Freitag, 19. Juni 2015

US-Bürger-Diplomaten beginnen ihre Russlandreise

Hallo allerseits,
gerade habe ich den Newsletter von Sharon Tennison erhalten, die für 22 US-Bürger eine 14-tägige Reise kreuz und quer durch Russland organisiert hat. Als erstes will ich mich entschuldigen, dass ich ihren Brief im Original, d. h. Englisch auflege, weil er fast 8 Seiten lang ist und ich viele andere Dinge zu erledigen habe. Aber Sharon
spricht und schreibt ein klares, einfaches Englisch, das relativ leicht zu verstehen ist. Vielleicht gibt es ja eine liebe Seele hier, die es auf sich nimmt, den Text für die weniger geübten Englisch-Leser/innen zu übersetzen. In dem Fall lege ich den Text gerne auf.
Sharon beschreibt in den ersten 6 Absätzen, wann und wie der grundlegende US- Wandel im Verhältnis zu Russland eingetreten ist. Am 3. Juni begann sie mit ihrem Mail und den Rest schrieb sie im Hochgeschwindigkeitszug nach Volgograd, dem vormaligen Stalingrad. Ihre Truppe hat in der Zwischenzeit dutzende Treffen mit den unterschiedlichsten Menschen absolviert - mit Unternehmern, Akademikern, Studenten, Menschen aus den unterschiedlichsten Berufen. Sie beschreibt die ganz außergewöhnlichen Veränderungen, die seit Putin in dem Land vor sich gegangen sind. Eine aufschlussreiche Lektüre. Und sie haben auch ein Video gemacht, das aber noch nicht fertig ist. Ich werde es später hier hinzulegen.

Citizen Diplomacy Travel begins again -- June 2015

Sharon's Newsletter
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2015 23:10:56 -0400

Email begun on June 3, 2015

Dear Friends,

The relations between the two nuclear superpowers, Russia and the U.S.,
deteriorated so rapidly during the Ukraine build-up to war in 2014 that it
seemed to us critical to try to rebuild citizen diplomacy again –– even
though this attempt feels like David and Goliath with the slingshot.

Our 22 Americans from 15 states (and one from South Africa) came together
to travel to Russia May 30 through June 15. Our goal? To learn how Russian
citizens perceive the situations in Ukraine, Crimea and the
Washington-based economic sanctions they are now under. We wanted to get
clarifying information from them, to share our views with them, and to
examine how to begin new efforts to break through the existing barriers
between our two countries.

Our non-traditional travel had no tour guides, no tour buses, no palaces,
no concerts, no normal rounds of canned meetings. Fortunately CCI has
sufficient connections across Russia to organize meetings with ordinary
Russian business people, journalists, professionals, university students
and yes, Russia's venerated TV anchor over the past 40 years, Vladimir
Pozner with whom we spent an evening in Moscow.

No other country has been so persistently maligned in US mainstream media
(MSM) over the past decade as has Russia; this demonization has been
initiated by a thin segment of Washington's current policy makers and
America's compliant MSM. It is said to have started in 2000 when Yeltsin
turned over the reigns of the "new" Russia to then unknown Vladimir Putin.
I was told by a State Department diplomat that on that very day when it
was announced that VV Putin would likely be Russia's next president, "The
knives were drawn." Actually I think it was even earlier in 1990, when
Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Brzezinski, et al, came up with "The Wolfowitz

At that time, a fragment of Washington's power structure declared that the
Cold War was over, that America was the victor––and a policy was set forth
to prevent any country including the former USSR, from getting strong
enough to challenge America's superiority in the future (Google the
Wolfowitz Doctrine). Another strategy soon emerged––"Full Spectrum
Dominance;" that is, whatever power it takes to maintain superiority over
land, air, water, subsoil, and outer space on the planet. To some, this
meant total security for Americans in the future; to others, it meant
sinister plotting to do whatever necessary to maintain America's power and
hegemony (Google Full Spectrum Dominance).

