Kremlin-sponsored anti-Americanism a common denominator for Europe’s left and right


Over the past few years, anti-Americanism has become an integral part of any debate on foreign and domestic policy in Russia, notes Anton Barbashin, a managing editor at Intersection. You could even say that it’s one of the cornerstones of the new quasi-religious conservatism which the Kremlin has constructed since Putin returned for his third presidential term, he writes for Open Democracy.

Russian influence also lies behind the fact that anti-Americanism appears increasingly like a common denominator for Europe’s political left and right, The Wall Street Journal reports:

russia-europe-guardianWhen it comes to denouncing America’s alleged domination of Europe, the far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen sounds like the rabidly pro-Russian [former center-right prime minister, François] Fillon, who sounds like Germany’s former chancellor and Putin hired-hand, Gerhard Schröder. Mr. Fillon looks toward the necessity of “a serious confrontation with the United States” and says, Schröder-style, that America “exercises a form of control of the European economy that’s absolutely intolerable.” All of which ties into his question: “Must we continue to provoke Russia?”

Historically, a basic French instinct took hold involving suspicion or fear of America, a power that overwhelmed any notion of the universal primacy of French civilization—and cast Russia in a less glaring light. …..Now, in a new book by Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme recounting their private conversations with the president last year, [Francois] Hollande is quoted as saying “Russia isn’t an aggressive power” but rather one “in favor of the status quo.” In contrast, “the Americans, whatever they’re up to, are arrogant.”

“The Kremlin’s propaganda people must not be able to believe their eyes, seeing how easily their point of view is being espoused by a good number of European officials,” notes one observer.

The atmosphere of “militaristic euphoria” and anti-Americanism promoted by Russian authorities is inextricably linked with an ongoing crackdown on opponents of President Vladimir Putin, says a leading independent pollster and sociologist.

russia levada gudkovTwo things are behind it,” Levada Center director, Lev Gudkov (left) told VOA’s Russian service: “discrediting the values of rule of law, freedom and human rights, which are associated with the West and the United States; and, in applying that, discrediting all those groups and political forces that want change and reform in Russia and have criticized Putin’s authoritarian regime.”

Anti-Americanism is the new cult in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia, argues Vladimir Pastukhov, a political scientist and a visiting fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. Anti-Americanism is the Marxism of the Russian Spring and the religion of the “postmodern,” post-communist Russian rebirth, he contends:

It is both an instruction manual for any action and a universal excuse. As a new symbol of faith, it wields an absolute explanatory power. With its help, one can understand the cause of climate change, the roots of the global financial crisis, and the source of corruption in Russia. One can also answer the eternal question of why the water is shut off again.

Anti-Americanism offers Russians a familiar outlet for their frustration and sense of impotence in the face of their own corrupt and oppressive regime, notes Arkady Ostrovsky, the Russia and Eastern Europe editor at The Economist:

If America won the Cold War, it must be responsible for the Soviet breakup and the impoverishment of millions of Russians. And if Russia was defeated, it could only be expected to one day seek revenge…. It gives Mr. Putin an ideological cover for his kleptocratic system of governance led by current and former security servicemen. To sustain this narrative, the Kremlin’s state-controlled media has excelled at reconstructing the centuries-old image of Russia as a besieged fortress.

CNN’s Clarissa Ward reports [above] on intensified anti-Americanism in Moscow after the US accused Russia of election interference.

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