Mr. Bush, the World Doesn’t Want to be American

Mr. Bush, the World Doesn’t Want to be

Former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev has written
President-elect George W. Bush a letter. Printed in The
Washington Post
on Christmas morning, the letter, which
begins by acknowledging the influential role the United States
plays on the world stage, is a well-argued request–at once
respectful and pointed–that America back off.

‘While America’s role is acknowledged throughout the world,’
Gorbachev writes, ‘her claim to hegemony, not to say domination, is
not similarly recognized. For this reason, I hope, Mr. Bush, as the
new American president, that you will give up any illusion that the
21st century can, or even should, be the ‘American Century’,’ he
writes, alluding to a phrase Bush employed in his acceptance speech
at the Republican National Convention last August. ‘Globalization
is a given,’ he adds, ‘but ‘American globalization’ would be a

In warning against U.S. domination, Gorbachev implies that
America’s present prosperity is purchased at the expense of the
rest of the world. ‘…[I]t is time for America’s electorate to be
told the blunt truth: that the present situation of the United
States, by which a part of its population is able to enjoy a life
of extraordinary comfort and privilege, is not tenable over the
long run as long as an enormous portion of the world lives in
abject poverty, degradation and backwardness.’

Gorbachev also criticizes the Cold War mentality that has gripped
the U.S., citing the expansion of NATO, the Yugoslav crisis, and
U.S. rearmament (specifically, the Anti-Missile National Defense
System) as supporting examples. ‘From the standpoint of the Old
World,’ he writes, ‘the post-Cold War period ushered in hopes that
now are faded. Over the course of the past decade, the United
States has continued to operate along an ideological track
identical to the one it followed during the Cold War–but now
without a cold war.’

Gorbachev sincerely believes that a cooperative relationship
between Russia and the U.S. is necessary for ‘a new world order’
and ‘European unity’; however, he is wary of President-elect Bush’s
plans; ‘…it is unclear what your orientation will be. What we
heard during the electoral campaign did not sound

And, it doesn’t sound encouraging now, either. With the recent
appointment of Donald Rumsfeld–secretary of defense under
President Ford and ‘a leading cold warrior,’ as the New York
recently put it–as defense secretary, who can blame the
Russians for being a little worried?
–Anjula Razdan
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