- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MOSCOW — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accused members of the U.S. and Russian governments Wednesday of continuing to live in the Cold War two decades after its end, saying their mistrust of each other must be proved wrong.

As she ended a two-day visit to Russia designed to further improve the Obama administration’s already warm relations with Moscow, Mrs. Clinton issued a rare rebuke of some of her colleagues in Washington, though she did not name them.

“We have people in our government, and you have people in your government, who are still living in the past,” she told a hall packed with hundreds of students at Moscow State University. “They do not believe the United States and Russia can cooperate to this extent. They do not trust each other, and we have to prove them wrong.”

For years, it was common for U.S. officials to blame the Russians’ inability to move past the Cold War for the many problems between the two countries since the Soviet Union’s collapse. That was a frequent practice by members of the George W. Bush administration, though it was mostly done in private.

Mrs. Clinton’s pointing a finger at the Americans, as well as the Russians, is certain to anger some conservatives and members of the military who tend to mistrust the Russians or at least be suspicious of them.

“I believe one of the greatest responsibilities we have as human beings is to open ourselves up to the possibility that we could be wrong,” Mrs. Clinton said. “One of the greatest threats we face is from people who believe they are absolutely, certainly right about everything, and they have the only truth and it was passed on to them by God.”

President Obama and Mrs. Clinton have been trying to “reset” relations with Moscow after years of tensions under the previous administration. Last month, Mr. Obama revised Mr. Bush’s plans for a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe that had been blasted by Russia, even though its purpose would have been to counter threats from Iran. The two countries also reported progress on negotiations to cut further their nuclear arsenals.

“I chose partnership, and I chose to put aside being a child of the Cold War. I chose to move beyond the rhetoric and the propaganda that came from my government and yours,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I chose a different future, and that’s a choice every one of us can make every single day, and I look forward to sharing that future with you.”

During the town-hall meeting with the students — a staple of her overseas trips — the secretary also conceded that the United States made mistakes that led to the global financial crisis.

“In retrospect, there are steps that could have been and should have been taken in our country and elsewhere around the world that were not,” she said. “It’s important, as we try to restart the engine of economic growth, to learn from the mistakes of the past. But that doesn’t mean we are going to avoid making new mistakes.”

Later Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton traveled to Kazan, the capital of religiously and ethnically diverse Tatarstan, east of Moscow. “I want to see that for myself and hear how successful that has been,” she said in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio before leaving Moscow.

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