O que é este blog?

Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org. Para a maior parte de meus textos, ver minha página na plataforma Academia.edu, link: https://itamaraty.academia.edu/PauloRobertodeAlmeida;

Meu Twitter: https://twitter.com/PauloAlmeida53

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulobooks

Mostrando postagens com marcador Russia. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador Russia. Mostrar todas as postagens

quinta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2019

Como os EUA salvaram russos da fome e do canibalismo 100 anos atrás

A century ago America saved millions of Russians from starvation

The story of “The Russian Job” contradicts the bellicose histories preferred in both countries

The story of “The Russian Job” contradicts the bellicose histories preferred in both countries
The Russian Job. 
By Douglas Smith. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 320 pages; $28. Picador; £25.

TO MOST PEOPLE shaped by the cold war—and today’s icy relations—Russia and America may seem always to have been sworn enemies. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 America celebrated victory. When Vladimir Putin set out to avenge history and make Russia great again, he whipped up anti-American hysteria and scorned Washington’s overreach. For his part, Donald Trump—who thinks America has in the past been a soft touch—in effect concurred with Mr Putin’s criticism, pledging to put narrow American interests first.

In recounting America’s biggest ever humanitarian effort—to save millions of lives in the nascent Soviet state a century ago—“The Russian Job” by Douglas Smith repudiates the modern mythologies of both countries, and their leaders’ twisted histories. Already ravaged by wars and revolution, in 1920-22 Russia was hit by droughts and faced one of Europe’s worst ever famines. It was partly self-induced: terrorised by the Red Army and threatened with requisitions and executions, Russian peasants drastically reduced the land under cultivation, sowing the minimum required for their own survival.
Acutely aware that food meant power, Vladimir Lenin abandoned War Communism in favour of a new economic policy that replaced requisition with taxes and made some concession to capitalism. But it was too late. By the end of 1921, the vast territory along the Volga succumbed to starvation and cannibalism.
Having come to power on the promise to provide bread and end war, the Bolsheviks confronted the prospect of being swept away by hunger. Unable to feed their own people, the leaders of the proletarian revolution turned to the West for help. Maxim Gorky, a Bolshevik writer who had once demonised American capitalism, appealed to “all honest European and American people” to “give bread and medicine”.
The appeal struck a chord with Herbert Hoover, founding chief of the American Relief Administration (ARA). The future president responded not out of sympathy for the “murderous tyranny” of the Bolshevik regime, but from faith in America’s mission—and ability—to improve the world. If children were starving, America was obliged to ease their suffering. “We must make some distinction between the Russian people and the group who have seized the government,” Hoover argued.
The ARA’s insistence on complete autonomy made the Soviet government suspicious, as did its pledge to help without regard to “race, creed or social status”. After all, the regime had liquidated entire classes of citizens and nationalised not only private property but human life. Still, given a choice between losing face or losing the country, the Bolsheviks conceded the ARA’s conditions—while putting the operation under surveillance by the secret police.
Mr Smith’s book is not a political history, however. It is principally a reconstruction of the lives of those ARA men, many from military backgrounds, who over two and a half years in effect took over the functions of civil government in Russia, feeding some 10m people. In the Volga region, where residents were driven by hunger to boil and eat human flesh, the ARA organised kitchens and transport, distributed food and rebuilt hospitals.
The misery they encountered in Russia strained their nerves to the point of breakdown and despair, but also imbued their careers with meaning. “It is only by being of service that one can be happy,” an ARA officer wrote. “The help given by the Americans can never be forgotten, and the story of their glorious exploit will be told by grandfathers to their grandchildren,” grateful Russians told them.
Yet the duplicity and paranoia of the Soviet government haunted the ARA’s operation to the very end. While publicly Bolshevik leaders showered the Americans with praise and thanks, the secret police instructed local officials: “Under no circumstances are there to be any large displays or expressions of gratitude made in the name of the people.” No sooner was the Russian job done than the authorities began to expunge all memory of America’s help.
The edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia of 1950 described the ARA as a front “for spying and wrecking activities and for supporting counter-revolutionary elements”. Modern Russian textbooks barely mention the episode. But it is not just Russia that needs to be reminded of this story—so does America, which derived much of its 20th-century greatness from its values rather than military power. As Gorky told Hoover: “The generosity of the American people resuscitates the dream of fraternity among people at a time when humanity needs charity and compassion.” 

This article appeared in the Books and arts section of the print edition under the headline "The kindness of strangers"

sábado, 20 de abril de 2019

Venezuela: embaixador russo rejeita a nova versão da doutrina Monroe de John Bolton (AP)

