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Final Notes on the Discussion of "The Unpopular Prospect of World War III: The 20th Century Is Not Over Yet"

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See http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Unpopular-Prospect-of-by-Andreas-Umland-090116-220.html


RE: Ivanov (JRL 2009-#21)/RE: Umland (JRL 2009-#19)/RE: Ivanov (JRL 2009-#12) -- see the APPENDIX below.

Dear Mr Ivanov

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I have re-read the debate, in JRL, on your blog "The Ivanov Report" and on "Russia: Other Points of View," of my article "The Unpopular Prospect of World War III: The 20th Century Is Not Over Yet." This entire discussion is now documented in an Addendum to "The Russian Nationalism Bulletin", Vol. 3, No. 5(47), 16 March 2009, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/russian_nationalism/messages/412?threaded=1&m=e&var=1&tidx=1

Five more notes that refer to your last text at JRL 2009-#21 (see the APPENDIX below) and partly repeat what I have written before:

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1. Debating polling numbers is, with regard to foreign policy issues, such as Russian-American relations, only of limited relevance. Foreign affairs are usually conducted by a country's elite, and constitute one of those policy fields least influenced by the broad public. It is the Russian elite's obsession with speculating about the "real" purposes of this or that US policy in Europe or Asia (democracy promotion, missile defence, humanitarian intervention etc.) what constitutes the main problem, and, arguably, could become a threat to international security, in the case of an escalation, on the Caucasus, on Crimea, or in another region.


2. Whereas you had intimated, in your initial critique in JRL 2009-#12, that I am paranoid and a liar, in JRL 2009-#21 (see APPENDIX below), you are now refusing "to engage in a discussion" whether I am "a paranoid liar," and leave "such decisions" to me. You even count me among "[i]ntelligent people." Thanks.


3. Still, in JRL 2009-#21 (see APPENDIX below), you accuse me once more of "cherry-picking" polling data. You quote again the government-controlled VTsIOM agency, and state that "Pew pollsters" have found that only "37%" of Russians had a favourable view of the US "in 2000." I wish you had done neither to spare us the continuation of a bizarre pseudo-debate about, as you ask, whether or not I "have evidence that Pew pollsters were under the Kremlin's 'stricter control'." Was that necessary?

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First, I was puzzled indeed because, in my article that you initially criticized, I had quoted the Levada Center's 69% of favourable views of the US by Russians in 2000. How could it be that two reputed polling agencies were reporting two starkly different numbers for Russian public opinion on the US in 2000: 69%, in the case of the Levada Center, and 37%, in the case of Pew? 

The solution came only recently when I cared to check the source of your number. The 2000 data that you ascribe to "Pew pollsters" has, apparently, not been collected by Pew in 2000. It is taken from, as Pew's table says, "1999/2000 survey trends provided by the Office of Research, U.S. Deparment of State" (http://pewglobal.org/commentary/display.php?AnalysisID=1019).  

What is important here is less the exact source of the data (I trust the State Department as much as Pew) than the question of when exactly it was collected. I could not find the poll that Pew refers to. But the idea suggests itself that these "37%" of the "1999/2000 survey trends" which you ascribed to the year 2000, is actually data from 1999. In that year, NATO bombed Serbia which, as all polling agencies reported, led to a steep drop of pro-Western feelings among Russians. What was remarkable about this episode in Russian-US relations, however, was not the drop in the first half of 1999, but the fast recovery of pro-Western positions among the Russian population at large, once the bombing had stopped. In distinction to this recovery among the general public of the RF, attitudes towards the US among the Russian elites never fully recovered from their decline in 1999. After several years, Russia's elite seems, by now, to have succeeded impregnating most ordinary Russians with an aversion towards the West, in general, and the US, in particular.

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============================================================================== Andreas Umland, CertTransl (Leipzig), MA (Stanford), MPhil (Oxford), DipPolSci, DrPhil (FU Berlin), PhD (Cambridge). Visiting fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution (more...)

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