No, I'm not going to compare President Medvedev's address at Stanford University to Winston Churchill's famous Fulton Speech. The speakers couldn't be more different, and the timing was different too. Besides, Medvedev has chosen a much better school: the U.S. News & World Report ranks Stanford among America's top seven universities, whereas Westminster College (Fulton, MO), the place of Churchill's oratory, belongs to the so-called Tier 3, i.e.to the bottom 50% of the nation's universities/colleges. But most importantly, Churchill's Fulton Speech ushered the dark era of the Cold War, while Medvedev's Stanford talk could not have even occurred if the Cold War wasn't over.
And yet, there is a captivating symbolism in the fact that the President of Russia has used the lectern of an American university to talk about his vision of Russia's future.
This future was presented in the form of 10 theses of which two, I believe, could lay the ground for the yet non-existing "Medvedev Doctrine." First, Medvedev confirmed that he couldn't see Russia but as a democracy. He admitted the imperfections and mistakes, but also stressed his commitment to improve Russia's political system and state institutions. However, in a statement that will surely upset the "democracy-promoting" crowd in Washington DC, he pointed that Russia can (and will) accomplish this goal "without lecturing from outside."
Second, speaking about Russian foreign policy, Medvedev said that "…Russia is striving to become an open country, open for partnership with everyone ready for cooperation." He also said something that I personally find very important: "…past grievances is the road to self-isolation."
Medvedev can't expect a free ride. The anti-Russian lobby will use every opportunity to attack his positive agenda. In the absence of serious negative developments between the U.S. and Russia, two issues will be pumped up constantly: Georgia and "human rights." (The non-stop criticism of alleged violations of human rights in Russia reminds me of the sound of vuvuzela, a hallmark of the ongoing World Soccer Cup in South Africa.) A recent Washington Post's editorial has already demanded from the Obama administration to make any further cooperation with Moscow contingent upon Russia's following "Western principles of freedom and human rights" — defined naturally on the Post's terms.
"If Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is serious in wanting our help with his economic modernization agenda, we should insist that he needs to make measurable progress in political liberalization first."
One can easily see what's going to happen should American companies follow Kramer's advice: lucrative Russian contracts will go to their European competitors. Besides, has it occurred to Kramer that if Russia had made abolition of slavery a condition of its support for the American Revolutionary War, this support would have been delayed for an additional 85 years?