Friendship USA and Russia, then and now

“We have no eternal allies and no permanent enemies, but permanent and eternal, our interests, and protect them is our duty”.
Lord Palmerston

Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio to the dictum of Lord Palmerston to listen, seem incapable. Each of them was skeptical about the nomination of the former Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corporation Rex Tillerson to the post of U.S. Secretary of state. Their concern is due to the close ties Tillerson President Vladimir Putin, in particular, being awarded the businessman of the order of friendship, which Senator Graham has described as “alarming”.

This skepticism is indicative of a high degree of evaluation by the hawks of ideology in foreign policy matters. The cold war ended a quarter of a century ago, but good relations with Russia remain a pipe dream. Whether it is about the unrest in Ukraine, the civil war in Syria or some other issue with the participation of Russia, the hawks reflexively call for “force” (a euphemism for a confrontational policy). The impression is that the hawks never (at least publicly) not seriously considered the idea that foreign crises can be resolved through negotiations with regional powers.

In the context of the mental attitudes of the cold war, which continue to dominate in Washington, the confirmation candidates Rex Tillerson to the post of Secretary of state becomes all the more important. The adequacy of the foreign policy depends on whether the Executive authorities to accurately determine the feasibility of costs of a particular policy. Successful diplomacy, among other things, always requires a sympathetic attitude, the recognition that any foreign power has interests from which she will not refuse, with the exception that the tangible benefits. More importantly, there are many precedents for warm relations between the United States and Russia.

From the time of the American revolution to the early 20th century, common interests and quiet diplomacy contributed to the development of fruitful relations between advanced liberal democracy and the sole autocracy. The rulers of the Russian state were not eager to witness the destruction of the main counterweight to the British Empire. In both the Anglo-American war, Russia remained neutral, and Alexander I even offered to act as mediator during the war of 1812. The United States had back in 1854, when Britain and France attacked Russia. During the Crimean war (1854-1856), the American merchants have provided Russia with material and technical resources, the doctors helped with the wounded, and some individuals voluntarily joined the Imperial army. Then Secretary of state William Marcy even quipped that the US “greatly Russified.”

Shortly after the outbreak of civil war, foreign Minister Alexander Gorchakov said: “Russia and America have a special location to each other… because they have no points of conflict.” The military only deepened friendships. Throughout the conflict, the Union has received diplomatic support for the Russian government. It is noteworthy that in the autumn of 1862, Tsar Alexander II stopped the attempt of Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy, in response to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of state William Seward said nothing when Russian troops suppressing the uprising in Poland in 1863.

Russian and American officials converged also in issues of personal interest. At the meeting with Cassius Clay in St. Petersburg in June 1861, the king spoke of the solidarity Union and Russia in General for the two parties to the liberation of slaves (in March of that year Alexander II freed the peasants from serfdom). Popular in Washington and was married to an American Minister Eduard Stoeckl, who had connections with many influential people in America. Close relationship with William Seward, which he had established since his appointment as Minister in 1854, and has borne fruit in the negotiations for the sale of the United States of Alaska in 1867.

Friendship between the two countries was particularly pronounced during the official visit to the United States in 1871-1872 Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich, the fourth son of Emperor Alexander II. In the American press that the trip became the subject of admiration, debate and sometimes criticism. But for many Americans, Alexei in the first place was represented by his father. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. wrote an eloquent poem expressing the warm feelings of many Americans to the king.

But tremble and radiate the warmth of the hearts that remember
Who was our friend when the world was our enemy…
The lights of the North, in a continuous transfusion,
Mix the glare of your lights with the light of the bright evening star;
God bless the Empire that loves the Great Union of States;
Resistance of its people! Long life to the King!

Unfortunately, the friendship between the United States and Russia ceased shortly after the assassination of Alexander II in 1881. Under Alexander III, the relationship was in decline, when Nicholas II fell, and after Russia became the USSR, have reached complete bottom.

Anyway, times are changing. After a quarter-century after the collapse of the Soviet Union it is time to consider how constructive hostility to Russia. What of the United States, refusing to recognize that the interests of Russia, particularly in Eastern Europe and Syria, do not concern them?

Elected President of the trump correct to say that cooperation with Russia would benefit the United States. His business-like approach to foreign policy can have a beneficial effect in two aspects. First, the willingness of American politicians to respect the spheres of influence of foreign powers will reduce the hostility towards the United States. Second, this restraint will show that ideological differences with other governments, do not prevent cooperation on issues where national interests coincide. In General, American politicians would have more leverage for concluding agreements on pressing international issues.

It’s time to recognize that eternal enmity against any country is counterproductive. The Senate will approve the candidacy of Rex Tillerson to the post of Secretary of state and to leave finally the cold war in the past.