Friday, October 21, 2016
Is Free World Finally Seeing Russia as Evil Empire?
It’s been 33 years since President Ronald Reagan branded the Soviet Union – a euphemism for Russia – as the evil empire. His historic observation about Russian imperialism can be compared with Winston Churchill’s speech on March 5, 1946, in which he stated that an iron curtain has descended over Europe as a result of Moscow’s plans for global domination.
President Reagan, in his address on March 8, 1983, to the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, FL, presented his succinct portrayal of the Soviet Russia, stating: “Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness—pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.”
Reagan, a highly regarded champion of independence for Ukraine and the other captive nations and an anti-communist, also said: “I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”
For decades since the end of World War Two the freedom fighters of the captive nations had sought to convince the free world that the end of war will not quell Russia’s passion for aggression. Hitler’s quest to dominate the world was quashed by a united effort but, sadly, Russia continued and continues to pursue its relentless imperial pursuit of global subjugation with impunity.
Russia meticulously absorbed Eastern European nations into its empire while the free world watched with disbelief and merely restrained criticism. There were few noteworthy attempts to raise awareness about Russia’s global threat along the lines of the Captive Nations Week Resolution or Public Law 86-90 of 1959. However, nothing seemed to be able to halt Russian expansion. The US Congress countered Russia’s human rights violations with proclamations and denunciations but Moscow’s arrests and imprisonments of activists persisted.
During the 2012 Presidential Election Campaign GOP candidate Mitt Romney reminded us that “Russia is our number one geopolitical foe” but that admonition did not elicit the type of reaction from free world leaders that would force reforms in the Kremlin.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2014, two weeks after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics, caught world capitals by surprise and wondering how to bring about an end to the latest European war. Should they force Ukraine to submit to Russia’s demands? The United States and free world allies instituted punitive sanctions against Moscow but stopped short of sending lethal weapons to Ukraine that would help it subdue and expel Russian soldiers and terrorists back to Russia.
Russia continued its war against Ukraine while the free world failed to make a solid united stand against Moscow’s persistent attempts to resurrect the imperial glory of Russia. Russia’s political and business leaders were still being welcomed by their counterparts around the world.
And then the world was shocked to its core by Russia’s brutal bombardment of Aleppo that according to TV accounts will wipe the city and its residents off the face of the earth.
World leaders, having endured enough the gruesome photographs of children decimated by Russia’s bombardment, have finally condemned Russia with words that haven’t been used against Moscow in decades. Secretary of State John Kerry and others, expressing their exasperation with Russia’s continuous lies and violence, have called Russia’s heartless shelling of Syrian towns a war crime and called for an investigation in Russia’s latest aggression. Their aggravation was compounded by intelligence reports that Moscow ordered damaging hacking attacks of the United States.
The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May, assessing the shelling of Aleppo, posed a solution to Russian aggression that shouldn’t be belittled by her colleagues. May castigated Russia for its merciless shelling, saying EU countries must work together and put pressure on Russia to stop its “appalling atrocities, its sickening atrocities” in Syria, which, according to the Financial Times, raise the prospect of further sanctions against Moscow.
Condemning Russia for destroying Aleppo and killing its residents, May said on the eve of an EU summit Russia’s aggression showed the need for the UK and the EU to show a “robust and united European stance.”
May’s remarks came as a Russian naval taskforce, including the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, was being shadowed by the Royal Navy as it headed toward the eastern Mediterranean and on to Syria presumably to bolster Moscow’s aerial bombing of Aleppo.
The significant point is that a major European political leader understands the global threat posed by Russia and has wisely called for a needed united European stance to halt its devastating bombardment. Russia’s violence in Syria is not different than its belligerence against Ukraine and European leaders would do well to consider including Russia’s war versus Ukraine in their condemnation. A united European stand against Russia on both counts would be a positive, fresh step to overcome Moscow and return peace and stability to the region.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin alluded to such a unified tendency in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Ahead of talks on Ukraine and a summit of European leaders, he and other Ukrainian officials said last week they believe there is increasing support in Europe for a harder line approach to Russia. Klimkin said frustration with Russian actions in Syria has helped convince European leaders that Moscow has been following similar approaches in Ukraine and Syria.
“Syria and Ukraine are two separate tracks, they don’t directly overlap,” Klimkin said. “But in the sense of understanding the whole picture of course there is a kind of cross influence.”
“Let’s stop shelling, let's pull back heavy weaponry, let’s give the OSCE missions the possibility for the access the whole territory of Donbas,” he continued. “The Russian regular troops should be out and the OSCE should be in.”
In the wake of Russia’s bombardment of Aleppo, I have discovered similar epiphanies among pundits and politicians.
Among them, Eli Lake wrote in Bloomberg News that the world would not be better if Russia and the US were friends. Calling Russia a pariah, Lake accused it of regularly poisoning global relations.
“But as Secretary of State John Kerry has learned in his fruitless engagements, Russian promises are worthless. Everyone in U.S. politics, with the exception of Donald Trump and a few other extremists on the left and right, understands this. Russia is a pariah.
“Pariahs are not asked to cooperate on challenges to the global commons. They shouldn’t get to host events like the World Cup, as Russia is scheduled to do in 2018. They should not be diplomatic partners in U.S. policy to disarm other pariahs like Iran. No, pariahs should be quarantined. With Russia, it’s the very least the U.S. and its allies can do to save the international system from a country that seeks to destroy it,” Lake wrote.
An anonymous US official was quoted by Reuters as admitting that Russia’s Putin is intent on restoring the torn iron curtain and the ill begotten Russian prison of nations.
“The Russians have been engaged in a sustained campaign to recapture what Putin considers their rightful buffer in Eastern Europe, and to undermine not just NATO and the EU, but the entire democratic foundation of both institutions,” said the official who claimed he has studied Russian behavior since before the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
The reason the official requested anonymity is shocking: The White House has ordered officials not to publicly discuss hostile Russian activities.
President Poroshenko also joined the chorus of officials urging the global community not to be naïve about Russia’s intentions. Just as Britain’s May, Poroshenko earnestly presented a case for a united effort to stop Russia. In an op-ed appropriately titled “The End of the Masquerade” in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Poroshenko wrote: “We should finally stop being so naïve with respect to Russia’s true intentions, as we were in 2008 or in 2014-15. It has no desire to end its aggression if we do not stop them together. Fraud and manipulation are only effective if solidarity and foresight are lacking.”
Apparently, Aleppo has become the final straw for the world as it condemns Russia for its wanton belligerence. While Russian aggression and killings in Ukraine and elsewhere predate its Syrian attacks, it is nonetheless vital now for a united front to declare Russia to be a pariah and war criminal, and banish it from the international community until its people emerge from their darkness and force reforms and democratization in the Kremlin.