Tuesday, March 22, 2005

My Answer to Brzezinski

Izvestia today published an interview with Zbignew Brzezinski (in Russian). He says: “If I were a Russian, I would ask myself a question, “Why the majority of my neighbors either fears Russia or shows its contempt towards Russia?” Well, I asked myself this question and so far I have as many answers to it as many neighbors Russia has. First of all, the question is incorrect. One doesn’t ask questions, “Why all neighbors of Georgia, namely Abkhazia, South Osetia, Russia, Armenia, either fear Georgia or show their contempt?” Without doubt a Georgian could say – because (1) they are afraid of democracy, (2) they themselves are contemptible, (3) they are blinded by Russian propaganda, (4) they fear rightful revenge for all atrocities they did to Georgians, (5) they are paranoid, etc. I didn’t make these answers up. Anyone can find them in numerous articles, interviews or op-ed columns on the topic “democratic Georgia”. They all sound sincere, natural, politically correct and if somewhat excessive then only because Russians (Osetians, Abkhazians, Armenians, etc) did so much wrong to Georgians in the last three hundred years. Russians cannot respond to Brzezinki’s question in that way. I cannot say, “Because they fear democracy” or “Because they are paranoid”, and I wouldn’t – not because I fear that such answers would reveal my imperialistic or racist nature. I wouldn’t do so simply because such answers are unworthy of an honest person. Such answers are typical of a person who believes in his or her guiltlessness and blames all evil enemies on all of the problems. Does anyone expect a Georgian to say, “Abkhazians despise us because in 1991 we trusted our nationalistic president Ghamsakhurdia, we denied Abkhazians any form of ethnic identity and autonomy, we started a cruel war with them and we lost it.”
Naturally, Mr. Brzezinski is expecting that Russians, upon contemplating on his question, will repent of their Motherland’s sins and ask their neighbors for forgiveness. The irony of this request is that Russia already publicly and officially recanted in its sins in 1991-1993. “Blame Russia first” was and still is the main slogan of Russian liberals and democrats. Every FSU state is a successor of the USSR, not just Russia. As far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong) Russia is the only state that, not being occupied by foreign troops, voluntarily repented for historic sins of the country it isn’t a sole successor of. It was a sincere feeling – not the expression of Russian “natural” inferiority complex and not the Russian “genetic” masochistic love for self-abasement. Just two weeks ago in Russia we celebrated the Forgiven Sunday (Прощенное Воскресенье) – the last Sunday before the Lent. On this day everyone should ask all relatives, friends and even people one doesn’t like, to forgive all the bad things one did to them in the last year. People kiss each other, embrace, forgive and forget. Now, Russians expect mutuality. When someone on the Forgiven Sunday asks you for forgiveness, you don’t say, “Ok, give me 100 rubles for a start and later I tell you if you’re worthy of my forgiveness.”
I don’t want to speak for all Russians but I personally 14 years ago was one of those young pro-Western idealists who regarded Russia’s agreement to take all Soviet debts upon itself as a sign of repentance and generosity, a noble impulse. The Soviet Union was a union of 15 republics after all and ethnic Russians suffered most under the Soviet rule. The crush of the USSR was not about minor republics “leaving” Russia. Russia was the first to leave the USSR. Then other followed. Gorbachev resigned and the Evil Empire disappeared. All international agreements, conventions and obligations of the Soviet Union were confirmed by every FSU state. Wasn’t it fair that every republic took its share of the Soviet debts? I didn’t expect a year later to see millions of ethnic Russian refugees flooding from almost every “friendly” republic. Anti-Russian pogroms were everyday affair in the FSU states. I couldn’t imagine that “civilized” Latvians and Estonians would declare ethnic Russians ‘civil occupants’ who have no right to vote. That in Ukraine Russian would officially become a “foreign” language. Yeltsin’s concessions were regarded as unconditional surrender. Huge discounts on prices for oil and gas exports to “friendly” republics were treated as reparations and indemnities. In 1993 I had a talk with an old Soviet ex-diplomat who was outraged at one-sided concessions Yeltsin and Kosyrev made. “In the international affairs all concessions must be mutual, albeit not always equal. If you don’t bargain you’re treated as a dweeb. You’ll never get anything in return but your partners will become more and more vulgar. One day when you stop and ask for mutuality you’ll hear such indignant and spiteful howls from you “friends” you couldn’t imagine”. Seems like he was right.

3 comments:

Marybeth said...

Wow, you're cool! I know a lot more about Russia now!

Jakub said...

What a bull shit you've written my friend. Decisions, agreements, etc. were confirmed by every state in S.U. ....yeah but if they didn't confirm then a lot of s**t happened to them. Please don't deny inteligent people if you don't have any intelligent arguments. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Ethnic Russians suffered most under the Soviet rule".. etc
- I think the author should definitely try harder to be honest with oneself.