Blowback From Moscow
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Our next president will likely face a
Russia led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, determined to stand
up to a West that Russians believe played them for fools when
they sought to be friends.
Americans who think Putin has never been
anything but a KGB thug will reject accusations of any U.S. role
in causing the ruination of relations between us.
Yet the hubris of Bill Clinton and George
Bush I, and the Russophobia of those they brought with them into
power, has been a primary cause of the ruptured relationship.
And the folly of what they did is evident today, as Putin's party,
United Russia, rolls to triumph on a torrent of abuse and invective
against the West.
Entering the campaign's final week, Putin,
addressing a rally of 5,000, ripped the Other Russia coalition
led by chess champion Gary Kasparov as poodles of the United States,
"who sponge off foreign embassies ... and who count on the
support of foreign resources and governments, and not of their
"Those who oppose us," roared
Putin, "don't want our plans to be completed. They have completely
different tasks and a completely different view of Russia. They
need a weak, sick state, a disoriented, divided society, so that
behind its back they can get up to their dirty deeds and profit
at your and my expense."
Putin is referring to the time of the
"oligarchs" of the Yeltsin era, who looted Russia when
its state assets were sold off at fire-sale prices.
Putin is also accusing his opponents of
attempting to use the Western-devised tactics of mass street protests
to bring down his government. "Now that they have learned
some things from Western specialists and tried them in the neighboring
republics, they are going to try them on our streets."
Putin is talking here about the "color-coded"
revolutions that the U.S. and NATO embassies, the National Endowment
for Democracy, and allied foundations and front groups engineered
in Ukraine and Georgia. Governments tilting toward Moscow were
dumped over and pro-Western regimes installed - to bid for membership
in NATO and the European Union.
Blowback is a term broadly used in espionage
to describe the unintended consequences of covert operations.
The revolution that brought the Ayatollah to power is said to
be blowback for the U.S.-engineered coup to overthrow Mossadegh
in 1953 and install the Shah.
The nationalism and anti-Americanism rife
in Putin's Russia is blowback for our contemptuous disregard of
Russian sensibilities and our arrogant intrusions into Russia's
space. How did we lose a Russia that Ronald Reagan and Bush I
had virtually converted into an ally?
We pushed NATO into Moscow's face, bringing
six ex-Warsaw Pact nations and three ex-Soviet republics - Lithuania,
Latvia and Estonia - into our Cold War alliance and plotted to
bring in Ukraine and Georgia.
We financed a pipeline from Baku through
Georgia to the Black Sea to cut Russia out of the Caspian oil
trade. After getting Moscow's permission to use old Soviet bases
in Central Asia to invade Afghanistan, we set about making the
bases permanent. We pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty
over Moscow's objection, then announced plans to plant ABM radars
in the Czech Republic and anti-missile missiles in Poland.
Putin has now responded in kind, and who
can blame him?
As we tried to cut him out of the Azerbaijan
oil with a Black Sea pipeline, he is slashing subsidies on Ukraine's
oil and colluding with Germany on a Baltic Sea pipeline to cut
Poland out of the oil trade with Western Europe.
As we moved our alliance and bases into
his front and back yard, he has entered a quasi-alliance with
China and four nations of Central Asia to expel U.S. military
power from the region.
As we abandoned the ABM Treaty, the Duma,
in November, voted 418 to 0 to suspend participation in the Conventional
Forces in Europe Treaty, which restricts the size of the Russian
army west of the Urals.
If we recognize Kosovo as independent,
at the expense of Serbia, Putin is now threatening to recognize
South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the breakaway republics of Georgia
and Transdneister, claimed by Moldova.
Where we backed the Orange Revolution
in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia, Russia backs its
favorites in Kiev and supports street protests in Tbilisi against
the pro-American regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, whom the United
States now seems powerless to help.
It was not NATO that liberated Eastern
Europe. Moscow did - by pulling out the Red Army after half a
century. Why, then, did we think moving NATO into Eastern Europe
was a surer guarantee of their continued independence than the
goodwill of Russia?
Many among our foreign policy elite now
talk of a Second Cold War. John McCain wants Russia kicked out
of the G-8.
But do we not have enough enemies already
that we should add the largest nation on earth?