With the closure of the San Francisco Russian Consulate this past August, the city has been thrust into the increasingly tense relationship between the United States and Russia. Two experts on Russia, Norman Solomon and Andrei P. Tsygankov, spoke at USF on Sept. 16, determined to provide an account of this relationship and the dangerous implications of two nuclear armed powers at increasing odds with each other in a talk titled, “U.S. and Russia: A New Cold War?”
The first speaker was Norman Solomon, the executive director of the Institute of Public Accuracy, a non-profit organization which captures media attention for voices silenced by the government or “corporate-backed institutions.” Solomon opened with the most pertinent issue at hand — nuclear weapons. He is worried that even American college students — a group usually on the forefront of social issues — are not fully grasping the threat between the two countries. “There’s been a lot of negativity, quite properly, about climate denial on college campuses, quite rightly, many people, including in the news media […] and yet there is a tremendous amount of nuclear war denial,” said Solomon.
On the topic of the Russia’s attempts to derail the 2016 presidential election, Solomon was hesitant to give the country much credit. “We have been fed an absolute overabundance of banquet of U.S. media in the last ten months about how the Russians are trying to destroy U.S. democracy. To really give the Russian government credit for undermining democracy in the country is really, very unfair to American ingenuity, because we are very good at doing that ourselves.” Solomon went on to list examples of American intervention into foreign elections over the last 20 years.
Andrei P. Tsygankov, a professor of political science and international relations at San Francisco State University, offered an equally somber account of relations between the U.S. and Russia. Born during the Soviet era, and a graduate of Moscow State University, Tsygankov discussed the future relationships between the two countries.
“The prospects are, unfortunately, not very good for now,” said Tsygankov. But Tsygankov also mentioned, “Russia and the United States have multiple [shared] global interests that need to be addressed. Terrorism, nuclear proliferation, regional stability. These are fundamental issues that need to be addressed as we speak. But they are not.”
Russian-born Tatiana Karsten, a sophomore Japanese studies major at USF, was also adamant on peace between the two countries. “I’m pretty [physically] small. I’m like this small Russian who is not very scary or anything, not very intimidating,” she said. “People [say] that their image of a Russian person [doesn’t] really match my appearance.” Karsten moved to the United States two years ago and is currently in the country under a green card.
While Karsten admits that she doesn’t always agree with the Russian government’s policies, and is sometimes frustrated with the conservative culture of the country, Karsten said “I wish there was a more positive view [of] Russians.”
Featured Photo: Executive Director Norman Solomon of the Institute of Public Accuracy Gabriel Greschler / FOGHORN