I encountered a link to this article while reading some of the recent posts on European websites about the war in South Ossetia. What a great find! My thanks to Professor Cohen! Below are some reflections of a Russian-Ukrainian who immigrated to the US in the mid 1990s and deeply felt the changes described in your paper.
Stephen Cohen's article sums up in writing a lot of feelings I have had over the years since my 20s in Moscow as a student through my immigration to the US, up until the last week's war in South Ossetia.
It all began in the late 1980s with high expectations of better relationship between Russia and the US and a safer world for all of us. Gorbachev sold it to everyone as a better alternative to nuclear standoff. But gradually it changed, especially in the desperate '90s when it seemed that the US (and the rest of the Western countries) couldn't care less what happened to Russia--if they could just prolong the agony long enough to have time to grab something from the "garden" while the guard (Yeltsin) is drunk. I recall that I felt at these times that everyone was spitting in Russia's face and the country couldn't do nothing else but to wipe it off and keep stupidly smiling.
I used to listen to the Voice of America when I was in high school in the 1980s, when its brodcasst were barely audible due to jamming. As a student in Moscow in the late '80s, early '90s I used to read The Economist and to watch CNN, which had just been allowed "in," and I trusted what they said. I do not trust Western media anymore. When it comes to reporting about geopolitics, Russia, foreign policy etc., I take it with a big grain of salt. I feel very disappointed and betrayed by the course taken by the US with respect to Russia.
In the last five days of the war in Georgia, there was once again a show put up by the media, a biased and one-sided anti-Russian propaganda of Soviet style, but this is in the US now in 2008! I am disgusted by the fact that the Bush Administration supports and encourages leaders such as Saakashvili to advance "US interesets" at the expense of lives of innocent people in South Ossetia and Georgia. I am disgusted by the fact that America assisted Saakashvili's government in acquiring (and perhaps paying for) bombs and shells dropped on Tskhinvali and on South Ossetian villages. We used to be brainwashed in the USSR that "American imperialists want war and to wipe our free country off the planet." It turns out that not all of this brainwashing was a lie.
I was hoping that a new administration in Washington would change the course regarding Russia, but it is hard to expect it from John McCain, and recently Barack Obama seems to have made statements that conform to the old policies well described in Professor Cohen's article. This sort of "change" apparently and unfortunately is not on the table.
Assistant Professor<br />University of Texas<br />Dallas, TX
Aug 13 2008 - 4:51pm