Archive for the ‘Russia and U.S.’ category

Iran, Russia Boost Military Ties Amid U.S. Action In Syria

April 24, 2017

Iran, Russia Boost Military Ties Amid U.S. Action In Syria, Washington Free Beacon, , April 24, 2017

(Please see also, Obama’s hidden Iran deal giveaway. — DM)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) as Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem (L) looks on after a joint press conference after their talks in Moscow on April 14, 2017./ AFP PHOTO  ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia can serve as a major military ally for Iran and help provide it with not just military capabilities, but nuclear technology. Iran and Russia inked several deals in the past years to build a series of new light water nuclear reactors across the Islamic Republic.

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Iran and Russia are moving closer together in their military alliance, working to boost ties and coordination in Syria and elsewhere in the region following the U.S. decision to launch a military strike in Syria, according to regional reports and experts.

Iran’s defense minister is slated to visit Moscow at the end of the month to discuss increased military ties, a move that is meant to deter U.S. action in the region and show a sign of increased force, according to regional experts who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Tehran-Moscow axis has been growing since the landmark Iran nuclear deal, with Russia making good on a series of weapons deliveries, including the Russian-made S-300 missile defense system. The two countries have been signing an additional number of military deals in recent months and that cooperation is likely to increase in light of the Trump administration’s decision to launch strikes against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is being backed by both Russia and Iran.

Iranian leaders have signaled in recent days that the alliance with Russia is a top priority going forward and that a number of new military deals are in the works.

“The visit by Iranian [President Hassan] Rouhani that took place on March 28 was another step toward developing extensive cooperation between Moscow and Tehran,” Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei was quoted in the country’s state-controlled press.

“We hope that we will witness even broader bilateral ties across all areas in the future,” Sanaei said during an event last week marking the Iranian Army Day.

Sanaei also celebrated the recent delivery by Russia of the S-300 missile system, which Tehran had been coveting for some time. The system is viewed by Iran as a major deterrence factor aimed at intimidating U.S. forces in the region.

The delivery of the S-300 system to Iran is a sign that Russia has an interest in bolstering Tehran’s military might, Sanaei said.

Since signing a massive military deal in 2015 with Russia, “important steps have been taken to strengthen bilateral relations in the area of defense,” Sanaei said. “One such step was the delivery of S-300 missile systems to Iran. This is an indicator of mutual trust in defense cooperation.”

As Iran’s defense minister gears up to visit Moscow, regional experts predict that the military ties between the countries will only increase as Assad comes under greater international pressure.

However, the alliance between the countries remains fragile and largely one of convenience.

“Russia and Iran have a similar goal in keeping Assad in power at all costs,” Boris Zilberman, a Russia expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, told the Free Beacon. “However, how each perceives the end state in Syria and the other’s role in that future is one of the big questions in the relationship.”

In the short term, both Iran and Russia will aggressively work to “show a united front after America’s first strike on the Assad regime,” Zilberman said. “This is what we are seeing in the flurry of activity, but it is yet to be seen if anything of substance comes out of these talks.”

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at FDD, said that Russia views Iran as a chief counter to U.S. power in the region. The alliance between the countries is likely to strengthen as long as Moscow can use Tehran to offset American influence in the region.

“Russia can and will likely continue to use Iran instrumentally in its larger strategic competition with the United States,” Ben Taleblu said. “One wonders however, how the leadership of the Islamic Republic, which derided the late Shah of Iran for his closeness to the U.S. are able to justify—legally, politically, and even spiritually, the concessions they have made to befriend Russia. As a reminder, no country has taken more territory away from Iran and threatened its sovereignty in the past half millennia than Russia.”

Russia can serve as a major military ally for Iran and help provide it with not just military capabilities, but nuclear technology. Iran and Russia inked several deals in the past years to build a series of new light water nuclear reactors across the Islamic Republic.

“For the past two years Tehran has been drawing closer to Moscow,” Ben Taleblu explained. “Iran will look to Russia to help it drive the U.S. from the region, as well as support its nuclear development under the auspices of the [Iran deal], and engage in a highly selective modernization process for its military. Russia and China will likely become the two largest sources for arms as a UN-mandated arms ban is set to expire in 2020.”

The Real Winner in the Russia Investigations Is Iran

March 31, 2017

The Real Winner in the Russia Investigations Is Iran, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, March 30, 2017

The best interests of the United States would be to woo Russia away from these maniacs — and we very well could have.  We are, at least for now, still the world’s biggest GNP and control a great deal of the global economy.  Greedy despots like Putin know that as well as anybody.  They may not feel good about it, but to some degree they might play with us.  And if they wanted to enough, if we sweetened the pot enough, they’d even disengage from the mullahs, leaving them with no ally of value, no substantial defender.

Trump — or some people close to him — may have had this in mind when they started speaking with the Russians way back in the Paleolithic Era of the transition days.  They’d have been fools not to.  They wouldn’t have been doing their duty to the United States or to the civilized world for that matter.

