Remember the usual Soviet propaganda line: "Cold War winds blow from the Potomac. The same wind goes through the hearts and minds of American imperialists who are planning the next campaign against peace-loving Politburo and CPSU Central Committee policies".
Nowadays you can find such language only in North Korean editorials but, unfortunately, though, both the Russian and Western media are still engaged in a similar war of words. The fact that the language they use is more sophisticated is little consolation.
Nevertheless, one should admit that in the West, apart from Russia bashing, one can still find many articles critical of U.S. foreign policy and occasionally even some positive materials on Putin's Russia. But the Russian media does not reciprocate: it is practically impossible to find anything positive about U.S. at all.
I keep telling my Russian friends that a Cold War mentality does not cover the whole spectrum of American society, and that there are many influential voices that do not see Russia as an enemy. Not just Cold War winds are blowing but fresh ones too. When I run into an article that proves my point I send the link to my quite extensive mailing list. I can cite here some recent ones -- by Robert Blackwill in the WSJ, or Norman Stone in the London Times, or by Mortimer Zuckerman in U.S. News and World Report, all of them calling for a more pragmatic U.S. policy towards Russia. Where are the Russian reciprocal steps of this kind, I kept yelling. Finally, I got what I asked for by being invited to defend U.S. policy on a leading TV talk show on Channel 1 which is something like ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and FoxNews combined. There were five of us U.S. defenders, including the editor-in-chief of the main opposition radio station Echo Moskvy against five harsh critics of the U.S. -- and boy, were we beaten badly! Eighty-six percent of the audience voted for our opponents and only 14 percent took our side. Of course, one could write it off by citing our incompetence. In all modesty, however, I do not believe that this was the main reason but rather the policy itself that we were trying to defend.
As one of our opponents admitted, had these debates taken place in the late eighties or early nineties, the result would have been the opposite. At that time U.S. and Russia were only a few steps from becoming allies -- and look where we are now. He continued by repeating basically word by word what Pat Buchanan said in Human Events, and no one could accuse that gentleman of being a Kremlin stooge, I guess.
"How did we lose a Russia that Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. had virtually converted into an ally?" -- asks Buchanan and our talk show opponents.
And the answer is: "We pushed NATO into Moscow's face, bringing six ex-Warsaw Pact nations and three ex-Soviet republics -- Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia -- into our Cold War alliance and plotted to bring in Ukraine and Georgia. We financed a pipeline from Baku through Georgia to the Black Sea to cut Russia out of the Caspian oil trade. After getting Moscow's permission to use old Soviet bases in Central Asia to invade Afghanistan, we set about making the bases permanent. We pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty over Moscow's objection, then announced plans to plant ABM radars in the Czech Republic and anti-missile missiles in Poland."
This is just a short list. There were many other examples of U.S. "bad behavior" towards Russia, quite eloquently described by TV commentator Alexei Pushkov who was also one of our opponents.
One cannot blame this anti-American rhetoric only on the Russian media brainwashing machine. During the Soviet times, the Politburo spent billions on anti-American propaganda -- but failed miserably. As communism collapsed, Russia was probably the world's most pro-American country. Somehow, thanks to the bipartisan efforts by Clinton and Bush, Jr. we achieved a dramatic U-turn in U.S.--Russia relations.
The good thing is that according to reliable public opinion polls there is still a substantial portion of Russia's population (around 30 percent) that regards itself as part of the West. I am sure this number can grow if we get more fresh winds coming to Russia from the Potomac and across the Atlantic.