- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hating America

The U.S. ambassador to Russia blamed a misunderstanding of U.S. motives for much of the anti-American attitude in the former Soviet Union.

“You would have to be blind not to see the growth of anti-American sentiment in Russia today,” Ambassador William J. Burns said in an interview this month on the Web version of Moscow’s Expert Magazine.

He cited opposition to the war in Iraq for some anger at the United States but suggested a broader reaction to U.S. policy came from Russia’s own suspicions of American motives.

“My impression is that many Russians believe that Americans don’t understand how complicated the past 15 years have been for Russia, that Americans are a little too quick to lecture and to criticize and that Americans have been saying for the last 15 years that we welcome the revival of Russia as a great power but that we really didn’t mean it and are uncomfortable with that revival and somehow seek to limit it,” Mr. Burns said.

“There is also a sense amongst many Russians that Americans tend to take Russia and Russian interests for granted and that Americans have tried to take advantage of Russia.

“I don’t agree with that, but I think that is the impression that many Russians have developed.”

Mr. Burns insisted that Washington places great value in good relations with Moscow, especially during this year’s recognition of two centuries of diplomatic contacts between Russia and the United States.

“It is especially important this year … for Russians and Americans to respect and understand one another’s history,” he said.

Mr. Burns also predicted that President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin will find some way to ease Russian objections to a U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Victims of terror

U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney remembers hearing the explosion from her State Department office on September 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.

As ambassador to Ecuador a year later, she met with “distraught families of innocent victims” of kidnapping and murder committed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia on cross-border raids.

In her latest assignment as ambassador to the Philippines, she paid respects to the victims of a terrorist bomb last year at the Sulu Consumers’ Cooperative in Jolo.

Mrs. Kenney recalled those experiences, as she spoke at a commemoration this month for “Victims and Heroes of Terrorism” at a ceremony at the presidential residence in Manila.

She told Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that “America is proud to stand with you” as “we reject terrorism and violence and as we respect and honor the heroes of peace and freedom and the victims of acts of terrorism.”

“Terrorists seek to destroy societies, communities and families,” Mrs. Kenney said. “Terrorists do not respect borders or discriminate when seeking victims. We must be the voice for those whose lives were lost or forever changed by terrorism.”

Protecting culture

Cyprus and the United States closed a loophole in a bilateral agreement to prevent the smuggling of ancient Cypriot coins to the U.S. antiques market, Cypriot Ambassador Andreas Kakouris said.

“Coins constitute an inseparable part of our cultural heritage, and the pillage they are subjected to is the same as other archaeological artifacts,” he said.

Mr. Kakouris and R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, signed a five-year extension of the memorandum of understanding that restricted the import of antiquities without the authorization of Cypriot authorities. The original 2002 document failed to include coins from the 6th century B.C. to 235 A.D.

c Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.