The ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Trump can certainly compete with Hollywood’s most successful drama or comedy shows. However, when we deal with national security issues one expects the actors, in this case members of Congress and witnesses, to tell the truth. In this case, some do, but some regrettably do not. The whole picture, said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, looks like a “Soviet-style” event.
As someone who grew up in the Soviet Union, I tend to agree with Mr. Scalise. When I listen to Adam B. Schiff and Co. they indeed remind me of Soviet apparatchiks who knew they were telling lies, contemptuous of the fact that their hearers didn’t believe a single word they said. These were the unspoken rules everyone had to accept – or else. But for God’s sake, we are in America, aren’t we?
When Ukraine and all other Soviet republics, including Russia, became independent states, I organized with the help of Paul Weyrich, the late leader of the Free Congress Foundation, a trilateral meeting on Capitol Hill of legislators from the U.S. Congress, Russia’s Duma and Ukraine’s Rada.
The goal was to discuss what the US was prepared to do to help Russia and Ukraine in their difficult transition from communism to democracy.
Rep. Tom Lantos of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who chaired this meeting, said that had Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev told us in 1989 that he was prepared to dissolve the USSR and the Warsaw Pact – and requested $1 trillion to do it – Congress would most likely agree to authorize $100 billion annually for 10 years.
As it turned out, Gorby and his successor, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, did it by themselves. So why spend US taxpayers’ money when the job is already being done? “You are on your own, guys,” Mr. Lantos said.
If that message sounded cynical, well, politics always is. But it was also a bit misleading because the US did not leave Russia and Ukraine alone.
The story of how the Clinton administration helped destroy the Russian economy is described in some detail in a US congressional report titled “Russia’s Road to Corruption: How the Clinton Administration Exported Government Instead of Free Enterprise and Failed the Russian People.” The report outlines in detail why America, which was very popular in Russia in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, is now regarded by Russians as one of the most unfriendly countries.
As for Ukraine, billions of American tax dollars were and still are readily
available, but for a different purpose. It was Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary
of state for European affairs, who said: “The United States has supported
Ukraine’s European aspirations. … We have invested over $5 billion
to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous
and democratic Ukraine.”
Others say the purpose is to drive a wedge between Russia and Ukraine by breaking centuries-old family, religious and economic ties between the Slavic nations.
How all this corresponds to Western or in broader terms Judeo-Christian values is hard to explain.
Former senior CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, who was responsible for daily briefings on the USSR for President Reagan and knows the region well, reminds us that Mr. Putin made it immediately clear that Ms. Nuland’s choice for Ukraine’s post-coup d’etat pro-NATO government in 2014 and U.S.-NATO plans to deploy anti-ballistic missile systems around Russia’s periphery and in the Black Sea were the prime motivating forces behind returning Crimea to Russia.
I’d like to remind that it was Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev who transferred Crimea from Russia to Ukraine in 1954, emulating 19th century monarchs who at their pleasure shifted real estate together with its people from one noble house to another, no questions asked.
Those familiar with the history of this region know that America was on the Russian side against the Ottoman, British and French empires during the 1853-1856 Crimean War.
Mr. McGovern is right when he says that no one with a rudimentary knowledge of Russian history should have been surprised that Moscow would take no chances of letting NATO grab Crimea and Russia’s only warm-water naval base.
Space does not allow mentioning all of the inconsistencies and outright lies presented by impeachment witnesses, but the statement by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent deserves the top prize. Mr. Kent went so far as to draw analogies between the American Revolution and the 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine. According to him, Ukrainian battalions are equivalent to American Minutemen in 1776 fighting for independence from the British Empire.
It looks like Mr. Kent missed the recent letter from 40 members of Congress,
including Rep. Eliot L. Engel, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, to his boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, describing the
neo-Nazi Ukrainian Azov Battalion as a terrorist organization.
Do not look for logic here because the hatred of Mr. Trump made his enemies’ behavior irrational.
Despite its pandemic corruption, Ukraine is now pronounced to be vital to the security of the United States and is being used as a pawn by Democrats and the swamp in attempts to orchestrate another coup – this time to overthrow the president of United States.
I and many other Americans believe that security of the US, and for that matter Ukraine or any other European country, would be much better served if we rethought American foreign policy and accepted the sad fact that under Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama it was a total disaster and imposed huge human and material costs on America and the world.
I agree with President Trump that “getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.” Since 63 million Americans voted for him, I assume that many of them share his opinion.
In fact, polls show that close to 60% of Americans think the same way, which means that not only “deplorables” understand what is best for their country. This is despite 24/7 anti-Russia hysteria in the fake news media and Congress, whose approval ratings are below 20% versus 80% disapproval.
In this political atmosphere, anyone who calls for resumption of U.S.-Russian dialogue is labeled as Mr. Putin’s bootlicker or useful idiot at best. It was French President Macron who pronounced NATO’s brain to be dead and has come up with some ideas on how to avoid, in the words of former Sen. Sam Nunn and many other serious analysts, the process of “sleepwalking into nuclear catastrophe.”
Will Washington listen? Chances are not good, but what is the alternative?
Edward Lozansky is president of the American University in Moscow. Reprinted from the Washington Times with permission from the author.