tv Worlds Apart RT April 18, 2019 4:30am-5:01am EDT
wave there is a new effort on the part of many historians including those working in the united states to try to understand what happened for example during recent history during the cold war. that's that's certainly happening now you wrote an article recently about the kremlin supposedly rewriting its history its you explain its recent foreign policy and there's one line in particular that caught my attention he said that it is much better to create a past that is usable by your sensuous thing now that everybody does it creating a past that is usable politically usable. well it is certainly part of the narrative for part of the official narrative that you that you see in russia in that that article you mentioned dealt with the history of soviet invasion of afghanistan and what i argued in this article with my co-author is that today the russian government is trying to do or russian political elites are trying to
revaluate soviet invasion of afghanistan to put a point positive spin on it worse than back in the one thousand ages everybody wants and it was a disaster but today for different reasons for reasons because maybe they have to do with ukraine or have to do with syria they feel like they have to some you know when this is it in the russian government run in fact if it were a couple of deputies within the russian politicians and i have to say that dad proposal never came to pass they haven't adopted the beach leads me to ask you why would you equate somebody political opinion to the wholesale rewriting of history and rewriting it for political or geopolitical actual i think you're right i think it's i think it's easier to say that school thinks that or washington thinks that or beijing thinks that i think that's a simplistic way of looking at things you have a variety of players a variety of actors in moscow who have their role in genders and act in accordance with ailsa genders and the same also of course applies in to greater extent to a pluralistic landscape like the united states and even to china what i what i you
know when i say that there is a russian official political narrative i think what i mean by that is that there is a. influence that comes emanates as it were from the kremlin from the president that that really. either endorsers or supports this particular look at just the other day the russian ministry of culture which i think you would agree is part of the very strong executive and russia i mean it's by no means independent front from the kremlin they issued. a release license for the latest movie which portrays the withdrawal of soviet troops from afghanistan in a very very unfavorable light unfavorable light first and foremost of the soviet military command so again i think that kind of calls into question whether you know all this talk about russians manipulating their history is also a form of manipulation well and i and one when we you know you i don't think we
should say russians are manipulating their history for a start you have many fantastic russian historians who have a very clear these is what i did russian. russian official dome house to pay attention to what the kremlin is saying there is probably certain freedom of action within certain circumscribed sphere. and we can see that i don't think it's north korea nor is it turkmenistan right we. know but there we have to be clear sometimes and this is something that sometimes you hear in the west there is conflation of russia with let's say china which i disagree with as i think there is considerable you know a much greater freedom for expression of one's personal opinions in the in the russian political context there seems to be quite a bit of anxiety in the west whenever russia tries to reinterpret its path. why do you think that is why do you think people in the west it's so concerned about the russians reassessing or even division in their history because i think it would
it's natural it is natural it happens all the time like i said i think we have to separate here sort of rewriting of official history from. historians own effort so for example i see myself as a russian historian a recluse i study history of russia among other things and when i find certain things that i think challenge the existing conventional truth i feel completely at ease actually putting out my opinion you know putting out presenting my opinion and i think this is a natural thing that all historians should do and are happy to do in china many. russian colleagues they do this thing absolutely a lot of them do the same thing and this this is one side of the process i don't think we should conflate that with sort of a historical narrative that are promoted by the kremlin and they are historical narratives that are distinctly promoted by the kremlin for exacerbating our historical narratives that are distinctly promoted by successive american administrations or the british guy even though many other governments around the
world i would agree with that for example if you look at the narratives surrounding nato enlargement for example now today nato is. or in the last few weeks there's been a lot that's been written about nato people are talking about it because it's the seventy eighth anniversary since the foundation of nato now the people who are responsible for making those decisions with regard to nato enlargement senior officials in the american consensus of american administrations of course they will want to defend their actions today right so they will not say the look looking back at the process. you know those were mistaken policies that we pursued of course they were you know they bought into those policies they pursued those policies they were members of those administrations however at the same time they're historians who challenge those narratives and their american historians the russian historians actually go back to those people who were in those administration say actually in the what you did there was mistaken and that's completely natural now you mentioned your work and i know that you're currently writing a book on the soviet union address during the cold war of each in which i'm sure
