Thursday, April 12, 2012

“Resets,” “Smart Diplomacy”, and other Hopelessly Pathetic Amateurisms

Everything was supposed to be different. The earth was supposed to be healed by dint of Obama’s very being. Europeans thought they had a man in the White House who would make the United States do their bidding. The “Reset” button, like some icon or fetish, was taken on a pilgrimage to Mockba’s as yet un-renamed Red Square.

And the Russians and those Europreans previously so passive-aggressive with the US laughed at their good fortune of finding people they could chump at Foggy Bottom and the White House. Then, like in the stages of grief, came to the realization that the world’s governments are not there to serve their fake and irrelevant policy objectives, or the notion that it remain the rest of the world’s obligation to secure their stability and well-being.
In the last few months anti-American propaganda made forceful comeback in the Russian media. Many thought it was just electioneering in the run-up to the March presidential elections. But that was too optimistic, it seems. In the last few weeks things became even more heated. NTV, a Russian TV channel owned by Gazprom Media, has been following US ambassador Michael McFaul pretty much everywhere, which lead to an outburst of indignation from McFaul, as well as accusations that his phone (and therefore calendar) is hacked, and a formal US State Department protest over the harassment of the US ambassador. McFaul also claimed that upon arrival to Moscow last January he felt like he was back in the Cold War and that ’it has been surprising that there was so much anti-Americanism, because we thought we were building a different kind of relationship, and it makes some people nervous that it could so quickly and reflexively go back to – in terms of rhetoric – an era that we thought was behind us’. Then, on a different occasion, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called McFaul ‘arrogant’. In other words, the dismantlement of what was considered a key achivement of the reset is well advanced.
What’s painfully obvious is that it’s the Russian, not the America of either George Bush or Barack Obama that remains stuck in a cold-war mentality.