#4 - JRL 7168
Russia's Foreign Policy Behavior Said Determined by Emotions, Hysteria
29 April 2003
Article by Dmitriy Furman:
"'The Aesthenic Syndrome' and the Lessons of Iraq: Russia's Position Was Determined by Emotions, Not Reason"
There is nothing shameful in the fact that we associated with the anti-Saddam coalition and cannot rejoice together with the victors. The Iraq question is very complicated legally and morally, and it is perfectly possible to remain "respectable people" without approving the actions of the allies. What is shameful is something else-that we are unable to master what are not our most noble emotions, we demonstrate them, make a fuss, and make a fool of ourselves.
It is shameful that a stream of anti-Americanism based on envy and fear, which no one tried particularly to hide even, was disgorged from the television screens. That we identify more with Saddam's Iraq than with the United States and Britain (it would never in Germany or France cross anyone's mind that they could be in the category of countries in which things could be straightened out from outside, with us, though, this thought is constantly present in all debates). It is shameful that our emotions so screen our reason that we predicted for the allies all kinds of disasters and losses (what we want, that we predict) and gladly repeated the Iraqi communiques. That immediately following hypocritical talk about the sufferings of the Iraqis (we might do well to remember the Chechens), our commentators would begin in front of the entire people to discuss what could be gotten from the Americans "for Iraq". That our emotions are so unruly that we cannot just sit still, we make a heap of "needless gestures" (like the threat to use our veto in the Security Council).
It is not a question of stance but of the style of behavior and the emotional structure that determines it. The stance of China is the same as ours, but the "style" is different because there are behind China's behavior greater composure and self-confidence and an absence of morbid envy and complexes. China does not do what is superfluous, does not make a fuss, and does not try to attract attention wherever possible. The Chinese leaders do not say that they are prepared to help the United States disentangle itself from the difficult situation it is in. This is why China does not lose. We most likely have lost since friendship with France and Germany by no means compensates for the bad feelings that the Americans could not have failed to have had. The relations that had taken shape between us and the United States as a result of the stance taken by Putin after 11 September could perfectly well have been preserved even with an expression of our disagreement with it, if only this disagreement had not been accompanied by such fussy activity and outbursts of indecorous emotions. Our emotional outbursts here are very similar to the outbursts of the heroes of Kira Muratova's film. They are very unruly, but, having caused us a certain damage, they rapidly subside.
What is distressing is that everything is being repeated. We have the capacity for immediately forgetting everything. There was the same, even bigger, outburst of bad emotions over Kosovo. We made a noise, demonstrated our by no means "Nordic" character, lost, as was to have been expected, the friendship of the Serbs that overthrew Milosevic, and quickly forgot both about Serbia and our friends, who had been a continuous presence on the screens and who are now awaiting sentence or arrest. Had it not been for Putin's decision to associate with the anti-terrorist coalition at odds with the public mood, our attitude toward the Afghan campaign would have developed in the same way. We recall the emphatic statement of the minister of defense that there would be no American forces on the territory of the CIS, similar to Yeltsin's statement that he would not permit a war with Yugoslavia. If you yourself have not changed, your reactions to events of the same type will not change either. Common sense suggests that impotent hysteria does no good but you cannot help yourself going into hysterics once again.
Just as a person's behavior toward other people is determined by the sort of person he is, so also foreign policy and its "style" are determined by the nature of the state and society. Perhaps we are getting a little better. The reaction to the Kosovo crisis was more hysterical than to the Iraq crisis. But how much was a manifestation of a change in the mentality of society, and how much, merely differences in the mentality of the presidents, it is hard to say. It is clear, in any event, that we still have a long way to go to mental health.