“Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Writing for the Carnegie Endowment in Foreign Affairs, Russian Dmitri Trenin shows that Russian pride comes before Russian truth, if such a thing can be said to exist at all. Trenin can hardly conceal his glee that Russia is thumbing its nose out the outside world: “The United States and Europe can protest this change in Russia’s foreign policy all they want, but it will not make any difference. They must recognize that the terms of Western-Russian interaction, conceptualized at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse 15 years ago and more or less unchanged since, have shifted fundamentally. The old paradigm is lost, and it is time to start looking for a new one.” You can almost feel the Russian pride coursing through Mr. Trenin’s patriotic veins as he thinks about being able to thumb his nose at the world yet again, subjugate helpless smaller countries and strike fear into the heart of thousands, even if the price is another century of Neo-Soviet mistery for the mass population following by the implosion of the country. How different are Mr. Trenin’s remarks from those of his Soviet forebears? Not in the slightest do they differ.
A typical Russian, he is unwilling to require the Russian people to be accountable for their actions (peruse his lengthy diatribe and try to find a single word ascribing and kind of blame to them), and only to willing to blame others: “The West deserves some of the blame for the shift in Russian foreign policy.” Really, Mr. Trenin? If only the West hadn’t erred, Russians wouldn’t have elected a proud KGB spy as their second president in history? They wouldn’t have allowed him to obliterate local government, destroy indepedent television and revive the Soviet National Anthem? They would have stood up and opposed his outrageous war in Chechnya just the way Americans oppose President Bush’s war in Iraq? It’s quite amazing that Russians still think they can get away with this kind of nonsense, that they can still get so drunk on tiny accomplishments like the rising price of oil that they imagine they can take over the world. Cold War I destroyed the USSR when it had twice America’s population and a roughly comparable economy; what will Cold War II do to Russia, with half America’s population and 1/10th its economy? Mr. Trenin doesn’t seem to care.
Another vivid example comes in the Russian Dilletante’s response to my comment about Russian complicity in the criminal acts committed by Belarus. Here is what RD writes:
It shows that you’re a Russophobe. When it comes to politics, most Russians are little kids. They have not had the kind of schooling and experience that Americans and most Europeans have. The Russians’ political idiocy can be infuriating but it is not their fault. Most Russians are too busy earning their living to find out the truth about Lukashenko. They hear that education and health care are good and free in Belarus (while Putin is working to make both inaccessible to millions) and that alone is enough for them to give Lukashenko their support. The West has so far failed to produce a counterexample: Ukraine, for instance, is still a mess.
Sound familar? Poor, helpless, innocent little Russians are not to blame for anything, only the cruel overlords they freely elect and blithely fail to supervise or even criticize. How long have Russians been justifying their failure on this basis? For how many centuries have they been refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions, even while pointing an accusatory finger at other nations? And more importantly, how long can they continue doing so until they are utterly destroyed?
Your guess is as good as LR’s, gentle reader.