News of the Biden-Putin summit is a rare positive signal amid an otherwise doom and gloom atmosphere as U.S.-Russian relations have sunk to historic lows.
In reviewing the content of a possible summit agenda, it is vital to have a clear understanding that the main reasons for the crisis are not Russia’s supposed interference in U.S. elections, SolarWinds hacking, treatment of Alexei Navalny, Taliban bounties or the events in Ukraine, Crimea or Syria.
They are to be found in Washington’s self-proclaiming role as the exceptional and indispensable hegemonic world leader and Russia’s rejection of said claim.
In one of his answers to an American reporter, President Vladimir Putin had this to say: “When someone says that the U.S. is an exceptional nation, with special, exclusive rights in the world, I cannot agree. God created us all equal and gave us equal rights.”
Nevertheless, in earlier years, the USSR under Mikhail Gorbachev and Russia under Boris Yeltsin were ready to become a junior partner of the United States in exchange for promised security guarantees and economic assistance. History unfolded differently, as we all know.
Contrary to George H.W. Bush’s pledge to build a security arch “from Vancouver to Vladivostok,” NATO started its “drang nach Osten” campaign and almost doubled its membership with the strategic goal of encircling Russia. As for the “assistance” promised by the Clinton administration, all Russia got between 1993 and 2001 were numerous “advisers” who joined local oligarchs to rob the country and bring its economy into default.
Note what Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said in August 1999:
“What makes the Russian case so sad is that the Clinton administration may have squandered one of the most precious assets imaginable — which is the idealism and goodwill of the Russian people as they emerged from 70 years of Communist rule. The Russia debacle may haunt us for generations. Gore played a key role in that messy process, and he has a lot of explaining to do,” states Mr. Ignatius who added that evidence of “damning details of U.S. complicity in this process” cited by The Post’s former Moscow bureau chief Robert Kaiser.
Well, that was in 1999, from a paper that nowadays, along with the rest (with rare exceptions) of U.S. mainstream media, is doing everything possible to promote the fake “Russiagate” hysteria and block any other story that does not fit the established narrative.
Mr. Putin started his first term in 2001 by offering a post-9/11 America more help in Afghanistan than all NATO members combined. He also suggested the creation of a U.S.-Russian strategic partnership or even an alliance similar to what occurred during World War II, but on the condition that this alliance be built on the terms of equal partnership.
For the Washington establishment, this common-sense proposal was deemed totally unacceptable. Instead, Mr. Bush abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, invaded Iraq in clear violation of international law, started a virulent democracy promotion and color revolutions crusade on post-Soviet space, meddled in the 2004 Ukrainian election, and pushed for further NATO expansion to include Ukraine and Georgia, which for Moscow is still a red line.
Barack Obama followed in Mr. Bush’s steps by continuing previous wars and launching a series of new ones that brought additional devastation and misery to millions of people. The most provocative Obama action for Russia was his support of the 2014 regime change coup in Ukraine.
Although Mr. Trump pledged to end all these wars, he failed miserably. In the end, he lost his presidency in large degree because of resistance from MICIMATT, the term coined by former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern. MICIMATT — Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank Complex — is a powerful body whose prize assets include President Biden, who as a senator and vice president supported all these wars, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who worked for Mr. Biden all these years.
Does it mean that the upcoming summit will be a waste of time or even could do more harm than good?
It depends on whether Mr. Biden finally comes to his senses and accepts the reality that his publicly stated intention to sit at the head of the world table was a mistake, because this table is round nowadays, and whether he offers Mr. Putin win-win proposals to benefit both nations and mankind.
If Mr. Biden can do that, then the sky is the limit for cooperative projects, including nuclear and cyberweapons treaties, medical research, space exploration, the Arctic, solutions for water and food shortages in many parts of the world, discovering new sources of energy, and cooling hot spots in the Middle East and Ukraine.
The upcoming U.S.-Russia summit might provide such an opportunity if conducted in the “Spirit of the Elbe,” when our countries worked as allies to bring about V-E Day to defeat Nazi Germany.
On April 25, 2021, the 76th anniversary of the meeting on the Elbe, many American, Russian, European and Eurasian nongovernmental organizations launched the movement Preserve Peace — Plant Trees — Save the Planet in the Elbe spirit.
This movement calls for the mass planting of trees to generate goodwill among nations and for environmental reasons. According to scientists, Earth has enough space to plant an extra trillion trees that would significantly contribute to carbon sequestration.
It would be a good idea if Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin, on the eve of the summit, each plants a friendship tree at the White House and Kremlin with the participation of other countries’ ambassadors as a gesture toward a successful summit outcome.
• Edward Lozansky is president of American University in Moscow.