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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Objectively, Russia Needs A Cold War

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Sixty percent of those surveyed believe that the foreign press covers events in Russia more objectively than Russian journalists do, while 40 percent felt the opposite." This is the way Ekho Moskvy radio presented the results of a telephone poll of listeners last week.

On Feb. 4, Security Council chairman Sergei Ivanov delivered an important speech at the Munich conference on international security, a sort of "military-political Davos." The first article I saw about this speech was written by UPI correspondent (and former Moscow Times columnist) Martin Walker and was full of impassioned commentary like, "In one of the toughest statements to emerge from the Kremlin since the Cold War …". Other Western publications, judging by articles appearing on Johnson's Russia List, adopted a similar tone.

And what about the Russian press? No emotion at all. If you look at the headlines in Segodnya (Feb. 5), Kommersant and Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Feb. 6), you'll see that they emphasized the disagreement between Russia and the United States concerning the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. Obviously, this is an important matter, but it is only one aspect of relations between the two countries.

The government newspaper, Rossiiskaya Gazeta (Feb. 6), reported that Ivanov stated that Russia would build its relations with the other states of the former Soviet Union primarily on a bilateral basis. The following day, Nezavisimaya Gazeta picked up this theme in an article headlined, "The Security Council Has Decided to Close the CIS."

As you can see, this speech was nervously interpreted by the English-language press as Russia's return to the Cold War, while the domestic press dryly presented it as a rejection of Russian pretensions to hegemony in its "traditional sphere of vital national interests." Interestingly, toward the end of the week the new U.S. CIA director, George Tenet, listed Russia among the nations threatening the United States, while President Vladimir Putin was in Austria declaring that he does not intend to oppose the expansion of NATO.

So is the Russian public supposed to take up their familiar posts at the barricades or are they supposed to break out the olive branches? Or maybe they should do both.

Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of West Germany, began his political career as a separatist. In the 1920s, he wanted to unite his native Rhineland with France or with Belgium in order to avoid being dominated by Prussian Berlin. Nothing good, however, came of this effort.

The real greatness of Adenauer's separatism was not revealed until after the war. Then he chose Bonn as his new capital, in a complete rejection of pompous Berlin. He was also able to stubbornly oppose any moves toward reunification, using Cold-War tensions to shift all the blame to the Soviets.

This policy brought innumerable benefits. Foreign troops defended western and southern Germany lands from Prussian inroads, while simultaneously keeping an eye on local generals. And it was all so cheap for West Germany that the economy flourished, as did democracy.

Now transitional Russia needs a "cold war" just as badly. Islamic fundamentalism has been named as the enemy du jour (this, after all, was the real topic of Ivanov's speech). Now it is simply necessary to convince our powerful Western friends of the reality of this threat. I only hope that they figure this out before they start bombing us.

Alexei Pankin is the editor of Sreda, a magazine for media professionals. He contributed this column to Vedomosti.