In Europe: East and West, Norman Davies offered much of interest and as usual puts forth the view now quite common with the growth and expansion of the EU, that small nations can fare better than large ones. In The Isles he cities the high-tech "knowledge economy" of Ireland as outstripping the old remnant of Empire, the UK in GDP.
But Davies evinced a misguided optimism. Since he wrote that at the turn of the new century all these small "Tiger Economies" have since 2008 collapsed dramatically from Ireland to the Baltic States as they were based on inherently unstable forms of neoliberal economics.
Davies' belief in culture as the driving force of history is a noble one but flawed as he does not understand economics particularly well and remains somewhat contradictory in his view of Russia, another former rump state of a Greater Empire, first that of the Tsars and then as the largest part of the multinational Soviet Union which was categorically different.
The comparison between Britain and Russia in East and West, with comparisons between the mass transportation of prisoners in nineteenth century to Australia and Russians and Poles from Eastern Europe to Siberia. Davies also mentions Britain's role in helping to create the conditions that made worse the Irish Famine of 1845.
Yet there is not enough from Davies on the parallel expansion of the USA Westwards as Russia expanded Eastwards and was based on militaristic subjugation of the tribes and ethnic groups that had lived there. Moreover, Davies has nothing to say on the hear famine conditions created by neoliberal shock therapy in Russia in the 1990s and the demographic collapse caused by it.
Now at least Niall Ferguson in Colossus:The Rise and Fall of the American Empire has the merit of actually drawing such comparisons between US and Russian expansion in the nineteenth century. Ferguson claims that the USA self professedly termed itself an Empire from the time of the Founding Fathers.
In 1816 Jefferson announced "Old Europe will have to lean on our shoulders, and to hobble along by our side, under the monkish trammels of priests and kings. What a colossus we shall be" and called it an "Empire of Liberty".
From the original core of the Thirteen states that declared independence in 1776, it was always a matter of discussion whether America should thence expand Westwards. The idea that America threw off George III's "tyranny" was a nationalist piece of mythology.
When the draft Articles of Confederation in 1776, the notion that the Us would remain within those boundaries was rejected by those who not only owned negro slaves but also wanted expansion Westwards to appropriate the land of the Native Americans.
That was one reason for the reason British rule was rejected: it had prevented this expansion which would enrich the American settler states and allow the USA to roll Westwards and take land and resources. Not wanting be treated as mere colonials made many US patricians have the desire to be colonists.
The territorial expansion of the USA and the declaration of the "rights of man" were never applied either to the slaves nor to the Native indigenous peoples whom John C Calhoun in 1817 had decided would consist of removing "Indians" beyond the 95th line of latitude.
The "Indians" were expropriated from their lands by force , land hunger, religious zealotry and military force. After the War of 1812 between Britain and the USA, the native Americans, tribes like the Shawnees and Seminoles had no European ally.
By 1819 the delinearation of the British Crown dominions of what is now Canada were drawn along the forty-ninth parallel and from then on the words "Manifest Destiny" were used to annexing Texas in 1845 by war, thus ensuring it would later have this oil rich state.
The Native Americans increasingly were depicted as whooping savages with the narrative of Hollywood obsessed with the nationalist mythology of "How the West was Won", the martyrdom of Custer's Last Stand and so on.
Mark Twain satirised that thus when lambasting the novels of James Fenimore Cooper and his portrayal of the "Red Indians",
He is ignoble—base and treacherous, and hateful in every way. Not even imminent death can startle him into a spasm of virtue. The ruling trait of all savages is a greedy and consuming selfishness, and in our Noble Red Man it is found in its amplest development. His heart is a cesspool of falsehood, of treachery, and of low and devilish instincts ... The scum of the earth!The alliance made by Native Americans with Britain as early as 1791 always made them suspicious enemies within at first and then after European influence was removed politically the American Dream was created and sold to impoverished Europeans seeking land to settle.
Thereafter, throughout the mid nineteenth century the "Indians" were to be civilised in order for the American Dream to advance in accordance with the idea of Progress.
