Propaganda: Top US Foreign Policy Advisor claims 200 years of Russian aggression to blame for everything

© RIA Novosti / Sergey Guneev
Russian President Vladimir Putin

The article from the we attach below is attracting a great deal of attention.

The writer of the article, Thomas Graham, is a former senior director for Russia on the staff of the U.S. National Security Council.

He presumably carries weight in the inner counsels of the U.S. government and has had a key role formulating U.S. policy towards Russia.

Judging from the recommendations he makes in his article, he is probably a good representative of what might be called the "realists" in the U.S. foreign policy establishment.

The article does indeed make recommendations that can be called "realist".

It calls for a resumption of the political dialogue between the U.S. and Russia. It recognises that the breakdown of that dialogue which has happened since the start of the Ukrainian conflict is in no one's interest.

It also, rather grudgingly, recognises that Russia's cooperation is essential both for the stabilisation of the situation of Ukraine (supposedly needed "as a barrier to Russia's assault on European norms and unity") and for the maintenance of peace in Europe and the world generally.

The article also tries to get beyond the tired cliche that everything is the fault of Vladimir Putin and that if he is removed from power or replaced (something the writer clearly doesn't think will happen soon) all will be well.

In every other respect however the article is massively disappointing and is a good illustration of why relations between Russia and the U.S. have become as bad as they have.

The article makes no admission of any fault or error on the part of the U.S..

Instead it blames everything on a supposed "Russia problem", caused by the emergence of a "values gap" in the 19th century between a "democratising West" seeking peace through "balance" and a perennially insecure and aggressive Russia, stuck in autocracy.

The article speaks of this "Russia problem" having afflicted Europe for the last 200 years - to be precise since the end of the Napoleonic wars.

Europe supposedly has had to be protected — or has had to protect itself — from this "alien" and aggressive Russia, which seeks security not as other European powers do through "balance", but through "depth", i.e., through constant expansion of its borders until it comes into collision with other powers equally or more powerful than itself.

It needs to be said clearly that this is all total nonsense.

Whether a "values gap" ever emerged or existed between Western Europe and Russia in the 19th century is open to doubt. However of one thing there is no doubt, and that is that Russia never posed any sort of threat to Europe at any time in the 19th century, whether before or after the Napoleonic wars, and was never during this period the sort of expansionist and disruptive power the writer alleges.

There is no case of Russia attacking, or of planning to attack, any European power at any time in the 19th century.

Russia did occupy during this period Georgia, Armenia, parts of Poland and what are now the Baltic States, and was in a dynastic union with Finland, but these territories were acquired by Russia either before the Napoleonic wars ended or immediately after, as a direct result of them.

Russia's expansion in the 19th century in the Caucasus and Central Europe was utterly eclipsed by the immeasurably vaster and far more bloody expansion of the European colonial empires and of the U.S. in North America during this same period .

Russia did send its army to suppress a revolt in Hungary that broke out in 1848, but this was done to support Hungary's Habsburg government, and not to acquire territory there.

Russia did also fight a series of wars against the Ottoman empire, but this is presumably not part of the West the writer is talking about. Certainly if one is talking about a "values gap", the "values gap" between the Ottoman empire and Western Europe in the 19th century was far greater than any "values gap" between Western Europe and Russia.

As it happens, though Russia was consistently successful in the wars it fought against the Ottomans, it never expanded its territory into former Ottoman territory in Europe after the conquest of Bessarabia in 1812. It never conquered territory in the Balkans, and there is no evidence — outside the fantasies of conquering Constantinople indulged in by a few Orthodox Christian publicists, which after the death of Catherine II and the start of the First World War were never adopted by the tsarist government — that it ever seriously sought to do so.

As a matter of fact the only war Russia fought with any European power or powers between the end of the Napoleonic wars and the start of the First World War was the Crimean War, which Russia fought on its own territory because it was invaded by Britain and France.

In fact all the great wars fought between Russia and the great European powers since the Peace of Tilsit of 1807 have involved invasions of Russia by those powers, not invasions of those powers by Russia.

This has included the Napoleonic invasion of 1812, the Anglo-French invasion of 1854 and the German attacks on Russia of 1914 and 1941.

To speak therefore of a perennial threat to Europe from Russia that has supposedly lasted 200 years, and of Europe having a "Russia problem" that has lasted throughout that period, is to talk nonsense.

It is also pernicious nonsense that connects the writer to a stream of Western Russophobic writing that extends all the way back to the forgery in the 18th century of the fraudulent Last Testament of Peter the Great.

That such Russophobia finds a place in a newspaper like the is alarming enough. That it is actually being peddled — and is presumably believed — by someone who has enjoyed a high position in the U.S. government, and who doubtless once advised the U.S. president, is deeply concerning, especially when that person puts himself forward as a "realist".

Suffice to say that so long as such grotesquely bigoted views about Russia continue to enjoy common currency in the West — and continue to be held by senior policy makers there — a genuine rapprochement between Russia and the West is impossible.

The article from the Financial Times can be found here.