With the emergence of Vladimir Putin in 2000, a serious effort began to
coalesce around Russia to hem her in. Subtly, and not so subtly, Russia
found itself being criticized for doing the normal reforms and
state-building necessary to put Russia back on its feet after communism and
the disastrous 1990s. Those of us intimately involved with the collapse of
the USSR and its impact on 150 million Russian people were bewildered by
why Washington's policymakers were deliberately taking a hostile stance to
the "New" Russia." A pattern emerged from 2001 on. We continued to try to
make sense of it until the demonization of Russia and Russia's president,
Vladimir Putin, became such virulent attacks that we had to question the
intentions and psychology of the Washington's perpetrators.
Psychologically healthy human beings don't continuously attack, demean,
bully, and sanction other people––or whole nations. The 2014 Sochi Olympic
events were the capstone––an all-out effort occurred to blackball Russia's
attempt to show the world a healthy and new Russia. Sochi was a monumental
success which could not be discounted.

On to our Travel in Today's Russia:

On May 31 we arrived Moscow, now 12 million people––our schedule was packed
with simultaneous meetings with journalists, entrepreneurs, think tank
leaders, US corporate persons and university faculty and students. We
traveled the miles from N to S, E to W, on the famed Moscow Metro system
with the help of delightful students and travelers who knew the system. Our
travelers were stunned by the range of meetings they attended, some three
or four of them going out in multiple directions to discuss the issues that
divide our two countries. We found total openness, honesty and multiple
points of view. Most Muscovites were impressed by the new Russia emerging
over the past 15 years––and some were quite vocal about their gripes
regarding Putin and the governing system. Our student helpers were from the
relatively new Moscow School of Economic and Political Sciences. One of
the last meetings, and one that all of the delegation attended, was at
their academic institution. The room held about 50 people with long tables
on all four sides, with all communicants facing each other. Russians on
the left and Americans on the right. Young professor Alexander Abashkin,
began with a few informal remarks, gave the floor to me, after which we all
quickly introduced ourselves and began asking informal questions of each
other, one person having the floor at a time. It was civil, revealing and
powerful––there was no party line from either side of the table. We began
to deal with solutions for the current political standoff -- proposing
possibilities for future people-to-people exchanges with both sides being
responsible for their own travel money and providing pro bono support for
any future activities. As for CCI, we will approach our US lists as we
gear up to repeat some of our earlier programs which broke down barriers
between our two countries in the 1980s and 1990s. You may want to
participate or to contribute to one of the program possibilities.

Our last evening in Moscow was spent with Vladimir Pozner, an old friend
since the 1980s. We interrogated him on current issues and got straight
answers, including those not shared by the current Putin government. Our
videographer captured the extraordinary discussion we had with Pozner. It
will be available as a Youtube. We will send you the URL after we get home
and edit the footage.

this is written, we citizen diplomats are on an overnight train from
Moscow and traveling into the heart of Russia. The next stop will be
Volgograd, the battleground that turned the tide of WWII. We are on one of
the tens of thousands of new train tracks and new economy trains, thanks to
the efforts of one Vladimir Yukanin, the first president of Russia's new
railroad industry. I ponder the days when I sat with him on a small board
in 1987 when we were trying to start a small children's private art school
in Leningrad; also a lunch with him in 1991 in a small new private
restaurant in the Petrogradski District; afterward he arranged for CCI to
have a free small office in the Smolney; and then in 1993 listened to his
pain, with head in his hands, about the devastatingly sordid changes in
Russia's tragic 1990s. This cultured young man at the time was lamenting
that he and his wife moved their television out due to the predominance of
America's B grade movies which they couldn't allow their children to watch.
Never would I have guessed this thoughtful young man would someday revamp
the largest train system in the world––and I would be riding on his trains
in awe. Even train lavatories have metamorphosed into attractive, efficient
and pristine-clean rooms at the end of each car.