you will mention some of the themes to be discussing today first of all what made you pick up such an overly explored sobbed. dick it is a massive subject and it is subject that as you say has been over studied but it is a subject that is in bad need of revision speaking of revisionist history and there are a couple of reasons for that i think the main reason is that thirty years have passed since the end of the cold war and now we are getting some historical distance and we're able to look at the events of the cold war with the more you know without the kind of triumphalism that predominates it than some of the narratives around the end of the cold war think we're really capable of doing that in the western part of the world people capable of doing that well i think i think the narrative is moving in that direction i think people are becoming like i said you know historians are their own actors and historians when faced with evidence are able to draw able to
draw their own conclusions about what happens in the postle this is one big reason now that we are thirty years from the end of the cold war and the world turn of the post cold war world did not turn out to be happy story after all right a lot of people thought there would be very happy story you know democracy and prosperity for all didn't really work out this way so today we see what happened and now that we know what happened we can look back at the cold war history. you no longer flow of cold war history and say well what went wrong so that's one reason maybe what went right because you wrote recently that this work made you appreciate mikail gorbachev and how their wealth was unprepared for his vision and i think many in russia would say that gorbachev was far more concerned with his own image with his own place in history down his country's interests many people think that he was pandering more than he was taking a stance what do you think about that well i you know i grew to like gorbachev in
the process of writing i see a lot of continuity between gorbachev and his predecessors and. and it's a certain extent his successors gorbachev with was concerned with the with the with the greatness of the power that he led the soviet union and he wanted to project leadership on the global stage he also realized the soviet union faced dramatic challenges that it was liking behind technologically blocking behind the west that it was embroiled in all kinds of third world conflicts will spain for clients world over it was just not sustainable it was losing the arms race with the united states so what gorbachev was trying to do was reinvent the soviet mission reimagine a new world order he put it out there of course he wanted to lead it of course he wanted to be the guy who would be in charge so to speak and that's where i mean it is vanity of course you see it but you know we all want to take credit for the things we do successfully well some of us know that the interests of our country
ahead of our own but well i don't think that i think he did put the interests of the country. in front of himself it's obviously an obviously the policies that he's full full. and with the collapse of the soviet union it's not something that he intends now there's also a chapter on boris yeltsin in your book and he's somebody who many russians associate of humiliation not just poverty and not just the collapse of the that institutions but the very intense feeling of humiliation of having a drunk or it as the top representative of the country who was by the way much more alike than the west and the current silbert letisha of russia do you think yeltsin deserves a more charitable memory than many russians have of him i think there are two stories about the also in those early else and those late deal some heels and we remember as a drunkard was the later yeltsin a yeltsin of the early one nine hundred ninety s. was the one who enjoyed great popularity if you think of go back to ninety nine to
one for example when there was a confrontation during the coup to tie in moscow attempted coup to touch the old something george considerable popularity is a. no prominent russian politician. he did try to engage with the west i think he was disappointed with the results of this invasion and he wasn't able to get what he wanted. and you know you can blame the united states for it you can say well russia was weak so what it deserved there are different approaches to that well i think boris yeltsin is also remember this somebody who ordered the fire to be opened on the parliament which led to some two hundred died and over four hundred injured and what many russians remember is that president clinton called him the next day and congratulate him on the i think he called it's a perv handling of the constitutional crisis without ever mentioning that they
enjoyed his administration actively supported him for the next elections and i don't mean only political endorsements they also pressure the i.m.f. to give him loans etc can you really blame the russians for having such a cynical reading of that moment in time and particularly the american intentions are they might i like to have i like your i like the words you use cynical i think russians have become very very cynical of what they had really good reasons to be they have reasons to be you know will looked forward to brave new world in one thousand eight hundred nine and the war did we end up with this late there are reasons to be cynical. for american policy towards russia in the one thousand one to sell would agree that there was a great element of duplicity in including in that instance that you refer to in the way that america handled yell since. cracking down on the oil and just cracking down its shelling and shut down the streets and also not well professor
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a new world this paradigm shifting knowledge that transforms economics and find it hard to apollo eleven landing on to the roof with max and stacey. joining me every thursday on the elec so i'm unsure when i'll be speaking to guest of the world of politics sports business i'm show business i'll see you that. would. put themselves on the line to get accepted or rejected. so when you want to be president and. want to. have to go on to be press this is what before three of them or can't be good. interested always in the waters in the. first suit.
