At the dawn of the Obama administration, the mission of U. S.-Russian relations was characterized by “reset”, even to the point of a silly reset button visual aid presented to Russian leadership by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What reset means to the Russians was described by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as “to move beyond Cold War mentalities and chart a fresh start in relations between the two countries”. One of my problems with all of this reset talk has been that we have never really told the truth about the Cold War or the relative ideological positions of its major antagonists, nor has there been the transparency of a “truth commission” to introduce the full reality of the failed Soviet regime to the Russian people. On the other hand, we have heard former Russian President Putin describe the collapse of the Soviet empire as “the greatest political catastrophe of the 20th century”, and we have witnessed aggression on the part of the Russians that could serve no purpose other than to restore their hegemony over the sovereign states that once constituted this empire. Reset? Whose Cold War mentalities?
In a recent issue of “Cato’s Letter”, former Soviet political dissident and author Vladimir Bukovsky has some interesting things to say, such as: “The Cold War was a confrontation between liberal democracy and totalitarian socialism. It was an ideological battle, a war of ideas. And a war we never won. We never even fought it…………..Because we didn’t win it, it isn’t over. To do it we need a Nuremburg trial, but not a trial of people; it isn’t about judging individuals, it’s about judging the system.”
Bukovsky spent considerable time and effort trying to persuade the Yeltsin government to conduct such a trial, to no avail. Why not? Yeltsin was under tremendous pressure not to do so, mainly from the West, as he reports, as a result of the deep collaboration between left-wing parties in the West and the former Soviet Union. This extended to the leadership of the movement for the European Union, which believed that the disclosure of the total failure of the socialist experiment in Russia would discredit the left in Europe. It is painful to note that Bukovsky believes, with some credibility since much of it is well documented, that the U. S. was complicit in supporting the Soviet Union in its attempt to prevent the breakup of its empire.
This is useful perspective from one who witnessed this monumental transformation from the inside out. Now think back to President Obama’s Russian summit of July 2009. In her reporting on the meetings, Liz Cheney described them primarily in terms of a comparison of two different versions of the end of the Cold War–the Russian version and the truth–with President Obama endorsing the Russian version. In characterizing the conflict, Obama couched the confrontation in terms better suited for an athletic, business, or scientific competition, implying a moral equivalency between the two systems that belies the worldwide battle between freedom and tyranny that was actually the case.
The point is this: if by “reset” the Obama administration has in mind some form of revisionism of the history of the ideological conflict that was the Cold War that implies any moral equivalency between the two systems, as it evidently does, or if there is any intention to have another generation of young Russians be sheltered from the truth about that conflict and the evil Soviet regime that waged it, the American people, who financed and won a hard-fought 46-year war, should completely reject this aspect of U. S. foreign policy and those who implement it.