Friday, October 10, 2014

Russian news: Just How Civilized Is Western Civilization? - Russia Insider

Edward Lozansky is President of the American University in Moscow

Those who witnessed - and especially those who helped bring about - the momentous changes in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and Russia in the early 1990s, remember only too well the overwhelming euphoria of those times. The dark years of totalitarian communism were receding into the past, and the peoples of Russia were ready and eager to join the great family of the Western civilization led by the United States.

Twenty five years ago in April 1989, a delegation from America arrived in Moscow to investigate Gorbachev’s radical social and economic reforms, perestroika and glasnost. Was it genuine reform or just a sinister KGB ruse to fool the naive West? The group included Members of Congress, exiled Soviet dissidents, foreign policy experts and scholars with strong anti-Soviet and anti-communist credentials. The group had come, as they told Gorbachev’s right hand man Alexander Yakovlev, in order to help the Russians understand the “values of the Western civilization.”

Human rights, the rule of law, democracy, freedom, market economy -- these were and still are the buzz words associated with Western values. Fresh from the yoke of communism, Russians were eager to embrace all of these ideals, and confidently expected them to materialize with help from the United States.

A detailed report about how all this could be done was personally delivered to President George Bush, Sr. in the fall of 1990 by Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation. Weyrich later claimed that the report was dismissed by Condoleezza Rice, who was present at the meeting.

What actually came about was somewhat different. Russia’s economy crashed worse than in World War II. Millions lost their jobs and the means of earning a livelihood. The freedom of pursuing economic prosperity morphed into the freedom of banditry. Bandit capitalism became the prevailing economic order.

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