#14 - JRL 8454 - JRL Home
November 16, 2004
"WE MUST AVOID ANY LOSSES WHILE US FOREIGN POLICY TAKES A RADICAL TURN"
MOSCOW (Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs - RIA Novosti) -
The US presidential election campaign once again confirmed the fact that in the United States political technologies rather than political platforms of candidates determine the results of the elections. Bush's and Kerry's platforms did not have many fundamental differences, although, Mr. Bush and his team made a very cunning, wise and far-fetching move proclaiming moral values as one of the key slogans of the election campaign. Along with national security, struggle against terrorism and war in Iraq, they emphasized issues of family policy, homosexual marriages and religious freedom. Mr. Bush managed to convince many Americans, who had previously not shown any interest in politics, to come to the polls and, as a result, gained additional votes that led him to victory during the elections.
The personality factor also played a significant role. I recall a caricature in an American newspaper that I saw shortly before the Election Day. It showed two counters at a paint store. Mr. Bush was behind the first counter selling black and white paints. Mr. Kerry was behind the second counter selling only gray paint. I thought it was a rather clever description of the two candidates - none of them had a colorful palette either for the United States or for the world community, although a more radical and categorical Mr. Bush managed to convince the electorate that he could offer them a better variety of colors.
According to George Bush, the United States are currently at war with international terrorism. We all know that throughout the entire history of US elections an incumbent US president always won when the country was at war, and current elections had little chance to become an exception. Economic issues appeared to be less important for the Americans than the issues of security. It was the second topic that assured Mr. Bush's victory. Besides, JohnKerry did not appear to have a charismatic personality, and the campaign acquired more of a "Bush against Bush" character rather than the "Kerry against Bush" one. To a certain extent, it seemed to be a one-candidate campaign. Prognoses of American analysts were focused on Bush: any large-scale terrorist act on American soil on the eve of elections would favor Mr. Bush, but any such terrorist act on Iraqi territory would have a negative impact on his campaign. Nobody even tried to analyze what would work for or against Kerry. Bush has also won to due to Democrats' mistakes. It is quite obvious that the Democratic Party is currently facing a serious crisis: their usual political caution and political correctness cannot compete with black and white colors from the caricature against the background of swiftly changing political situation in the United States and the world.
Such developments on the US political scene cannot but cause concern, though, because the Republicans might interpret their victory during the elections as a mandate for more pronounced radicalism in the US foreign policy. Bush's second-term foreign policy, at least in the near future, will, most probably, be more radical than in the past four years.
How might it affect relations between Russia and the United States? Good personal relations between Mr. Putin and Mr. Bush, as well as favorable political relations between our two countries gives us hope that the positive tendencies developed over the four previous years will continue. Still, I do not think that Kerry's victory would bring a serious deterioration in bilateral relations. We could have seen slight nuances, but in general, they would have developed along the same fundamental path. We have to consider, though, the fact that recently Mr. Bush has been showing his particularly favorable attitude towards Russia. For instance, he personally visited the Russian Embassy in order to extend his condolences during the Beslan tragedy. It was not simply a human gesture, but also an important political move because the diplomatic protocol did not require him to do so and everybody knew that.
Another positive sign is a statement made by US State Secretary Colin Powell at the end of October in response to President Putin's support of the Republican candidate. Mr. Powell said that the current political processes in Russia (in particular the reform of the political system) develop in accordance with democratic principles and, despite a few nuances, go in the right direction.
Even if Mr. Powell leaves the post of State Secretary, the Republicans will most probably stick to this position. It will become a restraining factor in our relations and will help Russia and the United States to live through the first months of Bush's second term in office, which are going to be the most dangerous in terms of radical changes in the US foreign policy, without any significant losses.
Probably, these changes will be reflected in some other areas, but definitely not in the US-Russian relations. In that sense, Bush's victory is more favorable for Russia than the victory of an almost unfamiliar to us candidate Kerry.