Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson
#28 - JRL 2006-118 - JRL Home
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006
From: Jerry Hough (jhough@duke.edu)
Subject: Re: 2006-#119-Johnson's Russia List/ population

Padma Desai and Thomas Nichols make an interesting pair.

Despite what the Ukrainians say, Stalin intended no deaths with collectivization. Does that mean that the 5-6-7 million deaths that collectivizatioan caused were morally justified? We should blame the Ukrainian victims for not fleeing to the city earlier?

It is easy to say what the West should do now. First, say something. We criticize Putin for being authoritarian when he is no worse than Yeltsin. Which, of course, is far from praise for anyone who knows my work. We criticize him for a blow-hard foreign policy which means little more than a defense of national interest and which has little real content. But we say nothing about millions of deaths not only in Russia, but places like Ukraine, Georgia, etc.

President Bush should go to the G-7 and give a nation-wide televised speech that says Russian health policy is worse than obscene. It is lethal, and it threatens the West with the danger of a panepidemic. Every civilized country has a public health system. Even President Bush passed a prescription drug program. Tony Blair and all of Europe have health care systems that produce better health results at less cost than the American. Let them say that only civilized countries can be part of G-7. Let them say that high blood pressure pills and heart surgery have been invented in the West and a series of other medicines. Russia does not have to a 19th century health system. It has plenty of oil money to have a nationalized health system with modern medicines and modern equipmjent.

Anyone who thinks that the deaths are simply caused by cigarettes and vodka simply does not understand Russia. It is nutrition, medicines, medical procedures, etc. that make the overwhelming difference. Russia around 1988 had a male life expectancy of 67-68 and the West is way beyond that. A number of huge amounts of oil money cannot import mediciness and built plants, nationalized if necessary?

I simply do not believe that Russia would stand up for long to a world wide condemnation for having health standards like Somalia and Ethiopia. And if they do, obviously they should be kicked out of the G-7.

I have done enormous amounts of archive work on foreign policy in the 1930s. I have read repeatedly how the Jews were blamed for Hitler. What is obscene is to blame the Russian victims for their truly awful government.

I just don't see what I have said thus far is even remotely controversial. What would be controversial would be to say that the Russian government is against using oil on agriculture, manufacturing, and drug plants because that would be less to export and skim off corruption from. What would be controversial would be to say that the US does not criticize the deaths because Chinese prosperity in Russia would reduce oil exports and raise prices in America. But I am mild mannered. I don't want to be controversial. Let those accusations be made 50 years from now.

But, to repeat, nothing I said before this last paragraph is controversial, not remotely controversial. Anyone who doesn't understand that has not read the debates of my generation on whether "Stalin was necessary." They have not read the archives of the 1930s and do not know that almost all Roosevelt's major ambassadors (including many lower officials like George Kennan) favored appeasement and usually (including Kennan at least at one period in the 1930s and probably throughout it) wanted a Hitler invasion of the Soviet Union, even though that meant millions of Jews in Eastern Europe would come under Hitler's control. That kind of behavior has no moral implications? Well, if not, our failure to criticize the killing of people by Putin's and Yeltsin's government also has no moral implications. But if those are the moral standards of American society of the 21st century, then I am proud to have been an American of the American 20th century when life was different.