Tsarist Russia was often cruel and ruthless in it's expansion Eastwards but Lucas claims that "Few remember the genocidal effect of Russian rule as it spread eastwards two centuries ago". The reason is most likely is that there was no genocide.
Naturally the precise use of the word genocide means the intention to exterminate and eradicate an entire ethnic group as the Nazis in Germany did with the European Jews. Yet what "genocidal effect" means is open to interpretation.
A better word is democidal when applies to Stalins's mass extermination of enemies of the people, as many of them were Russians through the Gulag system and "class enemies", Ukrainians in parts of Ukraine during the Terror Famine and in Kazakhstan.
Democide means the decision taken through state terror to murder or kill whole swathes of a population that opposes Progress. And if that holds true then there was a greater democidal effect in the USA with regards the continued massacre of Native Americans in the C19th.
Unlike with Tsarist Russia, where many integrated into the Empire and were co-opted, US ideas of Manifest Destiny, a Chosen People and the attributes of a settler state were far more present in the USA and amount far more to the definition of genocide.
The erstwhile supporter of NATO expansion and Atalanticist Brian Brivati, a supporter of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, claimed in the Guardian ( Wednesday September 7 2007 ) that the USA was the first industrialised state to carry out "a continental genocide".
Brivati continued "Truly this was a genocide of epic proportions - the attempt to destroy in whole or in part a nation or in this case many nations, in their cultural life as well in the physical sense of killing".
Usually, this genocide does not form part of a criticism of US foreign policy in contemporary history in the way that Lucas is trying to suggest it does with Putin's restrictions of the rights of ethnic groups in Russia to win autonomy from centralised Kremlin control.
Yet it is relevant as the Bush II administration not only also tried to roll back rights for Native American Indians in the decade just past, but neoconservative US nationalism harked back to the US of the 1830s under President Andrew Jackson and his contempt for barbarians.
The neoconservatives according to Anatol Lieven, a liberal ethical realist critical of the messianic armchair liberal warmongers who lauded the Iraq War as a civilisational struggle against existential enemies far in extreme of anything pursued by Putin.
Lieven, an intelligent and historically literate liberal ( unlike Lucas ) claims Bush, Cheney et al were very much in the vain of those with a racist contempt for those sitting atop resources that the US needed to achieve it's destiny to be an Imperial Power in the nineteenth century.
In America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism, he states,
'Belief in the spread of democracy through American power isn’t usually consciously insincere. On the contrary, it is inseparable from American national messianism and the wider ‘American creed’.The neoconservatives Lieven claimed were "conditioned to see themselves as defenders of ‘civilisation’ against ‘savages’ – a distinction always perceived on the Christian Right as in the main racially defined".
'These populist values are closely linked to the traditional values of hardline nationalism. They are what the historian Walter Russell Mead and others have called ‘Jacksonian’ values, after President Andrew Jackson’s populist nationalism of the 1830s.Lieven argues that Jacksonian nationalism, has its roots in the aggrieved, embittered, and defensive White America, centered in the American South where the "Creed" is triumphalist and evinces a pessimism and a sense of personal, social, religious, and sectional defeat.
It is no longer possible in America to speak openly in these terms of American blacks, Asians and Latinos – but since 11 September at least, it has been entirely possible to do so about Arabs and Muslims'.
This nationalism is as atavistic as anything the Vladimir Putin's "sovereign democracy" has managed to cobble together in Russia but it was never portrayed as such when the first edition of 'The New Cold War' came out in 2008 when Bush was still firmly in power.
U.S. support for Israel in particular is rooted not in the 'civic creed' ( i.e support for a fellow liberal democracy) but in a nationalism that sees the Israelis as heroic cowboys and the Palestinians as savages who must be removed from their land, as Jackson did the Cherokees ).
What Lieven wrote in 2003 in A Trap of Their Own Making makes the clash of civilisations aspect of US thinking quite clear
'Neo-Conservatives in America and their allies in Israel would indeed like to see a long-term imperial war against any part of the Muslim world which defies the US and Israel, with ideological justification provided by the American mission civilisatrice – ‘democratisation’.This Jacksonian nationalism dates back a long time. The US takeover of Texas by 1845 happened when they took what was a part of Mexico by military force to gain a monopoly over cotton and thus rival the British Empire which was seen as a great enemy at the time.
In the words of the Israeli Major-General Ya’akov Amidror, writing in April under the auspices of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, ‘Iraq is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is the Middle East, the Arab world and the Muslim world. Iraq will be the first step in this direction; winning the war against terrorism means structurally changing the entire area.’
