Russians are practical, even sometimes rather harsh, people, and it was no great surprise to me that they were a great deal more skeptical of Obama than the more deracinated folks in Western Europe. White guilt doesn’t fly with Russians. Like Jews and the Irish, Russians are a self righteous nation that sees itself, at worst, as a victim of the designs of greedy, double-talking, back-stabbing Westerners.
Obama’s typical rhetorical style is a Solomon-like proliferation of double-talk and glittering generalities. After being ruled and abused for three quarters of a century by regime built on “hope” and “glittering generalities,” then a decade of chaos under western “tutelage,” the Russians are a tough sell for this kind of thing.
“We don’t really understand why Obama is such a star,” said Kirill Zagorodnov, 25, one of the graduates. “It’s a question of trust, how he behaves, how he positions himself, that typical charisma, which in Russia is often parodied. Russians really are not accustomed to it. It is like he is trying to manipulate the public.”
Russia knows America’s foreign policy to Russia is what really matters. They also know that Obama, while he has extended the olive branch, will likely not challenge certain institutional biases against Russia, NATO enlargement, policies of missile deployment in Eastern Europe, and stupid “human rights” hectoring regarding the restive provinces of Dagestan and Chechenya.
I do commend Obama for trying to thaw out our unfortunately strained relations with a great nation that is a natural ally in our conflicts with Islamic terrorists. Perhaps the cool reception will wake Obama up to how the world works and give him a much needed dose of reality.