The Red Tide Turning?
George Szamuely
New York Press


Ten years ago this week the Berlin Wall came down. Cold War stalwarts like myself rejoiced. Today, however, I rejoice every time I read of a poll that suggests the Communists will soon be back in power in Russia. The demise of the Soviet Union gave rise to the unrestrained global tyranny of the United States. This tyranny brooks no rivals. It disregards election results and robs nations of their dignity. Armed to the teeth with missiles and a relentless self-righteousness, the United States is unable even to respect worthy adversaries like Yugoslavia or Iraq. Military victory is never enough. There have to be sanctions, ostracism, isolation and half-witted attempts at subversion. In this U.S.-led order there is no room for friends – only client-states or supplicants.

Today, the Communists – in Russia, China or Cuba – are heroic fighters. Almost alone they are resisting the relentless juggernaut of the United States and its mindless "market democracy" ideology. Perhaps – and this is what Cold Warriors like me failed to grasp – it was always thus. The Communists were a dreadful bunch. Stalin’s Gulag, Mao’s "Great Leap Forward," Cambodia’s "killing fields" can never be forgotten. Yet, strangely, Communists also often succeeded in restoring dignity to downtrodden nations.

In 1917 Lenin took Russia out of a terrible war and proclaimed his supreme indifference to the war’s outcome. He did the right thing and was rewarded with absolute power. Czar Nicholas II and the hapless liberals who followed him were the Yeltsins of their day. Forever seeking guidance on all matters from Western liberals, they led the Russian people to disaster and themselves to oblivion. In retrospect, it seems amazing that the Communists stayed in power for as long as they did. Surrounded by a capitalist world that wanted them gone, they used all the guile and ruthlessness they learned from Lenin to outmaneuver their enemies. By the 1980s the Communists had made Russia into a formidable rival, if not quite the equal, of the United States. Mao Tse-tung freed China from its century-long submission to foreign powers. Fidel Castro restored dignity and pride to an island with a miserable recent past. For 40 years he defied the United States. He defeated a U.S.-sponsored invasion. He thwarted innumerable assassination attempts. He overcame a crippling trade embargo. What’s in store for Cuba after Castro? Probably nothing more inspiring than becoming a satellite of Miami.

Archived Columns by George Szamuely

The Red Tide Turning?

Pat & The Pod

United Fundamentalist States

Let Them All Have Nukes!

Liar, Liar

Gangster Nations

Puerto Rico Libre – and Good Riddance

Leave China Alone

A World Safe for Kleptocracy

Proud To Be

All articles reprinted with permission from the New York Press

Unlike most members of my generation, I supported the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Whatever the atrocities the U.S. perpetrated, I believed that they were a price worth paying to resist Communism. It is obvious now that Ho Chi Minh, unlike the assorted political hacks who played musical chairs in Saigon, was an authentic leader of Vietnam. He did not need 500,000 Soviet or Chinese forces to assist him. Left to its own devices, South Vietnam collapsed in a few weeks. The Hanoi regime, on the other hand, took everything the United States threw at it and still prevailed.

Today there is no countervailing force to U.S. supremacy. There is no power that can offer support to a nation asserting old-fashioned independence. Washington’s tantrums are international law. Consider the following: Hans von Sponeck runs the United Nations "oil-for-food" program, which allows Iraq to sell $5.2 billion of oil every six months to purchase food and medical supplies. The other day the U.S. let it be known that it wanted him out. His crime? He had blurted out something self-evident to everyone in the world except for Washington. The sanctions on Iraq were hurting civilians and made little sense. Unusually for him, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stood his ground and refused to follow Clinton administration orders. In the meantime, the U.S. government hosted a conference in New York – to the tune of $3 million – for an organization called the Iraqi National Congress. Billed as a meeting to unite Saddam Hussein’s opponents, it really was nothing more than a gathering of out-of-work Iraqis on the U.S. payroll. Now the United States knows perfectly well that this bunch can never hope to overthrow Saddam Hussein. By resisting relentless U.S. pressure for almost 10 years, Saddam has shown himself to be the authentic leader of Iraq, something these toadies can never hope to be. The only way they can come to power is by riding in to Baghdad in U.S. tanks. Since hysteria about Iraq can be turned on and off at will, a full-blown U.S. invasion can never be ruled out.

U.S. policy has been pitiless on Yugoslavia as well. No humanitarian aid. No aid to clear the Danube of the debris from the NATO bombing. No support for the European Union policy of supplying oil to two cities in Serbia, led by opponents of Slobodan Milosevic. Then the other day, to much fanfare, it was announced that the U.S. was changing its policy. It was doing nothing of the sort, of course. Following a meeting of some people described by the State Dept. as a "delegation of Serbian Democratic Opposition Leaders," the hideous harridan of Foggy Bottom announced that she was prepared to "evaluate the EU’s pilot project." She would also "be watching closely to see if the assistance actually gets to the intended recipients in the manner proposed." That was heartening to know. She also announced that the ban on flights and the oil embargo would be suspended as soon as free elections were held in Serbia. However, the pathetic bunch of losers groveling before Dr. Albright (as The New York Times ingratiatingly likes to call her) could not win an election if their lives depended on it. So what happens in the almost certain eventuality that the winner of any elections in Serbia is the nation’s true leader – Slobodan Milosevic? "I have made quite clear that there have to be free and fair elections internationally supervised with observers that come as a result of a free and fair campaign," the fat and stupid one spluttered. "I find it very hard to believe that Milosevic could ever win those kinds of elections… I expect that the people of Serbia…when they have the opportunity to vote for people that are going to provide freedom for them…will choose correctly." In other words, as far as the U.S. government is concerned, "free and fair elections" are those that yield the "correct" results. Interestingly, one of the "opposition" leaders who failed to attend this meeting was Vuk Draskovic. According to The New York Times, earlier this summer Draskovic was all set to lead a transitional government in Belgrade. When the Clinton administration heard of this, it threatened to indict him for war crimes. "Leaders" have to follow Washington’s orders or they might end up in prison.

An arrogant United States has recklessly expanded NATO to Russia’s borders. However debilitated Russia has become as a result of blindly following the "privatization" nostrums of Western advisers, it still mustered the energy to voice a protest. The U.S. response was smugly dismissive. "Quite bluntly," the loathsome Strobe Talbott explained, "Russians need to get over their neuralgia on this subject." That the Russians might view with some concern the American bombing of their ally Serbia or the machinations in the Caucasus would never occur to Talbott. The United States is always on the side of the angels and is always a victim.

A recent opinion poll in the Czech Republic had the Communists ahead of every other political party. This is an amazing reversal of fortunes. Only a few years ago President Vaclav Havel was a national hero. He had resisted Communism and had paid for it by spending years behind bars. Today he is a discredited figure, a man who is seen as little more than a toady of the Western leaders whom he is so anxious to be included among. Not long ago, he spoke of the Czech Republic as being "at a historical crossroads." The Czechs could either embrace "responsible participation in improving the world," or they could build "walls from concrete or [impose] visa requirements, import surcharges and quotas, and a ban on evil foreigners buying houses here." One can see here how much Havel has made his own the gobbledygook of the "market democracy" ideologues. It is a relief to learn that this stalwart of the Cold War is now a deeply unpopular figure in the Czech Republic. Like other nations the Czechs want to retain at least a little bit of dignity. Today’s fighters for freedom are no longer Lech Walesa or Vaclav Havel. They have names like Jiang Zemin, Vladimir Putin and, yes, Slobodan Milosevic.

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