The Neo-Con model is the struggle against ‘Communism’, which they are convinced was won by the Reaganite conflation of military toughness and ideological crusading. The ultimate goal here would be world hegemony by means of absolute military superiority.
Ever since the 1812 War, Britain was seen as a power that had prevented the US taking Canada and which had also treated the Thirteen Colonies as such, preventing their expansion Westwards and their appropriation of land from the "Indians" who often supported the British.
For those who have long Forgotten Andrew Jackson , Lieven supplies the relevant details about this man in an essay Frontier Injustice in The Nation ( October 31 2005 )'
Jackson was not only an immense personality and historical force. He was also one of the supreme historical representatives of the Scots-Irish frontier and military tradition in America, with its cult of "toughness, maleness and whiteness," in the words of Michael Kazin. In this tradition the admirable and the detestable are inextricably mixed, and without it America would not be what it is today, geographically or culturally.
Andrew Jackson was born in the South Carolina Piedmont in 1767, to Protestant Scots-Irish parents who had emigrated from Ulster two years earlier. The family suffered terribly at British hands during the War of Independence, and hatred and distrust of Britain became a leitmotif of Jackson's life. Orphaned, and a wild youth even by Scots-Irish standards, Jackson moved to Tennessee and rose in local politics thanks in large part to his leadership of militia forces against the Indians.
The duels that he fought with rival local figures mostly only enhanced his reputation among his constituency. He became a national hero with his crushing defeat of the British attempt to capture New Orleans in 1815. He also gained enormous popularity for his readiness to defy international law by pursuing Indian enemies into the Spanish territory of Florida and executing two of their British suppliers.
Yet even som of the Founding Fathers called for the extermination of the Native Americans and John Quincy Adams wrote a justification in 1818 justifying Jackson's conquest of Florida during the First Seminole War. "Expansion, we have assumed, is the path to security"
As William Earl Weeks puts it in Building the Continental Empire,
'Adam's bold defence of Jackson had shifted the focus from international law and constitutional scruple to a sacred narrative of American 'right' versus Spanish, Indian and British 'wrong'The pretext was that Florida was "lawless" as it had allowed Native Americans and runaway slaves settling there and who had retaliated against US army attacks. The idea of permanent security through permanent expansion is innate in US history far more than in Russia.
As former British Conservative Prime Minister Harold MacMillan pointed out, the 'Tsar Liberator' Alexander II freed the serfs in 1861 before the USA outlawed Negro slavery. There was no wholsale extermination of ethnic tribes in Russia.
Moreover the USA's ceaseless wars of conquest and annexation had the universalist underpinnings built into the US consitution that Edmund Burke, though he had supported American Freedom, warned could be used to justify revolutionary power politics.
This is the danger now that NATO is being used as an offensive tool of a messianic Atlanticist radical ideology that brooks no dissent and regards all opponents as those who must be crushed as barbarians or liberated and elevated to a higher level of civilisation.
As with the Jacksonian nationalists, the Bush II administration was only to most extreme form of this version of "The American Universalist Creed" ,but it was adhered to by many Democrats like Alan Dershowitz who suggested using the US Constitution to justify torture.
The reason is that "Muslims" , those lumped together by Edward Lucas in The New Cold War as one entity whom Russia "could" seek to aid again in this reheated and largely fictional revival of the Cold War struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, are treacherous and fanatical.
One reason that Michael Gove in his abysmal Celsius 7/7 refers to "Islamic" terrorism supported by fuzzy wuzzy headed ones who rant in support of anti-Americanism on an "inflamed Arab street".
Lucas' New Cold War is very much in this vein suggesting a "clash of civilisations" thesis, not with "Muslims" as the existential enemy, but with Russia playing the Sly, Sinister and Deviously Treacherous role to the North.
In accordance with doublethink though, Lucas chooses to suggest that the Russian elites are those than have an Imperial mindset, looking down on the Asiatic hordes. It seems to have avoided his notice that the US elite was doing just that and acting on it far more aggressively.
George Bush II represented precisely the global menace that Lucas accuses Putin and Russia of playing. But Putin only menaces "the West" in the title, though the New Cold War thesis broadens the attack out on to Russia's alliances with Venezuela.
It could well be better for the world if the Anglosphere started to look towards "regime change" at home before sententiously pontificating to everybody else about the necessity of living under one model of Anglo-American capitalism based on "rugged individualism".
