Trump – the new Truman – or what to do about Russia?

Egidijus Vareikis
DELFI / Valdas Kopūstas

We like to celebrate the anniversaries, especially millennia, centuries and decades. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Truman Doctrine, the US policy when it finally decided what to do regarding the USSR, which was increasingly demonstrating its power and openly intent on transforming the world based on a perverse Stalinist vision.

In brief, the Americans decided on a Soviet containment strategy. Realizing that they will not change the Moscow regime or its policy goals, American politicians decided to take measures to protect the world from the threat posed by the Soviets. At the time it was primarily necessary to defend Western Europe (then, most importantly, Turkey and Greece), South-East Asia, later – Africa and Latin America. We – Lithuanians – were, of course, not on the side that could be protected by the US, however the Soviet Union finally collapsed.

Politicians and political scientists today are not only commemorating the seven decades since the announcement of the Truman doctrine. Numerous signs indicate that today Russia intends to behave in a similar manner like the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

The doctrine was not perfect. There are no freedom guarantees for all, it was criticized as imperialistic approach. It was not widely accepted in the Third World. But still – it worked. Finally, it was replaced by the concept of the end of history and the desire to solve the major geopolitical problems as minor residues of the past. Today we see that the idea of ​​the end of history has not come to pass – the World still “creates history”, creates even more history than before.

The emergence of a so-called non-systemic policy shows that the systems of the past have either disappointed or simply deceived us. In general, they did not bring the expected happiness. The formal justice and equality of people before the law and equal voting rights for all as well as the priority of economic welfare against morality also did not bring happiness. Multicultural nonsense, eagerly distributed subsidies for the “Third World”, and global social networks created more problems than solutions.

Human civilization has become dominated by mistrust, jealousy, contempt, and hatred … It is easy to notice that it is a reaction to forced charity, formal friendship and statutory love. This is the reaction to “multiculturalism” and racial harmony, the reaction to political correctness, a long-standing political lie. In each country in its own way.

The politics was supposed to be pragmatic in a good sense, supposed to be de-ideologised and, in a way… depoliticized. It was replaced by predatory mercantilism, relativistic vision: all are equally bad, thus we can also be bad, there is no freedom and other values, only economic benefits. Values ​​and abstract “values” are often declared as expressions of freedom to act with no responsibility. More than two decades ago, the great guru of political insights Zbigniew Brzezinski predicted difficult times await in the 21st century – the routine political processes are gone, and what’s going on is incomprehensible and out of control.

In this light, geopolitical kleptomania, which has become the Russian policy of the last decade, is quite justified. This country’s losses over the past few decades are really impressive. Russia only has about half of the population of the former Soviet Union, its troops were in Germany a quarter of century ago, but now they are not so far from Moscow, the economy is mostly based on to waste of resources, politics – nuclear blackmail, cybercrime and global reluctance to challenge the Russian leaders. The myth that Russia’s democratization is only a matter of time has become a sad joke. Pragmatic Russia, despite its losses, still does not conceal a desire to be something big and significant, and therefore it cares not by what means this will be achieved.

However, this “out of control” world is also not friendly to Russia, and the trust to Russia evaporates. China is increasingly looking at the Russia a as not particularly successful “younger sibling”. For the Muslim world Russia is only a factor that matters in their internal struggles. For the rest of the world, Russia can hardly offer any attractive economic or ideological project. Even roads or factories in Africa are more likely to be built by the Chinese. For the Euro-Atlantic community, Russians are becoming less and less strategic partners, and more – a security issue. Although Russia does have an optimistic scenario in the long run, this country is still pretty dangerous in the near future.

Nearly three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, even those most interested in seeing Russia democratized see no changes in this country. Unlike Germany, which recognized the outcome of the Second World War as a logical reward for political sins, Russia sees the collapse of USSR as a catastrophe – a hardship that needs to be repaired. Therefore, President TRUMp is like TRUMan – facing a state unwilling to live in a world order and willing to replace it with its own arrangements.

Russia would happily sign an agreement with the rest of the world, which allows it to have some sphere of influence (a new Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact), but the so-called West, despite all the accusations for lack of morality and patching Moscow, does not make such deals. Still, the West states, people have the right to decide on which side to be, and our – the West’s – duty is to protect those who have decided to be with us.

Consequently, Russia’s containment becomes an integral part of US strategy and the entire Euro-Atlantic strategy. In the 21st century it may be similar to that which was seven decades ago, but with its own specifics.

The key elements of the strategy today are as follows.

First – to prevent the expanding of Russia and its influence. The list of pseudo-republics and annexed territories must be shortened. Countries that are geographically close to Russia have to be protected from the establishment of regimes favourable to Moscow, pseudo-unions (such as the Warsaw Treaty Organization) have to be avoided. The status of our Allies and their responsibilities has to be defined more clearly. The world today is not bipolar, it’s a much more complicated system (as the sanctions against Russia seem to harm … Europe?).

Second – to have clear understanding and more targeted navigation of non-political international organizations and non-governmental sector activities. As a matter of fact, Russia tries to implement its policies through such institutions as sports, postal services, and culture, and sometimes succeeds.

Third – to change the policy of de-ideologization in a directed ideological policy – to defend the ideology of not the abstract values ​​but virtues; finally, to end with the notion that everyone has the right even to ideological insanity or suicide. Some time ago the same Brzezinski noticed that terrible mega-ideologies (Communism, Nazism) were born in ideological chaos. Authoritarian regimes need not be democratized in Gorbatchov’s way, but need to be replaced.

Fourth – NATO is a military alliance, not a discussion club, the EU is a politicized marketplace, not a supportive European military security guardian. Do not allow organizations to change places or play one – other games. And in general – the best thing is for everyone to do what he knows best – you do not have to change the statutes, orientations, and any social and other gender.

Finally, we need to live with the idea, that the present Russia is not something eternal and irreplaceable. If we want democracy, we need not only to look for it, but also to create it. It is not enough to have a wish or vision.

Some say President Trump is a bit similar to President Reagan, because he does not sugar-coat his words. He sometimes could be closer to President Truman, who turned his dreams of security into real security.

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