Now Trump or his people can no longer even consider making such inroads. They would be accused immediately of treason or something close. The possibility of separating the Russians from Iran has been destroyed by these investigations — first by the House, now by the Senate, and always by the media.

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While the Evil Party and the Stupid Party continue to bludgeon each other into extinction over whether Putin was manipulating our election, the real winner from our politicians’ current endless Russia-fixation is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Sound like a stretch? Not at all. The reasons should be evident.

Russia is not rich. It currently ranks 12th  in overall GNP, about even with Australia, which has roughly one-seventh Russia’s population. It’s a dismal 47th in per capita GNP — unimpressive, to say the least, for the world’s largest country with immense natural resources spread over 11 time zones.

And things have not been looking up. Their population has been declining since 1991.  The price of oil — by far their largest export -0 is down.  Making matters worse, Donald Trump, allegedly Putin’s best friend, has opened the U.S. energy spigots, threatening to drive that price even lower. (Putin would have done a lot better with Hillary’s anti-fracking position, assuming that wasn’t a phony.)

Yes, they have a powerful nuclear arsenal with potent missiles to deliver them, but Russia needs friends, badly — especially to shore up its forces in the seemingly never-ending civil war in Syria. Enter Iran.  From Reuters Monday:

Iran’s president met Russia’s prime minister on Monday in a bid to develop a warming relationship that has been greatly strengthened by both sides’ involvement on the same side of the war in Syria.

Beginning a visit to Moscow, President Hassan Rouhani told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: “I hope that a new turning-point in the development of our relations will be reached.”

Iranian arms purchases and Russian investment in the Iranian energy sector are likely talking points for Rouhani, less than two months before Iran’s May 19 presidential election.

Iranian media say he will discuss several economic agreements – potentially valuable prizes for the moderate leader [sic], who is keen to show his people that Iran is benefiting from its 2015 deal with world powers to rein back its nuclear programme in returning for an easing of international sanctions.

Aside from Reuters’ credulous nonsense that Rouhani is in any way moderate, where did all the mullahs’ new deal-making money come from in the first place?  Well, we know.  Iran, for reasons still unfathomable, received huge amounts — sometimes in cold, hard cash — from the Obama administration after the Iran deal and later apparently to preserve it. (The contents of that deal, unknown to all but a few, are what really deserve a congressional investigation, not the present kangaroo court.) What did the mullahs do with the cash? Help their impoverished citizens or buy $10 billion worth of modern weapons from the Russians? Well, we know that too. Obama’s deal helped create a match made in Hell.

And the worse part of this Hellish match is Iran, not Russia (although she’s no picnic).  Vladimir Putin is obviously a dictatorial plutocrat with massive ambitions, but he’s more or less sane.  The mullahs of Iran are also dictatorial plutocrats, but they’re not (sane).  Some of them believe absolutely delusional theories dreamed up in the seventh century and have set out to prove them true — in Iran, in Syria, in Yemen, in North Korea, in South America,  and on and on.  They are as crazy as ISIS and far more dangerous because they already have a large country from which to enact their imperialist/millennialist fantasies.

The best interests of the United States would be to woo Russia away from these maniacs — and we very well could have.  We are, at least for now, still the world’s biggest GNP and control a great deal of the global economy.  Greedy despots like Putin know that as well as anybody.  They may not feel good about it, but to some degree they might play with us.  And if they wanted to enough, if we sweetened the pot enough, they’d even disengage from the mullahs, leaving them with no ally of value, no substantial defender.

Trump — or some people close to him — may have had this in mind when they started speaking with the Russians way back in the Paleolithic Era of the transition days.  They’d have been fools not to.  They wouldn’t have been doing their duty to the United States or to the civilized world for that matter.

Now Trump or his people can no longer even consider making such inroads. They would be accused immediately of treason or something close. The possibility of separating the Russians from Iran has been destroyed by these investigations — first by the House, now by the Senate, and always by the media. They go on and on even though there has been no genuine evidence of collusion between the Trump team and the Russians. By now it’s like a bad mini-series that somehow wound its way onto your Netflix queue and you can’t get rid of it. Eventually, I suppose, someone, somewhere will be caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar.  It will be highly ambiguous and most likely for minor personal gain, but nevertheless he or she will will be endlessly excoriated in the press, ever anxious to prove themselves right.  But it will all be a meaningless waste of time in the end.

Meanwhile, Iran has won big.

Still, there has been one valuable piece of information to emerge from this pointless muddle.  Which leads me to a last question.  Who, in the final analysis, spied more on our government — Putin or Obama?  I bloviate. You decide.

Putin ramps up Syria pact with Iran in US absence

March 5, 2017

Putin ramps up Syria pact with Iran in US absence, DEBKAfile, March 5, 2017

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Constantly bombarded by allegations that his campaign associated with Russian intelligence, US President Donald Trump has held back from going through with his original plan for teaming up with Moscow in Syria for the important campaigns of wiping out the Islamic State and relieving Syria of Iran’s iron grip.

