One would assume that in times of major upheavals all of us realize how fragile this beautiful planet Earth and its entire living species are.
The number of the threats to our survival is constantly growing with the recent addition of COVID-19 to an already weighty list that included nuclear security, international terrorism, climate change, and even asteroid strike, to name just a few.
Some “strategic thinkers” in Washington continue to claim that most of these problems are caused by outside state and non-state actors, and that the solution lies in maintaining U.S. world dominance. They simply cannot let go the illusion that the end of Cold War meant the final and total victory by the West and from now on the “exceptional” and “indispensable” Western leader, which is America, has become the sole superpower that must unilaterally run the show on this planet.
However, in his recent book “The Age of Illusions,” American historian and bestselling author Andrew Bacevich explains how, within a quarter of a century, the United States ended up with gaping inequality, permanent war, moral confusion, and an increasingly angry and alienated population.
The same “thinkers” are blaming it all on Russia or China for somehow managing to hijack U.S. democracy and turn Americans against each other. Not only does this fake theory denigrates the intellectual level of American people who can be so easily manipulated by a relatively negligible number of posts in the social media, but it does not solve the problem and only pushes us closer to World WAR III and the end of our civilization as we know it.
Another option is to try to turn the enemies into allies like we did in WWII and the upcoming celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany provides a perfect opportunity to do that. When the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition come together to honor war veterans and at the same time call for the unity toward global dangers facing the humankind, they make an important step in right direction.
During the last G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited foreign heads of state to visit Moscow on May 9, 2020 for the Victory Day (the date might be postponed due to coronavirus pandemic) exactly for this purpose.
Many foreign leaders, Xi Jinping of China and Narendra Modi of India among them, have accepted this invitation. However, it looks like only French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to represent Russia’s World War II Western allies in Moscow on that day.
President Trump had expressed interest in attending but in the end changed his mind. Most likely he and his advisers felt that during an election year this trip would be used by Russiagaters as yet another proof of Mr. Trump playing into the Kremlin’s hands. Sadly, we live in times when even the fact of honoring war veterans and talking about preserving peace can be used for political games.
In Mr. Trump’s absence, Mr. Macron is becoming the major Western leader wanting to reshape European security by bringing Russia into the fold. Presently, Mr. Macron has positioned himself to assume the mantle of Europe’s foremost leader after German Chancellor Angela Merkel retires next year.
Still, for Mr. Trump there is another important date that he cannot ignore, which is April 25, 2020. On that day 75 years ago, U.S. and Soviet forces met at the Elbe River, thereby successfully cutting the German Nazi army in two. The historical “Meeting on the Elbe” was heralded around the world since it signaled the approaching end of the Nazi regime and Allied victory in WWII.
For many years, American and Russian veterans, as well as public organizations, have kept the spirit of that Elbe River linkage alive with commemorations and reunions and by erecting monuments, plaques and statues in our two countries, often with the support of the respective embassies and officials from the U.S. State Department and Russian Foreign Ministry.
In this paper, U.S. and Russian activists even proposed a Trump-Putin summit on that day, April 25, in the city of Torgau on the Elbe River, where this linkage took place 75 years ago.
While at the present circumstances the summit is impossible, Mr. Trump should record a video message to the American and Russian people congratulating them on the 75th anniversary of our joint victory in WWII and adding other thoughts that he feels are appropriate on such an occasion.
That would be a great step toward normalizing relations between our countries, reducing tensions and concentrating on a mutually beneficial cooperation which the world badly needs today.
There is no doubt that Mr. Trump’s electoral base would overwhelmingly support this idea, as it did during the 2016 elections when Mr. Trump talked about his desire to improve U.S.–Russia relations.
Edward Lozansky is president of the American University in Moscow.