The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship

Donate

The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship

Written by Kyril BenedictovPolitical scientist, author of the political biography of Donald Trump “Black Swan”

Originally appeared at russian.rt.com, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront

So the first telephone conversation between the presidents of Russia and the USA after Trump’s assumption of office took place. The details of the almost one hour discussion, both the Russian and the American press services carefully retouched with beautiful, but with common terms (“discussed current international problems”, “demonstrated an attitude towards active joint work” etc.) and, probably, for a reason.

Donald Trump, in power for a mere ten days, is still a target for attacks, critics and even direct insults from the “opponents” from around the world: from the singer Rihanna, calling him an “immoral pig”, to the publisher of the German paper Die Zeit Josef Joffe, who without equivocation declared that the simplest way out of the “Trump catastrophe” is to kill him. To hand Trump’s haters, whose name is Legion, another ace in the form of “concessions to Russia” are neither in the interest of the new Washington administration nor the Kremlin. And most likely, any specifics will be interpreted by the media as hostile towards the American president, as concessions to “evil Putin”.

And yet one fragment of the conversation between the two presidents, the ending, made it into the press releases almost in full. We are talking here about these words: “Donald Trump asked to convey wishes of happiness and prosperity to the Russian people, noting that the American people are sympathetic to Russia and its citizens. Vladimir Putin, in his turn, stressed that in Russia they have similar feelings towards Americans. He reminded that our country for more than two centuries, supported America, was its ally in two world wars and now considers the USA as an important partner in the fight against international terrorism”.

At first glance, the words of mutual feelings seem to be somewhat stretched, the necessities of protocol. According to a recent sociological survey, the attitude of Americans towards Russians are at their lowest level since 1986, they were only worse under Reagan, when he declared a crusade against the “evil empire”. If we are to believe data from the Levada Centre, only 23% of Russians think positively of the USA. And in general, about which feelings can there be talk if the two countries view (or most recently viewed) each other as the main geopolitical opponents?

And yet, in the words of the presidents it sounded like a compliment, there hides something bigger than the duty of civility. Because Russia and the United States of America did not always regard each other as enemies. On the contrary, there were cases in our history when Russia helped America and the Americans came to the aid of Russians.

On September 1st 1773 when the thirteen British colonies in North America revolted to defend their independence, King George III appealed to the Russian Empress Catherine II with a request to provide twenty thousand expeditionary troops to crush the rebellion. For each Russian soldier the not-so-generous monarch promised to pay a whole seven pounds. However, Catherine refused, citing the fatigue from the recently concluded war with Turkey, and that such an expedition “will not add dignity” to her empire. Catherine’s decision to not help her “crowned” colleague played into the hands of the supporters of independence and, hand on heart, celebrating the holiday on July 4th the Americans should be grateful to the Russian Empress. Among other things, for her firm rejection of the British offer of creating an alliance against the European governments that recognised the USA, mainly against France and Spain. “We are pleased to learn from reliable sources that the requests and proposals of Great Britain to the Russian Empress were rejected with contempt”, wrote George Washington to one of his correspondents in the spring of 1779.

The president of the Continental Congress of the USA Samuel Huntington sent a letter to Saint Petersburg in which he wrote: “The Congress wishes that feelings and activities outlined in the attached document affecting this important subject be brought to the attention of our great and good ally as soon as possible, as soon as it will be possible”.

This is how Russia saved the United States the first time.

Mutual feelings between the two great people (Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that Providence secretly prepared Russia and America to divide the world among themselves) found the expression in the private life of their representatives. The permanent Russian ambassador in Washington Aleksandr Bodisko at the age of 54 married the 16-year old American schoolgirl Harriet Bill Wiliams and until his death lived a happy marriage. Bodisco was a fervent supporter of Russian presence on the American continent.