His entire Middle East policy is up in the air, while he grapples with domestic foes. The much talked-of US coalition with its regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, is also in abeyance.

Amid the uncertainty about the Trump administration’s future steps, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is unlikely to make much headway in his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday, March 9,

DEBKAfile’s intelligence and military sources report that, even if does persuade Putin to stick to his promise to prevent Iran and Hizballah from deploying troops on the Syrian-Israeli border opposite the Golan, he won’t get far in his bid to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military and naval presence in Syria.

This is the situation stacking up against Netanyahu:

1. The Trump administration has decided not to decide on Middle East policy – and Syria, in particular – while engaged in dodging his domestic enemies’ Russian arrows.

2. Some of the president’s advisers maintain that the state of indecision in Washington may turn out into an advantage. It might not be a bad thing for Moscow to carry the heavy lifting of tackling ISIS, Iran and Hizballah, rather than putting US troops in harm’s way.

3. Putin is not waiting for Trump and is already on the move, DEBKAfile’s sources report.

Friday, March 3, Russian special operations units recovered the Syrian town of Palmyra from the Islamic State.

That day too, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), composed predominantly of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and Arab tribesmen from the north, agreed to hand over their positions in the strategic town of Manjib to the Russians and the Syrian army,

The SDF was created, trained, armed and funded by the United States as the potential spearhead force for the offensive against the Islamic State. This force was able to last year to capture the small (pop: 50,000) northern town of Manjib, 30km west of the Euphrates, thanks only to US aerial bombardments of ISIS positions and American advisers.

How come that this important US ally suddenly surrendered its positions to the Russians and Assad’s army?

There is more than one reason. Firstly, the SDF’s Kurdish and Arab commanders apparently decided to give up on waiting for Washington to come round, especially since the only weapons they had received from the Obama administration for fighting ISIS were Kalashnikov AK-74 rifles.

Moreover, the Kurds’ most implacable arch enemy is breathing down their necks. On March 1, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan threatened to order his army, which has occupied northern Syria since last year, to seize Manjib. He said: “Manjib is a city that belongs to the Arabs and the SDF must not be in Raqqa either.”

The Kurdish-Arab force decided to take the Turkish leader at his word. Believing him to be close to Trump, its leaders decided their services were being dispensed with. They saw no point therefore in wasting and risking their troops in battles in the US interest.  In this situation, Moscow looked like a better bet.

DEBKAfile’s military sources stress that, when the Russians say they are working with the Syrian army, they really mean the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the pro-Iranian Shiite militias and Hizballah, because most Syrian army’s units were decimated by nearly six years of civil war, or exist only on paper.

That being so, even if Putin does promise Netanyahu to distance Iranian and pro-Iranian troops from the Syrian-Israeli border, he may not be in a position to honor his pledge. With the Americans far away, they are Russia’s main partners on the ground for achieving his future goals in Syria.

Columnist For Russian Daily ‘Kommersant’: ‘ In Tehran, Moscow Has A Capricious And Unpredictable Partner’

March 1, 2017

Columnist For Russian Daily ‘Kommersant’: ‘ In Tehran, Moscow Has A Capricious And Unpredictable Partner’, MEMRI, March 1, 2017

In a recent article, columnist for the Russian daily Kommersant Maxim Yusin analyzed Russia-Iran relations. According to Yusin, Iran has “consistently acted” as a Moscow’s “situational ally,” but this “situational alliance” between the two countries in Syria is not nearly “as firm as it seems.” He added that Moscow considers Iran a “capricious” and “unpredictable” partner, and that this could open a window of opportunity for President Donald Trump’s diplomacy.

Below are excerpts of Yusin’s article:[1]

6808aMaxim Yusin (Source: Kommersant.ru)

“Washington Does Not Offer [Russia] Any Geopolitical Bargain That Could Make Up For A Possible Cooling Of Relations With Tehran”

“Moscow faces a difficult choice resulting from escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran. On the one hand, in many regional conflicts in the Middle East – first of all in Syria – Tehran has consistently acted as Moscow’s situational ally. On the other hand, connections between Moscow and Donald Trump’s administration are just beginning to take shape, and if in the very first serious crisis Russia fails to meet the new president’s expectations and creates the perception of being an opponent rather than a partner, that will dash all hopes for normalization of relations between the two superpowers. For obvious reasons, Russia does not want to jeopardize its ties with Iran – especially when Washington does not offer it any ‘geopolitical bargain’ that could make up for a possible cooling of relations with Tehran, such as acknowledgement of the Kremlin’s special interest in the post-Soviet territory, concessions in Ukraine, or easing of sanctions.

