By Sergey Balmasov:
What are the Americans trying to achieve by making provocative statements public?
American diplomats, with their statements on the South Kurils, are pushing the Japanese revanchists into a war against Russia. Recall the recently made statement by Philip Crowley, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for public affairs, and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. In this regard, John Beyrle, the American ambassador to Russia, was called in for explanations to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There, he tried to justify, to put it mildly, a strange position of his country by saying that the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Moscow just relayed a personal opinion of Philip Crowley.
At this point, the incident could be considered a finished case, if not for a few “buts.” Aren’t the statements made by Philip Crowley too straightforward? A statement like that, made by some American cowboy, is one thing, but when ideas of such a nature are publicly pronounced by, mildly speaking, not the last person in the hierarchy of the U.S. State Department, it is a completely different matter.
But that’s not all about it. Supposedly, Philip Crowley could have blurted something out without giving it a thought, which is hard to believe. The U.S. doesn’t suffer outright fools gladly, whose statements can make relations with other countries complicated, especially the fools holding such important posts. Then, why was this “private,” as we are being assured of, statement relayed by the American Embassy in Moscow?
Add to this the fact that similar “personal statements” have been mouthed repeatedly by senior American officials. Last time, it happened in November 2010. By a strange coincidence, at a first glance, this very Philip Crowley made almost the same statement again. According to his words, Russia should conclude a peace treaty with and on Japan’s terms. The terms are that Moscow has to pass the control over the Habomai Islands, Shikotan, Iturup and Kunashir, to Tokyo, because “the USSR allegedly occupied these territories after the Japanese army’s capitulation,”* which means that Russia has no right to occupy them.
However, for some reasons unknown, back in that very distant 1945, the Americans did not protest against the Soviet army occupying the aforementioned islands. The point is that the U.S. and Great Britain insisted on the USSR joining the war against the militaristic Japan. Despite the fact that the Americans, along with the British army, had inflicted a heavy defeat on Japan by the beginning of 1945, they had no hope of destroying them completely before early 1947, without the Soviet army’s support. Also, they had no confidence that the use of two nuclear bombs would make the aggressive Tokyo surrender to the mercy of the victors.
It would be naïve to think that Stalin agreed to send thousands of his soldiers to die in the war against Japan without having anything back as compensation. As a reward, for the support in complete destruction of the Japanese militarism, the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands were returned to the Soviet Union. The relevant agreements that followed were signed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 and were additionally confirmed at the Potsdam Conference in July and August of the same year.
What are the Americans trying to achieve by making provocative statements public? Pavel Zolotarev, a deputy director at the Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies, gives his view on this issue in his interview to Pravda.ru.
“I wouldn’t look for a Russian side of the story in this case. There is a different reason behind such statements of the American diplomats. Exactly, it’s a verbal attempt to play into the hands of Japan. And there will be nothing special to follow these statements.”*
It is well known that times change. Today, Washington is not inclined to remember the former alliance with Moscow. Now it pals up with Tokyo. But such a friendship may turn out badly for the latter. It appears that the Americans are intentionally creating points of tension between Russia and its neighboring countries for the sake of their own interests.
That’s why these far too personal statements of American diplomats do not look so harmless. For instance, similar statements played a role in 2008 when the Georgian authorities entered into the war in South Ossetia.
Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. secretary of state, and her subordinates made everything possible for the war to start. Statements of American diplomats regarding “the territorial unity of Georgia”* lent wings to Mikheil Saakashvili and gave a feeling of confidence that the U.S. would fully support his gamble. And, if it became necessary, it would make Russia refuse protection to its citizens in South Ossetia.
Nevertheless, it never happened. Though short in time, the war still had started. It took five days for Russia to break the Georgian army. The U.S., which had encouraged Saakashvili into the military gamble, walked away with the “verbal” support only, a rather relative one.
Japanese revanchists, dreaming of “having the northern territories returned”* and constantly building their offensive arms, should memorize quite well this “Georgian lesson” to not to make Mikheil Saakashvili’s sad mistakes, who will have to pay for them dearly for a long time yet.
In case the Kuril war becomes a reality, nobody can guarantee that after such an experience the Japanese economy will ever recover to the present level. And, the Americans, as usual, won’t go further than supporting the Japanese ally with condemnations.
However, it’s not the first time America would let her allies down. Apart from Georgia, there have been South Vietnam, the Mubarak regime in Egypt, “the Hungarian Revolution” of 1956, and many more.
As for the recent example of Georgia and Japan, here the U.S. becomes a bored cowboy at the bar who decided to entertain himself by egging customers on. Unfortunately, neither Tbilisi nor Tokyo understands that the Americans are just using them in their dirty, far-reaching geopolitical game.
*Editor’s Note: These quotes, though accurately translated, could not be verified.