It's 6 am, we are approaching Volgograd within the next couple of hours. I
arose at 4 am to take in the scenery outside our train windows. This is
such a verdant countryside, vast stretches of forests, so full of foliage
they looked to be stuffed with solid green trees along side the tracks.
I'm struck by the tiny ancient towns we are passing through, formerly
broken down Soviet buildings––now showing newly added repair and paint on
everything in site. Structures sport new coats of color not seen in the
Soviet days. I'm fascinated by their use of the most simple of available
products to create beauty. For instance, many carefully designed circular
flower beds made of what appear to be old cut-in-half tires. They are
painted a slightly different but corresponding color from the main
buildings, with the effect being scalloped circular beds of blooming
annuals, each about 15 feet in diameter. Why describe something this
simple? It's just one small example of thousands of details I'm noticing
which are telling me that "Beauty is Back" in today's Russia. The garish
appearances from the last couple of decades are giving way to a new sense
of harmony and color––even in outposts like these that the train is passing

Railroad tracks in most cities are usually the ugliest of places, but not
so in Russia today. Shiny trains pull up in the cities, young women and men
in sharp fitted uniforms with hats step out and welcome guests. Gone are
the sour-faced elderly ladies who looked suspiciously over our tickets and
passports. Even the small train stops are obviously cared for. We just
passed a small Orthodox church with the four cupolas and one central one
looking as though they have been recently renovated with pure gold. Surely
not, but it appeared so. Off in the distance as we pull away from the town
are the two and three-story new homes, none of them alike. Obviously tract
homes haven't come to Russia yet. These are the homes of entrepreneurs,
including bureaucrats no doubt, the latter unfortunately having made their
livings off of the entrepreneurs in the 1990s and 2000s. Even nondescript
outlying regions like these have developed a new face. At the train stops,
the traditional babushkas usually selling foods to train occupants from
their baskets are not there! The old bent shoulders are being replaced
with rural people who are young, slender, shoulders back––they walk at a
different pace than their fathers, mothers and grandparents. Their clothing
is similar to average Americans (since the Chinese are making most of what
both peoples' wear today).

Now back to the seemingly endless miles of landscapes with cultivated farm
lands in between thick green forests. Volgograd is now about an hour away.

So, yes, to this veteran watcher of all remnants in this country, it is
clear that beauty is back; much of the older generation has died off, and
a new Russia is being born here. Over the past decade I've been able to
finally see the blossoming of their deep respect for their rich Russian
culture––its literature, poets, and musical geniuses are coming
back––thankfully it was not lost in the miserable turnstile between the
Soviet era and this new period of societal development.


We, the Baltic peoples, the Ukrainians, or any country, have NOTHING to
fear from today's Russia. From all conversations we are having, Russians
have NO interest in more land mass; they have more land than they need,
and the worst situation of all, would be to have resentful Baltic countries
or other nations under their rule again. The constant allegations that
Russians are looking to take over additional territory are totally
manufactured propaganda.

We do need to understand that Russians will never submit to a world culture
that is different from their own––any more than we in America would.

Russians have regained their national pride over the past decade and are
capable of defending their right to exist––and they have a government today
that will protect their deeply embedded culture. Russia will never be
precisely like America, nor should they be; their history and national
conditionings are quite different from ours. However, they are completely
ready to let America be America …. and for us and other countries to
develop what is comfortable for ourselves. They have NO intention to
impose their culture on others.

The narrow slice of today's American policymakers need to get accustomed to
this fact and stop their incessant preoccupation to remake the world in
America's image.

On to Volgograd ….. Sharon

When referring to the policies that are currently being made in the West, I
find it more appropriate to designate them as "Washington policies," not
U.S. or American policies.

I KNOW middle America. I've been traveling from state to state over the
past three years speaking and selling my book. Even though many Americans
are frequently misinformed by MSM, Americans are truly good people with
good hearts and would never wage wars on other countries …. or on Russia.
From Rotary and Kiwanis clubs to business forums, libraries, churches,
universities and even high schools, Americans are good stock, doing good
work in their cities and states. They want to know the truth and are open
to new inputs. Our MSM has been relentless and of one voice on Russia
over the past few years --- to the place where the average American hardly
realizes that the "sanctions" are an all-out attempt to take Russia down
economically. If you are interested, I can send Internet URLs by
responsible investigative journalists and international news services which
will give multiple points of view on these topics. Wars have been fought
over such tactics as economic sanctions in the past. Fortunately Russia
has kept a cool head and is able to survive––and has as a result, developed
serious supportive relationships with China, India, Brazil and South
Africa–the BRICS countries. More on this to follow.

If you are interested in a trip to Russia of this type, please let us know,

Sharon Tennison

Please excuse poor sentence structure, typos, etc. No editors available.

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