He prepared and even agreed with the American administration’s plan for the division between Russia and the USA of Upper California and the San Francisco Bay (this plan was buried in Saint Petersburg by the infamous Chancellor Nesselrode). In the winter of 1854, when Bodisco passed away, both houses of the US Congress, in deference to the memory of the late diplomat interrupted their work for one day, and the President of the USA Franklin Pierce graced the funeral ceremony.

The historical context gave the special importance to such an unprecedented step: At that time Russia was already at war against Turkey, English and French squadrons entered the Black Sea, and Saint Petersburg broke diplomatic relations with Paris and London. Before the actual declaration of war, later called the Crimean War, still a month and a half away, Russia has long been depicted in European papers as the aggressor and the centre of evil. And in distance America President Pierce, receiving the new ambassador Eduard Stockl (the war was already raging), assured him “If the events will expand the scope of the battle and the USA will be forced to take part in it, then we can say with full confidence that they will step in not on the side of Russia’s enemies”.

This did not happen, as Saint Petersburg itself insisted on Washington’s neutrality. But as soon as the Anglo-French troops pressed the Russians in Crimea, feelings in the American society turned more and more towards the Russian side. When the allies tried to organise in San Francisco celebrations in honour of the capture of the southern part of Sevastopol, angry citizens destroyed the pavilion where the winners’ revelry was taking place, and then a crowd of thousands of people passed under the windows of the Russian Vice-Counsel, declaring “Hurrah for the Russians! Down with the allies!”

We can remember about the numerous requests of American citizens to enter the Russian service to fight against the Anglo-French invaders; the Russian ambassador Stockl had instructions to politely reject such applications so that the neutrality of the USA was not risked, and about the arrival in the besieged Sevastopol of volunteers from the USA, which included 30 certified military doctors, and the cargo of weapons that were delivered to Crimea on American merchant ships. In general, no wonder the Chancellor Gorchakov recollected at the end of his life, “The feelings of the American nation towards us continued unabated throughout the war, and America provided us directly and indirectly with more services than was expected from the government, adhering to strict neutrality.”

Ten years passed, and Russia, strengthened, was able to return the favour. Military actions were taking place on the territory of the USA; this was the famous Civil War between the North and South, where on the side of the South (Confederates) were the recent enemies of Russia, Britain and France. They asked Saint Petersburg to step in into the coalition, pretending that nothing happened in Crimea. However, Aleksandr II, having just abolished serfdom, supported the Abraham Lincoln government fighting against slavery and made the Europeans understand that his sympathies are with the North.

Chancellor Gorchakov wrote to American Ambassador Taylor, “Only Russia stood by your side from the start and will continue to do so. Most of all we wish the preservation of the American Union as an indivisible nation…” And in 1863 Russia in total secrecy sent to the USA two naval squadrons: one, under the command of Admiral Lesovsky, was at anchor on September 24 in New York, and the second, under the command of Admiral Popov, reached San Francisco three days later. The unexpected arrival of the squadrons, an almost fantastically precise coordination (one squadron sailed through the Atlantic, the second, through the Pacific Ocean), demonstrated the power of the Russian Imperial Navy, proclaiming the “friendly neutrality” in relation to the USA, caused a new surge of sympathy for the Russians.

It would probably be an overstatement to say that Russia “saved” the USA that time as well, but in any case it demonstrated her military strength off the shores of America which was very helpful to the Lincoln administration.

What followed next is well known. The short-lived alliance period during the First Word War (until the October revolt), the short intervention in the Russian North. The USA did not recognise the USSR officially for a long time, which did not stop them during the terrible famine of 1921-1922 in the Volga region to save close to 10 million Soviet citizens. This was done by the American Relief Administration (ARA), spending on products, medicines and clothes almost $80 million (in those years the dollar was about 25 times more expensive than today), of those, 28 million dollars were given by the American Congress, 13 million dollars were put by the Soviet government and the remaining 39 million dollars were raised by simple Americans.

