By Ben Tanosborn
May 7th marked 72 years since the signing in Reims (France), the unofficial capital of the Champaign wine-growing region, of the first document in the German unconditional surrender in World War II (1945). That document was superseded by a “more-formal” one signed by Field Marshall Keitel in Berlin the following day; all part of an anecdotal account as to why Victory Day is celebrated on May 8 in much of Europe and the US, while Russia does so May 9, putting an end to what Russians call “The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.” An interesting chronology (May 7, 8 and 9) of specific events for history buffs, but irrelevant otherwise!
What did become relevant is the bifurcated path the Allies took after WWII, one which turned allies into adversaries, and exchanged a hot war for a new cold war. Of course, we need to recognize that US’ alliance with the Soviet Union was only temporary in order to defeat the fascist Axis, putting on hold two ideologies: capitalism and communism. And that ideological divide, and resulting cold war, would hold true for the next 45 years.
Some might question why the US still holds a grudge against Russia more than two decades past the dismantling of the Soviet Union: a grudge deep-rooted; one which predates the Russia-Ukraine fraternal imbroglio. And the answer comes to us via the mainstream media from a bipartite Washington that places the blame squarely on a single individual and head of state: Vladimir Putin. Something that most Americans seem brainwashed-content to accept, allowing all political and criminal misgivings assigned to Putin as articles of faith.
Having resided in Vancouver – State of Washington, not Canada – for over three decades, I have witnessed one of the largest absorptions of a Slavic immigrant population in the US (Russians and Ukrainians for the most part, and some Moldovans). Although there are no census figures to accurately provide the Slavic make-up in the total population, estimates give Clark County about 30,000, or close to 8 percent… a figure those of us who live in the community would never challenge given our constant exposure to the Russian language and episodes such as the one I experienced this last May 7… when I came across a small contingent of Russian immigrants marching across the parade grounds in Fort Vancouver National Site, where I live, waving red-blue-white flags of the Russian Federation… some marchers wearing the orange and black St. George Ribbon. Those marchers that I approached were eager to tell their common proud story of heroics in WWII when the USSR offered the ultimate sacrifice via the lives of 27 million people (military and civilian)… eighteen times (!) the combined death-sacrifice suffered by the United Kingdom, the United States and France.
As the marchers passed 500 feet south of the Marshall House, one other Russian moment came to mind, when the Barracks’ commander, George C. Marshall, of Marshall Plan (1948) fame, had invited three Russian aviators (Chkalov, Baydukov and Belyakov) for brunch after their feat – the first non-stop transpolar flight in June 1937… a flight of an ANT-25 monoplane which originated in Moscow 63 hours before, landing in our Pearson Field in unplanned fashion. Yes, there is a proud Russian heritage as part of this community; yet, Russians that I have come across here seem as diversified in their political views as the rest of us. Well… with one possible exception: they seldom appear antipathetic in their view of Vladimir Putin, in sharp contrast with America’s continuous media portrayal of a malevolent Putin.
And that brings me to the sad reality of America’s adversarial confrontation with a Russia presented to Americans as an enemy, as we wrestle with old resentments and new strains of Russo-phobia in our government’s quest to protect the empire. We are told that the Kremlin meddled in our last presidential election, colluding with knaves in the Trump campaign to deny the likely heir, Lady Clinton, access to the empire’s throne.
Out of this unholy mess, no winners are likely to emerge… none. After a short but professional investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is likely to find and denounce the “obligatory” casual intervention that major powers, including the US, exert to protect what they feel are their economic or ideological interests… but no clear-cut collusion. Yes, General Flynn is likely to end up in that calaboose that he wanted for Hillary Clinton… and many ranking Democrats in Congress who demanded this election probe will end up with egg in their faces.
Other non-winners will include the Republican Party which in its legislative and judicial greed allowed a non-conservative, mentally-unstable Trump to lead the party. And both Russia and the US have lost an opportunity to reset a mutually beneficial relationship that could help bring peace to the Middle East.
Meantime, the bipartisan, vociferous hawks in Congress continue ruling the day.