An article by: Edward Lozansky

As with each passing day, the world is getting closer to the edge of the abyss, let's talk about if there is anything that we, as private citizens, can do about it. But first, it is essential to analyze how we got there and who betrayed our hopes for a peaceful future after the end of the Cold War in the late 80th.
As a member of Track II diplomacy all these years, I want to share how our efforts to search for the positive agenda in U.S.-Russia relations, were continuously sabotaged by those interested in the search for enemies rather than friends.

George F.Kennan

It was a distinguished American diplomat, George Kennan, who in 1987, or 4 years before the collapse of the USSR, said, “Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”

Kennan was right, but when the Soviet Union disappeared, in addition to the military-industrial complex, some other powerful forces have strongly opposed our efforts. They proclaimed the advent of the era of global American hegemony, where Russia should forget about partnerships based on mutual security guarantees and must subordinate its interests in favor of those dictated by the United States.

In 1998 Bill Clinton launched an anti-Russian crusade

Even when Russia was ready to play such a role under President Boris Yeltsin, whom Bill Clinton called his best friend and helped win elections in 1996, it was Clinton who betrayed him by starting an anti-Russia crusade in 1998 through NATO Eastern expansion despite Western pledge to previous President Michail Gorbachev not to move NATO “one inch East.”

George Bush: “Putin is a great Russian leader with whom America is ready to build a brighter future.”

When Vladimir Putin entered the Kremlin and dared to demand that Russia’s interests also should be taken into account Washington was not very happy, but there were some glimpses of hope at the end of 2001 when President George W. Bush praised Putin for his help in the Afghan operation after 9/11. Bush not only warmly welcomed him in Washington but also in his home state, Texas, where he called Putin “a great Russian leader” in front of Crawford High School students, with whom America is ready to build a brighter future.

Putin believed him, and in turn, during the follow-up Russian Embassy reception, said that Russia is prepared for U.S.-Russia rapprochement as close as the U.S. is ready.  After the official part, Republican Congressman Curt Weldon and I walked to Putin and presented him with the working plan for such a rapprochement, titled “U.S.-Russia Partnership: A New Time, A New Beginning”.

This plan included cooperation in space, the environment, agriculture, energy, public health and medicine, infectious diseases, earth sciences, information technology, education culture and a wide range of basic science disciplines.

It included the list of government and private organizations plus individuals responsible for  implementation of these proposals and the letter to President Bush signed by over 100 Members of Congress who endorsed this document.

During our annual U.S.-Russia forums on Capitol Hill, where we discussed similar proposals, many Members of Congress agreed that, finally, we have “our man in the Kremlin.”

Vladimir Putin and George Bush (2008)

Regrettably, it didn’t take long for GW to betray Putin by starting a “democracy promotion” crusade through color revolutions in post-Soviet space, supporting Ukraine’s Orange revolution, abrogating the Anti-Ballistic-Missile (ABM) treaty, and most devastating push for Georgia and Ukraine into NATO.

Obama started his term with a highly advertised “reset,” meaning opening a comprehensive dialogue with Russia, which aligned with our above-mentioned proposal. Unfortunately, this initiative also very quickly collapsed both symbolically and in reality.  When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a red “reset” button to symbolize the intention to improve ties, the word “reset” was mistranslated into Russian for “overcharge.” What was it? An offer of cooperation or a red alert?

In reality, things went from bad to worse after Obama gave the Ukrainian portfolio to his Vice-President Joe Biden, who, according to former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, over the past four decades, had been “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue.”

We don’t know if Obama was sincere in his attempt to improve U.S.-Russia relations, but wittingly or unwittingly, he also betrayed the cause for peace by placing Biden in charge of U.S. policy on Ukraine since according to many observers, he is the one who is responsible for the current crisis.

Joe Biden is the one who is responsible for the current crisis

First, he coordinated the February 2014 coup in Ukraine that brought a pro-NATO regime in Kyiv, then robbed this unfortunate country to make money via his son Hunter, then rejected Russia’s December 2021 proposal to start mutual security guarantees’ negotiations, then together with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson disrupted   ready for signing Russia-Ukraine agreement to end the war. Instead, now Biden is using his presidential powers to prolong it with more U.S. taxpayer money.

One can mention other betrayals like settling Ukrainian Nazi collaborators in the U.S. after the end of WWII with the plans to use them in the future against the former ally USSR.

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, while still occupying this position, managed to betray both Russian and American veterans when he spoke about Ukrainian “unshakable” soldiers who are fighting today to be “sons and grandsons of people who fought against Stalin and Zhukov from 1945 to 1955.”

A glimmer of hope for a new détente after the presidential elections in Russia and the U.S.

So, where do we go from here? Putin’s landslide election victory and the upcoming U.S. November elections might provide a chance for compromise between Washington and Moscow. One candidate at least is promising to do it, but another keeps talking about inflicting strategic defeat on Russia.  Well, according to Russia’s military doctrine, given the inevitability of such defeat, Putin will use nuclear weapons.

Being involved in Track II diplomacy in this area for over 35 years, I can testify that starting with Gorbachev, all Russian leaders and the overwhelming majority of Russian people were expecting a new era of friendship with America. I am sure that many Americans, except dreamers to maintain a hegemony in world’s affairs which no longer exists, want the same.  Definitely, no one wants to die in a nuclear war.

Europeans have the same choice, and besides their current leadership in power which betrays the interest of their people there are other politicians who understand the critical situation of the current moment.

Chances that what is called the “collective West” finds the exit from this crisis through diplomacy and compromise are not very high but at least not zero. This gives us something to hope for, even if this hope is weak.

President and Founder of the American University in Moscow

Edward Lozansky