In the 1930s, American engineers, some out of sympathy for the country of the victorious proletariat, some in the pursuit of the long dollar, helped the young republic create new industry. Let us not forget the lend-lease during the years of the Great Patriotic War (by the way, the last lend-lease debt of the USSR was paid by Russia only in 2006, though the amounts were not astronomical). Then, the Allied landing in Normandy and the rivalry on the way to Berlin, who would reach it, the Americans from the West or the Russians from the East, the division of Germany into sectors, and very, very quickly, so much that yesterday’s allies did not have the time to understand what happened, the Cold War, which lasted for more than 40 years…

The Cold War ended with the American victory, but not because America was stronger militarily, and even not because it was richer, but simply because the Soviet people, as it turned out, wanted very much to be friends with the Americans, in which they saw a bit of fairy tale characters, uncouth but reliable cowboys, or eccentrics but generous millionaires, or rude but honest police, in general, the whole set of blockbuster characters of the late 80s. And the Americans at that time were not averse to get acquainted with “these Russians”, even if they imagined them like the hero Schwarzenegger in the movie “Red Heat”. Later, when a close acquaintanceship took place, came the inevitable sobering.

The Americans lost interest in the Russians as soon as they understood that Russia does not pose a threat to them: they were able to tame the scary bear, teach him to drink Coca-Cola and eat hamburgers, and after that, they forgot about him, let him sit somewhere in the far corner of the world zoo, he does not bother anyone.

But for Russians the myth about America ended in May 1999 when the first NATO bombs fell on Belgrade. After that, our attitude towards Americans became as in the movie “Brother-2”: “Well tell me, American, where is strength? Is it in money? So the brother says, it is in money. And here I think that strength is in truth. He who has truth has strength”.

After this any fellow could sit in Washington, Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama, relations with Washington, in fact, did not change. But now, with Donald Trump in the White House, maybe it will change. It seems that he is not like the majority of presidents that we saw. He seems to be a real American, like from old Hollywood movies (he even appeared in a movie, recall “Home Alone 2”). And since the Russian person is easily appeased and is not inclined saving his anger for near and far, there is a high probability that the coming of Trump, with his statements about the readiness to establish better relations with Russia, will be perceived by us as the famous phrase from the movie Casablanca: “I think it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. And probably there is nothing wrong with this.

We, of course, need good relations with the United States and the American people, just as America needs good relations with us. But this friendship is not an end in itself. The goal is the effective resolution of a variety of accumulated problems in international politics. Effective and mutually beneficial. We know how to fight well (both literally and figuratively), but very poorly know how to make friends. We are stubborn in frontal confrontations; we are ready to mellow, it only takes yesterday’s enemy to pat us on the shoulder and say something nice. Just do not forget that governments are friends with each other but not like people.

History lessons convince us in this, in particular, all examples mentioned above of reciprocity between Russia and the USA had a double bottom: in 1775, for Russia, it was beneficial to weaken England during the Crimean War, the same problem was solved by the US, two Russian squadrons, sent to America, were signals to London and Paris, that they should not think to support the Polish insurgents, revolting against Tsarist rule. And even among the staff of the ARA, working in Soviet Russia, there were many staff officers of the US Armed Forces, carrying out not only humanitarian tasks. And the legendary American General Patton, furiously beating the Germans in Africa and Europe, in his diaries spoke about the Russian allies as hordes of drunken Asians.

Therefore, the telephone conversation between Trump and Putin can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and the beginning of a serious test, perhaps the most serious in the long history of relations between our countries.

Donate

SouthFront

Do you like this content? Consider helping us!

  • Pavel Pavlovich

    There can be no friendship because the goals of these two people are diametrically opposed.
    Putin wants independance of Russia and restoration of a supranational state,
    Trump wants to return the USA to 1993, when they destroyed the Soviet Union.

    Putin wants a multipolar world, Trump wants the USA to remain as sole superpower.

    The author of this article is either geopolitically illiterate or a propagandist working
    for the Angloamerican empire.

    • Brad Isherwood

      The Babylon (Vatican)….System is the Vampire….

