Biden reinvigorates Captive Nations Week by listing Russia and other non-Communist nations as most oppressive states – OpEd – Eurasia Review
When the U.S. Congress passed the resolution in 1959 requiring the President to issue a Captive Nations Week Proclamation each July, the move was seen by both its sponsors and those who opposed it as directed against repression. nations by communist regimes.
Until the collapse of the Soviet bloc and then the USSR in 1989 and 1991, these messages served as an indicator of how the US government viewed these communists. In the years since, messages have celebrated the liberation of nations in former communist states and focused on nations that remain under communist rule.
It is appropriate because of the magnitude of the progress actually made, but it is incomplete for two reasons. On the one hand, it ignores the fact that the Captive Nations Week resolution did not focus on communism as a doctrine, but on communism as a practice involving repression not limited to communist states.
The victories over communism led to many victories, but many of those who declared themselves non-communist or even anti-communist continued or revived the kind of ethno-national repression that Soviet communists carried out in the past and that the few regimes surviving communists, China, the first of them, achieves to date.
And on the other hand, focusing only on progress overshadows not only all the evil that has been and is being committed by theoretically non-communist regimes, but also all the work that remains to be done in countries like the Russian Federation. There, for example, two of the nations referred to in the resolution, Idel-Urals and Cossackia, remain victims of repression.
In his proclamation of Captive Nations Week this year, US President Joe Biden corrected this trend and returned to the principles underlying the original resolution’s concerns about the victims of imperialist oppression. no matter what those who realize it are called (whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2022/07/15/a-proclamation-on-captive-nations-week-2022/).
Biden makes three key points: First, Captive Nations Week is not about anti-communism per se, but rather against repression, regardless of what the states carrying it out do. Only three of the regimes he cites among the most repressive in the world are communist: Cuba, North Korea and the People’s Republic of China.
The other six are either former communist countries or have never been communist – Russia, Iran, Belarus, Syria, Venezuela and Nicaragua – and it is no coincidence that the American president ranked Russia first of all these countries, and not because of its communist roots. but because of its persistent imperialist behavior.
Second, Biden has been explicit that governments that suppress their people at home, like these nine countries, seek to suppress others abroad through various types of repression. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is only the most obvious case of this; and it is not surprising in the current context that the American president is focusing on this.
And third, and perhaps the most important aspect of this week’s Captive Nations Week resolution, Biden makes it clear that Americans cannot remain indifferent to such a crackdown, whether at the within countries or between them and their neighbours. They must “stand in solidarity with the courageous defenders of human rights and democracy throughout the world”.
The American leader concludes with the following words: “May the week of the captive nations reinvigorate our efforts to live up to our ideals by defending justice, dignity and freedom for all”, words that apply not only to communist countries, to post-communist countries, to countries that have never been communist and the United States too.
Biden doesn’t say it but his words clearly imply something that has often been forgotten: we are anti-communists not because people call themselves communists; we are anti-communists because of what the communists did. And we are also against former communists or those who have never been communists who do the same things.
These are words that peoples still enslaved within the borders of post-Soviet Russia and other communist and non-communist countries will surely welcome and hope that Biden’s suggestion that Captive Nations Week can reinvigorate the American commitment to stand by them will take the form of concrete actions and support.