the security of your country.
We never managed to understand that neither the Russian people nor their rulers would accept the role of the American litter. We don’t want to understand why the Russians don’t thank us for deliverance from communism, and the Russians are convinced that they themselves have rid of it, and in this I agree with them. Thus, a wide and multi-layered complex of misconceptions about the end of the Cold War and its consequences was formed. These misconceptions have become a colossal brake on the development of our relations. And ideology, again, has nothing to do with it.
- What is the meaning of the “reset” for the defense policy of Russia and the USA? Do you notice any changes? Did the reset help solve the missile defense problem in Europe? According to some Russian experts, this was worth serious concessions in Iran, to which she refused to sell the C-300 anti-aircraft guns ...
- For me, that “sovereign democracy”, that “reset” is nothing more than propaganda slogans. As a result of the reboot, nothing has changed significantly. Relations between the United States and Russia have not become better than they were before it, to a certain extent they have even deteriorated, due to the growth of authoritarian tendencies in Russian domestic politics. The new START agreement has neither military nor strategic significance - the number of reductions is purely symbolic. That's all the achievements.
The Obama administration, counting on Russia's help in Iraq and Afghanistan, was ready to make concessions, very significant ones, such as the refusal to deploy anti-missile components in the Czech Republic and Poland. According to the plan, it was supposed to promote the rapprochement of Moscow and Washington in the arms control negotiations, to silence the former resentment of the Russians, guaranteeing the conclusion of a deal on 95% concluded under the former president. In addition, you were offered to alleviate a number of trade and diplomatic difficulties regarding Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan ... but everything turned out somewhat differently.
The Russian government and its negotiators, as is customary in your country, in every way pulled the time, forcing our administration to pay the maximum price for everything.
All these are traditional diplomatic games, and Russian diplomats are also able to play them no worse than others. The Obama administration was impatient to receive dividends from its strategy of “engaging the Russians”; the White House did not expect them to delay the arms control negotiations in every possible way. True, in the end, the States were provided some assistance in Afghanistan, but very little.
Я I do not think that, for example, the refusal to supply Iran with C-300 can be considered a signal to reboot. The Russians were not even going to sell these systems to the Iranians, because by and large, the sale of these weapons is more dangerous for Russia than for us.
The cost to the United States was to deny the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, given that they had previously promised to place it there. The Poles reacted with indignation. In Poland, there was no anti-Americanism until 17 September 2009. When the Poles became aware of this decision, they perceived it as a stab in the back.
The irony is that the deployment of the missile defense system, which the president has been negotiating for so long (I don’t know whether it will happen now for technical and financial reasons) will really limit the effect of Russian short-range missiles in Europe, while the funds from which we refused, would not affect your military potential. And it was clear to the Russians from the very beginning.
It turns out that Moscow, in fact, lured Americans into a situation that, having caused irritation among the Poles, in parallel weakened the Russian missile power to a level not originally envisaged. Pretty funny, aren't you?