Kevin Gutzman on Crimea – Part II
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “When John Adams was in Amsterdam trying to borrow money from the Dutch, young John Quincy Adams was with him. I think he was about 15 or 16 at the time. Orders came from Congress that it was a desirable thing for the nascent united colonies of North America, the soon-to-be United States, it was a desirable thing for us to be friends and friendly with Russia.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: One of the things I recall — I just throw this out as an aside. Shortly after he was — I’m trying to remember. I read this book six or seven years ago, so my memory is a bit foggy on it. I think I have the principal pieces of this together. When John Adams was in Amsterdam trying to borrow money from the Dutch, young John Quincy Adams was with him. I think he was about 15 or 16 at the time. Orders came from Congress that it was a desirable thing for the nascent united colonies of North America, the soon-to-be United States, it was a desirable thing for us to be friends and friendly with Russia. I don’t remember if it was Prussia or Russia, but whatever the case was.
Young John Quincy was sent with, I can’t remember who the ambassador was, but he was sent as a 16-year-old as a secretary to go make friends with the Russians. He goes: Hey, man, we want to have an alliance. Will you guys recognize us as separate and apart from Great Britain? Can we have free trade and open dialogue? That happened, didn’t it?
Kevin Gutzman: Yes, it did. In fact, the following century, the beginning of the 19th century, saw the Russian emperor — as their title was after Peter the Great — Alexander I trying to broker a deal to end the War of 1812 in America’s interest. Alexander I, of course, was the Russian emperor who defeated Napoleon and ultimately ended up with an army in Paris at the head of the alliance that defeated Napoleon. He was a friend of the United States. There’s a long history, actually, of friendship between the United States and Russia. Of course, this came to an end with the American intervention, I think not an ill-conceived intervention, against the Bolsheviks in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. I was a firm supporter of the Cold War. I don’t want anybody to forget that. There’s no reason why we should think that now that the nightmare of the communist period in Russia is over that we can’t return to a situation in which the United States concedes that Russia has vital interests. One of their vital interests is control of Crimea. There’s no way around it. It’s like asking yourself how the American government would respond or how the American people would respond to a foreign country’s effort to deprive the United States of San Diego or San Francisco. That’s the analogous event.
I just think that this can’t end well. There’s no point at which the Russians can say: Well, okay, we don’t need Crimea. Then the issue becomes: How long is the United States willing to have military confrontation with the Russians over control of Crimea? Russia has proven before that they’re willing to fight for Crimea for over a century. Why do we want to do that? That’s my point. Suppose America were successful in crippling Russia. Is that a good outcome? Do you want the Chinese to be grabbing Russian territory in East Asia? What do we want to happen? I don’t think there’s really any evidence that people ever think these things through. You mentioned the impulse of people on Fox News to refer to Russia as “former Soviet territory.” Does anybody refer to Ukraine as former Soviet territory? Or when they’re talking about the Baltic states, do they refer to them as former Soviet territory?
Why do we have to have this visceral opposition to the Russians? Solzhenitsyn, who in my mind was the greatest man of the 20th century, at one point said: Russia was actually the greatest victim of communism.
Mike: That’s a great point.
Gutzman: If you look at the numbers, Russia actually was the greatest victim. The greatest leaders of the communist government in the Soviet Union — Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky — none of these people were Russians. Beria, none of these people were Russians, Zinoviev, Kamenev. So the whole thing strikes me as wrong-headed. I hope somebody decides to ratchet this down and just treat what’s happened in Crimea as a fait accompli. To find a modus vivendi with the Russians, I’m sure, is doable on terms we could like. You may recall that the Russian government warned the American government that the Tsarnaev brothers were Islamist terrorists and an eye ought be kept on them. Instead, nothing happened and those guys ended up bombing the Boston Marathon. There could be benefits to the United States’ cooperation with the Russians in several different areas. I hope it starts today. That would be a great thing.
End Mike Church Show Transcript