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  • Hitting the Reset Button with the Russian Public

    An assistant shows the block with a red button marked "reset" in English and "overload" in Russian that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting on March 6, 2009 in Geneva.

    While Moscow has contributed to much of the Russian public’s distaste towards the United States, Washington has focused on resetting relations with Russia’s government rather that its people. Yesterday, a panel hosted by The Heritage Foundation, “Russian Anti-Americanism: A Priority Target for U.S. Public Diplomacy,” focused on U.S. public diplomacy efforts in Russia.

    According to a Pew Foundation 2009 public opinion poll, 62 percent of Russians regard the influence of the United States as bad, compared to 15 percent who regard it as good. While Kremlin-supported youth organizations, think tanks, documentaries and movies, and a robust media campaigns according to Daniel Kimmage, Senior Fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute, often blame the United States for Russia’s declining international power, the United States has done very little to counter these measures.  The first step towards addressing this problem should be to create an account of Russian information operations in the United States.

    In other words, the State Department needs to conduct extensive research on Russia’s activities and find out how effective they are. Once this is completed, according to Kimmage the U.S. must push back and counter these efforts.  It also must be kept in mind that reaching out and engaging the Russian public, rather than the Kremlin is the public diplomacy objective.  The U.S. should focus on launching internet campaigns, increasing international broadcasting and print media as well as revamping academic, student and business exchange programs.  Furthermore, as U.S. public diplomacy is meant to promote democratic values abroad, the Obama administration should continue to fund those programs committed to promoting liberty and equality.   The U.S. should work with an audience willing to listen rather than one which merely rebuffs advances in relations.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Hitting the Reset Button with the Russian Public

    1. G Rome, Laguna Nigue says:

      Let us not forget the intrinsic difference between our concept of the world and those of the former Soviet Union. There was a time when Russia was considered an extension of Europe and participated in some of the same traits as their Western brethren. The affinity to that went so far as inter-marriage with the European elite — the same monarchal families that brought about the construction of this revolutionary concept in the New World — The United States of America.

      Much of that was lost during the Red Revolution and the rise of the Soviet Sickle and Hammer. A new doctrine was forged, and allies once aligned by extended family were tossed into unmarked graves. The ensuing years of the development of the Sovient Union featured a wary alliance with the West, a mutual alliance with the West and the Nazis (until one rat consumed the other), and a complete segregation of Eastern Europe behind a carefully developed Iron Curtain.

      Let us not forget that the Western powers outspent and bankrupted the Soviet Union. Let us not forget that THEY do not forget — Putin was of that era, after all. May we always notice the variable ways that the Russia we attempt to embrace today in friendship is not far removed from the Soviet Union that agitated us into many proxy wars for four decades following World War II.

      Above all, let us understand that this is an enemy once, and one who was thwarted to the mat as if in a boxing match, who has returned slowly with growing vigor and a willingness to accentuate all of our weaknesses, and to reside in the background of the world stage while they are doing it. Much like the state-sponsorship or terrorism that has become the new "proxy war," the Russia that we now know is waging a different kind of war, and one that we likely do not recognize.

      The new battlefield is not the jungles of Southeast Asia, nor the stretch of land adjoining the Sea of China. It is the international market. It is the natural resources. It is the routes through which those resources are delivered to consumers — and at what cost? It is the accumulation of oil, natural gas, timber, and whatever materials may fuel other economies that happen to be more plentiful in the spheres of influence for such an entity. The new frontier of domination may well be all of these, but more importantly for a global economic system that relies upon such transportations — the medium through which I type this message. Bandwith, cyberspace, corrupting programs, worms, et al.

      Let us not forget the lessons of the past. We can make amends with former enemies. Perhaps governments and zeitgeists change, but we should always be wary. The first step is to see the motivation. The second is to answer to the action. The protection is understanding all of this, and being able to construct policy that will deter, and if that fails, foil such action.

    2. Drew Page, IL says:

      Does anyone seriously think that most Russians, given half a chance, wouldn't want to emigrate to the U.S.? Since most of them won't have that chance it isn't surprising that frustration with their own system and envy of ours would lead to the average Russian to look down on us.

      This phenomenon isn't limited to Russia, or China, or the Middle East. It is amply demonstrated within our own borders, among our own citizens. You see it every day. What we wouldn't give to have the wealth and prestige of a movie star, or a professional athlete, or a CEO of a big corporation. But because most of us will never see that kind of wealth, some don't believe anyone deserves it and are very happy to hear the government say they intend to take more taxes from "the rich". Many people are perversely happy when they see their highly paid athletes or idols from grace, lose their wealth and the adoration of fans. It's simple, misery loves company (if I can't have it, you shouldn't either).

      The best way to win hearts and minds is to find avenues of mutual profit among nations. If we can help nations develop jobs for their people and markets for their products and they can do the same for us, it's a win-win situation. If we could help Russia develop its own infrastructure and natural resources in exchange for access to some of their markets and to some of their energy resources, it would be mutually advantageous to both countries and to the people of each country. I can't be the only guy that's ever thought of this, why aren't we pursuing that strategy?

    3. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      Oh boy! Ever since the Cold War supposedly ended the Russian anti American efforts have continued unabated. Should such a Commission be created Barack Obama will be caught with his hands in the cookie jar. The Communist Infiltrators took over the American Government and the Democratic Party, so if you are wondering if the Russians kept at it? Look around, the evidence is everywhere. Please, please, please expose the Information activities of the Russians. Then hang Obama for Treason. The evidence is in plain sight.

      Be serious! This will never happen, nobody has the courage.

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