Russia Is Our Friend

Last May I was in Russia when fascists held a rally in my hometown of Charlottesville, not to be confused with their larger rally which followed in August. At the May rally, people shouted “Russia is our friend.” I was on a Russian TV show called Crosstalk the next day and discussed this. I also discussed it with other Russians, actual friends in the human sense. Some of them were completely bewildered, arguing that Russia never had slavery and couldn’t be the friend of Confederate-flag-waving people whom they saw as advocates for slavery. (Anti-Russian Ukrainians have also waved Confederate flags.)

I don’t think slavery or serfdom was on the minds of the people shouting “Russia is our friend.” Rather they believed the Democratic/Liberal accusation that the Russian government had tried to help make Donald Trump President, and they approved. They may also have thought of Russia as a “white” ally in their cause of white supremacy.

I think there is a case to made that, in fact, in a very different sense, “Russia is our friend.” It’s a case that could fill volumes. I don’t make this case suffering under some delusion of the perfect saintliness of the Russian government, neither now nor at any time in history. In 2015, the Russian military approached me and asked if I would publish their propaganda under my own name. I told them to go to hell publicly. I’ve had Russian media censor my criticisms of Russia and highlight my criticisms of the United States (yet allow more criticism of Russia than big U.S. media allows criticism of U.S. foreign policy).

I make the following case because I think it is overwhelming yet fervently ignored. I’ll just note a few highlights.

While the United States and Russia were war allies during World War I, the United States, in 1917, sent funding to one side, the anti-revolutionary side of a Russian civil war, worked to blockade the Soviet Union, and, in 1918, sent U.S. troops to Murmansk, Archangel, and Vladivostok in an attempt to overthrow the new Russian government. They abandoned the effort and withdrew in April, 1920. Most people in the United States do not know this, but many more Russians do.

The threat of the communists, as an example, albeit a deeply flawed one, of taking wealth away from oligarchs was a driving force in U.S. foreign affairs from 1920 up to, all during, and long after World War II. Senator and future president Harry Truman was far from alone in wishing to help the Russians if the Germans were winning, but the Germans if the Russians were winning, so that more of both would die. Senator Robert Taft proclaimed an elite view, shared by some West Point generals, that a victory for fascism would be better than a victory for communism. Wall Street had helped to build up Nazi Germany. Without the help of IBM, General Motors, Ford, Standard Oil, and other U.S. businesses right through the war, the Nazis could not have done what they did. The U.S. government was complicit in these acts of treason, avoiding bombing U.S. factories in Germany, and even compensating U.S. businesses for damage when hit.

The Russians had turned the tied [tide] against the Nazis outside Moscow and begun pushing the Germans back before the United States ever entered World War II. The Soviets implored the United States to attack Germany from the west from that moment until the summer of 1944 — that is to say, for two-and-a-half years. Wanting the Russians to do most of the killing and dying — which they did — the U.S. and Britain also did not want the Soviet Union making a new deal with or taking sole control of Germany. The allies agreed that any defeated nation would have to surrender to all of them and completely. The Russians went along with this.

Yet in Italy, Greece, France, etc., the U.S. and Britain cut Russia out almost completely, banned communists, shut out leftist resisters to the Nazis, and re-imposed rightwing governments that the Italians called “fascism without Mussolini.” The U.S. would “leave behind” spies and terrorists and saboteurs in various European countries to fend off any communist influence.

Originally scheduled for the first day of Roosevelt’s and Churchill’s meeting with Stalin in Yalta, the U.S. and British bombed the city of Dresden flat, destroying its buildings and its artwork and its civilian population, apparently as a means of threatening Russia. The United States then developed and used on Japanese cities nuclear bombs, a decision driven largely by the desire to see Japan surrender to the United States alone, without the Soviet Union, and by the desire to threaten the Soviet Union.

Immediately upon German surrender, Winston Churchill proposed using Nazi troops together with allied troops to attack the Soviet Union, the nation that had just done the bulk of the work of defeating the Nazis. This was not an off-the-cuff proposal. The U.S. and British had sought and achieved partial German surrenders, had kept German troops armed and ready, and had debriefed German commanders on lessons learned from their failure against the Russians. Attacking the Russians sooner rather than later was a view advocated by General George Patton, and by Hitler’s replacement Admiral Karl Donitz, not to mention Allen Dulles and the OSS. Dulles made a separate peace with Germany in Italy to cut out the Russians, and began sabotaging democracy in Europe immediately and empowering former Nazis in Germany, as well as importing them into the U.S. military to focus on war against Russia.