Putin envoy in Caracas rejects US revival of Monroe Doctrine

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — As Venezuela’s reliance on Russia grows amid the country’s unfolding crisis, Vladimir Putin’s point man in Caracas is pushing back on the U.S. revival of a doctrine used for generations to justify military interventions in the region.
In a rare interview, Russian Ambassador Vladimir Zaemskiy rejected an assertion this week by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton that the 1823 Monroe Doctrine is “alive and well.”
The policy, originally aimed at opposing any European meddling in the hemisphere, was used to justify U.S. military interventions in countries including Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Grenada, but had been left for dead by recent U.S. administrations trying to turn the page on a dark past.
“It’s hard to believe that the U.S. administration have invented a time machine that not only allows them to turn back the clock but also the direction of the universe,” the 66-year-old diplomat told The Associated Press this week.
In an example of how the Cold War-like rhetoric on all sides of Venezuela’s crisis has quickly escalated, the ambassador compared hostile comments by Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to those of the al Qaeda leaders behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“Their obsession in imposing their will, in this case on Venezuela’s internal affairs, reminds me of the declarations of the leaders of al Qaeda, who in carrying out the attack on the Twin Towers also tried to position themselves as the only bearers of the truth,” said Zaemskiy, who was senior counselor at Russia’s mission to the United Nations on 9/11. “The history of humanity has shown that none of us are.”
Those specific, written remarks were prepared ahead of the interview.
While the Trump administration led a chorus of some 50 nations that in January recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader, Putin has steadfastly stood by Nicolás Maduro, sending planeloads of military personnel and blocking condemnation of his government at the U.N. Security Council.
In a speech this week commemorating the anniversary of the disastrous CIA-organized invasion of Cuba in 1961 by exiles opposed to Fidel Castro’s revolution, Bolton warned Russia against deploying military assets to “prop up” Maduro, considering such actions a violation of the Monroe Doctrine.
What the U.S. considers Russia’s destabilizing support for Maduro hit a high point in December when two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons touched down in Caracas. Then, last month, dozens of uniformed personnel arrived to service Sukhoi fighter jets and an S-300 missile system.
Zaemskiy said such military cooperation is perfectly legal and has been taking place for years — ever since the U.S. in 2006 banned all arms sales to the South American country. But he said the alliance has taken on added importance as the Trump administration repeatedly insists that a “military option” to remove Maduro remains on the table.
He was unwilling to say how far Russia would go to thwart an eventual U.S. attack, saying that as a diplomat he’s an optimist.
“I firmly believe that in the end reason will prevail and no tragedy will take place,” he said.
The soft-spoken, bookish Zaemskiy has specialized in Latin America since his days working for the Soviet Union and was posted to Washington for the first of two U.S. tours when the Cold War ended.
Because of his strong Spanish and English, he was a note-taker at the U.N. in September 2000 when Maduro’s mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez met Putin for the first time. He said he recalls Chavez complaining to the newly elected Putin about the need to raise oil prices, then near three-decade low. The two petroleum powers gradually cemented a political, military and economic alliance over the next few years as oil prices surged to an all-time high, bringing riches to both.
Western diplomats describe Zaemskiy as an astute and affable interlocutor who even U.S. diplomats and leaders of the opposition are known to consult. He’s also the dean of foreign diplomats in Caracas’ dwindling diplomatic community, having presented his credentials in September 2009 — a few weeks before another staunch government ally, Cuban Ambassador Rogelio Polanco.
The aquamarine-colored Russian Embassy, where Zaemskiy also lives, was a mid-century mansion purchased in the 1970s from a wealthy military colonel trained in the U.S. It lies in the shadow the hilltop U.S. Embassy, whose flagpole has been bare since the last American diplomats pulled out of the country last month amid a feud with Maduro over its recognition of Guaidó.
He acknowledged that with hyperinflation raging and many goods in short supply, Venezuela is in a “very difficult” situation. Echoing Maduro, he blamed U.S. sanctions, as well as the stifling of private investment.
His first tour in Venezuela as a protocol officer came from 1976 to 1979, when modern skyscrapers paid for by a flood of petrodollars transformed Caracas’ skyline even as many outside the capital lived in what he described as a semi-feudal state. Zaemskiy said the legacy of Chavez’s economic and political revolution — that it restored dignity to the poor — remains intact.
“It’s perfectly clear to me that the economic situation of the country has deteriorated a great deal,” he said. “The way forward is to open more opportunities for the private sector, which still has a big role to play in the country and should be allowed to demonstrate that” — seemingly a veiled criticism of Maduro’s constant squeeze on private businesses.
To break the current stalemate, he urged something the government’s foes have so far rejected: burying the past and starting negotiations, perhaps with the mediation of the Vatican or U.N.
The U.S. and opposition insist that past attempts at dialogue have only served to give Maduro badly needed political oxygen while producing no progress.
“The lack of confidence is a problem on both sides, which is why they should think together on some innovative ways to create reassurances in this process,” he said. “To simply reject the possibility of dialogue and repeat that the only way forward is the ‘end of usurpation’ as the opposition says, won’t lead anywhere.”
Despite such outward care for Maduro, some have questioned the depth of Russia’s support.
Russia is major investor in Venezuela’s oil industry, but those interests have been jeopardized since the Trump administration in January imposed sanctions on state-run oil giant PDVSA and even went after a Moscow-based bank for facilitating its transactions. At the same time PDVSA last month moved its European headquarters to Moscow from Lisbon, Gazprombank said it was pulling out of a joint venture with the company, Russian state media reported.
“The core value of Russia’s association with Chavismo is a challenge to U.S. prerogatives in its supposed backyard,” said Ivan Briscoe, the head in Latin American for the Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank. “That said, Russian diplomacy is nothing if not realistic. They know Venezuela is plunging into an economic abyss with tragic humanitarian consequences. When the moment comes and tensions reach a height, they are likely to help negotiate a settlement, but will aim to exact the highest price they can.”
Follow Goodman on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APjoshgoodman
Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

sexta-feira, 19 de abril de 2019

Trump and Russia: short of collusion, but obstruction of Justice - The Washington Post

O Wall Street Journal também confirma:

Russia wanted chaos from Trump. They got it.

Evan Vucci/AP</p>
Evan Vucci/AP
The report written by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is unequivocal on one of its most important points: Russia sought to influence the 2016 U.S. election in favor of Donald Trump. “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” the 448-page document states early on.

