Misconceptions about Russia

The main misconception is the idea that the Russians are somehow responsible for the misdeeds of the Soviet Union. For example Carl Gershman, a leading neocon puts it this way: “Former Soviet states stand up to Russia. Will the U.S.?” The implication here is that Russia stands for the Soviet Union.

Zbigniew Brzezinski writes: “Russia, until recently the forger of a great territorial empire and the leader of an ideological bloc“. [emphasis added] 1 Well, no. Two thirds of the Bolshevik leadership were non-Russians. “When Lenin and Dzerzhinsky first established the Cheka they recruited widely among Poles, Letts, Jews and other non-Russians among the Soviet population.” 2 Lenin had mixed ancestry. Dzerzhinsky was a Pole. Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin born Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili was a Georgian. “Only once before had he spoken on the radio, and listeners were startled to hear the harsh Georgian accent he had never been able to shake off.” 3 “The meeting of the Politbureau began by Stalin reading out the agenda. After that he often talked for hours with Beria in Georgian. Nobody understood what they were saying. Then he announced in Russian the resolution to be adopted. Everybody agreed. End of meeting.” 4 So why do we not blame the Georgians for all the crimes of the Stalinist era?

Jews were particularly active among the Bolsheviks. The founder of Marxism was Jewish. Four of the seven members of Lenin’s politbureau were Jews. 5 The communist parties of Poland and Hungary that Stalin imposed upon the respective countries after WWII were almost exclusively Jewish. 6 In the context of the Ukrainian crisis there are sometimes attempts to blame the Russians for the holodomor (Ukrainian famine) in 1932 – 1933. But the chief architect of this horror was Stalin’s henchman Lazar Kaganovich, a Jew. There are of course reasons why many Jews became radicalized. More importantly not all Jews were Bolsheviks. It would not be acceptable to blame the Jews for the crimes of communism. But why is it acceptable to blame the Russians? The Russians suffered under communism just like everyone else.

Both Marx and Engels were Germans and fiercely anti-Russian. The German General Staff transported Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders from Switzerland to Petrograd in a sealed railroad car in order to disrupt the Russian war effort. The Bolshevik revolution can be plausibly construed as an anti-Russian uprising.

It was the Russian Khruschev who exposed Stalin’s crimes and ushered a period of relative democracy. It was the Russian Gorbachev who dismantled communism. It was the Russian Yeltsin who dissolved the Soviet Union.

Brzezinski further asserts that the Soviet Union was “Russian-dominated”. 7) I do not know if he is so self-deluded or if he is deliberately misleading his readership. The Soviet Union was not a Russian empire, it was not based on any ideology of Russian supremacy. The peripheral republics were better supplied with consumer goods than Russia. Brzezinski does not explain how exactly Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Ethiopia etc. became Russian dominated. Hint: It has nothing to do with Russian domination and everything to do with the communist ideology.

The only reason for the Cold War with the Soviet Union was its communist ideology. NATO even has the defense of the free market as one of its objectives [it is silly]. But today Russia does have a free market. You could argue that Russia is more capitalistic than the U.S. as Russia has had a flat tax since 2001. In any case Russia is not waging any crusade against capitalism, and is not sponsoring any Marxist insurgents anywhere. Yet the Cold War must go on. Although we were locked in a life and death struggle against communism since WWII it has been suddenly forgotten. We are in effect told that it has been a struggle against the Russian Empire all along. For example that is the position taken by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard. It is all about empires. The word ‘Marx’ or ‘Marxist’ does not even appear in the index. Instead you will find the following nonsensical sentence: “as a consequence of of the Soviet Union disintegration, Russia’s frontiers had been altered most painfully” Actually the disintegration of the Soviet Union did not alter Russia’s boundaries.

Former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Robert Gates says in his recently published memoir: “When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, [Defense Secretary Dick Cheney] wanted to see the dismemberment not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world.” So that is the objective. It is obvious that whoever is the President of Russia will be demonized. The idea is to encircle and isolate Russia, and to surround it with radar stations. They are pursuing the same policy towards China. Yet on March 9 President Obama called the Chinese President Xi Jinping and ordered him to isolate Russia. The White House is not saying much how it went.

Another major misconception is that we “won” the Cold war. The truth is that communism had run its course and spent itself. The utopian paradise on earth it promised did not materialize even after seventy years, and it eventually sank in. There were dissidents, including Russians such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He must be turning in his grave seeing what the Americans are doing to his country! How did we win the Cold war anyway? We outspent Russia on military equipment! There are about 150 countries around the globe all of which spent less on the military than the U.S., but the regimes are not collapsing. We have not won anything. In fact we lost the decisive battle – the Vietnam war. And where are the Vietnam War peaceniks now? They think they are the ones who defeated the Soviet Union! Now they just need to finish the Russians off. If any external factor caused the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union it was China, more precisely the split between the USSR and China. (The Chinese communists were expected to follow orders from Moscow and failed to do so.) Communism was no longer a monolith, it became apparent that it does not automatically result in brotherhood between nations; in fact, two nominally communist countries could be deadly enemies – end of utopia.

1Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, BasicBooks, 1997, p. 96

2Tolstoy, Stalin’s Secret War, Expose of his crimes against the Russian people, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1981, p. 62

3Tolstoy, p. 237

4Tolstoy, p. 29

5Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique, Preager, 1998, p. 95

6MacDonald, p. 99

7Brzezinski, p. 89

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