“There is another reason why it would be hard for Moscow to agree with Washington’s position in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear file. The fact is that in negotiations with Tehran on this issues conducted over many years by the six mediators – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany – Russia has always been a key player. Between 2005 and 2013, when Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad adopted radical positions, it was Moscow that had saved the negotiations. Russia essentially played the role of an intermediary between Tehran and the Western powers. And the Obama administration officials who had harshly criticized Moscow on many other issues, had repeatedly emphasized its constructive role in negotiations on the Iran’s nuclear file.

“The fact that Donald Trump has dramatically changed the U.S. policy toward Tehran cannot be seen by Moscow as a convincing argument for a radical revision of its own position. And to Russia’s partners in the region, a U-turn like this would come as an unpleasant surprise as well – during the Syrian crisis they have come to rely on Russia’s firmly defending its principles and making no concessions, even under heavy pressure.”

“The ‘Situational Alliance’ Formed Between [Russia And Iran] In Syria Is Not Nearly As Firm As It Seems”

“However, Iran can also hardly count on Moscow’s unconditional support, especially if it were to take drastic steps that would undermine regional security. The ‘situational alliance’ formed between the two countries in Syria is not nearly as firm as it seems. As I was recently told by an informed source in Moscow, ‘mutual complaints keep accumulating, even if they are rarely voiced aloud.’ Tehran, to which Damascus hardliners look, is in favor of the war to the bitter end – to have the Syrian army recapture the whole territory occupied by the opposition forces. For Iranian ayatollahs viewing the Syrian conflict through the lens of the Shia-Sunni confrontation going back millennium and a half, the stakes are much higher. Tehran opposes any concessions to the opposition that unites Sunni groups, and is skeptical of the involvement of Turkey – its traditional opponent – in the peace process.

“At the same time, Moscow’s goals are far less maximalist and more specific: to make peace under conditions acceptable for Damascus while taking into account the interests of the moderate opposition, to keep Bashar Assad in power, and to guarantee the continuing Russian military presence in the country. Unlike Tehran and Damascus, Moscow is carefully avoiding making statements about the unconditional victory over the regime’s opponents and recapturing the whole territory from the opposition forces.

“The differences between Russia and Iran in their approaches to the Syrian conflict are occasionally aired in public. The last time that happened in last August when Hossein Dehghan, the Iranian defense minister, spoke about Moscow with unprecedented harshness. He accused it of ‘posturing,’ ‘ungentlemanly conduct,’ and [of harboring a] ‘desire to prove itself a superpower,’ and as a result, banned Russian aircraft taking part in military operations in Syria from using the Iranian airfield in Hamadan. The scandal was eventually hushed up, but the bitter taste remained – along with Moscow’s understanding that in Iran it has a really capricious and unpredictable partner. That opens a certain window of opportunity for Donald Trump’s diplomacy.”

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[1] Kommersant.ru, February 14, 2017.

An Émigré Explains Why The U.S. Should Want Russia As An Ally

February 22, 2017

An Émigré Explains Why The U.S. Should Want Russia As An Ally, TheFederalist, February 22, 2017

(Please see also, Is a Trump-Putin Detente Dead? — DM

I am a Russian-born U.S. citizen. Since my old country is all in the news now, unsurprisingly, several people have asked me about the latest spat between the two countries. I have rounded up a few frequently asked questions (FAQ) in no particular order, and here they are.

Question: Is Russia our foe or ally?

Answer: Neither. Lord Palmerston famously quipped, “Great Britain has no friends, only interests,” and the same applies to other countries. The United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were geopolitical adversaries during the Cold War. Prior to that, they were allies in World War II when both faced an existential threat from Nazi Germany and Japan. Now both Russia and the United States are facing a threat of radical Islam, which may bring the two countries together again.

Q: But can we cooperate with the Russians after they captured large chunks of Ukraine and Georgia?

A: Well, the Soviet Union captured Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in 1939, yet Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill cooperated with Joseph Stalin and actively supported his war efforts. The West never recognized the annexation of the Baltic republics; it just put that matter on the back burner for the sake of a more urgent goal. Henry Kissinger calls this realpolitik.

Q: Donald Trump has picked Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobile, as his secretary of State. Tillerson has warm relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. How do we know which side Tillerson is on?

A: Let me cite a historical precedent. Another famous American oil executive was friendly with Soviet leaders. His name was Armand Hammer. He had numerous personal and business ties with the USSR, starting in the 1920s. In 1957, Hammer became president and CEO of Occidental Petroleum. He used his connections to end the Cold War between the two countries. According to his biographer, Hammer was “a go-between for five Soviet General Secretaries and seven U.S. Presidents.” Paradoxically, Hammer’s efforts on behalf of the USSR made him a darling of the American Left, even though he supported the Republican Party.

Q: Has Putin ordered the murder of Russian journalists and other political opponents?

A: That has not been proven conclusively, but is plausible. Regardless of whether that is the case, it should not determine American foreign policy. That was clear to FDR and Churchill, who were well aware of Stalin’s atrocities.

