A Correspondence From Inside Moscow: Why The Russians Seem To Hate America

Recently, I was driving a car towards the center of Moscow, heading out to eat with some friends, and listening to the popular, independent radio station Silver Rain FM.  Between the continuous selection of excellent American musical fare, from Lightnin’ Hopkins to Draft Punk, the DJ told a joke.  “In America, you have your American dream,” he laughed.  “In Russia, our dream is that your dream doesn’t come true.”  And that my friends, sums up the current Russian public’s attitude towards the United States.

Of course, this isn’t everyone in Russia.  Over ten thousand people demonstrated openly in Moscow in March against the Crimean invasion.  However, the opposition has slowly become less effective in garnering support among the electorate.

Where does this anti-Western view come from?  It comes from centuries of mistrust and jealousy of the West.  From the Polish invasions of the Middle Ages, Napoleon, and the Germans, Russians have not had a good experience with their Western neighbors.  This is ingrained in their DNA.  During Soviet times, Russians yearned for the Western lifestyle and all of the comforts they dreamed it would bring, all the while being pummeled with anti-Western propaganda.  After the fall of the Soviet Union and their first experience with freedom and capitalism, Russia suffered a decade of crisis, corruption, and humiliation as their national power and stature were crushed.  Most Americans don’t understand that the Soviet Union lasted only seventy years, a small slice of the Russian Empire which really began in Kiev around the turn of the first millenium.  Russians yearn for the return of their perceived place in the world as a great people and a powerful country, deserving of respect and fear.  They see the West as the aggressor in Ukraine, stirring up opposition to Moscow and encircling Russia with NATO membership for former Soviet republics.

So that brings us to the current crisis.  The Kremlin has been very effective over the last few years stifling opposition and restricting free speech and independent media outlets.  Opposition leaders have been placed in prison or had charges filed against them.  The most popular charge is one of “extremism.”  The main opposition leader in Moscow, Navalny, is currently under house arrest awaiting trial on trumped-up charges, and the West is well aware of the Pussy Riot saga.  Recently, the TV counterpart to Silver Rain Radio, Dosht (Rain) TV, has come under fire by a stealth Kremlin campaign to destroy its revenue base by having cable distributors stop carrying the channel.  The Kremlin has also been shutting down opposition websites in a long campaign to remove any political threat.

The most striking example of the Kremlin propaganda campaign has been the constant, vicious campaign against the West on state television.  Outlandish claims of America and the EU supporting Ukrainian nationalist, neo-nazi elements have been burned into the Russian public’ mind.  Remember, Russia lost twenty million people to the Nazi invasion in the Great Patriotic War, as they call WWII.  Comparisons to Hitler are still very effective in stirring nationalist sentiment in Moscow and the countryside, and the Kremlin knows it.  Another disturbing but expected development is the announcement by the Education Ministry that after the upcoming spring holiday, “educational” materials will be provided to Russian schools to “help Russian children understand” what is happening in Crimea.  All of these tactics are very reminiscent of Soviet times.

At the end of the day however, Russians want desperately to believe they did not invade Crimea but simply are there to protect the ethnic, Russian speaking population.  Normally intellectually honest Russian friends of mine in-country have become zombies regurgitating Kremlin propaganda, and fiercely evangelizing that it’s all America’s fault and we are the aggressor.  They look you in the eye and say that there are no Russian troops in Crimea and that the unmarked gunmen are simply pro Russian militia.  They tell you with a straight face that thousands of ethnic Russians were being killed in Crim (as Russian’s call it), and they had to intervene.  When you mention that on one hand they are saying there are no Russian troops in Crimea, and on the other hand they are saying they had to intervene, they get angry and walk away.  Of course, the argument that the United States has invaded many countries over the last several decades always provides them with a modicum of self-satisfaction.

The Kremlin’s propaganda campaign has been devastatingly effective in shaping Russian public opinion and playing upon Russian psychology.  Putin’s popularity is skyrocketing above seventy percent.  Russians are willingly suspending disbelief and swallowing the Kremlin line because they desperately want to believe what they are being told.  The alternative is too hard to accept.

I had a nice dinner with my friends in Moscow that evening, although the conversation became quite heated at times.  Perhaps the most prescient comment came from a very wise Russian woman at the table who said, “Russians are happy now, but I don’t think they are looking to the future.”  It will be interesting to see how public opinion changes over the next year, as the Russian economy slows and Russian freedom is further restricted.

