US Election: will anything change for them and for us?

A column of a ‘dilettante’ about the results of the American election 2016

US Election: will anything change for them and for us? Photo:

The election of the president of the United States has recently finished, and there are many forecasts, plans, analyses on that topic, various sociologists and political scientists have received a lot of paid work. A columnist of Realnoe Vremya, Bulat Rakhimzyanov, PhD, lived in the US for some time advancing qualification in Harvard. After communication with major political scientists from the prestigious university, he has developed a certain understanding of the political processes in America. About how he got into Harvard, about the presidential election and many other things the author wrote in his column specially for our online newspaper.

Firsthand experience of acquaintance with America

I spent six months (from September 2006 to March 2007) in the United States, being a scholar of the Fulbright Program for exchange of scientists. Of course, six months is not a term when you know a country and its inhabitants thoroughly, but this is already not an opinion of a tourist who was there anly a week. Some hidden nuances become visible. The program involves a research on the topic suggested by a scholar himself in one of the universities in the USA. You can choose a university either yourself (if it supports your desire) or from the proposed ones in the program.

I decided not to waste time on trifles and turned to a Harvard colleague Donald Ostrowski, a known specialist in Muscovite history, and proposed to prepare an invitation from known for the studies of the history and politics of Russia and the USSR Harvard Davis Center (formerly — Russian Research Center). The appeal worked out, and the program assigned me to Harvard, to this center. My curator became Ostrowski (by the way, quite critical of the US policy, as well as most academics I met during these six months). It was assumed that I was to work according to a plan set by myself. The University didn't interfere in my activities at all, respecting academic freedom. For six months, I have done two presentations at the seminars of the Davis Center and worked independently. Lectures (both attending and holding) were not provided. I was completely satisfied with such free schedule.

My curator became Ostrowski (by the way, quite critical of the US policy, as well as most academics I have met)

I lived in the city of Cambridge, where Harvard is located. Formally, it is an autonomous city with its own mayor, but, in fact, by Russian standards, it is a district of Boston (common underground, 10 minutes away from the city centre). During my stay in America, we travelled a little, we travelled around all surrounding states, repeatedly visited New York city (40 minutes by plane or 4 hours by bus), also visited Washington, Las Vegas, Los Angeles. The program approved such travels (although 'banned' Canada) — it was considered that you become acquainted with American culture and lifestyle this way (it is really so). So we have acquainted a little with the country and its inhabitants.

Starting from the second half of my stay, every week I had coffee with Don and we spoke on various topics. The heads of Davis Center did not disturb us, they were busy with other things, more important things (they advise the US government on issues of relations with Russia, as it turned out). However, politesse and courtesy were always adhered to — we were invited to the meetings, sometimes even to their home. I was struck by unusual for Russian eyes external democratism: for example, Tim Colton (now Professor of Governmnet at Harvard), that time he was the director of the center, wore a Timex watch in combination with a business suit, and had Audi A4 (when I asked him why at least not a A6, he said 'Oh, it's very expensive!'). But he lived in a private house, away from everyone, with private road, etc. (which is very expensive and prestigious).

Before leaving, I wrote a letter of appreciation to all who were related to our stay. I was a bit surprised when Tim invited me to a farewell lunch. We had a nice talk and he added that this was the special dining room at Harvard for guests and he does not have lunch here every day. Of course, the conversation was mainly about general things: the same politesse and courtesy. However, he impressed me with his knowledge of the nuances of Russian politics that even did not occur to me (for example, that Yavlinsky is a friend with alcohol). He is even familiar with our first President Shaimiev (he was in Harvard and did a presentation), and Tim has written several books about Yeltsin. That time I just did not imagine the status of the person I had lunch with (later I saw him on Russian TV with our politicians at round table talks), his appearance disoriented me.

The heads of Davis center did not disturb us, they were busy with other things, more important ones (they advise the US government on issues of relations with Russia, as it turned out)

American election and foreign policy of the USA: is there a link?

I want to share my totally amateurish, in no way claiming to 'analytics' thoughts about change of the president of the United States and generally about change of the ruling party. Why? This is an outside point of view, not from the camp of sociologists and political scientists and other 'experts on issues' that is valuable because of its impartiality — the author is not bound by conventions and rules of environment because he simply does not know them. But the greatest discoveries were made by people not thinking by the rules. So, it is strange to me to learn about some expectations from the administration of our country for 'change of course' in relations between the two countries in the near future. It is even funnier to me to see grief of young Ukrainian politicians (I mean the current leadership of Ukraine in general) about the fact that the US will 'leave' them in the fight against 'big brother'. Dear gentlemen, I would like to exclaim, have you ever studied the history of the last decades in the context of both external and internal policy of the United States? It's easy to do.

If we take a look at it, what is not being done, or deliberately not highlighted, playing a political spectacle, we will find that the state machine of the United States, working in very close conjunction with business, is extremely, I would say, stable. It works like a clock, and a small gap that we see now (change of parties, exotic presidents, the nuances of domestic policy) was originally incorporated in the system to make it 'true'. It's not perfect, but it is a machine, it works properly and smoothly. And its essence is the absence of change, at least within half a century. In the US policy, nothing has changed in the last 50 years; at least I am talking now about foreign policy. It is the policy of the global hegemon (from 1991 to the present; from 1945 to 1991, it was one of the two superpowers). It is the policy of a sublimated empire, which understands only the language of force and used to speak with others only that language. There cannot be changes in U.S. relations with other countries because other countries for the USA are not partners but a subordinated party or an object to work for transference to the first position. The only exception is the United Kingdom but this is a special case because, in my subjective opinion, the US is like a 'branch' of the UK and its modern reincarnation (and not vice versa). Moreover, it is normal for the modern (and not only) policy, as any strong side in world politics behaves the same when conditions allow (this is the depravity of human nature and 'inversion' of the world as a whole; remember the Soviet Union, the period of foreign-policy power — East Germany's Hungarian and Czechoslovak events of the second half of the XX century.

There cannot be changes in U.S. relations with other countries because other countries for it are not partners but a subordinated party or an object to work for transition to the first position

If you look at past US presidents and their manifestos and, later, their performance, you can see that they all promise the same thing about Russia — 'we will remove the tension and set the mode of warming'. When it comes to implementation, regardless a representative of which party is in power, nothing happens — no 'warming' because it is impossible in essence — a 'warming' comes in contradiction with the fundamental principles of US foreign policy. Everything else — a political masquerade, which is the norm for the United States (and other 'advanced' players on the world scene but alien to Russia, where they got used to work more roughly), and serves only to distract the public, who sometimes genuinely believe that they influence on something, from the notorious Realpolitik, where neither people nor even American politicians are not allowed (they play only the role of the managers at the Board of Directors, which is unknown to us). Moreover, if we look at U.S. domestic policy and read program of 'warring' parties, we will be surprised to find that they are practically the same, considering the mentioned gap. Their 'election campaign' — only a show for the ignorant public to distract them from the real affairs (the same thing happens in our country; here our strategists in some issues have still is a lot of work to do). I'm not even talking about the real owners of these parties, who are likely the same.

Conclusion: nothing to be afraid of

So, I would like to calm 'hotheads' down from all sides — dear gentelmen, nothing will change. The world will remain the same as it was. Democracy will stand. The Russian Federation, too. This has certain quite tangible advantages — if you know an opponent's strategy, you can build your own line of relationship with them in a long term, not being distracted by what representative of which party will win an election.

By Bulat Rakhimzyanov. Photos provided by the author