Russia House

editorial

2014-12-11
Why I Voted against Condemning Russia

Recently, the House passed, by an overwhelming margin, a resolution to condemn the Russian Federation. Ten Members voted nay, myself among them. I wish to explain why I took this unpopular position.

Dana Rohrarbacher
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2014-12-10
Dont Risk War With Russia
Washington rushes to court open conflict with Moscow against every rational interest.

By Phillip Giraldi
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2014-11-27
Why Ukraine Must Bargain for Peace With Russia. The "let's make a deal" moment has arrived for Kiev and Moscow. But by pushing a hard-line agenda against Putin, the United States and Europe are only making things worse for Ukraine.

By Samuel Charap - "Foreign Policy"
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2014-11-15
Russia Just Gave France A Final Deadline To Hand Over The Mistral Warship

By Tomas Hirst
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2014-11-11
The West's Fatal Russia Mistakes: 1989-2014
When the Berlin wall came down the West had an historic chance to find a strong friendly ally in Russia.
Western mistakes over the following years has lead to the exact opposite.
The US to must reverse its policy of hegemony, and pursue multilateralism. Anything else will lead to continued conflict

By Edward Lozansky
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2014-11-03
Genuine, Handcrafted, Man-Made Government

By Tom Engelhardt
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2014-11-01
A real counterweight to US power is a global necessity

By Seumas Milne
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2024-10-14
Abbott v Putin: Will the G20 turn into a naked wrestling match?

How much machismo can Australians take? Bringing loutish language to the G20 serves no one but Putin

By Jazz Twemlow


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2014-10-06
Vaclav Klaus: the Wests lies about Russia are monstrous
An interview with the former Czech president, possibly the Wests last truly outspoken leader
By Neil Clark
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2014-10-04
Why Russia's President Is 'Putin the Great' in China
Like Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin Is Seen as a Strong Leader Who Isn't Afraid to Confront the West

By JEREMY PAGE

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Russia House

2012-03-29

Jackson-Vanik Amendment and the Rights of Indians

Edward LOZANSKY, President, American University in Moscow

The more I watch the goings-on in Washington regarding graduating Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment (JVA), the more it reminds me of the deal struck almost 400 years ago by a certain Peter Minuit. On May 24, 1626, the guy purchased the island of Manhattan from some Native Americans for goods to the value of 60 Dutch guilders, estimated to be the equivalent of $24.

Not that I am against this graduation, even if its become a bit of rigmarole by now. In fact, in April 2011 my good friend Anthony Salvia of the American Institute in Ukraine and I filed a lawsuit against Obama. We demanded that he should graduate Russia from JVA without seeking congressional approval.

According to a careful reading of the statute, the president has constitutional authority to do just that. Significantly, this view is shared by none other than Richard Perle, Senator Henry Jacksons former chief of staff, the man who actually wrote the text of the amendment and who, I should add, is not at all an admirer of Putins Russia.

Nevertheless, Obamas lawyers fought hard to dismiss this lawsuit. Their argument was based on technical rather than substantive grounds. As it happened, Tony and I could prove only our moral but not material injury from JVA. More importantly, though, the administration basically admitted that, in strict legal terms, we as plaintiffs were absolutely right.

While three administrations have successively claimed the need for congressional action to graduate Russia from JVA trade restrictions, it is highly indicative of the soundness of our case that the Department of Justice did not make that claim in its brief to the court! They know that under the law as it is written, permanent removal of trade restrictions does not require any congressional sanction.

As things stand now, the big irony is that with Russias accession to the WTO, the amendment, which was supposed to rightly punish the Soviet Union, will now be damaging to U.S. business interests.

Proof? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with 173 U.S. companies, including such giants as General Electric, Deere, Boeing, Ford, GM and Chrysler, sent letters to Congress demanding the normalization of trade with Russia by lifting JVA. One wonders why they did that. Have they suddenly switched from business to charity or human rights activities? Doubtfully, very doubtfully indeed.

The reason is obvious: plenty of U.S. companies are eager to see this JVA graduation because it directly serves their interests. For Russia this is just a moral issue, while for America, its more a matter of dollars and cents. If the republicans are stupid enough to kill this graduation Id like to see their faces when they meet U.S. business lobbyists the morning after.

Realistically speaking, the amendment is sure to be lifted, and sooner rather than later. But when Congress eventually does what it is supposed to have done 20 years ago, after the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union, this will most likely be hyped as a great big gift to Russia, very much like Minuits offer of $24 to the Indians.

Thats not the end of the story, though. To show Congress that he was not too soft on Putin, Obama declared the establishment of a new $50 million fund to support Russian non-governmental organizations that are committed to a more pluralistic and open society.

In view of Russias concern over American meddling in its internal affairs, it is hard to imagine a more dubious move. In fact, even some potential Russian grant recipients have been soured by this idea. Surely, in these difficult economic times, U.S. taxpayers might certainly find better ways to spend these democracy promotion funds on the domestic front just ask any resident of the towns and counties across America that are now close to bankruptcy.