In 1872, the US Army pursued a policy to exterminate all Native Americans unless or until they agreed to surrender and live on reservations "where they could be taught Christianity and agriculture". As Paul Wellman wrote in The Indian Wars of the West, 1934,
The Indian [was thought] as less than human and worthy only of extermination. We did shoot down defenseless men, and women and children at places like Camp Grant, Sand Creek, and Wounded Knee. We did feed strychnine to red warriors. We did set whole villages of people out naked to freeze in the iron cold of Montana winters. And we did confine thousands in what amounted to concentration camps.
The question is how many Native Americans were exterminated in the idea once proposed in "how the West was Won" compared to the expansion of Russia Eastwards, no matter that the USA was a Western democracy and Tsarism a system of absolutism with no democracy.
The fact is that there has been throughout US history a form of Jacksonian nationalism which continued with the Bush II administration after 2000 which identifies a universal crusade for civilising the world by the pursuit of war and violence.
Violence in the name of Progress, precisely because it denotes the triumph of a superior way of life, is, was and has been far more rapacious and exterminatory than anything dreamt up by the Tsars who took Asiatic peoples land by force but did not try to exterminate native people en masse.
Shifted on to reservations and humiliated, the Native Indians suffered a fate far worse than their Asiatic equivalents in Russia who were generally left alone so long as they offered no resistance and land was redistributed from tribal elders to lesser tribesmen to encourage a more Russian style of farming instead of nomadism.
The difference it is said is that the USA is, at least, a democracy ( which is questionable-it bears more resemblance to an oligarchy ) and that has states were the rule of law at least allows Native Americans to try to redress their grievances and treatment ( which is true ).
But at the same time as Lucas hypocritically cites the lack of representation and autonomy for its Asiatic peoples in Siberia and the Far East, citing Moscow's centralised dominance the USA, the Bush regime was attempting to roll back autonomy for Native Indians
In July 2000 the Washington State Republican Party adopted a ruling advocating that the federal and legislative branches of the US government terminate tribal governments . They were not alone in being the only party in this supposed beacon of democracy unto all humanity to do so
In 2007 a group of Democratic congressmen and congresswomen introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives to "terminate" the Cherokee Nation. The reason was the same as for the cross party support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003-grabbing natural resources.
As of 2004, various Native Americans are wary of attempts by others to gain control of their reservation lands for natural resources, such as coal and uranium in the West. As usual Lucas' hypocrisy and double standards are, to use a favoured neoliberal buzzword he likes "transparent".
Whilst Anna Reid wrote of the plight of the native indigenous tribes in Siberia in The Shaman's Coat, there is no comparative analysis of the condition of the Native Americans. As for those like Lucas it would prove that the USA can act as rapaciously, if not more so, that Putin's Kremlin.
As the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights stated clearly on September 2004
"It has long been recognized that Native Americans are dying of diabetes, alcoholism, tuberculosis, suicide, and other health conditions at shocking rates. Beyond disturbingly high mortality rates, Native Americans also suffer a significantly lower health status and disproportionate rates of disease compared with all other Americans"In the New Cold War, Edward Lucas only mentions the atrocities committed by Tsarist Russia and yet they were no were near as exterminatory as those pursued by the USA. Only under the USSR, with its version of Progress and civilising the natives, did this happen. Lucas opines with his devotion to one dimensional double standards,
"The Kremlin is particularly nervous about the twenty odd republics that are nominal homelands of the country's non-Slavic groups. It remembers how nationalism broke up the Soviet Union...Many of the country's minorities have ethnic cousins abroad, most of whom are Russia's historic or even current adversaries.Nor clearly does Lucas remember the genocide committed by the USA against its indigenous tribes in the nineteenth century. After all, in a "New Cold War" these are only charges that can be made against Russia because, as Bruce George New Labour MP claimed "Russians are Russians".
The Tatars and other Turkic minorities, for example look to Turkey, once a superpower that reached deep into Central Asia. Finno Ugric minorities in places such as Komi, Mari-El and Mordovia have linguistic and cultural ties ranging from the strong to vestigal with Estonia, Finland and Hungary.
