Russian actions may also reflect American tendencies

Russian actions may also reflect American tendencies

Letter to the Editor,

Imagine in another version of modern history that Russia built a military alliance with Cuba, then one by one with Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Brazil and most Caribbean countries. Mexico then joined. Finally, after much hesitation and political turmoil, Canada joined Russia’s military alliance. In a moment of American political crisis, Texas and several other southern states seceded from the Union, then made overtures to join Russia’s military alliance. That means “enemy” military bases and machines of war on America’s borders in territory once thought of as American.

Where the parallel of this inverse world ends is America did not experience an invasion. World War II is still in the memory of elderly Russian citizens; some 20 million Russians were killed on home turf. Casualties included women and children, many of whom — left in emptied, besieged cities — locked arms and ran into machine gun fire. The invaders were neighbors who seemingly wanted to destroy Russian civilization.

Finland, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria allied with Germany’s Third Reich, partly because of their own concerns about Russia’s behemoth power. (This is a close parallel to the power disparities between U.S. and Latin American states historically and today.)

Memories of the Western invasion remain in Russia while people in states adjacent to Russia recall periods of heavy-handedness.

Some Russians look on post-Cold War, American-backed invasions of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan — and indirect interventions elsewhere — as evidence America is willing to traverse the globe up to and across others’ borders, bringing a foreign cultural, economic and political order. Not that any people across the globe have it all together — they share with us historic episodes of internal violence — but America’s record for respecting the sovereignty of troubled and peacetime states alike, let alone stabilizing invaded states, is not exemplary.

Tit-for-tat threats have triggered a desperate militarized confrontation at least in part because Russians again feel provoked by Western states, which are bringing Russia’s neighbors into a counterpoised military alliance. The West’s response to Russian panic has been more threats. Now people suffer. Certainly, no easy answers exist when large global powers such as Russia, China or the U.S. want influence in smaller neighboring states. Answers are further complicated by the covert economic-political interests of global elites leading the action, who could move toward ending the suffering by humbly considering all sides.

All American citizens can ponder how the actions we resent about Russia or other powers also may be American tendencies — for example, a monopoly on the moral prerogative to invade other states or a sense of exceptional cultural blessedness. We also can access news from other countries for perspective and soften opinions about complicated situations across the globe. Perhaps we will discover how some of the concerns we voice internally about this country are concerns the global population also shares about America. May peace come quickly to all areas of conflict.

Cory Anderson


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