Elite Perceptions of the US

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US efforts to weaken Russia and limit its sphere of influence makes natural allies of the US and Ukraine

UKRAINE MEDIA

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The United States gradually losing its status as the world’s leading superpower. During the Cold War, its main competitor was the Soviet Union but now it has two such challengers – China and Russia.

The US is the biggest and most influential player in world politics, although ruled by its own national interests. While the US government is pragmatic, US society on the whole is much more idealistic and believes in fundamental values such as human freedoms and dignity. And while the US is a free country with an independent judiciary system, where different opinions can be expressed and everybody can climb up the social hierarchy and become wealthy through hard work and talent, it is not a welfare state - unemployment or illness can have serious consequences for its most vulnerable citizens.

With global geopolitical interests, the US aims to weaken potential challengers and to gain allies on every continent. US efforts to weaken Russia and limit its sphere of influence makes natural allies of the US and Ukraine. Without question, the role of America in the protection of Ukraine is the most significant factor in defining my attitude towards the US.

I am grateful to the US for its support in the war against Russia, but I am unhappy and disappointed with Obama’s hesitation and decision not to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine. Nevertheless, compared to European countries, the US makes the greatest efforts to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US is also influential in Ukraine’s domestic politics, and American ambassadors have always played an important role, even in internal affairs.

Recent scandals, most notably those related to spying on European allies and international institutions, have damaged the image of the US and caused a crisis of trust among Western partners. On a more personal level, I oppose the country’s complete lack of concern for ecological issues and the dynastic developments in American politics, which seems to have become a business of a few families.

US efforts to weaken Russia and limit its sphere of influence makes natural allies of the US and Ukraine. Without question, the role of America in the protection of Ukraine is the most significant factor in defining my attitude towards the US

Growing up in the Soviet Union, I was often told about the aggressive, imperialistic America and the West, threatening our peaceful USSR. But in fact, I have never really felt threatened by the US and I was never afraid of a potential attack. It was actually more common for us children to play war against Germany, as the US was never perceived as a real enemy. Stories and anecdotes often depicted the American as the loser and ‘our man’ as the winner. Even talk of nuclear war seemed to be just that - talk. I wasn’t afraid of the war, because Soviet movies depicted it as something romantic and heroic, without giving us any understanding of the pain and death involved.

I graduated from school during the time of perestroika, when Soviet-American relations were rapidly improving, and this is when my perception of the US started to change and I began to see it as a sort of dreamland. The more I learned about the US, mostly through the media, the more real this image became. Following perestroika, Ukrainian diaspora in the US (and Canada) have been actively involved in the process of Ukrainian national renaissance, which has also helped improve relations between the US and Ukraine.

Apart from US support of Ukraine, I would say that the greatest influences on my perceptions of the US are the media, my encounters with Americans (including Americans of Ukrainian origin), and my experiences of visiting the US.

I have visited the US twice, where I met with renowned experts and journalists as well as everyday people, and I saw skyscrapers as well as beggars. I appreciate that the American organizers of my visits did not try to show us a ‘polished’ version of America, but let us freely explore the country and form our own opinion. I like the openness of the American people and their kindness. I remember my conversation with an old Ukrainian man who has lived in US for many years and is now a US citizen. He said: ‘America has a heart. If somebody is hurt, other people support him’.