Though Jackson's legacy lives on in that creed of the frontiersman, of Davy Crocket, John Wayne and the cowboy, something that gives virility to American capitalism, it has also led to a kind of arrogance and cavalier attitude to other nations in the world
As Lieven states,.
'it also encourages an instinctive, uncritical deference to words like "freedom" and "democracy" that can easily lead not only to great political naïveté but also ruthless political exploitation to suppress debate and dissent--as at present by the Bush Administration.Other interesting observations by Lieven that refute Lucas' charge that Russia is uniquely evil in practicing some fictional genocide is to look at what Lieven writes in the rest of his article Frontier Injustice,
The most bitter and enduring issues that Jackson's memory raises about democracy and the American tradition concern the Cherokee question: Jackson's refusal as President to implement the decision of the Supreme Court under John Marshall in 1831 giving protection to the Cherokee against new measures passed by the State of Georgia making them subject to its law.
This, as Jackson was well aware, laid the basis for the Indians' expulsion beyond the Mississippi to make way for white settlers. "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it,"
As Brands writes:
'The Indians must either adopt the ways of the Whites, including the laws of the states in which they lived, or move. To stay where they were, under their old customs, was not an option. Jackson knew the Indians' neighbors [i.e., Southern whites] having lived among such people for most of his life. They wouldn't leave the Indians alone, nor let them keep large tracts of land lightly occupied. The status quo was untenable; for the Indians it risked "utter annihilation."
Realistically, therefore, their only choice was deportation or extermination. Indeed, it was only their removal west of the Mississippi that allowed even a remnant of the Cherokee to survive as a people, rather than following the other eastern tribes into oblivion.
There is a good deal of truth to this argument, but what Brands and others fail to realize is that it is less a defence of Jackson than an indictment of his society.
The reason the case of the Cherokee has caused such disquiet throughout the generations is that they were not "wild Indians" like the Comanche or the Kiowa. Given the nomadic and raiding life of the latter, including truly bestial treatment of prisoners, it is hard to imagine how they could have coexisted in peace not only with white Americans but with any settled society.
The Cherokee, by contrast, were a settled people who became literate and Christian, and who tried to play by American rules--including the appeal to the Supreme Court.
They had also been America's, and Jackson's, allies against other tribes and against the British. Most of the empires of the time, including the French and Spanish, would have protected them as trusted allies.
In the case of the US frontier, the alternatives always seemed to be either assimilation, deportation or extermination. Coexistence with indigenous groups has always been especially difficult for the United States, at least as long as those groups retained any autonomous power.
The drive either to Americanize or destroy such communities is the flip side of the often admirable American desire to spread democracy and freedom. Or in Andrew Burstein's words, Jackson "expected Indians to be either diabolical or pliant."
The fate of the Southern Indians, however, also illustrates some wider and uncomfortable truths about democracy and "freedom," which Americans would do well to consider before they plunge into any more attempts to democratize countries in the Muslim world.
The first is that through most of history and in most societies, from ancient Athens on, ideas of "freedom" have been closely allied to ideas of personal or group "privilege"--just as the whites of the South and of the frontier interpreted their freedom vis-à-vis the Indians and the blacks.
Another point is that people have always been willing to make trade-offs between democracy and the rule of law on the one side and security on the other.
In the case of the Cherokee, Jackson and his followers were willing to ignore US law not only because they were greedy for land but also because of the horrible frontier experiences of the previous century, including in many cases personal experience of Indian raids.
They saw the Cherokee as a real threat and potential fifth column, if backed by a European power like Britain or France.
Brian Sewell put it in a nutshell in 2002 in the anniversary of the 9/11 Attack on the Twin Towers,'
The United States of America has a short history of extreme violence against the indigenous peoples of the central belt of North America, of ethnic cleansing and now of ethnic ghettos, of territorial expansion by forced annexation and war against an infinitely weaker Mexico in 1846-8 and against Spain in 1898.
These wars had no moral foundation and cannot be described, even by the most partial historian, as just; they were wars of expansion that brought Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona within the borders of the USA, and Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines within its spheres of influence and even ownership.
This is not a pretty history, not a history that accords with the aspirations of those who wrote the Declaration of Independence, but a history of greed for land and raw materials, greed for downright power. What would now be the economy of Mexico had she not been stripped of California and Texas?
With the propaganda of the cinema, Mexicans and Red Indians have been demonised, made ludicrous and contemptible.
With political propaganda, the Americans have made themselves heroes without whom the two World Wars could not have been won; without their fortitude and generosity Russia would have been the victor in the Cold War, without their moral strength, the Atlantic would never have been crossed by Coca-Cola and fried chicken.