Remember the jingoistic, post-9/11 days of “freedom fries” and “freedom toast,” after France declined to join the U.S.-led coalition? Well, in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the global backlash it has prompted, Russia is experiencing something similar, only intensified by total state control of the media. The Washington Post details just how strong anti-American sentiment has become:
After a year in which furious rhetoric has been pumped across Russian airwaves, anger toward the United States is at its worst since opinion polls began tracking it. From ordinary street vendors all the way up to the Kremlin, a wave of anti-U.S. bile has swept the country, surpassing any time since the Stalin era, observers say. […]There are drives to exchange Western-branded clothing for Russia’s red, blue and white. Efforts to replace Coke with Russian-made soft drinks. Fury over U.S. sanctions. And a passionate, conspiracy-laden fascination with the methods that Washington is supposedly using to foment unrest in Ukraine and Russia.
According to the article, today’s anti-American fervor in Russia exceeds that of the Soviet era.Russia is not the only country where historical grievances are a powerful force in politics, and Putin’s is not the first regime to demonize America in order to bolster its position with nationalists at home. However much it is amplified by Putin’s media monopoly, this well of sentiment among the Russian people is an important feature of the geopolitical crisis we now face. Observers and policy makers would do well not to underestimate it.