MOSCOW. (Pyotr Romanov, RIA Novosti political commentator) -- Not so long ago the U.S. Congress unanimously voted for the institution of a Cold War Victory Medal.
To be honest, when I heard about this from a colleague, I thought he was joking because the whole idea seemed utterly ridiculous.
Later, when I found out that this was true, I still felt perplexed for a long time - what could explain this yearning to put one more medal on the American uniform for a remote war, and a cold one for that matter? And why institute it now, and not right after the disintegration of the USSR? Quite a bit of time has gone by since then. Why don't Italians go for a medal for the victory in the Gallic war? It would be more logical because ancient Gaul was a site of a real war.
There could be several ways to explain why the U.S. has decided to go for the medal now. Maybe Washington, thinking that Moscow has become too independent, has decided to remind it who came out the winner in the confrontation last time.
Or, maybe it wants to uplift the spirit of the American nation. In recent years, having won militarily the first war in Iraq, the U.S. then sustained a disgraceful moral and political defeat, leaving Saddam Hussein's political opponents, who naively hoped for U.S. help, at the dictator's mercy. The second Iraqi war has been even more shameful - having occupied the country (under a false pretext), the Americans have proved unable to control it. Finally, it is not ruled out that a new war is in the making, now against Iran. It will be even dirtier, and will take a bigger toll on innocent lives, considering that Washington is seriously debating the use of nuclear weapons during a new military operation.
The third version is perhaps the most probable, and human - Congressmen simply want to show off their new medal to their wives, secretaries, and lovers.
The attitude to the Congress decision depends on which version is the right one. It may be perceived with humor, or in real earnest.
The first two versions are not amusing. If the U.S. is serious about exerting even indirect pressure on Russia, it is making a political mistake. As I said, the train has already left the station - today's Russia is not what it was yesterday. Whatever Washington says, the Kremlin will defend its interests and its views on both global problems and democracy at home.
If the U.S. is trying to raise the spirit of the Americans, then that's its own business. But this effort is not likely to succeed, especially if the Bush Administration gets involved in a war with Iran.
Finally, it's high time to clear up the main question. The U.S. did not win a Cold War against the USSR. The USSR lost it to the U.S. These are different things.
Decay and inefficiency were genetically programmed into the Communist system. For this reason, its disintegration started at birth. Only the Soviets (councils) were a peculiar form of democracy, but Lenin had completely emasculated the Soviet system by subjugating all government bodies to the Bolshevik Party. The Soviets died for good after the suppression of the well-known Kronstadt uprising in 1921. It would be fair to confer the U.S. medal on Lenin, albeit posthumously. Krushchev deserves it in an equal measure for exposing Stalin's personality cult, and thereby depriving the nation of its ideological support. Finally, Gorbachev surely deserves it as well, although he was not guided by Western radio voices, these Cold War champions. He dreamt of "socialism with a human face," and was drawn to Euro Communism rather than Western democracies. But having let the genie out of the bottle, he couldn't stuff it back in. Russia followed its own road independently.
There are Cold War heroes in the U.S. as well. Take Zbigniew Brzezinski, who once told the French press how he drew the USSR into the Afghan venture, which proved suicidal for the Kremlin. But the end was sad not only for the Soviet Union, but also for the United States. Trained by the CIA for fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden is responsible for the September 11 tragedy in New York. It's a big question whether Brzezinski should be awarded or punished.
But if the U.S. Congress opted for the medal, it will certainly find its way to the chest of the heroes.