Molding Russia into the Non-Muslim Enemy we so Crave
by Julia Gorin
After JW posted my item last week calling attention to the Washington Times advertisement penned by my friend Jim Jatras -- which revealed a Georgia-hosted jihadist conference in December -- my own attention was called to a comment posted under the item by "Jewdog," which read:
The US support of the Balkan Muslims was done for alleged moral reasons, as there was no discernable [sic] strategic benefit.
That is not the case in the Caucasus. Opposing Russia is a strategic imperative since Russia is a supplier of Iran's nuclear project and sells advanced weaponry to Syria and other jihadist elements. Russia is driven by an anti-Western animus, thinking like the imperialists that they have always been, viewing the West as an obstacle to their hegemony. That's why Russia was aligned with Nazi Germany during WWII, until attacked.
Russia will do anything, morality be damned, to advance its imperial interests, and in that sense is like Islam.
I think that as distasteful as it is, we need to support the Chechens against Russia. Let's remember that Osama bin Laden(pbuh) did a great job in Afghanistan, which helped bring down the Soviet Union.
Without Russian and Chinese technology, the global jihad will be a lot less dangerous. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.
I know, it's very risky and somewhat cynical, but sometimes you have use chemo to kill cancer.
Because the argument can be mistaken for being reasonable-sounding, I thought it important to point out what's actually wrong with it.
Firstly, the strategic benefit in the Balkans was to kiss Muslim tush and show them that we are not their enemies: "See? We can kill Christians too!"
Second, the Soviet Union, not Russia, was aligned with the Nazis. But speaking of Germany, using the comment poster's logic, we should have bombed Germany instead of the Serbs during the Balkan wars, as they were supporting the Nazi Croats and Muslims -- continuing WWII in a sense.
Third, by Jewdog's "logic," the Russians should support jihad attacks on us, because we support our "friends" in Saudi Arabia whose Wahhabist ideology inspires attacks on Russia.
So Russia and China supplying weapons for Jihad is bad, but the US supplying weapons for Jihad is good? ("We need to support the Chechens against Russia"?!) This can only come from a Westerner who has no concept of what a Chechen is, and believe me it's something terrifying. Suffice it to say that there are Islamic militants who know enough to be scared of a Chechen.
Meanwhile, after bombing the Serbs under false pretenses and taking their land -- all while telling Russia to take it easy on the Chechens -- why would Russia listen to anything we have to say? What reason is there for Russia to deal with us in good faith or to not be spiteful?
Historically, yes, Russia has been driven by "anti-Western animus," but I seem to recall a rather historical moment when there was a break in that attitude for several years starting in 1991. An opportunity to be seized on, everyone said. Others have pointed out that this was a time when Russia allowed the Berlin Wall to come down and the regimes in Russia's sphere of influence to be tossed out; a time when the Russian military retreated to Russia proper and the empire broke itself down into separate states; and a time when the Communists made room for other parties and lost power. Freedom and capitalism ruled the day, and the Russians looked to America to show them the way.
In return, we utilized the Russia-hostile NATO alliance in an aggressive war on a Slavic nation that was finally responding to decades of sustained terrorism within its borders. Spitting in the eye of Moscow's objections, we touted America's birth to a criminal and Muslim state in Southeast Europe. All the while, Moscow warned us repeatedly of the S. Ossetia -- and other -- domino effects of our Kosovo actions, and we laughed in its face.
But back to my wider point: We hear about Russia's turn for the worse. And it's precisely that: a turn. So, Jewdog, let's resist the temptation to take what Russia is doing today as an after-the-fact justification for our alienating it so completely first, starting from the moment it lost the Cold War. There are reasons for this "slide backwards" -- another revealing term that is a tacit admission that in fact there had been "progress" and steps taken "forward" by Russia. What's happening today was not an inevitability, it was not the only possible outcome -- in fact, in the 90s it would have seemed like the least-possible outcome. So those who would have us believe that Russia is simply continuing an uninterrupted course of imperialism are being disingenuous. (See Jewdog referring to the Russians as "the imperialists that they have always been, viewing the West as an obstacle to their hegemony.") Again, there was an interruption in bad Russian behavior. But not only did we squander the opportunity, we betrayed the gesture.
Americans must start to understand why and how the Russo-American rift happened, and that if we change our behavior, it's still possible to salvage at least some possible Russo-American cooperation, especially when it comes to what we should have long ago acknowledged as our common enemy. Mind you, my essentially blaming America here does not come from a member of the Blame-America-First crowd. Indeed, it took me until I was into my 30s to ever blame America for anything. But today's world could have been a less messy one, if only we had behaved more civilly at a time when it could have had an impact in the course of events.
But with the culmination of our bad behavior -- namely when we got the world to gang up and bomb Slavs -- on behalf of a tribe of criminals, mobsters, jihadists, clansmen, fascists and marxists as represented by the KLA -- we told Russia loud and clear: We prefer primitive gangsters to you, and we will use them against you and other Slavs.
Recall the standoff at the Pristina airstrip, where WW3 could have been set off had Russia not been in a weak position. That was a defining revelation that the U.S. had no intention of changing course from marking Russia as Enemy No. 1. Rather than work together to face the new and more dangerous and intractable threat of worldwide jihad, we just kept getting tougher on Russia. Is it any surprise, then, that it's gone in the direction it has?
We have been working diligently to mold Russia into the beast we so want it to be, giving us the non-Muslim enemy we so crave since the end of the Cold War. All while being too weak-kneed to deal with the real threat, and therefore trying to deceive ourselves that the real threat can be an "ally" against rival powers such as Russia. No anecdote illustrates this better than when Condoleezza Rice implied in June 2008 that the U.S. and Russia have no common values -- just two months after giving a speech attesting to the "universal values" that both the West and Muslims hold dear. It was delivered to the OIC, that Saudi-based organization of unfree states known as the Organization of the Islamic Conference. No one ever wonders why it was that Condoleezza Rice's former students -- Russian immigrants and exchange students who idolized her during the Cold War for her tough stance -- lost respect for her by 2007, expressing deep disappointment.
The big tragedy here is that U.S. mischief in the Balkans in the 90s has showed the world -- and all its badasses -- that there really is no standard of behavior. America used to be that standard; we used to be the conscience of the world, making evildoers at least think twice or be embarrassed by their evil-doing. But we demonstrated that the world is a free-for-all. Indeed, America as we once knew her has been in a coma for the past 20 years.
Because Russia is historically a bad guy, it's very easy to obfuscate what's really going on here. But the truth is that we've made a fine mess of Russia.
And so it is that even an approach to Iran is more welcome than a real reset with Russia, as this Newsweek article written during the Georgia-Russia conflict makes clear. The piece quotes Iran scholar Vali Nasr: "We talk as if Iran is the biggest threat, but we act as if Russia is."