Q: Did Russia side with Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential race?

A: Of course, it did. Nations do take sides and interfere in other nations’ internal affairs all the time. For example, the United States actively encouraged the Arab Spring in several countries and even supported Syrian and Libyan “moderate” rebels. It was the job of the sitting U.S. president to prevent any Russian interference in U.S. elections.

Q: Is Russian spying on U.S. institutions a new phenomenon?

A: Absolutely not! However, things change. Between the 1940s and the 1960s, it was the conservative Right that was alarmed by Russian spying and Communist infiltration of the federal government. The Left dismissed that concern, mocking it as looking for “reds under the beds.” Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of spying for Russia and executed, became martyrs of the Left. Even in the 1970s when I arrived in the United States, the Left’s favorite motto was “it’s better be red than dead.” Things really changed in the 1980s.

Q: What happened in the 1980s?

A: When Ronald Reagan became president, he faced fierce opposition from the Left. The media elite ridiculed him as an unsophisticated cowboy and right-wing warmonger for calling the USSR an evil empire. The opposition became violent when Reagan proposed an anti-missile defense system, which the media dismissed as a “star wars” program. However, when an opportunity came up, Reagan held productive summits with former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev. These summits eventually led to the end of the Cold War.

Q: Is Putin a reincarnation of Stalin?

A: The two leaders represent two different generations separated by a period of 70 years. During those 70 years, the world has changed, and so has Russia. Stalin ruled Russia with an iron fist, while today’s Russians enjoy a degree of freedom. Putin is more pragmatic than Stalin. Yet contemporary Russian society is still quite different from its Western European counterparts, which is perhaps just fine, given that the latter are in a deep crisis now.

Q: Can the United States rely on Russia in the war on radical Islamic terrorism?

A: If it were a matter of life or death, I would always choose to have Russia on my side, rather than a Western ally, such as France. When Russians wage a war, they do it to win, not to satisfy lawyers by following every rule specifying acceptable ways of killing the enemy.

Here is an example. Somalian pirates threatened international shipping in the Indian Ocean between 2005 and 2013 by taking hostages. The American, French, Italian, and other navies rescued many hostages, caught pirates, and sent them to their countries. The arrests, trials, appeals, and imprisonment cost hundreds of millions of dollars. According to a Guardian report, there was a fear that “trials in European courts would encourage, rather than deter, pirates from committing crimes of piracy.”

In contrast, when a Russian destroyer rescued a Russian tanker with its crew from pirates in 2010, they did not arrest the pirates. They disarmed the pirates and set them adrift in an inflatable boat. The released pirates did not reach the coast. Rumor has it that the rescuers made a hole in the boat before releasing it.

Russian Reactions To Flynn’s Resignation

February 21, 2017

Russian Reactions To Flynn’s Resignation, MEMRI, February 21, 2017

(Please see also, Is a Trump-Putin Detente Dead? — DM)

While part of Russian officialdom dodged comment on Michael Flynn’s resignation from the post of national security adviser or downplayed its importance, the consensus view was that this represented a negative signal for Russia. Russia would have to retrench its hopes for improved Russia-US relations under President Trump as the new president was finding it difficult to exercise control over an anti-Russian establishment. Some commentators believed that an anti-Russia cabal was behind Flynn’s ouster and that Flynn was merely the appetizer with Trump being the main course. These rogue officials backed by the media would not rest till they had ousted Trump and set back Russian-American relations.

We present a sampling of official and press reactions to the Flynn resignation.

trumpandflynn1Source: Gazeta.ru)

Senator Pushkov’s Tweetstorm

Senator Alexey Pushkov, a member of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs and an avid tweeter, took to Twitter to present his categorical assessment of the forces behind the resignation and their motivation:

“Flynn ‘was forced out’ not due to his missteps, but due to a vast aggressive campaign. “Russian –get out ” clamored the newspapers. This is paranoia and witch hunt.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 14, 2017)

“Flynn leaves, but the Russian problem at Trump’s White House persists” – his enemies write. Flynn’s banishment was only the first act. Now – Trump is the target.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 13, 2017)

“Flynn’s departure is probably the earliest resignation of a US National Security Advisor in history. Yet, Flynn was not the target, relations with Russia were.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, February 13, 2017)

“It’s not going to end  with Flynn’s resignation. Trump’s enemies with the help of the security special services and media will eradicate him ( Trump) until the impeachment. Trump himself is now the objective.”

impeach(Twitter.com, February 14, 2017)

“Lots of money invested in the new cold war against Russia. Those who oppose the war are at high risk. Flynn’s massacre is clear evidence.”

(Twitter.com, February 14, 2017)

push-shove(Alexey Pushkov, Source: Pravda-tv.ru)

Senator Kosachev: ‘Russophobia Has Already Engulfed The New Administration From Top To Bottom’

Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs, wrote on his Facebook page: “Dismissing the national security adviser for contacts with Russia’s ambassador (ordinary diplomatic practice) is not just paranoia, but something much worse.” He then added: “Either Trump has not gained the desired independence and he is being consistently (and not unsuccessfully) pushed into a corner, or Russophobia has already engulfed the new administration from top to bottom.”

