On Tuesday, The Heritage Foundation hosted a public discussion on Russian anti-Americanism, which has risen since 2000. So, what are the root causes of anti-Americanism, how do they affect US-Russian relations, and how should they be addressed?
Helle Dale and Dr. Ariel Cohen, both senior research fellows at The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies and Davis Institute, as well as Daniel Kimmage, a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute, agreed that the Russian government uses anti-Americanism to create an external enemy, to unite domestic support, and to bolster the authoritarian regime.
Moscow also uses anti-Americanism to create negative global public opinion for the US, bolster a common adversary with China, Iran, Venezuela and other anti-Western regimes, thus promoting a model of the multi-polar world. Svetlana Babaeva, Bureau Chief of RIA Novosti, the Russian State Information Agency, suggested that the US today is similar to imperial Britain and Spain. As the most powerful state, cannot please everybody.
It is important that Russians understand the deeper ideas behind America’s constitutional free market republic. These ideas are universal, and any country, including Russia has people that will respond to them and seek a higher standard [of governance] within their own country. The difference between Americans and Russians is not in the values of the importance of family, but in the government, Kimmage said. In the case of Russia, its rulers are frantic over letting people make informed choices of their future development.
Dr. Cohen stressed that by and large, Russian national television networks are state controlled. “Talking heads” appear on government TV channels spewing anti-American propaganda, and often clear falsehoods, such as the US Government being behind the 9/11 attacks or the US Government financing the Bolshevik coup of 1917.
The Government of Russia denies American broadcasters access to Russian TV channels and radio waves. Foreign broadcasting is available via cable, through a costly subscription. While Russia Today English language state channel has access to the cable box in the U.S., it is only fair that the U.S. should have the same access in Russia, Cohen suggested.
In addition, American outreach on the internet, print media, and increased people-to-people contacts could make a difference. Unlike Russia, the US doesn’t need to create misleading documentaries or engage in propaganda, yet the Obama presidency failed to provide a comprehensive public diplomacy policy and leadership, Cohen said.