Adam Taylor
The Washington Post, April 18, 2019

The redacted report, released by the Justice Department on Thursday, does not make definitive conclusions in other aspects of its investigation. It did not prove that Trump’s campaign “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” in its election interference activities and declined to reach a position on potential obstruction of justice by the president.
And yet, on the case of Russian interference, the report is clear: Russia intended to influence the election. That detail brings up a couple of big questions. First, what did Moscow want from a Trump presidency? Second, did they get what they hoped for?
These are not new questions. But halfway through Trump’s first presidential term, with the U.S.-Russia relationship still in tatters, it’s likely many in Moscow will be revisiting them. Before the release of the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian officialswould read through it before deciding whether they should share it with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It is America that is looking forward to the report’s release but we aren’t,” Peskov told reporters. But if Russian officials want to understand why Trump has failed to turn his sympathetic Russian rhetoric into action, they should read through the report closely.
Putin hoped Trump would revive the U.S.-Russia relationship. He was wrong. U.S. sanctions on Russia, clearly the biggest issue in that relationship, are not only still in place — they have been expanded. The Obama administration first installed these economic restrictions in 2014, following Russia’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, as well as the annexation of Crimea.
As a candidate, Trump had suggested he would be open to relaxing sanctions against Russia and perhaps even recognizing Crimea. “We’ll be looking at that. Yeah, we’ll be looking,” Trump said in July 2016.
But rather than providing sanctions relief, under the Trump administration more sanctions have been placed on Russia. Some of these sanctions were put in place in direct response to the allegations of U.S. election interference. Others are broader: Last year, Washington implemented further sanctions due to Russia’s “malign activity around the globe.”
In total, 700 Russian people and companies are currently targeted by U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile, the United States has not recognized Russian control of Crimea. Instead, it has codified its position that the peninsula is part of Ukraine with the Crimea Declaration of July 25, 2018. And the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era decision to not provide lethal weapons to the conflict and began supplying antitank missiles to Ukraine.
Trump has also been a vocal critic of European nations who sought to get oil from Russia through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg last July.
“Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have,” Trump said last year. As former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul noted last year, that isn’t quite accurate: Trump often distances himself from policies that target Russia. But it is true that his administration is tough on Russia — perhaps tougher than any in the post-Cold War era.
Is there a bright side to a Trump presidency for Russia? Some critics say that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces arms treaty with Russia this year was a win for Putin. Yes, perhaps, but it doesn’t match sanctions relief. Trump’s criticism of NATO and other U.S. alliances, as well as his wishes to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, are clearly in line with Russian thinking; they’re also inconclusive so far.
Trump remains preternaturally inclined toward praising Putin and often undermines his administration’s Russia policy. Last year, as he met Putin in Finland, he cast doubt upon his own intelligence agencies and suggested that the United States was partially to blame for the poor relationship with Russia. “I think that the United States has been foolish,” he said. “I think we’ve all been foolish.”
But the Mueller report helps explain why Trump’s rhetoric is so far from his actual policy. In the document, we see evidence of fumbles and failures, not necessarily of a grand conspiracy to collude with Russia. The campaign expected to benefit from information released by Russia, but, as Mueller notes, Russian offers of assistance often had trouble getting through.
A Russian proposal for a peace plan in Ukraine was conveyed to Paul Manafort, a Trump campaign adviser and later campaign chairman, but it is unclear if it ever reached Trump; it was never acted upon and Manafort resigned months ahead of the election. Russia’s main point of contact for proposed sanctions relief, Michael Flynn, briefly Trump’s national security adviser, left Trump’s orbit after lying to the FBI over his contacts with Russian diplomats.
At points, this chaotic approach seems to have inadvertently benefited the Trump clan. In the case of the Trump Tower meeting that Donald Trump Jr. attended in June 2016, ignorance of the law may be the only reason it wasn’t illegal. Mueller also notes that Trump ordered his staff to undertake many actions that could have been obstruction of justice: They often didn’t do it, potentially saving their boss from legal peril.
Meanwhile, scrutiny of Trump’s links to Moscow may have hemmed in his ability to make concessions in Russia’s favor. The American president may be willing to make big, bold decisions in other aspects of foreign policy, but he recognized the danger Mueller’s investigation posed to him. (“I’m fucked,” is how Trump put it, according to the special counsel’s report.)
Perhaps that’s why the Kremlin isn’t keen to read Mueller’s report. Its intervention in American politics has provided no clear upside: Many Americans feel that the Trump candidacy has made their country weaker. Russians may feel the same.

sábado, 30 de março de 2019

Putin seria tão poderoso quanto aparenta? - Andrew Higgins (NYT)

Putin seria tão poderoso quanto aparenta?

Há dúvidas se o presidente russo é um 'líder onipotente atacado por críticos' ou se está sentado sobre um governo em vias de desmoronar