(Tass.com, February 14, 2017)

kosKonstantin Kosachev (Source: Rt.com)

Valery Garbuzov, Director of the Institute for US and Canada Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Russian news agency TASS: “I believe the Russian issue is one of the most difficult for the U.S. administration in the sense that it has not yet developed recipes for tackling the Russian issue in general and in particular. These are the issues of sanctions, the issue of Ukraine, Crimea and so on.” He then said: “The U.S. president’s national security adviser is a significant figure who, along with the US secretary of state, takes part in shaping the country’s foreign policy. Flynn’s resignation indicates that internal contradictions, perhaps, internal struggles, begin to appear in the emerging US administration. Flynn’s resignation was a manifestation of this struggle. He was considered if not a pro-Russian member of Trump’s team, then a person who was committed to resuming pragmatic dialogue with Russia.”

(Tass.com, February 14, 2017)

The Deputy Chair of the Duma’s International Affairs committee, Alexey Chepa: “Flynn has just begun working, he did not have an opportunity build himself a reputation. Before the inauguration he’d had some consultations with our ambassador Kislyak. I don’t know to what extent he informed his superiors regarding the consultations. I don’t know either how it could lead to a possible blackmailing… In general, there was not enough time to arrange improved contacts, so I think this [resignation] won’t strongly affect [our relations with the US]”

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

Presidential spokesperson Dmitri Peskov declined comment on Flynn’s resignation: “We do not want to comment on it in any manner. It’s America’s internal affair, the Trump administration’s internal affair. It’s not our business.”

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

The Resignation Reduces Russia’s Confidence In The Trump Administration

According to Leonid Slutsky, chair of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee: “The situation regarding the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn, bears a provocative character. This is a form of negative signal concerning the building of a Russia-US dialog. It’s obvious that Flynn was forced to write the resignation announcement under pressure. Trump received this resignation. The excuse, which was chosen, is contacts with the Russian ambassador, though it’s common diplomatic practice.  In these circumstances, the conclusion arises that the Russia-US relations were the set target. This erodes confidence in the US administration”.

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

The TASS agency quotes Slutsky a bit differently: “Flynn’s resignation might be a provocation – it could well be that he will pop up again in US public administration. At the moment, it looks like a thrust and a sort of  negative signal towards Russia, implying that we had discussed something improper with the US national security advisor, for which he paid for with his job … It’s an incredible assumption that Flynn, a very experienced person, divulged some state secrets”. According to Slutsky, “the whole buzz is aimed at Russia’s positioning as a strategic opponent amongst the American establishment”.

(Tass.ru, February 14, 2017)

slutLeonid Slutsky (Source: Polytika.ru)

According to Vladimir Batyuk, head of the Center for Military-Political Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ US and Canada Institute and professor of world politics at the Higher School of Economics :

“Flynn’s resignation is a powerful blow to the US administration. Flynn, as a national security advisor, was one of the key figures. Given that this man turned out to be undisciplined and incompetent, it’s a definite blow to the administration’s authority and to US-Russia relations. Moscow, from now on, will have far less confidence in the new administration and its ability to conduct confidential negotiations on delicate international matters and problems of bilateral relations. It will have negative consequences for the future Russo-American dialog.”  Representatives of the Russian Federation will now fear approaching Trump administration officials. “When Ambassador Kislyak communicated with Flynn he was completely sure that he was talking to the Trump’s representative, rather than to private person, Mr. Flynn. Now, it’s not the case as it turns out and this is a blow to Moscow’s trust in the new administration. This trust usually carries high importance in diplomacy.”

(Ria.ru, February 14, 2017)

The Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta published an article by Igor Dunaevsky, where the author assumes that Flynn’s resignation was initiated by the secret services:

“It can’t be excluded that Flynn was “taken out” by the secret services. His Russian connections presented themselves as an excuse and were not the real reason. According to local media publications, Flynn, who headed MOD intelligence department in the Obama administration, was not popular in the American intelligence community and he reciprocated this attitude.  Flynn’s resignation will not extensively affect White House’s approaches towards a dialog with Russia, but rather it will prove instrumental for those who want to impede that process.”

(Rg.ru, February 14, 2017)

Highly Classified National Security Information Must Not be Leaked

February 20, 2017

Highly Classified National Security Information Must Not be Leaked, Dan Miller’s Blog, February 20, 2017

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

Evidence of political corruption should be.

It has been obvious since the early Republican primaries that most media coverage of a Trump presidency would be adverse and presented out of context. Perhaps a recent editorial at The Week Magazine explains why, albeit inadvertently. Or maybe this cartoon better explains the media view:

Trump and Putin as seen by the lamebrain media

Trump and Putin as seen by the lamebrain media

According to The Week Magazineall leaks are equal. However, we approve of those which fit our politics and disapprove of those which don’t.

