Why Russia Is No Friend of America

Is Russia a potential ally for the United States?

G. Murphy Donovan recently argued on AT that Russia is such a great partner of the United States that it could be admitted to NATO.  To back his assertion up, he provided a number of "reasons," including Harley Davidson motorbikes and Russian women.

Donovan argues that Russia, with a balanced budget, very low public debt, and huge reserves of oil and natural gas, is a rich uncle the U.S. could use.  Does he really want the U.S. to be dependent on Russia for loans and fossil fuels?  Isn't America already exposed enough, beholden as it is to the OPEC cartel and to China and Japan?

The Russian economy is a colossus with feet of clay; it is more dependent on revenue from oil and natural gas than it was during the 1990s or than the Soviet economy was during the Cold War.  Ditto the Russian federal budget, which is based on the assumption that oil costs no less than 60 USD per barrel.

Donovan has suggested that female Russians should be admitted to the West visa-free and duty-free.  Apparently, he hasn't heard that the Kremlin uses Russian ladies as spies/seducers.  (Western men, beware.)  Anna Kushchenko (Chapman) is the best-known example.

While praising Russian women, Donovan has slandered their American and Western European counterparts: "Most female athletes in Europe and America look like East German weightlifters or Madeline Albright.  Russian girls, on the other hand, have changed the viewing habits of millions worldwide."

Perhaps Donovan has never seen Katie Hoff, Natalie Coughlin, or Janet Evans.  Nor has he seen any of the beauties featured every year during Miss USA competitions.  Another American beauty queen, Alexandria Mills, is the current Miss World.  There are legions of beautiful women in the U.S.  If Donovan hasn't seen them, that means he hasn't looked for them.

Of course, which country has beautiful women is irrelevant to foreign policy.  Donovan argues that because the U.S. and Russia have pretty much "cornered the megaton market," a "nuclear-near-monopoly" should be created by admitting Russia into NATO.  The problem is that, as has been documented on AT mutiple times, Russia is an opponent, not an ally, of the U.S.  This is because Russia's current rulers, most of them KGB thugs like Vladimir Putin and Sergei Ivanov, believe that whatever is bad for the U.S. is good for Russia.

Russia has been selling weapons (including fighterplanes, SAMs, and Kalashnikov rifles) to America's enemies, including Iran, Venezuela, and Syria, and shielding these nations (as well as North Korea) from serious UNSC sanctions.  It has been selling tons of weapons to Communist China, currently the biggest threat to the U.S.  It still backs the regimes of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, thus maintaining anti-American outposts in the USA's backyard.  A real friend doesn't behave like that.  And Russia's own defense doctrine presents NATO as Russia's principal enemy.

Donovan asserts that "grand ideas like capitalism and democracy (of a sort) are thriving in Russia -- in Western Europe, not so much."  This is utter gibberish.  Russia's current economic system is statist, government-directed pseudocapitalism similar to that maintained by European countries.  Privately owned corporations are forced to operate under vast, unclear, selectively enforced regulations and a biased, corrupt judiciary.  Important economic decisions are made by Putin himself, not by entrepreneurs -- and often for the worse.  Gazprom, for example, has a $50-billion debt, equal to one year's turnover of that company.  Most of the managers of state-owned enterprises are Putin's cronies and their sons, as reported by Boris Nemtsov.

Furthermore, Donovan writes, "Today, America has more in common with Russia than it does with many nations in Europe."  Unless he means Eastern European countries, with which the U.S. indeed has little in common, he's wrong.

America is a libertarian democracy which guarantees individual liberties to a greater degree than does any other country in the world.  Russia is an authoritarian thugocracy, with every civil liberty listed by the Russian constitution tolerated by Putin only to the extent that it doesn't inhibit him from ruling the country.  Dissenters are jailed (like Boris Nemtsov) or assassinated (like Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko).  The U.S. is a federal republic where most prerogatives are reserved to the states and the people, who have the means to defend their rights in federal courts.  Russia is a federation only on paper; most of its federal subjects (oblasts, federal cities, and krais) are ruled directly from the Kremlin.

In the U.S., all people are equal regardless of ethnic origin or religion.  In Russia, the Kremlin-backed Nashi thugs are persecuting ethnic minorities under the "Russia for Russians" slogan.

In the U.S., the people are the superiors of the government.  The Tea Party movement has shown this by engineering the biggest GOP House election victory in many decades.  As Ronald Reagan said,"We are a nation that has a government, not the other way around."  In Russia, the government is the superior of the people and owns them.  It can order them to do anything and confiscate anything from them.

America has always been a democratic republic.  And say what you will about America's Western European partners, but most of them still believe in the same ideals Americans cherish: democracy, human rights, and political pluralism. On the other hand, for all of its history except the 1990s, Russia has been an authoritarian or totalitarian state, be it under the tsars, the Bolsheviks, or Putin. 

That does not mean that Russia can never be America's friend or even ally.  Russia helped mediate the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war of 1812.  During the Civil War, as Oliver W. Holmes wrote, "Russia was America's friend even when the world was our enemy" and refused to recognize the Confederacy while Britain and France planned to recognize it as an independent state.  During WW2, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were allies (albeit only for pragmatic reasons).  And Russia was quite friendly towards the U.S. during the 1990s, albeit out of weakness.

Nonetheless, a Russia governed by men like Putin and Ivanov cannot be a partner, let alone an ally, of the U.S.  Only if the Putin regime is replaced by a pro-American government can a Russo-American alliance be formed.
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