Andrew Higgins, The New York Times, 28/03/2019

ORYOL, RÚSSIA - Depois de aguardar 19 meses em uma cadeia russa o processo por “extremismo”, Dennis O. Christensen, uma testemunha de Jeová da Dinamarca, detido por causa de sua religião, no fim do ano passado, recebeu um estímulo inesperado do presidente Vladimir V. Putin. 
Falando no Kremlin em dezembro, o presidente declarou que processar pessoas por sua religião era “um absurdo total” e que isto tinha de parar. Mas em vez de reprimir a campanha que ocorria em toda a Rússia contra as Testemunhas de Jeová, sua observação foi seguida por mais prisões; uma condenação e uma sentença a seis anos de prisão para Christensen; e por informações de tortura de crentes detidos na Sibéria. 
O fosso existente entre o que Putin fala e o que acontece na Rússia suscita uma indagação fundamental sobre a natureza de seu governo, depois de mais de 18 anos: será ele realmente o líder onipotente atacado pelos críticos e enaltecido por seus propagandistas? Ou ele estaria sentado sobre um Estado em vias de desmoronar, um sistema movido mais pelos cálculos caprichosos e frequentemente venais de burocratas e grupos de interesse que competem entre si do que pelas ordens do Kremlin? 
Ekaterina Schulmann, cientista política em Moscou e membro do Conselho para a Sociedade Civil e os Direitos Humanos de Putin, disse que o poder do presidente tem sido enormemente exagerado. “Este não é um império dirigido por uma pessoa, mas uma enorme máquina burocrática difícil de gerir, com suas próprias normas e princípios internos”, disse. “De tempos em tempos, acontece que o presidente diz alguma coisa, e então nada acontece ou mesmo o seu oposto”. 
Forças políticas e burocráticas reforçam e ao mesmo tempo minam o seu poder: os serviços de segurança, a Igreja ortodoxa russa, os oligarcas bilionários, as autoridades locais. “O sistema é disfuncional”, disse Andrew Wood, um ex-embaixador britânico em Moscou. “Homem nenhum poderia controlar tudo’. 
Para os ocidentais, acostumados a ver Putin pavonear-se diante da câmera e projetando uma aura de comando, estas afirmações podem parecer difíceis de acreditar. Depois que Putin chegou ao poder no fim de 1999, ele conteve a enorme desordem e as ruidosas lutas internas que, sob o seu antecessor, frequentemente embriagado, Boris Yeltsin, deixaram a Rússia com um Estado que mal funcionava. 
Mas muitos projetos que ele apoiou, como uma ponte crucial sobre o Rio Amur entre a Rússia e a China, e um empreendimento para a construção de uma rodovia entre Moscou e São Petersburgo, pararam
A construção de um centro de lançamento de foguetes no Extremo Oriente da Rússia, defendida por Putin como “um dos maiores e mais ambiciosos projetos da Rússia moderna” está levando anos além do planejado, emperrada pela corrupção, pelas greves de trabalhadores que não recebem salários e por outros problemas. 
O gabinete do Promotor Geral em Moscou afirma que US$ 150 milhões foram roubados do projeto, que segundo se afirma foi embargado por  17 mil infrações legais  de mais de mil pessoas. 
O desencontro entre as palavras de Putin e as ações do sistema voltou a ficar claro em fevereiro quando a polícia de Moscou prendeu Michael Calvey, fundador americano de um dos mais antigos e maiores fundos de investimentos para atender a Rússia, por acusações de fraude. Sua prisão contrariou as reiteradas afirmações de Putin de que a Rússia deve atrair investidores estrangeiros e impedir que as agências de segurança se misturem em disputas de negócios. 
Hoje, a Rússia não se parece com o país rigidamente regrado governado por Stalin, mas com a dilapidada autocracia da Rússia do início do século 19, segundo Ekaterina Schulmann. O governante da época, o czar Nicolau I, presidia burocratas corruptos que expandiram o território russo, levaram o país a uma guerra desastrosa na Crimeia e mergulharam a economia à estagnação em um beco sem saída. 
Nicolau tinha consciência dos limites do seu poder: “Não sou eu que governo a Rússia”, queixava-se. “São os 30 mil funcionários”. A diferença agora, disse Schulmann, é que há mais de 1,5 milhão de funcionários, ou burocratas. 
“O culto de Putin no topo de um ‘poder vertical’ todo-poderoso é um mito. Não existe”, afirmou Mark Galeotti, especialista britânico em questões russas. Ao contrário, acrescentou, Putin é “um borrão cinzento  que permite que nós todos criemos o nosso Putin”, todo-poderoso e maquiavélico ou lutando para manter unido um sistema decrépito. 
No seu discurso sobre o estado da nação, em fevereiro, Putin voltou a enfatizar a necessidade de deixar que os empresários trabalhem livremente. Observando que ele fez a mesma exigência em um discurso anterior, admitiu que “infelizmente, a situação não melhorou muito”. “Uma ditadura adequadamente conduzida parece muito diferente disto", afirmou Galeotti. Um autocrata controlado por 1.500 burocratas.

sexta-feira, 21 de dezembro de 2018

Russia, URSS, Russia: a trajetoria da economia politica - Adam Leeds

Se eu tivesse tempo, faria o download do podcast, que deve durar mais de uma hora (talvez o faça), mas fica o registro para os interessados:
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Adam Leeds on the Development of Soviet and Russian Economics, Episode 12

Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:16:28 — 46.7MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS | More

In this episode, Adam Leeds talks with Reinhard about his thesis “Spectral Liberalism: On the Subject of Political Economy in Moscow”, for which Adam won the 2018 “Joseph Dorfman Best Dissertation Prize” awarded by the History of Economics Society. We talk about the development of Soviet and Russian economics and its relationship with politics starting from the late tsarist era, the Soviet Union under first Lenin and Stalin, the post-Stalin era, Gorbachev’s reforms, ending with the development in the 1990s and early 2000s. The topics we discuss include Adam’s research approach of oral history, methodological issues about conducting interviews in Russia, and the relationship between anthropology and the history of economic thought.
Adam is an anthropologist (with an interest in the history of economics) and an assistant professor at Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University.

sexta-feira, 16 de novembro de 2018

Nothing divides Russians quite like the past - Vladimir Kara-Murza (Democracy Post)

