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Those yearning for regime change in Russia rarely consider what might come next

George Kennan and the Russian future The late US diplomat saw that those yearning for regime change in Russia rarely considered what might come next, Asia Times, By JAMES CARDEN, MARCH 29, 2022

US President Joe Biden’s ill-advised and reportedly ad-libbed call for regime change in Russia last week implicitly raised the question what kind of government Washington has in mind should President Vladimir Putin be deposed or voluntary step down ahead of Russia’s 2024 presidential election.

Biden’s line of what might charitably be called “thinking” has long tempted American policymakers. Writing in 1951, the diplomat George F Kennan observed:

“The very virulence with which Americans reject the outlook and practice of those who now hold power in the Kremlin implies in the strongest possible way the belief in, and desire for, an alternative – for some other Russian outlook and some other set of practices in Russia to take the place of those we know today.

“Yet it may be permitted to ask whether there is any clear image in our minds of what that outlook and those practices might be and of the ways by which Americans might promote progress toward them.”

These are the opening lines to Kennan’s Foreign Affairs essay “America and the Russian Future,” an indispensable corrective to the kinds of magical thinking that mark Washington’s current approach toward Russia and the world.

The planning for regime change in Russia has been under way for at least a decade. In an e-mail congratulating a State Department aide on her promotion to the White House national security  staff, then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton wrote, “… we need you at the White House to help plan and execute our Russian strategy post-Putin.”

Biden’s speech last weekend at the Warsaw Castle gave a clue as to what he and the US foreign-policy establishment have in mind “post-Putin.” In Biden’s telling, “Over the last 30 years, the forces of autocracy have revived all across the globe.” And Russia, which “has strangled democracy” at home, now seeks to do so elsewhere.

Biden’s speech attempted to recast the war in Ukraine as part of a larger battle “between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression, between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force.”………………………………………………….

 Washington’s attempt to remake Russia socially, economically and politically in the 1990s quite inadvertently resulted in the Russia we are confronted with today. 

So why does Washington insist on believing that its attempts to reshape Russia from the outside will somehow, someday work out? 

Kennan himself was under no such illusions:

“Of one thing we may be sure: No great and enduring change in the spirit and practice of government in Russia will ever come about primarily through foreign inspiration or advice. To be genuine, to be enduring and to be worth the hopeful welcome of other peoples such a change would have to flow from the initiative and efforts of the Russians themselves.”

The sooner President Biden and his advisers come around to the late George Kennan’s way of thinking regarding the desirability of regime change, the better.


March 31, 2022 - Posted by | politics international, USA

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