Monday, December 14, 2015

American Advice to Russia?

Michael A. Reynolds

In an E-Note for the FPRI, "Turkey, Russia, and NATO Enter the Danger Zone" (December 2015), Professor Michael A. Reynolds offers advice not to the Russians, but to his fellow Americans, who need it more than Russians do:
Putin might be forgiven for declining advice from Americans on how to interact with Muslims, not simply because of the ambiguity of America's own record but because Russia's own experience with Islam and Muslims is both far older and deeper than America's. Muslims have since the middle of the sixteenth century been a substantial part of the Russian population and Russia has maintained diplomatic relations with Muslim khanates and states even longer. Indeed, Muscovy was a tributary to the Muslim Golden Horde before it [i.e., Russia] came into existence as an independent state. Both the Romanov and Soviet states had large (and predominantly Sunni) Muslim populations, and today's Russian Federation's population is roughly fifteen percent Muslim. Ignorant of Russia's centuries-old experience with Islam, commentators responded to Russia's deployment of forces to Syria with predictions of ultimate defeat by pointing to the examples of Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and Moscow's in Chechnya.
In short, have a bit of humility, America. Russia has a lot more experience with Islam than you do, centuries of it. Not that events couldn't spin out of Putin's control . . .

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