Nothing divides Russians quite like the past
DemocracyPost, November 16 at 1:50 PM
November is heavy on historical dates. As world leaders gathered in Paris last week to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, Russians were remembering the 101st anniversary of the Bolshevik coup d’état that some still refer to as the “great October socialist revolution.”
Two rival commemorations were held in Moscow on Nov. 7. While the Communists rallied on Revolution Square, steps away from the Kremlin, brandishing red flags and the portraits of Lenin and Stalin, activists of the liberal Yabloko party brought flowers and a makeshift commemorative sign to the former Alexander Military Academy that served as the headquarters of the anti-Bolshevik resistance during the fighting in October and November 1917. “Our goal is to overcome the absence of memory and honor those who fought against dictatorship,” said Sergei Mitrokhin, one of Yabloko’s leaders. “A nation cannot forget its past and its heroes. If it does, it will cease to exist as a nation.”
Two thousand miles east, in Russia’s third-largest city of Novosibirsk, the past has also been playing out in political battles. Local Communists are pushing the municipal government to install a bust of Stalin on one of the city’s main streets. The mayor — a Communist himself — is sympathetic. “The very idea of a monument to Stalin is an insult to the memory of the victims of organized terror,” saidAlexander Rudnitsky, the head of the Novosibirsk branch of Memorial, an organization that works to commemorate the victims of Soviet repression. Thousands of Novosibirsk residents have signed a petitionopposing the initiative. The authorities retreated, for now: The city’s Arts Council last week decided against installing the Stalin bust, noting the likelihood of what it called “acts of vandalism.” Supporters of the dictator are vowing to press on.
It is impossible to imagine similar arguments over commemorations for Wladyslaw Gomulka in Poland or Walter Ulbricht in Germany. But unlike its neighbors, Russia only half-completed its de-Communization in the 1990s. While the Soviet Communist Party was banned by President Boris Yeltsin and found by Russia’s Constitutional Court to have been responsible for “repression directed at millions,” full state condemnation of the former regime never came. Most Soviet archives were never opened. And Communist apparatchiks or KGB operatives were never restricted from government positions. Under Vladimir Putin, the tacit public rehabilitation of the Soviet regime — and the open glorification of its security services — has accelerated. One of his first acts in office was reinstating the Stalin-era Soviet national anthem.
The memory of Soviet repression is an uncomfortable subject for a regime that prides itself on its KGB origins. The Russian government has officially branded Memorial a “foreign agent” — itself an insult to the memory of the victims of Communist terror, so many of whom were sent to their deaths on this very charge. Last month, the Moscow government attempted to ban the traditional vigil for the victims of Stalin’s Great Terror held every year near the memorial stone brought from the Solovki concentration camp and placed near the KGB headquarters. Realizing that people will come anyway, City Hall finally issued the permit. Thousands took part in the vigil, waiting in line for hours to read out names and light candles; the lines extended into the underpasses and nearby metro stations. Similar vigils were held in more than 30 cities across Russia.
This month’s historical dates are not yet over. Nov. 16 marks the 98th anniversary of the evacuation of General Pyotr Wrangel’s army from Crimea, the last major defeat of the White forces that all but secured Communist victory in the civil war. For most of 1920, a small White Russian state on the Crimean Peninsula held its ground against the Bolsheviks. The government of South Russia, headed by Prime Minister Alexander Krivoshein and with the prominent liberal statesman and philosopher Pyotr Struve as foreign minister, took steps to implement agrarian, administrative and labor reforms. In August, France officially recognized it as the legitimate government of Russia.
For a while it seemed that an alternative Russia might emerge — a small but determined foothold against the Soviets. (Many years later, this scenario was fictionalized in Vasily Aksyonov’s utopian novel “The Island of Crimea.”) It was not to be. That summer Britain withdrew its support from Wrangel, opening trade negotiations with the Bolsheviks and ordering its military mission and the Royal Navy out of Crimea. Having concluded a ceasefire with Poland, the Red Army moved south to eliminate the last opposition stronghold.
Between Nov. 13 and 16, Gen. Wrangel’s army conducted an ordered evacuation from Crimea; 126 ships sailed across the Black Sea to Constantinople carrying nearly 150,000 military personnel and civilians and leaving the Bolsheviks to claim the whole of Russia. “Three dozen countries in the world have fallen to Communism, and almost none of them managed to maintain a patch of independent territory where the broken national development could continue,” Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian author and dissident, said on his visit to Taiwan, a rare exception. “In Russia, Wrangel’s Crimea could have held on, but did not receive any outside support and, abandoned by its unfaithful European allies, was crushed by the Communists.”
Read more by Vladimir Kara-Murza:

segunda-feira, 13 de agosto de 2018

China is Not the Soviet Union - Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni é um dos melhores e maiores especialistas em relações internacionais nos EUA. Concordo absolutamente com ele, e fico surpreendido com a paranoia estúpida do Pentágono e das agências de inteligência e segurança dos EUA, ao tentar renovar para a China as mesmas obsessões equivocadas que os mesmos personagens mantinham em relação à URSS durante a Guerra Fria. Acho que impérios quando ficam velhos também ficam estúpidos: bem os EUA exibem apenas pouco mais de cem anos de desempenho imperial, mas como agora tudo corre mais rápido, pode ser que seus declínio também será rápido. Mister Trump faz tudo para acelerar o processo...
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

The National Interest, August 13, 2018  Topic: Security  Region: Asia 

China is Not the Soviet Union

Some are talking about China in the same expansionist terms as the late USSR—these assessments are wrong.
In evaluating recent alarmed assessments of China’s ambitions, one must recall that for decades the American intelligence community, in particular the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), vastly exaggerated the power and hence threat posed by the Soviet Union. These assessments were the basis of huge military outlays by the United States, as well as its military interventions in places such as Vietnam and Afghanistan, which Washington feared were the next “dominoes” to fall. These concerns were scaled back only after the USSR collapsed, mainly under its own weight. We are now told, in an article published in Newsweek , that “China is waging a ‘cold war’ against the United States and trying to displace it as the world’s leading superpower” according to Michael Collins, the deputy assistant director of the CIA's East Asia Mission Center. Newsweek adds that “His comments echo those of other U.S. intelligence chiefs, who earlier warned of the challenge posed by China’s bid for global influence.”
These claims fly in the face of a key observation: during the Cold War the USSR was an expansionist power, which strongly believed that it was called upon to impose its kind of regime on other nations—if need be, to occupy them to bring about the needed changes. The USSR openly sought to dominate the world. China shared this expansionist ideology but abandoned it decades ago. It has not invaded nor occupied any nation and although it prides itself on having developed its own kind of regime (authoritarian capitalism, my words)—it has shown few signs that it seeks to impose this kind of regime on other nations, let alone the world. 
The CIA official cited by Newsweek provides no evidence in support of his claims. It is provided by a leading anti-China hawk Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, in an article published in the Wall Street Journal . She asserts that China has “destabilized the region” by militarizing seven artificial islands. However, where are the signs that the region has been significantly affected, let alone destabilized? There have been no regime changes in any of the countries in the area. None of them have allied themselves with China. On the contrary, the United States has increased its military presence and ties in several of these countries, including Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and India. Freedom of navigation has not been curbed, despite various claims of exclusive zones. 
Ms. Economy repeats the often-cited fact that China opened one military base in Djibouti. The United States happens to have one in the same country, and—more than one hundred bases in other countries in the region. Economy is also alarmed by China’s Belt and Road Initiative: “Railroads, ports, pipelines and highways built by Chinese workers and funded by Chinese loans are already connecting countries across six global corridors.” It is true that China—which is highly dependent on a steady flow of energy and raw materials, because it has little of its own—is seeking to develop a variety of pathways to secure this flow. However, the various nations involved benefit from the improved infrastructure and enhanced trade. Economy finds that “Chinese state-owned companies have assumed control or a controlling stake in at least 76 ports in 35 countries” which is part of China’s drive to secure a steady and reliable flow of imports. Economy adds that “despite Beijing’s claims that such ports are only for commercial purposes, Chinese naval ships and submarines have paid visits to several of them.” It is a ritual all powers engage in, to show their feathers, to demonstrate friendly relationships, but hardly evidence of a Cold War. It would be a rather different story if Chinese warships were stationed in these countries. However, so far this is true only for American ones and those of its allies.
China has been reluctant to assume global responsibilities. It presents itself as a developing nation that needs to focus on its own growth. However, in recent years it has significantly increased its contributions to peacekeeping forces, foreign aid, humanitarian aid, and fights against piracy and terrorism. 
To the extent that China does loom larger on the global scene, it is largely due to the leadership vacuum created by President Trump. It is China that now is championing free trade, forging free trade agreements in its own region and with the EU. And it works with Russia and the EU to save the agreement with Iran. The Cold War metaphor seems hardly appropriate. 
Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor and Professor of International Relations at The George Washington University. He is the author of Avoiding War with China. A short film summarizes his international relations work.