      When in history past did the Church Universal… reverse it position against
      The Orthodox Church?.

      30 years wars, …50 years wars, …
      The Catholic /Protestant wars raged on and on.
      The Spanish Inquisition before. …
      People Think this show has gone away. …but it hasn’t! .
      The Ukraine and the Nazi out of the Closet is WW 2/Nazi Germany and the Vatican.
      In 1944 The Vatican arranged with US OSS to Ratline Nazi out of Germany/France
      To South America. …even the USA.
      The CIA is legacy to the OSS. …the pattern of Gladio Stay behind,terror death squads
      And war is Captain Obvious.

      The US just murdered 1 Million Iraqi under the cover of WMD lie.
      Now Trump says …..We will do Safe Zones

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/El_Tres_de_Mayo%2C_by_Francisco_de_Goya%2C_from_Prado_thin_black_margin.jpg/1920px-El_Tres_de_Mayo%2C_by_Francisco_de_Goya%2C_from_Prado_thin_black_margin.jpg

      • 888mladen .

        Famous Nazi general Reinhard Galen who was working for military intelligence of the Third Reich has become the most precious asset of the US government and the master mind behind organizing and training CIA along with the butcher of Lyon with whom he was constantly in touch.
        Nice painting of French armies under the leadership of French Free Masonry imbibed with the philosophy of Voltaire and other “illuminated ones ” exporting “fraternite egalite et liberte” to Spanish people. Haven’t I heard it somewhere before? Unfortunately memory doesn’t serve me well these days. Well they were fighting against the vices of the church alongside Groff Monte Christo an illustrious descendant of the beatified and famous knight Don Quijote.

        • Shlomo Vinishsky

          I prefer to have some beer

          • 888mladen .

            In you own words “The escape from reality was encouraged so that people would not meddle with managing the reality.” That’s exactly the reason why taking of alcohol is encouraged. Do you still want to have a beer or you prefer to manage reality? You can’t have both. Can you.

          • Shlomo Vinishsky

            Alcohol is not marijuana. The immediate effect of alcohol is reducing social pressure – a person becomes more spontaneous and less fearful of breaking stereotypes (=less ‘politically correct’). Yes, excessive drinking is escape from reality, but moderate one is reducing the stress of the reality. Moderate drinkers are proven to live longer and have lesser risk of heart attacks.

            So I would extend my own words and say that moderate drinking is an analogy of Russian art (liberating by challenging the reality), while excessive drinking leads us to a Western version of art (enslaving in a fake reality).

          • 888mladen .

            Neither is cocaine or heroine.

          • 888mladen .

            The immediate effect of alcohol is reducing social pressure. You sound like you’ve been working for marketing department of one of alcoholic beverages producers. A person becomes more spontaneous and less fearful of breaking stereotypes like somebodies nose or chick bone. Moderate drinkers are proven to live longer and have lesser risk of heart attacks and less brain cells too. I know It doesn’t matter it’s just a collateral damage and you have them too many anyway.

    • John Whitehot

      absolutely wrong that Trump wants the US to be the sole superpower. Actually he’s pushing in the opposite direction, the one of protectionism and isolationism. Of course it does not suit zionists who need the military and political power of the US and NATO to put their dirty little hands on Eurasia. Also, “the goals of the two peoples” are exactly the same – get rid of the financial shackles that zionism has put over half the world.

  • AndresMX

    Thanks for the history lesson about a Russian ambassador planning to invade my country long before the USA did. Furthermore you highlight that as an “example of cooperation”.

    • Stavros Hadjiyiannis

      California was empty back then.

      • AndresMX

        Well boy, some people said the same about Australia, Hawaii, etc, etc. If I agree with you, then I will have to take your home since your brain is empty, therefore there’s no owner over there.