The war launched was a cold one. The U.S. worked to make sure that West German companies would rebuild quickly but not pay war reparations owed to the Soviet Union. While the Soviets were willing to withdraw from countries like Finland, their demand for a buffer between Russia and Europe hardened as the U.S.-led Cold War grew, in particular the oxymoronic “nuclear diplomacy.”

Lies about Soviet threats and missile gaps and Russian tanks in Korea and global communist conspiracies became the biggest profit makers for U.S. weapons companies, not to mention Hollywood movie studios, in history, as well as the biggest threat to peace in various corners of the globe. The United States drew Russia into a war in Afghanistan and armed its opponents. Efforts at nuclear disarmament and diplomacy, which more often than not came from the Soviet side, were routinely thwarted by Americans. When Eisenhower and Khrushchev seemed likely to talk peace, a U.S. spy plane was shot down, just after an American who’d been involved with those planes defected to Russia. When Kennedy seemed interested in peace, he was killed, purportedly by that very same American.

When Germany reunited, the United States and allies lied to the Russians that NATO would not expand. Then NATO quickly began expanding eastward. Meanwhile the United States openly bragged about imposing Boris Yeltsin and corrupt crony capitalism on Russia by interfering in a Russian election in collusion with Yeltsin. NATO developed into an aggressive global war maker and expanded right up to Russia’s borders, where the United States began installing missiles. Russian requests to join NATO or Europe were dismissed out of hand. Russia was to remain a designated enemy, even without the communism, and even without constituting any threat or engaging in any hostility.

When Russia gave the United States a memorial in sorrow for the victims of 9/11, the United States practically hid it, and reported on it so little that most people don’t know it exists or believe it’s a false story.

When Russia has proposed to make treaties on weapons in space or cyber war or nuclear missiles, the United States has regularly rejected such moves. Russia’s advocacy for the Iran agreement meant nothing. Obama and Trump have expelled Russian diplomats. Obama helped facilitate a coup in Ukraine. Trump has begun weapons shipments to the coup government, which includes Nazis. Obama tried to facilitate an overthrow in Syria. Trump escalated the bombings, even hitting Russian troops. Trump accuses Russia — the one allied power not still occupying Germany — of dominating Germany, while trying to prevent Russia from selling its fossil fuels.

Russia is accused, and found guilty prior to convincing evidence, of shooting down an airplane, of “aggressively” flying near U.S. planes on Russia’s borders, of “conquering” Crimea through a popular vote, of poisoning people in England, of torturing and murdering a man in prison, and of course of “hacking” an election — an accusation which, if evidence is ever produced for it, will amount to far less than Israel does in the United States or than the United States does in many countries. Through all of these accusations it is not uncommon for the Russians to be referred to as “the commies,” despite the demise of communism.

What, you may ask, does any of this have to do with Russia being a friend? Simply this: nobody other than a friend would put up with this shit.

11 Replies to “Russia Is Our Friend”

  1. In your one-sided account of Russian heroism and American perfidy, you forget to mention several things. The first being the USSR’s pact with Nazi Germany in August 1939. Among other things, this (and its subsequent commercial agreements) provided the Germans with the supplies they needed and the geopolitical strategic advantage (after conquering much of Europe) to attack the USSR itself! Soviet supplies to Germany ensured a far bloodier Soviet death toll in the war. Under this pact, the Soviet Union joined the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, waged a war of aggression against Finland, illegally annexed the Baltic States in 1940, and seized Romanian territory, committing brutal crimes in all these countries. You mention America’s exclusion of communist and leftist elements from Western European politics, while ignoring the far more brutal methods the Soviet Union used to suppress dissent in its satellite countries. For instance, many heroes of the Polish underground resistance movement were arrested and/or killed by the Soviets and the Soviet-backed regime in Warsaw. Also Raoul Wallenberg, savior of 15,000 Hungarian Jews in Budapest, was carted off to a Soviet labor camp where his subsequent fate is unknown. And this is just a small taste. You really should not criticize America’s treatment of Communists in Western Europe without at least mentioning what happened behind the Iron Curtain, which was incomparably more repressive. Also you seem to have no critical words for Stalin, who demanded that Poland and the whole of Eastern Europe be reduced to his buffer zone, at the expense of their legitimate governments and the wishes of their people. As the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 proved, Soviet rule was maintained entirely by force. Never thought I’d see a self-declared “peace activist” giving an oppressor such a benefit of the doubt.