sábado, 7 de julho de 2018

Russia-EUA; as relacoes ambiguas ou indefinidas - Carnegie Endowment

Os EUA de Trump configuram o primeiro caso de um império quase universal que renuncia deliberadamente à liderança em seus próprios termos – que no caso da América tradicional deveriam ser os de uma ordem liberal democrática fundada sobre a liberdade de mercados – e adere a uma visão do mundo introvertida, introspectiva, de abandono de suas obrigações com os satélites.
Curioso caso de suicídio imperial...
Paulo Roberto de Almeida 
Brasília, 7 de julho de 2018

Can the Trump-Putin Summit Restore Guardrails to the U.S.-Russian Relationship?

President Donald Trump’s habit of challenging the Washington establishment and upending decades of U.S. foreign policy conventions is by now well documented. Equally well documented is his desire to change the course of U.S.-Russian relations. Therefore, his meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16 should not come as a surprise to anyone. Trump’s many pronouncements on Russia and Putin over the years leave no doubt that he is eager to turn the page on any number of hot-button issues, including Putin’s annexation of Crimea, the wars in eastern Ukraine and Syria, the multiple rounds of sanctions, and Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
Moreover, Trump’s desire “to get along” with Russia is hardly unprecedented. Since the end of the Cold War, every U.S. and Russian president has similarly attempted to develop a cooperative bilateral and personal relationship. Each attempt has ended in bitter disappointment, leaving U.S.-Russian relations in even worse shape. The relationship has been through a series of booms invariably followed by busts, highlighting very real differences between them that no amount of presidential bonhomie can overcome.
What is needed today is not another symbolic handshake or commitment to move past the old differences, but rather a sober look at the root causes of successive crises in U.S.-Russian relations as well as a clearer understanding of why major disagreements have lingered despite both sides’ attempts at reconciliation.
Putting those disagreements aside is not the same as resolving them. The underlying causes of past crises have been ignored. If the relationship between Moscow and Washington is to move beyond the boom-bust cycle, the key question is whether these differences and their causes can be addressed. Observers are skeptical that the meeting in Helsinki can accomplish that but hope that the two presidents can launch a much-needed yet long-delayed dialogue about the true state of the U.S.-Russian relationship. That alone could be a major accomplishment of the first full-fledged Trump-Putin summit.

A Clash of Visions

At the heart of the long-standing conflict between Russia and the United States is a disagreement about their respective approaches to the conduct of foreign affairs. Until Trump arrived on the scene, the United States traditionally championed (even though admittedly it has not always adhered to it) the international liberal order—including political liberalism, economic liberalism, and liberalism in international relations—and actively promoted liberal values beyond its borders. Russia has adhered to a very different—realist—philosophy and stressed the importance of national interests rather than liberal values in the conduct of its foreign policy. As much as the United States has sought to promote the international liberal order, Russia has resisted its expansion, especially in areas that could touch on Russian interests.
This fundamental disagreement has hardly been addressed, let alone resolved in the course of the entire post–Cold War history of the bilateral relationship. (While there are abundant signs that Trump sees the international liberal order as fundamentally harmful to the political and economic vitality of the United States, he is learning that its continued existence is hard to wish away or dismantle overnight.)
The U.S. national security establishment—buoyed by a perceived victory in the Cold War and the failure of the Soviet Union and its discredited ideology—took largely a laissez-faire approach to this problem, firmly believing that Washington was on the right side of history. The establishment believed that any opponents would sooner or later realize the errors of their ways and embrace its worldview. And if they did not, they would eventually pay the price for resisting the forces of history.
Their Russian counterparts rejected the proposition that they had lost the Cold War and refused to accept the consequences of the West’s victory. Moscow’s vision has been deeply affected by its experience at the end of the Cold War and guided by a firm resolve to prevent it from being repeated. Since the mid-1990s, resistance to the U.S.-led liberal order has been the centerpiece of Russia’s foreign policy. With neither side willing or able to compromise and each convinced that it has chosen the only viable path, their fundamental disagreement has put a powerful brake on successive attempts to repair the relationship and set it on a sustained, mutually beneficial track.