welcome back to worlds apart but said professor of international relations at cardiff university professor just before the break we were discussing yeltsin and how he's remembered them this country and there are lots of people now who are comparing yeltsin to trump another only temperament. but also by the way there were elected with the carrying of and that very adversary or former adversary when you compare that period in russian history early one thousand nine hundred and the united states today do you see any similarities i think maybe superficially yes and we have to remember the for all the crisis political crisis that the united states finds itself in today it is in the far better position today than russia was.
the united states is not falling apart there is a lot of a criminal there's a lot of political conflict i don't think that it's something that you know again necessarily with trump it was always there was already increasing deadlock in american politics for some time i think the parallel would be superficial and well the reason i'm asking you about that is because i heard the number of russian observers for example alexander from the carnegie moscow center suggest that maybe that presents a new way of looking at the cold war because the americans believe it and back in the ninety nine just with die a triumph but for some russians they believe that it's only ending now with many of the illusions created by the a collapse of the soviet union being dispelled and the americans having to face the same shattering of their world view or similar shattering of their world we had that russians had a back in those days well that parallel may well hold true that what you see today in the united states is it is a debate there is
a growing realization of the strategy of liberal hegemony as american foreign grand strategy foreign policy strategy failed in the one thousand nine to this is created problems for the united states it's created the world full of conflict so today there is increasingly. a debate over what direction the united states should take whether we should retrench i think it's i think we can expect some retrenchment as a result of this debate i was only kidding back and deny deny just but i remember a. the political life it was very polarized there was a great sense of flora's ation between the branches of government there was a paralysis of public policy. there was a lot of debating of who we are as the russians and when i look at the american political discourse i see a lot of similar themes even though they are as you said they haven't been through the experience that we've been through you can't put it all on trump right. well exactly exactly it's
a situation that is developed over the years since since the ninety's really the turning point perhaps was the was nineteen ninety one one thousand nine hundred ninety one to one the first war in iraq and the new world order that followed from that and that led to american overextension getting involved in all kinds of conflicts that it had no business in now today there is a realization that a lot of those things did not work out the way the people expected so the question is what and what's next and there is a very i would say there's a very lively very active debate right now in the united states about this very issue which is something that i wish we also had in russia about russian well actually i think we have plenty of debates in russia about russia's. future or its current trajectory but speaking about the american one you recently wrote that you're fascinated by the prevalence of the word to an american in the american political discourse and you rarely hear the same construction in relation to other
nationalities we don't say on british or i'm canadian or even on the russian but the closest. alternative i can suggest is anti soviet which carries a pretty similar stance of moral or political or ideological subversion and that makes me wonder if the united states at the moment has a bit more in common the bit delayed soviet union than it wants to admit because there is also in the united states there is a lot of insistence on the right way of doing politics on the right form of democracy on the. right ideology well the thing about. this issue of an american the reason i'm puzzled about this is is. you have values like democracy you have values like freedom you don't really have to be american to brace those values america's efforts to appropriate those values for
itself carry with it the risk that people will associate those values with this notion of american hegemony or american dominance which actually undermines those values so it is perfectly ok and actually completely fine to be to be russian and to believe in democracy to be russian to believe in human rights you know i interpreted it a little bit different when somebody says you have an american and what he or she actually says is not only that i disagree with this use but i recognize them as illegitimate i don't recognize their legitimacy and i think for a country like the united states with its first amendment which is a unique american achievement that's quite a departure from what the founding fathers thought of as the american you know i would say this issue of american or un-american certainly not new in american public discourse you are in already in the one nine hundred fifty s. decided quite a if you have the first amendment can you really he rely on that much i mean well
the idea is that if you are since america was ostensibly founded on the promise of democracy and republicanism if you are against those values then you are by by virtue of that an american so that's that's how this premise is being things exclusion as the end to sylvia accusations carit i mean maybe not with the same consequences but the mechanism is the same. well i mean i guess there's some logic to what you're saying i don't think the parallel exactly holds. in to what is anti soviet into soviet. why is that if you want against the political correctness and the popular accepted narrative rather it was it was going against the soviet state right it was being against. communist. communist doctrine so yeah in this case if you're you know if you were into soviet you or you know you could love freedom and be into soviet in the case of in the case of the united states if