    1. I was not writing about every topic under the sun but about how the U.S. treats Russia. Nothing you mention involves that or even how Russia treats the U.S., but rather how Russia has treated Russians and others, which is an interesting but different topic.

  2. David, your rational and sensible writings in the name of a saner and more peaceful world should be widely dispersed, but sense it goes against the propaganda put out by those pushing US war and empire throughout the world, the corporate media never presents your historically backed reporting. Those in the US who ignore your well-researched views and do not work to stop our government will be complicit in our destruction– and much the destruction of much of the world–unless we have a mass movement to change the direction of this run amok imperial and short-sighted fools.

  3. David – In your piece you present good and useful facts about the history of U.S. imperialist behavior towards Russia. The title of the piece, and your conclusion to it, suggest you intend it to be your response to the current wave of “russophobia” engineered by the Democratic Party and slavishly propagated by the corporate press. For me your putting forward that Russia is a friend because “nobody other than a friend would put up with this (U.S.) shit” represents an ambiguous view. Anti-imperialists (like myself) might read it as follows. Any friend of the ruling imperialist nation state is no friend of mine. So, in short you need to be clear. Do you see Russia today as just another imperialist power contending for the ruling position, or is Russia’s opposition to U.S. imperialism in Syria a building block toward a new multi-polar international order of independent sovereign states.

    1. There’s no “just another” comparable to the U.S. empire in any way, and I don’t think violence is ever a building block to anything. Not sure if that help. Hope so.

  4. David – In your piece you present good and useful facts about the history of U.S. imperialist behavior towards Russia. The title of the piece, and your conclusion to it, suggest you intend it to be your response to the current wave of “russophobia” engineered by the Democratic Party and slavishly propagated by the corporate press. For me your putting forward that Russia is a friend because “nobody other than a friend would put up with this (U.S.) shit” represents an ambiguous view. Do you mean that Russia by putting up with U.S. shit is a friend of U.S. imperialism? For anti-imperialists (like myself) any friend of U.S. imperialism is no friend of mine or progress. So, in short please clarify. Do you see Russia today as just another wannabe imperialist power contending for a ruling position?; or, is Russia’s opposition to U.S. imperialism in Syria a positive building block toward a new multi-polar international order of independent sovereign states?

  5. A psychopath, which, by definition, describes the US Government, is incapable of having “friends.” It doesn’t know the meaning of the word. It’s just a giant capitalist machine eating up the world and everyone in it.

  6. Russia is indeed a friend of all who strive for a more balanced and peaceful world. David Swansons reflections are based on qualified research, they are most needed thoughts coming from the US. However, Russia’s diplomacy is first class and they have brilliant strategic thinkers. Everybody and every nation that strives for peace seriously is a friend, even if it has to like Russia, unfortunatelly spend precious resources on armament and use it for defense. Thank-you.

  7. History nowadays unfirtunately used exclusively for growing hatred. Being Russian myself I of course admire you for telling the truth about that past.

    But telling the truth about the present could help the world much more. We like it or not but modern Russia happens to have few answers to moderm issues. Rise in xenophobia being a big one.

    Write about regulation of hate speech. How in Russia publishing Mohamed cartoon would not be possible. First -illegal by thier hate speech regulation, second – nobody wants to see things which upset other cultures living next door. Freedom to ABUSE or even freedom to UPSET is not equal freedom of speech. America is so proud of that freedom, while it is impossible to be free to say openly what dear to you among these who feel joy from abusing what is dear to you.

    Russians live with others in peace for centuries. Step by step they learned how it works. There is an imasing social cohirence in Russia between 100 local nations and about 80 coomunities of setled immigrants. All counted in senses. Nobody is scared to tell who they are. Developing own cukture and language is a must. Nobody need any “integration” from each other. The responsibilty pyramid is upside down. As state and media NEVER produce any hate speech, simple people are free to say anything they fancy.

    Yet with all that going on FOR REAL, leace by peace Western media build a picture of racist Russia. What a twusted cynical approach!

    Past? Who cares? Honestly. We all gad past. But we cannot seriously think future could be any good if lies of that magnitude are being spread about reality around us.

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