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Author`s name Michael Simpson

A Trap That Has Become Outdated

American Congress wants to strengthen unequal attitude to Russia forever
The USA always especially enjoyed the game of good and wicked investigators, which has become some kind of a national game already. At the time when generals threaten to deliver missile and bomb attacks, shifty political mediators discuss the possibility of rendering "economic aid" at the rate of many millions.  After all, while the US President George W. Bush is constantly saying that the ill-fated Jackson-Vanik amendment is outdated and must be abolished (this is the amendment which for some reason links the bygone Jew emigration from the USSR to the present-day regime of commercial relations between Russia and the USA), the American Congress demands that the amendment must remain a perpetual trap for Russia. 

Before the war in Iraq, Washington attempted to use the disastrous amendment as a  tempting bit for Russia. That was considered to be a suggestion to abolish the amendment in exchange for loyalty to Iraq. But the USA wasn't a success with it. The Russian Foreign Ministry didn't swallow the bait. Russia President Vladimir Putin even declared that Russia wasn't going to bargain any economic privileges for itself in connection with the Iraqi problem, as a fundamental problem of the world order still existed. At the same time, the American Congress attempted to modify the amendment, to abolish it in exchange for Russia's unconditional consent to let the Congress completely control the process of Russia's incorporation into the WTO. However, Russia didn't agree to this suggestion. Now American senators seem to be extremely discontented with the situation, especially that Russia managed to get involved into opposition with the USA because of Iraq. This is a very convenient opportunity to once again speak about the Jackson-Vanik amendment.  

Somehow or other, the US Congress postponed all suggestions concerning abolishment of the Jackson-Vanik amendment for an uncertain period. As it was originally supposed, the Congress would decide the amendment problem before George W. Bush's visit to Russia's St.Petersburg for celebration of the city's 300th anniversary. However, as Associated Press informs, at the end of the previous week members of the financial committee in the US parliament decided cancellation of the amendment wouldn't be considered in the nearest future. Congressmen were strongly dissatisfied with Russia's position concerning the war in Iraq. And taking this attitude into consideration, they have drawn serious and far-reaching conclusions.  Senator Charles Grassley from the Committee on Finance says: "Each time we in the Congress make a step forward, Russia takes two steps back." We would like to mention here that last time abolishment of the amendment was postponed because Russia curbed import of American poultry. What is more, Russia had to resort to this measure in response to US's abrupt restriction of steel import from Russia. So, as is seen, the "two steps back" is not Russia's national method at all. The USA also resorts to the measure very often.

At the same time, the upper political elite of the USA, the same way it should be in a democratic state, reveals refreshing dissonance: the US administration with George W. Bush at the head still insists that the Jackson-Vanik amendment must be abolished as soon as possible. The invariance of this position was confirmed also by Trevor Francis from the US Ministry of Commerce.

But the Congress seems to be gripped by total geopolitical deafness. Congressmen don't care that President George W. Bush will have to go to "the cradle of the Great October Revolution" without any present. Members of the US Democratic Party in the Congress still insist that the amendment must be modified. Instead of the outdated Jackson-Vanik amendment they suggest to develop and adopt a new document. Evidently, they wish to retain all the restrictions mentioned in the amendment, but want to state them as imposed on some other reason. What kind of reason can it be? In fact, there are lots of possible variants that can be mentioned in a new document as reasons for introduction of the restrictions. Americans can state that liberalization of commerce and the level of democratic reforms in Russia are not enough, they can also mention insignificant control over observance of human rights and freedom in this country. In a word, it is especially important to impose sanctions on someone first; later one will be able to find lots of reasons not to lift them at all.

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