you a democracy and if you are then you are his supporter certainly would not agree that they hate democracy and yet people continue accusing them of being on the american simply because they have a different version of what america could be like. that word like i said i think it's overused and i think it is overused and political contexts it's not very helpful i think what we have to do in american context in the russian context is not to fling labels with one another but to see what is what is the source of the disagreement what is what is the person that you're kucing is against you know i think if we do that then this would be more and more threads that are going to be made certainly i mentioned humiliation before and i'm personally very interested in how the sense of humiliation f.x. national trajectories the russians have had the chinese have what they call the whole century of humiliation and everything that we have never before. gone through
these periods of intense embarrassment of being conflicted with themselves they have to certain extend the post vietnam war period was like that a little bit which is why sometimes you know you hear this this this discussion in the united states that american century has come to an end that said are america's declining power which may or may not be true i don't want to take a position on this i just would merely like to point out that in the one nine hundred seventy s. there was a similar discussion as well following vietnam people also were questioning what the united states were doing in vietnam you know killing those civilians killing the vietnamese and also challenge the american sense of what this stupid for in the world the same thing is happening now but you're quite you're quite right the chinese and the russians certainly have had more than their fair share of humiliations throughout his not speaking about china there are many people in the united states and increasingly say in europe who are talking about china in terms quite similar to the ones they used about the soviet union that it's not simply
about the competition of systems or ideology is that they need to force china into changing its system of state capitalism do you think the west can succeed at that. i think it would be very challenging for for the west and china china is is is an issue of the asli. for for for the united states china is the main challenger for the united states and for china you know for the chinese perspective it's it's the americans who are the main worry about o.b.'s lee you know do they do do do united states do the americans want to change chinese political system i think starting from the late one nine hundred seventy s. there was something of an allusion in this regard the idea was well the chinese are adopting capitalism they're adopting reform an opening on the day value if you become just like us you have the hope was that this would happen i think those hopes were brought to an end in one thousand eight in line this year we're marking the anniversary of the tenement. crackdown in june one thousand and nine i think at
that point it was be became very very clear the chinese were not going to do their thing if they tromp administration and people around the administration like michael pillsbury of the hudson institute and dodd circle of people who really made it into the american foreign policy they changed the american position on china why do you think to get them merican officialdom so long to actually take a stance on that and to finally consider the consequences they cannot make consequences of the political or geopolitical illusion weights and no brainer right american and chinese economies are so closely intertwined one level would talk of both conflict between the united states and china at another level everybody understands that a really really serious conflict between those two nations would be extremely damaging for the entire world so there sparring a debate does not have to be a conflict there my point is that and i think pillsbury makes it also in his book
that the united states could have been more reserved in terms of a transfer in technology in terms of trading with china and i think you're also making the same point in one of your articles you actually called the nixon deal with china the biggest strategic mistake in the foreign policy in living memory that's quite substantial well what i argue rather is obviously in in the in the one nine hundred sixty s. china was. much like russia today challenging the world as if word had a very revolutionary foreign policy it wanted to accomplish some revolutionary goals overthrow the you know an overthrow imperialism overthrew the soviet union then the chinese realized that the soviet union posed a greater threat to them than the united states and the open this dialogue with the united states nixon jumped into this opportunity and was able to exploit the rift between china and the soviet union for. america's benefit of course would have done
well nineteen sixty one china and russia basically go into war now what the russians and the chinese learn from that is they should never allow their relations to deteriorate to this point because guess what if they do somebody will take advantage of them and the americans and i think i think that's a big lesson that the help work we have to leave it there professor action it's been pleasure talking to you thank you very much thanks for having me i encourage our viewers to keep this conversation going on our social media pages and i hope to see you again same place same time here and also part of.
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don't trump islam by aid groups in congress for fusing to end america's support for the saudi led intervention in yemen coming up this hour we'll hear what people in new york think of the president's veto a lot of the. games that politicians and it's terrible i'm against. which the long awaited report from russia collusions about a storm brewing in a democratic. indigenous people in a strange way is northern territory take over fracking on their doorstep right to parliament store.