  • Shlomo Vinishsky

    A great summary of the recent centuries of Russian-American relations.
    One important point to take into account, however, is that Trump’s “Perestroika” brought disillusionment with Hollywood. If the Russian side is willing to return to reality and not live in a fake reality of movies, the beautiful friendship may come true. Which I wholeheartedly wish!

    • 888mladen .

      Except that Trump has become main actor. They are angry because he has stolen their script. And surely Ivanka has been terribly disillusioned and has decided to have her own pool parties instead.

      • Shlomo Vinishsky

        I think it was an extraordinary revelation: Americans used to define “dream factory” as entertainment above all. People could watch in movies realization of dreams and fantasies. Now the veil suddenly fell and everybody realized that it is not exactly entertainment but a political tool keeping the masses under control. The escape from reality was encouraged so that people would not meddle with managing the reality.

        In Russia it was a bit different. During the Soviet times cinema and theater were in a sense more real than everyday life. For example, animal characters played by human actors in theater could say things absolutely forbidden in real life. When freedom came, this function of art became redundant.

        Thus cinema in America used to be an enslaving force, while in Russia – a liberating one.

        However, in this article the author shows obvious predilection to Western movies, whence even its title. I am sure Putin & Trump (especially with R.Tillerson’s help) will find common ground not based on movies.

    • John

      This time, Hollywood can go sit in the corner. :)

    • Arthur Smith

      There is no problem with connection to reality for both russian elites and people, except for total lack of elites in the first place. People were already disillusioned since at least ’93.
      Also, since it’s USA’s turn for Perestroika, the ones in need for a reality check are americans, and thankfully they are doing well.

    • 888mladen .

      Noting else is left for you except to wish.

  • 888mladen .

    And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed Dan 11:27

    • Shlomo Vinishsky

      King of South & King of North

  • Alex Popoff

    >revolting against Tsarist rule

    Polish landlords were revolting against serfdom abolishment.

  • 888mladen .

    Donald Trump speaks with the split tongue. He has been well trained by his master.

  • AMHants

    Ironically, with all the world leaders, fully supportive of Clinton and assisting her Presidential bid, it was Russia that offered the most respect to Donald Trump at the time.

    It would not surprise me if Donald Trump like Vladimir Putin, is seriously upto speed with the history of his nation. No doubt studying previous Presidents with interest. Also, the fact that his wife is from Slovenia, she no doubt can give a first hand account of what happened in Serbia, thanks to President Bill Clinton.

    Hopefully, both Presidents will have an adult, professional and respectful relationship, serving their people and nations, to their best, but also allowing the over-spill to help world peace. Good luck to them both and their equally important and strong teams.

  • John

    Excellent.

  • Hisham Saber

    The U.S.A is fully controlled by international Jews. Therefore, there will be no mutually beneficial relationship between the U.S and Russia. The Jews are a parasitical people and they see Russia as a big juicy host.
    I think Russia’s elite know the danger of international Jewish ideology and practices. Putin was just following norms and protocol with Trump on the phone, its not like they would cuss each other out. But Russia and her ruling elite know full well how dangerous the people who control the U.S. are. After all, American Jews financed the Bolshevik Revolution and the Red Terror.

  • 888mladen .

    Louis XVI of France helped the funding fathers generously during their war of independence. Benjamin Franklin was a key person behind the deal. Later on just before the French Revolution Benjamin Franklin happened to be a master of the famous Seventh Sisters lodge in Paris which played central role in uprising against Louis XVI that resulted eventually in decapitation of the king and his immediate family members. So much for appreciation and loyalty of the founding fathers to their allies during their struggle for independence. What about Nicholas II and bolshevik revolution?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaFklTLNy8c
    Is there anything to learn from it?

    • Shlomo Vinishsky

      Then Russians paid back by building American Left:

      • NeoLeo

        ‘Yuri’ was CIA don’t trust his bs

    • Shlomo Vinishsky

      From it can be learnt that US and Russia have always been friends, but for mutual benefit they wrapped their friendship in fierce enmity.

      • 888mladen .

        You see what happens when you have your beer?