Friday, July 20, 2007

Russian Textbooks Praise Russia

Cross-posted at The Agonist.

This is a little annoying. What the hell is the matter with those Russians? Don't try to blame this all on Putin. He wouldn't be nearly as popular as he is without the support of many Russians who agree with his authoritarian and nationalistic policies. I'm sure there are many, many ordinary Russians who have no problem with their textbooks reflecting a nationalist and xenophobic outlook. One would think that people of a nation would learn a lesson from seventy years of deprivation, repeated self-inflicted injuries, ruinous wars and tens of millions killed by the government or as a result of government policy, but nationalist Russians seem to think it was a fair trade-off for something approaching world domination (though the domination was in fact a sham.) Humiliation is never a positive driving force in foreign policy. And the article reports this:

The social studies guide is marked by intense hostility to the United States.

Both books reflect the themes dominating official political discourse here: that Putin restored Russian strength and built what the Kremlin calls a "sovereign democracy" despite American efforts to isolate the country.

Oh really? Well, let's get something straight here. We're fighting two wars that aren't going so hot for us, and we are still the most powerful nation in the world, whatever nationalist Russians may think. Using us as a convenient bogeyman for their xenophobic fears won't change that, or the fact that whatever they desire, it will be many, many long years before Russia can dictate anything to us. If they want to retreat to authoritarian government as some sort of salve to their humiliation we can't stop them, but it won't change any of that.

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