For those of you of a certain age, you may remember when the early 1960’s produced volumes of a kind of “Blame America for Everything.” Philosophy, There was even a movie with Marlon Brando with that title. There was nothing that we had done or were doing that would satisfy our craving for self-hatred. Why, we had even lost a majority of the world to the Commies. There were maps in the rotogravure sections of the Sunday newspapers with the countries that were nominally communistic colored red, while we were other shades of pink and green.
It was tough reading all of this crap. In some ways, it led us to the Vietnam War, where we would cleanse our guilt by freeing a people from the web of communism. We would lose that war and lose confidence in ourselves as a nation. Strangely enough, it quieted our feeling of self-deprecation. Somehow, we were now just a super power in the world.
Now, a professor from Columbia University, born in Russia, came here when he was young. He has a love for the Russian people, but does not like the dictatorial ways of Putin. Funny thing though, he blames the U.S. for Putin’s arrival, the bad things that he has done and the present situation.
He also thinks that our relationship with Russia is, at least, secondary to the problems with the children who have come across the border and have been removed from their parents. He believes that the 1990’s, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Yeltsin and then Putin years were traumatic to the Russian people. He blames our foreign policy of dictating what Russia should be doing of creating that trauma and thus making Russia what it is today.
Let’s take a look at a bit of Russian history. Russia has always been a country that would be ruled by either nobility or dictators. When serfs, who could not own land, were emancipated in 1861, it did not really free the huge percentage of the population from servitude. While nobility held the reins of power, there was a small middle class.
In the 1917 revolution, led by Alexander Kerensky, there was about a year of democracy before the Bolsheviks (minority) ousted the Mensheviks (majority) led by Kerensky. So, that was a year of hope for the Russian people followed immediately by Lenin and then Stalin.
Post Stalin leaders were pretty much little imitations of Stalin. The next small piece of democracy happened after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was followed by Yeltsin and Putin. So, how many years of democracy has Russia had in its history? Let’s be generous and say 5.
Now, can we blame the United States foreign policy for the return to oligarchical rule? I would rather say that we were responsible for the only two times in Russian history that Russia had any form of democracy.