May 14, 2003
THE WRATH AND MERCY OF GEORGE W. BUSH
What has Russia really gained from supporting the United States?
Author: Anatol Lieven, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
AS A RESULT OF THE US VICTORY IN IRAQ, WE ARE ENTERING A PERIOD OF PRACTICALLY UNLIMITED US HEGEMONY; OTHER NATIONS WILL FOLLOW IN BRITAIN'S FOOTSTEPS AND GO ALONG WITH THE US. AFTER THAT, THE RUSSIAN- FRENCH-GERMAN COALITION WILL SPLIT.
I'm sure that Russia has derived little benefit from its so- called new partnership with the US. Some representatives of the incumbent administration and their supporters confirm this in private conversation. In this regard, the question of what Russia stood to lose in the event of an isolated incident of "misbehavior" during the Iraq conflict is very appropriate. Would Russia have lost anything?
In my opinion, it wouldn't.
Firstly, there is a sound assumption that unless the Americans go completely mad, they will in no way support Chechen separatism. The point is that if they venture to do this they would create a safe harbor for international terrorism. Regardless of the fact that that some Americans dislike Russia, they will not encourage international terrorism.
As far as other dividends of partnership with the US are concerned, I find it difficult to point out any at all. The Jackson- Vanik amendment has not been repealed. Have you seen a stream of US investment in the Russian economy? No, you haven't. Will the US invest in the Russian oil industry? No, it won't, as long as the US is using Iraq as an economic colony.
On the other hand, signals coming from Washington testify that the US dos not intend to punish Russia for its position regarding Iraq. France angers Washington more than Russia. Even in sectors and issues where Moscow and Washington encounter serious differences (for instance, the possibility of unleashing a war on Iraq) the US first tries to reach an agreement with Russia.
The entire history of the US-Russian relations since the end of the Cold war testifies that Russia does not receive anything for its unconditional approval of the US policy. In other words, Russia's foreign policy must boil down to defending its national interests and international principles and standards, which Russia considers as being most important - only in this case it will make sense.
As far as the Russian-French-German coalition is concerned, it's not clear what the outcome will be. It is also evident that owing to its unique nature and logic it is very difficult for the European Union to make economic and visa concessions to Russia. The European Union is based on concord between all member-nations, and it will become more difficult for the EU to make concessions when pathologically anti-Russian nations such as the Baltic States join it. Nevertheless, we should bear three things in mind. Firstly, the EU is more important for Russia than the US from the economic point of view. Potentially, France and Germany might become a very important source of investment in the Russian economy.
Secondly, as a result of the US victory in Iraq, we are entering a period of practically unlimited US hegemony; other nations will follow in Britain's footsteps and go along with the US. After that, the Russian-French-German coalition will split. Thirdly, it is not ruled out that the US will go too far in Middle East. If this happens, it will stir up public opinion in Europe, and incumbent pro-American governments (in particular, Tony Blair's and Silvio Berlusconi's Cabinets) will fall. This, in turn, will result in a more united Western Europe. This scenario will become more probable if the US strikes at Syria or Iran, or if Washington does not let the UN take part in the restoration of Iraq.
(Translated by Alexander Dubovoi)