Cycles of Frustration

And such attempts by U.S. presidential administrations have been made repeatedly. Bill Clinton’s administration’s partnership for reform with Russia was intended to help Russia transform itself into a market economy and democratic society, which was expected, in turn, to make it a willing member of the international liberal order. The offer of partnership with NATO was intended to assuage Russian concerns about NATO as a threatening military alliance, as it expanded into Central Europe. These pursuits were premised on the expectation that Russia would change and follow the U.S. lead.
George W. Bush’s administration had hoped to transform the relationship in the wake of 9/11 and redefine the strategic nuclear relationship with Russia by moving away from the concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD) and the legacy of what it believed were obsolete, binding arms control agreements inherited from the Cold War. As a practical matter, the United States withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which the Russians regarded as a cornerstone of strategic stability. The underlying logic of this approach was that if the two countries were no longer in an adversarial relationship and no longer threatened each other, they could dispense with that legacy. Beyond the nuclear realm, the Bush administration engaged in democracy promotion as a means of spreading stability and prosperity. Russia rejected both the idea of moving past MAD and the historical inevitability of democratic change as profoundly threatening to its interests.
Barack Obama’s administration’s attempt to “reset” the relationship with Russia in the aftermath of the 2008 Russian-Georgian war also paid little heed to the underlying causes of the conflict between Russia and the United States. With “modernization” as its principal theme, this policy, just as its predecessors, was premised on the idea of encouraging domestic change in Russia that would ultimately lead to changes in its foreign policy and acceptance of the U.S.-led international liberal order. None of this happened.
U.S. policymakers were not the only ones frustrated. Their Russian counterparts too had many frustrations and complaints about U.S. handling of the bilateral relationship, which they have voiced repeatedly over the past three decades. The Russian narrative includes broken U.S. promises not to expand NATO, interference in Russian domestic politics and use of double standards when criticizing it for its democracy deficit, refusal to treat Russia as a peer, reliance on economic sanctions to achieve desired political and diplomatic outcomes, withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, unilateral use of military force, and regime change and destabilization under the guise of democracy promotion in countries within Russia’s self-proclaimed sphere of interests or that are simply friendly to it.

Different Approaches, Same Result

Aside from unrealistic expectations, the successive attempts to improve U.S.-Russian relations often had a significant structural flaw, reflecting important differences between U.S. and Russian policymaking. The U.S. approach to the relationship typically favors small steps and modest initiatives that bubble up from within the national security establishment and seek to promote understandings on a relatively narrow set of issues. If progress is achieved, it can serve as a springboard for expanding the conversation and hopefully achieving further progress on a broader agenda. Eventually, the series of incremental successes will build up to a broad, U.S.-driven strategic agenda and rise to the level of a presidential deliverable.
The Russian approach to the relationship is exactly the opposite. It begins with a broad understanding about the quality of the relationship at the highest level, which provides strategic guidance for lower-level policymakers to reach agreements on individual components of the jointly designed overall agenda. It is an approach that favors grand bargains among equals and unvarnished realpolitik rather than small steps.
Regardless of whose approach is more likely to result in an improved relationship, it is dubious that the Kremlin or the White House is actually in a position to test it at the moment. Instead, both appear poised to sustain the tensions, each blaming the other side for the current state of affairs. The political atmosphere in both capitals is such that any proposal for a compromise with the other side is certain to trigger charges of surrender and betrayal of national interest. A corrosive lack of trust is omnipresent.
In Russia, the United States is widely portrayed as a country governed by a “deep state,” an entrenched elite guided by profound antipathy toward Russia and intent on marginalizing Russia on the world stage, destabilizing its domestic politics, and undermining its economy. This entrenched elite is so powerful, according to this narrative, that it can thwart presidential initiatives aimed at improving relations with Russia. Under these circumstances and congressional moves to tie Trump’s hands, the Kremlin appears to have written off the United States as a potential partner for the foreseeable future. Consequently, there is very little chance for another reset, and the current state of affairs between Moscow and Washington is here to stay.
In the United States, Russia has emerged as both the “geopolitical enemy number one” and, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s, not just a source of external threats to U.S. national security and interests abroad but also a threat to its domestic political order. The list of U.S. concerns includes, but is not limited to, Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the use of social media by Russian state-sponsored actors to sow internal U.S. political divisions, Russian cyber intrusions aimed at disrupting U.S. critical infrastructure and networks, the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, support for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, suppression of civil liberties in Russia, and, more broadly, Russian efforts to undermine the U.S.-championed international liberal order. Taken together, these concerns amount to a powerful indictment and, quite understandably, help cement doubts in many quarters about the wisdom of seeking better relations with Russia.

