Radzikhovskiy Examines Russia's National Disease--Anti-Americanism
29 March 2003
Article by Leonid Radzikhovskiy:
Anti-American hysteria is ostensibly running in Russia far less tumultuously than throughout the civilized and uncivilized world. Instead of demonstrations running into the millions, meetings of 100 "hired hands". We have no civil society, we are not accustomed to organizing demonstrations, and there has been no command from above... (it is not yet over, though! Perhaps some weekend a demonstration will be put together?).
But our people's hearts are burning with an anger against the Americans that is not a bit weaker than in your Spain or Britain, far more strongly, I believe. The intensity of the anti-American mood is indicated if only by the fact that there has been among the politicians no "martyr" that has dared to publicly support the United States (this is not the case in Europe, incidentally. There are in any parliament there members speaking in defense of the American war in Iraq).
All the polls show, though, that about 10 percent of citizens of Russia are "for the United States".
I am one of this 10 percent. I believe that what the United States is doing is the least possible evil in this situation. I believe that although the United States, as always, is behaving shamelessly egotistically, its actions are objectively useful to Russia. And, most important, I consider anti-Americanism a dangerous disease of our society.
I don't know which terrorists precisely Saddam supports but it is obvious that his defeat would be a blow to international terrorism. It is a lie that this defeat will bring about a new spiraling of international terror. Force is all that this crowd understands. As the Russian lawyers said: "bend their heads beneath the iron yoke of the law." Deterrence and firmness are the sole language necessary in conversation with terrorists. Weakness, retreat-this is what really adds fuel to the fire of terror. Perhaps the Americans should not have threatened Iraq like this at all, should not have inflamed the situation to this extent, this is another matter. But when the wine has been poured, it has to be drunk. The United States had painted itself into a corner: either strike or "put its tail between its legs," sustain a most severe moral defeat. And a moral defeat for the United States (which would have caused us such disinterested delight) would have meant not the triumph of the United Nations and international law but a direct, resounding moral victory for international terrorism. After this, terrorists would have been fools had they not hurled themselves into a new attack: "Hurrah, we are breaking through, the Swedes are bending!" In this situation the United States struck, and rightly so.
They did right for us also. Our public opinion has easily forgotten about radical Islamic terrorism-the "international terrorist Bush" has overshadowed that poor bastard Basayev. But it was not the United States that staged terrorist acts in Russia. It was not the United States that paid the terrorists. It is not the United States that is bringing narcotics into our country. The calls for the detachment of the North Caucasus are not coming from the United States. And it is against these forces-not against some specific organization but against this entire terrorist front-that the United States is today mounting a powerful military, political, and psychological attack. It is not thinking at all about Russia's interests here. But it is doing for Russia far more than those that are whining that Saddam is "our Brest Fortress," that "Saddam is fighting for us."
Yes, it is unpleasant, offensive, enviable that the Americans, without a backward glance at us (or at others either), are establishing and consolidating unilateral order in the world. Only American order is for us better, safer than terrorist disorder, better a world gendarme than world killers. And there is, alas, no avoiding this, precisely this, alternative. Gendarmes-both world and conventional-are not liked. But we simply have not learned how to live without them. About the United Nations in this connection. It is obvious to any normal individual that the United States cannot assume the function of "world gendarme" that the world objectively needs. We recall the unforgettable congresses of people's deputies-could they really have led Russia?
And, finally, about domestic policy. Yes, the anti-American pandemonium is somewhat clearer in the West than here. But granted all the charms of their hysterics, there is one difference. Europe does not have to decide what sort of society it is building-Western, market-democratic, or, on the other hand, "Byzantine," Eurasian, authoritarian. We, as before, are at the crossroads.
This is why with them anti-Americanism means hysteria, with us, paranoia.
In our country anti-Americanism has very clear-cut ideological implications-back to the USSR! God bless you, "Uncle Husayn"! Other alluring black moustaches entirely-"Papa's"-are preserved in our society's subconsciousness. Perfectly respectable citizens, with a keen sense of smell, have recently tried to kiss these virtual moustaches-they know which way the wind blows!
Anti-Americanism was dangerous in foreign policy when our sole priority was to act against the United States. Any anti-American riff-raff, if they were an enemy of the United States, a priori evoked affection: "Our enemy's enemy is our friend." We had only just begun to leave off from this insane logic, and now we are once again joyfully flying toward this same old error.
The logic is the same in domestic policy. A simple example: someone has only to cover Bush in foul language, and there is an immediate jump in his approval rating. This is the extreme. But many perfectly "responsible" politicians, not giving a damn for tedious economics, are making a public career only out of abuse of the United States.
All this has a perfectly definite ideological basis: patriotism-anti-Americanism-authoritarianism. Our heredity is bad: this is the sequence of ideological genes that is imprinted on it. Unfortunately, this linkage simply cannot be unclasped. Sweet and piquant hatred of the United States is, after all, an entire ideological program, where the "United States" is only a symbol having nothing to do with the real United States. A symbol of democracy, the market, and Western influence, a symbol of the loss of imperial grandeur trickily passed off as loss of state independence! The world has already been through this, it is called the "Weimar syndrome". It was over the loss of imperial grandeur that the Germans wept in the 1920s, it was the damned Western influence that was chafing their necks. So it was that they found a collar for their hearts....
God bless it, America. But anti-Americanism is, truly, our national disease.