 

 

L. Todd Wood is a contributor to The Moscow Times.  His thriller novel, “Currency”, deals with overwhelming sovereign debt and national security.  His website is LToddWood.com

Photo credit: World Economic Forum  (Flickr)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Barack Hussein Obama: The Manchurian President

Many who distrust Obama consider themselves birthers, spreading the meme that Obama was born in Kenya and therefore ineligible to be president of the United States.  These people believe that Obama was born overseas, that he is a Jihadist in hiding, and that his agenda is to destroy the power and influence of the United States around the globe.  The mainstream media demonizes these beliefs.  I have, however, always counseled my friends on the left to look at the results of their policies versus how they make them feel.  With the recent events in Syria, Iran, and now Crimea, I believe this advice works when regarding our president as well.  For at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if Obama is a wolf in sheep’s clothing or not; the results are the same.

One does not have to look very far for a long list of examples.  Let’s start with the U.S. economy.  For the first time in many decades, America has the chance to become energy independent.  We now have an estimated 300 years worth of hydrocarbons under our own feet.  We could bolster our national security by exporting this windfall to our allies in Europe and wean them off Russian gas.  If we focused on developing and harvesting this sector, our economy would explode with access to cheap and plentiful energy.  The Obama administration has steadfastly refused to take advantage of this fact.  Even in the face of Russian aggression, we have not heard a word about using energy to contain Putin.  Our healthcare system, commonly known as the best in the world, is being purposefully destroyed before our very eyes.  This is being accomplished by lying to the American people over and over again.  It’s so screwed up that no one even knows what’s going on.

On the national security front, Obama has coined a new phrase, “Leading from behind.”  He has stood aside and abandoned long-term U.S. allies in the Middle East one by one.  Israel can no longer count on the United States to stand with her as she defends herself against an emerging Islamist government tidal wave and terrorist threats emerging from the Arab Spring.  Iran soon will have a nuclear capability, and the administration has been in appease mode for years.

China is threatening its neighbors with air defense zones over contested territory.  A Chinese military official last year threatened to destroy the Japanese economy by attacking their bond market due to Japan’s overwhelming sovereign debt.  They want the Senkaku Islands.  After the U.S. response to Russian actions in Crimea, might they just take them?  What about our friends in Taiwan?  Would you count on Obama to support you in the face of Chinese threats?  The Chinese military is also showing photographs of war games highlighting nuclear missile tracks over American cities.

Ally after ally has been abandoned or humiliated.  Obama returned the bust of Churchill from the Oval Office to the United Kingdom.  I’ve mentioned Israel and Egypt.  Poland and the Czech Republic were shocked when Obama removed anti-missile systems from Europe.  But I’m sure Joe Biden can calm things down with his trip there this week.

NASA has been turned into an agency for Muslim outreach.  Control of the internet is being turned over to the international community and will be open to Chinese and Russian control.  Obama has withdrawn in disgrace from Iraq and now most likely will do the same in Afghanistan.  All of the blood and treasure America spent to enhance U.S. national security in the region will have been wasted as the Taliban and Iran retake the area.

The administration now wants to shrink the United States Army to pre-WWII levels.  The Russian threat notwithstanding, in the face of all the other global threats I’ve mentioned, why in the world would any U.S. president even consider such a reduction?  Any reasonable person must consider this question:  What is the agenda of this administration?

So now let’s discuss what’s been going on in Ukraine.  It has been no secret that Vladimir Putin’s goal is to reestablish the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet territories.  In spite of this, we have seen the Obama administration lie prostrate in front of Putin time and time again.  Whether it be Iran, Syria, or recent events in Crimea, the response has been the same.  With the naivete in responding to the events in Kiev and the surrounding area, either by discussing national security on an unsecure line, or completely misunderstanding the Russian historical ties to the region, this administration has been a bumbling mess.  Or again, is there a darker agenda?  One must remember the Obama quote to Medvedev, when it was very obvious Russia wanted to further reduce the American nuclear arsenal: “Please tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election.”  Those words now seem downright frightening.

Can we expect Obama allowing Taiwan to become Chinese?  American space research to be abolished? The chance to become energy independent thwarted?  Meanwhile, half the American public has become dependent on the government.  Obama is strangling the economy with truckloads of new regulations.  He picks and chooses what laws to enforce, weakening American rule of law and fomenting racial division.

Dr. Evil himself couldn’t have dreamed up a better plot to destroy America.

 

L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and bond trader.  His thriller novel Currency deals with overwhelming sovereign debt.    His website is LToddWood.com

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom