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Antifake

“The blunders of Soviet diplomacy and the arrogance of Gorbachev.” Medvedchuk quoted Clinton's speech invented by Russian propagandists

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Izvestia published an article by Viktor Medvedchuk titled “The Ukrainian Syndrome. The Anatomy of the Modern Military Confrontation,” in which Putin's Ukrainian ally tries to blame the West for unleashing a Russian-Ukrainian war. He argues that the origins of the conflict should be found in the behavior of the United States after the end of the Cold War: the United States did not seek to create a “new and just world”, but tried to turn the former Eastern bloc countries into colonies, to which end they provoked ethnic conflicts in Eastern Europe. As an example of self-exposure of the treacherous Americans, Medvedchuk quotes Bill Clinton's speech at the meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 24, 1995:

“Using the blunders of Soviet diplomacy, the extreme arrogance of Gorbachev and his entourage, including those who openly took a pro-American position, we achieved what President Truman was going to do with the Soviet Union through the atomic bomb.”

But the existence of this speech by Clinton is highly doubtful. Its English “original” can be found online but the sources of the quote are exclusively Russian, and it is difficult to call them sources: a post on the page of an “All-Russian creative movement Russian Way” in VKontakte and a comment of one of the users under the nickname “cedar” to the article on the Military Review website. Russian Way provides a link to a post in the “Mirror of History” community, where the speech was published in Russian with the disclaimer “WARNING! This information has not been confirmed”. Not a single American source mentions this phrase or the fact that President Clinton spoke at the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting on October 24, 2005.

Medvedchuk could have drawn this quote from the university textbook by Alexander Barsenkov and Alexander Vdovin, “History of Russia. 1917-2004” (its later editions are called “History of Russia. 1917-2007” and “History of Russia. 1917-2009”). This textbook caused quite a scandal back in the day. The article by historian Nikita Sokolov and sociologist Anatoly Golubovsky entitled “What Do History Teachers Teach?” published in the Cinema Art journal, stated:

“We look at the text and find that its authors have a deep contempt for historical science. Because they do not know that some time ago the formation-based and civilizational models, which at the beginning of the twentieth century purported to be a scientific hypothesis, were rejected by rigorous science. Their claim to being a scientific theory was not confirmed by any scholarly research. They have long since fallen by the wayside, to grandmothers who eat their sunflower seeds on their front porches. <...>
So: we have a scientific hypothesis <the Marxist formation-based concept of history. - The Insider>, a belief that has been “shaken.” Therefore, the authors are looking for a new faith. And it’s the ugliest thing. In an uninventive or, as they say now, “uncreative” manner, they are trying to create a new faith out of fragments of the civilizational approach, out of bits and pieces of Huntington's writings, which scholars haven’t been taking seriously since twenty years ago. Political scientists argue about him, but historians have long been ignoring him. None of this should have had anything to do with the textbook, yet it is built upon this stuff. <...>
The authors of the “textbook for teachers” ignore previous history research. For example, they quote Stalin's speech of August 19, 1939, allegedly at the Plenum of the Central Committee, which was a sensation in the years of perestroika, when it was suddenly discovered: “If we accept Germany's offer to conclude a non-aggression pact with it, it will certainly attack Poland, and the intervention of France and England in this war will be inevitable. Under these conditions we will have many opportunities for staying out of the conflict, and we will be able to hope for our advantageous entry into the war” (p. 271). But six years ago a crucial paper by Sergei Sluch came out, published in History of the Fatherland (2004, No. 1). Sergei Zinovievich quite correctly proved that this speech is a fake. If a historian does not know this, he is not a professional.”

Many critics have pointed out that the textbook distorts facts to suit ideology. Journalist Zoya Svetova titled her The New Times article about the textbook “Peculiar History. A Textbook as a Guide to Xenophobia.” Economist Irina Yasina called the textbook “a Russian nationalist's starter pack”. Vladimir Lavrov, deputy director of the Institute of Russian History at the Russian Academy of Sciences, argued in Rossiyskaya Gazeta:

“The book is abound <...> with errors. And they are not accidental, because we can see the anti-historical goal – to justify the crimes of Stalin, presenting them as inevitable costs on the way to a bright future. To this end, the authors use doubtful data and outright falsifications, distort and falsify historical facts. After all, otherwise you cannot justify those crimes.”

In 2010, the Academic Council of the History Department of the Moscow State University convened an expert committee, which gave its opinion about the textbook as follows:

“The textbook (published in 2010) is based on a large amount of factual material, which gives an insight into the life of our country over the past century. The textbook reflects the problems that became the subject of special attention after perestroika - the problem of the Russian people, the collapse of the USSR, the dissidents' movement, etc. The book is equipped with a list of sources and literature and a name index. Individual chapters are very well written.
However, the work raises a number of questions as regards its sources, methodology, conception, and ethical character.
Along with scientifically confirmed facts, the book uses unverified data borrowed from journalists and various unreliable sources. The book contains controversial assumptions, partly those of the authors themselves, and partly uncritically borrowed from other works. The authors, as a rule, do not make reservations about the existence of different points of view and debatable positions.
There are many factual inaccuracies in the textbook, indicating the author's lack of professionalism. There are unreliable statistical data, quotes taken out of context. Facts and quotations are often selected to fit a priori schemes and assessments.”

There are no other authoritative online sources for the quote from Clinton's speech. Even if we assume that the speech had been classified in the U.S., it is absolutely unclear how it could have become known to the authors of the textbook and why its original version is nowhere to be found.

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