Few remember the genocidal effect of Russian rule as it spread east two centuries ago: nor do they remember the especial severity of Stalin's repression of the Soviet Union's minorities
Lucas' first error is to assume that Turkic minorities have close connections to Turkey or that Turkey, a NATO member, since the US invasion of Iraq has been interested in rekindling ethnic irredentism simply to faciliate Brzezinski's plan to carve up Russia and reduce it to a "Black Hole".
The oligarchs empowered by Lucas' fetish for IMF shock therapy did not care at all for the indigenous natives of Siberia, not least when Yukos under Khodorkovsky had district mayors assassinated in contract killings for opposing their appropriation of oil and gas there. So much for the propaganda that the only cynical investors are those investing in Putin's Russia
Secondly, the Russian expansion Eastwards and the cruelty involved did not amount to "genocide". Many of the leaders of the tribes were co-opted to serve the Tsars in the military and as Anne Reid writes in The Shamans Coat many Siberian tribes were killed by diseases brought by European Russians such as smallpox, , influenza and typhus ( page 48 )
In the nineteenth century one in three were killed by incompetently administered immunisation programmes involving botched vaccinations with dirty syringes in places such as Kolyma in 1884 and 1889 ( page 50 ). There is none of the intentionality which is behind the US extermination of Native Americans.
The Khant tribes were conquered but Russian bureaucrats like Speranky in the nineteenth century were concerned with giving native Siberians rights by Tsarist decree and who made a cameo role in Tolstoy's War and Peace. Whilst dissidents like Thoreau and Twain were complaining of the treatment of the Native Indians so too did Russian writers
The atrocities and incompetence of Tsarism were criticised far more in Russia than in the USA were Progress and the sheer scale of the mass settlements ensured there was little sympathy for most of the Native Americans. Not only Tolstoy but Alexander Herzen deplored his comtemporaries treatment of the "poor, miserable, timid" Finno-Ugric peoples of Vyatka.
Far more artists and writers in Tsarist Russia took an interest in the culture and traditions of indigenous minorities than in the USA.
Lucas's fundamentally bad grasp of history is shown by the fact that the Komi areas of northern Russia had been settled by Russian settlers for several hundred years and though forced into baptism to the Christian faith in the C14th, the Komi by the nineteenth century regarded themselves as ethnically Komi but religiously Russian Orthodox.
Nineteenth century philogists from Moscow were fascinated by the Finno Ugric tribes no less than British anthropologists and academics were with the lands and cultures of India and Africa. Kandinsky was one artist who took an interest in shamanistic art forms and incorporated it into his paintings.
Lucas also fails to mention, being a total philistine, that the Mongol invasions of Russia and Europe in the c13th had mixed with the Slavs during the "Mongol Yoke" which is why writers from Turgenev, Chaadaev, Berdiaev, Bulgakov were of mixed Slavic and Mongol descent. Whatever the cruelties of Tsarist autocracy, none thought of ethnic irredentism or atavism.
Lucas is simply promoting a false version of Russian history for pure propaganda purposes. The Native Indians were patronised, despised and put on reservation: that only happened in "Russia" under the Soviet Union with progressives like some Fabians and H G Wells espousing the sort of progressive creeds in which "primitive people" had no future.
In the New Republic, Wells, who predicted apocalyptic and messianic wars between alien races ( which Lucas as a missionary liberal is essentially promoting by advocating the break up and micromanagement and irredentism ) stated,
And how will the New Republic treat the inferior races. How will it deal with the black? ...the yellow man....the Jew?....those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty white, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency ? Well, the world is the world, and not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go.....The men of the New Republic...will make the killing worthwhile".The point here was the progressivist ideals of Communism and then the breakneck modernisation pursued by Stalin that aggressively suppressed the language and culture of tribes in Siberia or starved Tatars to death in collectivist farm enterprises. It was not something The Tsars had attempted to do, though they thought such people less civilised.
As regards Putin since 1999, the legacy is far from perfect but it is not a reversion to Stalinism: some of the iconography of the Soviet period is mere lip service designed to re-assure older generations that there will be order and that not everything under Communism was a total failure, even though most of it was. Politicians do use the past to consolidate authority.