Emphasis on Managing

Nevertheless, further tensions between Russia and the United States are fraught with dangers that neither side would welcome. As demonstrated by the choreography involved in U.S. and Russian activities in Syria, neither side is seeking an outright military confrontation. Should such a confrontation occur, it would be as a consequence of a miscalculation or an accident. Both sides’ interests would be better served by mutual efforts focused on managing an inherently competitive, and oftentimes adversarial, relationship rather than engaging in brinkmanship.
Such efforts could build on some modest accomplishments that have already proved effective in tense and potentially dangerous situations. For example, military-to-military contacts at the highest level—between Russia’s Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov and his U.S. counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford—have created an effective channel for communication and for lower-level efforts to deconflict the two militaries’ activities in Syria. (A deadly incident in Deir Ezzor on February 7, 2018, involving Russian private military contractors was a crucial exception to the rule.) A similar effort is urgently needed to manage U.S. and Russian military activities in the airspace and at sea in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. With neither side willing to cease its military activities in either region yet evidently not interested in an outright collision, both sides should, in theory, have incentives to avoid an accident there.
In the words of Dmitri Trenin,
The issue is not that Russian daredevils are performing acts of hooliganism in the air or that NATO pilots in international airspace are unaware that they are coming too close to Russian borders or assets. Each side seeks to make a point to the other, and neither is willing to step back, thus continuing the dangerous game. The only way out of this situation lies in a mutual understanding to stop testing each other’s nerves and aerobatic skills and instead to observe a protocol under which neither party provokes the other. This could be a first, relatively easy step toward military de-escalation.
Beyond the immediate danger of an unintended military confrontation on Europe’s southern and northern flanks, one other issue requiring immediate attention is arms control. Mutual accusations of violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the approaching expiration of the New START Treaty in 2021 underscore the precarious state of the entire bilateral arms control structure the United States and Russia have inherited from the Cold War era. Even though it is increasingly inadequate to constrain the reemerging arms race between the two nuclear superpowers, and leaves out other nuclear powers, including China, that structure could provide an indispensable foundation for future efforts to manage and contain their arms race, as well as possibly involve other nuclear powers in these efforts. The collapse of that structure would cause irreparable harm to future bilateral and multilateral arms control and U.S.-Russia strategic stability. It would not serve the interests of either side.
Although the political climate in both capitals is not propitious for seeking compromises, there is no plausible argument for not engaging in dialogue about the INF Treaty, each side’s charges of the other’s violations, the future of arms control, and strategic stability. It would be unrealistic to expect such a dialogue to produce a resolution of the dispute about the INF Treaty. However, if conducted in good faith, it could clarify each side’s position and concerns and, potentially, lead to the development of a conceptual framework for resolving the dispute. It is difficult to see the risk entailed in such a dialogue, while it could produce substantial benefits. U.S. and Russian official delegations met in September 2017 for strategic stability talks. Another meeting was scheduled for April 2018 but postponed without a new date. This dialogue should be resumed. The potential agenda should comprise new issues, including the risk that new cyber capabilities pose to strategic command and control and long-standing Russian concerns about U.S. missile defense deployments and conventional strategic systems.
Moreover, official dialogue should be supplemented by Track II or Track 1.5 engagement between U.S. and Russian experts. In the past, such contacts were useful for testing concepts and exploring new ideas in an unofficial setting, which subsequently fed into official exchanges. In the current atmosphere of tensions reminiscent of the Cold War, unofficial contacts could once again prove useful, assuming that they actually have buy-in from officials on both sides.
While useful and urgently needed, none of the measures sketched out in the preceding paragraphs is likely to repair the relationship or amount to more than minimal steps necessary for managing it and preventing it from deteriorating further and causing irreparable damage to its key components. Moreover, while necessary, they may not be sufficient to avert further setbacks in the relationship.
The real work to repair U.S.-Russian relations will have to be done at the political level. It will have to begin with lowering the heat of political rhetoric in both Washington and Moscow and conducting a high-level dialogue about the nature of major disagreements and mutual grievances and about their goals, expectations, and desired rules of the road for the relationship. Such a dialogue could can be advanced by more informal discussions between senior U.S. and Russian figures who are less constrained by official roles.
In preparation for political dialogue, each side could take some significant steps to signal the seriousness of its intent and lack of interest in further escalation of tensions. Such steps would not have to be symmetrical but could instead be aimed at addressing some of the other side’s more significant concerns. Conceivably, both sides could take proactive steps to signal their interest in deescalating tensions and halting the destructive cycle.
For example, the military stand-off between Russia and the West is becoming a permanent feature of increased tensions between the two sides. This is a direct result of Russia’s ongoing military modernization efforts and troop deployments and NATO’s efforts to reestablish the credibility of Article 5 commitments for frontline member countries in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. It is unlikely that either side will have an incentive to scale back or defer deployments or training activities along the NATO-Russia frontier any time soon. Still, it is possible that Trump will make a grand gesture akin to his spontaneous decision at the June 2018 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to suspend major military exercises with South Korea.
It’s also conceivable that the Kremlin could begin to exercise greater restraint in deliberate harassment of U.S. ships and aircraft operating in international waters and airspace in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. Such a move by the Kremlin would be cost-free and entail no permanent changes to its operations in either region but would send an important signal to Washington about the Russian leadership’s desire for deescalation or at least not escalation. For its part, NATO could underscore that the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act’s “three no’s” commitment—which pledged that no nuclear or substantial combat forces would be deployed on the territory of new member states as long as NATO and Russia “build together a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and cooperative security”—is still in effect and that the alliance’s post-2014 forward deployments constitute a response to Russian actions.
Sanctions, which have become the central tool of U.S. policy toward Russia, represent an even more complicated challenge. For the Kremlin, the U.S. sanctions constitute both a challenge and an opportunity. They restrict Western investment and technology transfer, but they also have a rallying-around-the-flag effect that consolidates Russian elites. Furthermore, they prompt Moscow to look for partners beyond the West and redefine Russia’s position as a non-Western global player operating from its base in northern and central Eurasia.
On the one hand, the sanctions program has provided an effective tool for curtailing business as usual, punishing Russia for various actions, and, some would claim, probably deterring future disruptive behavior (at least, on the margins). On the other hand, Western sanctions are not, in and of themselves, a substitute for an effective policy unless they are paired with a coherent diplomatic strategy. For example, the Iran nuclear deal, now abandoned by the Trump administration but otherwise viewed widely as a diplomatic success, was achieved with the help of a dual-track approach that combined increasingly severe sanctions with sustained negotiations. The diplomatic track included a multilateral road map with sanctions relief and other incentives. Such concepts are conspicuously missing from current U.S. policy toward Russia. Policymakers must begin to articulate practical policy outcomes that inform the future use of sanctions.


The current state of affairs between Russia and the United States is somewhat of a paradox. There is a deep reluctance in both capitals to admit that they are once again in a Cold War. Yet there is broad consensus that the differences between them are real and profound. Voices in both capitals point out the dangers associated with the current state of affairs, the lack of reliable political channels of communications, and the risk of unintended escalation. These sensible voices are realistic about the likelihood of the relationship being repaired overnight as a result of a brief meeting between the two presidents.
The experience of the Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore suggests that such a brief encounter cannot resolve the differences that have accumulated in the course of decades. But the experience of the Singapore summit also suggests that such encounters can create a positive atmosphere for the real hard work of repairing relations to begin. The Trump-Putin summit potentially can accomplish the same, very important results. It can empower the reasonable voices to begin the conversation in earnest about the state of the relationship, about ways to repair it, and, at the very least, a mutually acceptable way for managing it. If that is the outcome of the Trump-Putin summit, it should rightly be called a success.