Mankind consists of nations, and many members of every nation often see nations through their own “national glass,” usually unfavorable to those other nations. At least three nations in the 20th century lived in countries (Russia, Germany, and China) whose totalitarian rulers committed horrible mass crimes, and members of other nations see these nations themselves as guilty.
Freedom from national prejudices is so rare and refreshing that below I publish a note by an American — a reader of mine named Andrew Rady — who understands that Russians in general cannot be blamed for what Stalin (incidentally, a Georgian) did in Russia.
Here is his e-mail:
This letter [below] is written by a business associate of mine [David E. Baskett] that has worked in Russia and has been involved in Russian-American ventures. Please read it, and I am sending it for your references. I am forwarding it here below.
Thoughts on Russia
27 Aug 08
Full Disclosure: I am a former military and civilian cold warrior who spent more than 20 years in uniformed fulltime active, enmity against the “Evil Empire.” During that time I was shot at with and my fellow soldiers were killed by Soviet weapons. For about the same amount of time I have been actively engaged in business with the Russian geographical center and some of the “liberal” countries that spun off during the breakup of the USSR.
I was in Siberia when much of the Russian empire crumbled.
I hold the view that Russia is the second most important country in the world, and in the words of my then Kazakh country manager in which was then Alma-Ata: “unless the US and Russia cooperate, we will both be devoured by the Chinese.”
Let me intervene here. This does not mean that the “national character” of Chinese is inferior to that of Russians or Americans. Those who were to be called Americans came into a vast sparsely populated continent, and their freedom could develop unabridged. Hence the “national character” of David Baskett, so gentle and generous to Russia. On the other hand, the Chinese have been living in a huge cage, as did the Russians under Stalin, who died in 1953. Baskett continues:
When Russia broke up the Warsaw Pact, which was aimed at NATO, and asked to join the West, we expanded (a no longer needed) NATO to the edges of a country that had lost more than 20 million citizens owing to countries which are now in NATO.
In showing good faith, Russian scientists eagerly shared some very advanced space nuclear technology where they were five years ahead of us. We seized the model after it arrived in the US and refused to return it under our US export rules.
When Russian pilots gave our military pilots rides in their fully equal and in some cases better jet fighters, our pilots were ordered not to return the favor.
Our SALT inspections in Russia were given broad liberty well beyond the agreement. Russian SALT inspectors are held to the smallest comma.
We bombed their Orthodox and cultural friends, the Serbs, during their holiest week, while supporting Muslims.
The Space Station is not a tomb for our astronauts because Russia kept them alive when our Space Shuttle burned up.
Russia publicly begged us to not install AA-ABM missiles on their border and offered to jointly develop an ABM defense against the Iranian threat. They were rejected.
When Kosovo declared independence this year, the Russians begged us not to encourage it. The US was the first country to declare recognition of the new Muslim country.
Today, Russian rocket engineers here in the US to help launch US spacecraft equipped with Russian engines, are treated in ways that are demeaning.
Dual standards cause both individual and national grief. We honor President Lincoln, partly because he treated the defeated Confederate officers with honor and respect.
Thirty years ago a professor of political history told some young US Army officers that if Russia were a free democratic and capitalist country (which it is becoming) there would still be competition and points of friction due to history and geography.
It was two native Georgians, Stalin and Beria, who slaughtered many, many millions of Russians. The areas in the Georgian conflict, culturally Russian, are trying to exercise self-determination and prefer to be part of Russia.
Russia has never sent its armies to kill Americans and went to greater lengths than us to avoid an accidental nuclear war.
Militant Muslims, a shared enemy, have declared war on both the US and Russia and we have both lost blood to their terrorists.
I think Russia is choosing renewed self-respect over being liked.
David E. Baskett
US Army (ret)
Again let me intervene. “Militant Muslims” are what they are because they have been living in political cages as the Iraqis have been.
Americans George H. Bush and George Bush were after the Iraqi oil. They failed, and they demonstrated that Americans can be as greedy yet stupid as representatives of any other nation, and Mr. Baskett’s Kazakh manager is absolutely right when saying that unless the U.S. and Russia cooperate they will both be devoured by the Chinese; that is, they will both become insiders of the Chinese world cage.
You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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