Live by the leak, die by the leak. When WikiLeaks was releasing a steady stream of embarrassing emails hacked from Democratic officials during the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and her supporters cried foul, and urged the press not to report their contents. Donald Trump applauded every new revelation, saying the leaks provided voters with important information, and gleefully invited the Russians to find and publish emails she had deleted. “Boy, that WikiLeaks has done a job on her, hasn’t it?” Trump exulted. Now that it’s Trump who is being tortured by leaks, he’s complaining they’re illegal and “un-American.” Democrats, meanwhile, are welcoming the torrent like a rainstorm after a long drought. (See Main Stories.) When it comes to leaks, everyone is a hypocrite. “Good” leaks are ones that damage our opponents. “Bad” leaks are those that hurt Our Side. [Emphasis added.]

But let’s set partisanship aside for a moment. Is it always in the public interest for government officials to leak, and for the media to publish leaked material? Crusading journalist Glenn Greenwald—who angered the Obama administration by publishing Edward Snowden’s trove of stolen NSA documents—argues in TheIntercept.com this week that all leaks exposing “wrong-doing” are good ones, regardless of the leaker’s motives. “Leaks are illegal and hated by those in power (and their followers),” Greenwald says, “precisely because political officials want to be able to lie to the public with impunity and without detection.” The implication of this argument, of course, is that governments, politicians, and organizations should not keep any secrets—that when people in power conceal documents, emails, or information that could embarrass them, they are by definition deceiving the public. Radical transparency certainly sounds noble—but I suspect it’s a standard no public official, or indeed most of us, could survive. It’s so much more convenient to have a double standard: Transparency for thee, but not for me.

I disagree. Leaks of unclassified materials demonstrating corruption of the political process by either party are necessary for an effectively functioning democracy. Leaks of highly classified national security information — particularly in the area of foreign policy — endanger our democracy, are crimes and the perpetrators should be dealt with accordingly. When the media sensationalize leaks of the latter type, they are complicit and must be criticized vigorously.

The press has long served as an objective fail-safe to protect the public from the powers-that-be. That objectivity is now absent and the media’s role in our democratic society is in jeopardy. Rather than self-reflect as to how they got off course, the press have opted to label the man who exposed this derailment as un-American.

What’s un-American is the belief that the press should be unaccountable for its actions. What’s un-American is the belief that any attempt to criticize the press should be viewed as heresy. What’s un-American is the belief that the press is akin to a golden calf that compels Americans, presidents included, to worship the press.

Two very different types of leaks

a. DNC and Podesta e-mails:

The DNC and Podesta e-mails were released as written and posted by DNC officials and Podesta for transmission on unsecured servers easily hacked by modestly competent teenage hackers. I have seen no suggestion that the e-mails were classified. The intelligence community opined that Russian agents had done the hacking, but offered no significant proof beyond that the methods used by the hacker(s) were comparable to those used by Russian hackers in the past.

They found no discrepancies between the original e-mails and those posted by WikiLeaks (which denied that Russia had been the source). The e-mail leaks damaged the Clinton campaign because they portrayed, accurately — and in their own words —  dishonest efforts of high-level DNC and Clinton campaign personnel to skew the Democrat primary process in Ms. Clinton’s favor. They did not involve American foreign policy until Obama — who had previously done nothing of significance to halt Russia’s hacking of highly classified information from our intelligence establishment beyond asking, “pretty please, stop” — decided that Russia must be punished for Hillary’s loss of the general election through sanctions and by the expulsion of thirty-five of its diplomats.

Russian president Vladimir Putin had been expected to respond in kind, with the expulsion of US diplomats from its territory.

However, he later said he would not “stoop” to “irresponsible diplomacy”, but rather attempt to repair relations once Donald Trump takes office.

Mr Trump praised the decision as “very smart.”

b. Flynn telephone conversations:

Neither transcripts nor audio recordings of the Flynn telephone conversations were released. Instead, conclusions of the leakers were released. According to House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes,

“I think there is a lot of innuendo out there that the intelligence agencies have a problem with Donald Trump. The rank and file people that are out doing jobs across the world — very difficult places — they don’t pay attention to what is going on in Washington,” the California representative told CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson.

“What we have is we do have people in the last administration, people who are burrowed in, perhaps all throughout the government, who clearly are leaking to the press,” Nunes added. “And it is against the law. Major laws have been broken. If you believe the Washington Post story that said there were nine people who said this, these are nine people who broke the law.” [Emphasis added.]

Nunes said the FBI and other intelligence agencies ought to investigate who has leaked information to the press because so few people in the administration knew these secrets, that it would have had to have been someone at the “highest levels of the Obama administration” who is an acting official until Trump replaces him or her.