But on Stalinist crimes, Putin has repeatedly repudiated them again and again whilst trying to restore a sense of purpose, dignity and the notion Russia is a Great Power. Every President of the USA repeats propaganda about the USA's role as Global Redeemer saving the World: it's guff but it is what leaders tend to do.
No respectable historian of Russia has levelled the charge of Russia committing "genocide" against Siberian tribes in the nineteenth century. There is no such mention of a "genocide" in Geoffrey Hosking's Russia and the Russians or Orlando Figes Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia.
For a start, Russia was just too inefficient to undertake the kind of genocide the USA was wealthy and powerful enough to commit against the Native Americans. The railroads made settler expansion easier in the USA and mechanised mass slaughter on a large scale possible. There was no railroad into Central Asia until the Trans-Siberian Railway finished in 1903.
The next fundamental piece of propaganda dressed up as history is the Finno-Ugric connection between Hungary and Estonia and Finland.
Hungarian is a very different language to Estonian with very few words in common as the tribes beyond the Urals that entered Europe in the ninth century and created what is now Hungary had veered south and developed an entirely different culture.
Lucas's history is so bad that he is simply trying to yoke together nations with very different cultures and traditions in order to fit the factst to promote pan-ethnic nationalism of a totally fictitious sort to create a community of fate ever threatened from a Neo-Soviet threat.
The Hungarians migrated to a presumed region called Magna Hungaria around 500-600 AD. Around 600 AD they created settlements in current day Ukraine called Levedia and Etelkoz after which these nomadic horsemen then settled the Carpathian Basin which is now Hungary.
As Miklos Molnar puts it in his A Concise History of Hungary,
"Proto-Hungarians did not emerge...as a distinct entity until the first millenium BC and their itenery is unknown until until the middle of the following millenium. A temporal desert of a thousand years or more reamains, during which time the ancestors of the Hungarians having parted company with their 'cousins', became a distinctive people"The connections between Estonian and Hungary are slight in linguistic and cultural terms. Moreover, the fate of the Szekely Hungarians and other Hungarians in Romania was ignored as they were persecuted by Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator whom the West favoured in the 1970s
The reason was precisely the same as is the support for Mikheil Saakashvili and Greater Romanian nationalists who were behind the abortive Twitter Revolution of April 2009-Great Power politics and getting Romania and Moldova together to oppose Russian power, ignoring the anti-semitism of the photogenic rebels such as Oleg Brega.
So no "genocide" was committed by the Tsars. Only by the progressive USA. This is not some far left view. For as Alexis De Tocqueville, the French liberal conservative noted in Democracy in America, the United States was able to "exterminate the ...the Indian race without violating a single great principle of morality in the eyes of the world".
It is a pity , therefore, that Davies does not deal with these historic crimes which even Brian Brivati, a staunch Euroatlanticist has termed "genocide"whilst maintaining that the USA should have invaded Iraq in 2003 and that NATO is a sphere of ever expanding liberty and human rights.
The treatment of the Native Americans, the attempt to overthrow Hugo Chavez through a coup in 2002 for restoring land rights to darker skinned Venezuelans and using oil revenue for literacy campaigns and healthcare, should have acted as an indication that the US manipulates human rights as an expedient tool of realpolitik.
The reason for that, yet again, is that Venezuela contains some of the worlds largest reserves of oil after Iraq and Iran.
Moreover it is a tad ironical that the confusion of Britain with England is mirrored in the confusion of the Soviet Union with Russia which Davies does not look at when advocating the notion of a "New Cold War" argued by the Euroatlanticist proponent of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe and even the Near East who is a shoddy propagandist peddling untruths.
Edward Lucas, The New Cold War.
Niall Ferguson, Collosus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire.
Anna Reid, The Shaman's Coat: A Native History of Siberia.
Geoffrey Hosking, Russia and the Russians.
Orlando Figes, Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia.
Norman Davies,Europe: East and West.
Norman Davies, The Isles.
Miklos Molnar, A Concise History of Hungary