Russia’s granting asylum to Edward Snowden is not just a milestone in US-Russia relations. It is a mene tekel of “How the United States is Repeating the Mistakes that Destroyed the Soviet Union”.
This was the topic that Russia Experts Panel discussed at its inception a year ago. The Panel members refuse to yield to the anti-Russian bias of US mass media as they offer dissident views of Russia and world affairs.
The Panel was created by Edward Lozansky, a former Soviet nuclear scientist and dissident who broke with the USSR by applying for an Israeli visa and then settling in the USA with his family in spite of Soviet threats.
Lozansky, who now lives in Washington, in a recent article in The Washington Times, deplores President Obama’s refusal to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. About US accusations against Snowden, Lozansky says: “Forty years ago, Soviet authorities brought the same accusation against the “gulag whistleblower” Alexander Solzhenitsyn“.
“Will there be a time… when the White House and Congress will forgive (Edward) Snowden …and change their attitude toward him (as) the Russian authorities changed their attitude toward Solzhenitsyn?” asks Lozansky.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was the Nobel Prize winning Russian novelist expelled from the USSR for describing it the way it was. While professing its love for “peaceful co-existence” with the USA and other “capitalist” countries, Soviet government did everything to undermine them. At home it refused to co-exist even with its own dissenting citizens. Now the US government, in its drive to impose “democracy” and “free-market” on the rest of the world through a global “war on terror” does the same with its domestic dissident journalists, like Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, as well as the whistleblowers
As a former Soviet defector and the author of Soviet Defectors: The KGB Wanted List, I wanted my native Russia, as well as my adoptive country, prosper in liberty and peace. It is therefore both ironic and unfortunate that after the collapse of the USSR, the USA yielded to hubris of triumphalism and set itself on a course similar to that of the USSR and contrary to the precepts of US Constitution.
Snowden is not a Solzhenitsyn. But he is a man of conscience. His concern for the spiritual and political health of his country drove him to do what he did. No wonder, many Americans admire him as a hero.
My research on Soviet defectors has shown that overwhelming majority abandoned their country, at a huge personal risk and for uncertain future, as a matter of conscience. They did not want bend their conscience to the All-Mighty State and its Global Communism Ambition.
Among the hundreds assembled in my book, several Soviet defectors testified that, in making their fatal decision, whether involving military intelligence or not, they were guided by conscience. In fact, one of them, Nikolai Khokhlov (1922-2007), wrote a book titled In the Name of Conscience.
A trained NKVD officer, Khokhlov proved his bravery and patriotism in a guerrilla team assassination of a Nazi governor of Belarus in 1943. But in 1954 he refused to obey the order to assassinate an expatriate Russian in Berlin. He knew his refusal could be fatal, and defected to become US citizen and psychology professor. After the fall of the USSR, Khokhlov was pardoned and allowed to return to Russia.
Soviet government’s failure to accommodate different persuasions inside the USSR resulted in a hemorrhage of talented and patriotic Russians. Some of them, most notably Solzhenitsyn whose books were best-sellers in the West, greatly contributed to the defense of the United States and preservation of peace and freedom in the world.
In 2010 Jack Matlock, the distinguished former US ambassador to the USSR, published Superpower Illusions: How Myths and False Ideologies Led America Astray–And How to Return to Reality. He argued after the collapse of the USSR, US leaders came to believe that they did not need international organizations and diplomacy, but could dominate and the world by using its military power.
Lately, former President Jimmy Cater went on record as saying that the USA “no longer has a functioning democracy”. “At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Carter wrote. “But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.”
Ray McGovern, a long time CIA officer who used to present intelligence briefings for US presidents, in an article entitled The Moral Imperative of Activism admonished the nation to pay more attention to its prophets, not just profits. He strongly endorsed social activism in these words: “No one has put it better than a precious new friend I met on a “cruise” in June/July 2011 hoping to reach Gaza – author and poet Alice Walker – who said: “Activism is my rent for living on this planet.”
Had US leaders, both in the government and media, honestly reflected on such pronouncements by seasoned diplomats, politicians and patriotic citizens, they would have been less rush in condemning the likes of Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning or Julian Assange.
An earnest effort at soul-searching is a must for this nation. A country that fails to integrate citizens of different ideological persuasions is bound to disintegrate.
Vladislav Krasnov, Ph.D., former professor and head of Russian Studies at Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, now lives in Washington where he runs Russia & America Goodwil lAssociation (RAGA).