Did the leaker(s) try to present the conversations honestly, or to damage President Trump’s efforts to deal with Russia in matters of foreign policy where American and Russian interests coincide? To disrupt America’s badly needed “reset” with Russia which seemed likely to succeed under President Trump after Clinton’s and Obama’s efforts had failed?

resetbutton

Remember the Obama – Romney debate when Romney characterized Russia as America’s greatest geopolitical threat and Obama responded that the cold war was over and that “the 1980’s are calling and want their foreign policy back”?

The position now asserted by the Democrats and the media seems rather like the position that Obama rejected. If the position(s) of the Democrats and the media are now correct and Russia is again our enemy, might it be due to actions which Obama took or failed to take over the past eight years?

It is unfortunate that there has been a resurgence of Democrat (and some Republican) Russophobia when Russia is reassessing her relationship with Iran and America.

On January 22, 2017, the Russian media outlet Pravda.ru published an analysis on Russia-Iran relations. According to the article’s author, Dmitri Nersesov, Iran is becoming a problem for Russian interests. Nersesov also added that Iran wants Russia to choose between Iran and Washington. “Iran wants Russia to recognize that Teheran holds the key to the regulation of the Syrian crisis. Should Russia decide that the real strategy is built on the cooperation between Moscow and Washington, rather than Moscow and Teheran; the Islamic Republic will be extremely disappointed,” Nersesov wrote. [Emphasis added.]

An American – Russian realignment in areas of mutual concern — which as suggested below had seemed to be progressing well until General Flynn ceased to be involved — would be good, not bad. We have many areas of mutual concern, and Iran is one of them. The war in Syria is another. When were Russians last directed to yell Death to America? Or to refer to America as the “Great Satan?”

c. General Flynn, Russia and Iran

General Flynn had, at President Trump’s request, been dealing with Russia concerning the future roles of Iran, Russia and America in the Syria debacle:

Overlaying US President Donald Trump’s extraordinary, hour-long skirmish with reporters Thursday, Feb. 16, was bitter frustration over the domestic obstacles locking him out from his top security and foreign policy goals. [Emphasis added.]

Even before his inauguration four weeks ago, he had arranged to reach those goals by means of an understanding with President Vladimir Putin for military and intelligence cooperation in Syria, both for the war on the Islamic State and for the removal of Iran and its Lebanese surrogate Hizballah from that country. [Emphasis added.]

But his antagonists, including elements of the US intelligence community, were turning his strategy into a blunderbuss for hitting him on the head, with the help of hostile media.

Thursday, in a highly unconventional meeting with the world media, he tried to hit back, and possibly save his strategy.

That won’t be easy. The exit of National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, the prime mover in the US-Russian détente, sent the Kremlin a negative signal. The Russians began unsheathing their claws when they began to suspect that the US president was being forced back from their understanding. The SSV 175 Viktor Leonov spy ship was ordered to move into position opposite Delaware on the East Coast of America; Su-24 warplanes buzzed the USS Porter destroyer in the Black Sea.

Before these events, Washington and Moscow wre moving briskly towards an understandingdebkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that the Kremlin had sent positive messages to the White House on their joint strategy in Syria, clarifying that Moscow was not locked in on Bashar Assad staying on as president. [Emphasis added.]

They also promised to table at the Geneva conference on Syria taking place later this month a demand for the all “foreign forces” to leave Syria. This would apply first and foremost to the pro-Iranian Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan militias brought in by Tehran to fight for Assad under the command of Revolutionary Guards officers, as well as Hizballah. [Emphasis added.]

Deeply troubled by this prospect, Tehran sent Iran’s supreme commander in the Middle East, the Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, to Moscow this week to find out what was going on.

Flynn’s departure put the lid on this progress. Then came the damaging leak to the Wall Street Journal, that quoted an “intelligence official” as saying that his agencies hesitated to reveal to the president the “sources and methods” they use to collect information, due to “possible links between Trump associates and Russia.. Those links, he said “could potentially compromise the security of such classified information.”

A first-year student knows that this claim is nonsense, since no agency ever share its sources and methods with any outsider, however high-placed.

What the leak did reveal was that some Washington insiders were determined at all costs to torpedo the evolving understanding between the American and Russian presidents. The first scapegoat was the strategy the two were developing for working together in Syria. [Emphasis added.]

Defending his policy of warming relations with Moscow, Trump protested that “getting along with Russia is not a bad thing.” He even warned there would be a “nuclear holocaust like no other” if relations between the two superpowers were allowed to deteriorate further.

It is too soon to say whether his Russian policy is finally in shreds or can still be repaired. Trump indicated more than once in his press briefing that he would try and get the relations back on track.

Asked how he would react to Russia’s latest provocative moves, he said: “I’m not going to tell you anything about what responses I do. I don’t talk about military responses. I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea,” he stressed.

At all events, his administration seems to be at a crossroads between whether to try and salvage the partnership with Russia for Syria, or treat it as a write-off. If the latter, then Trump must decide whether to send American troops to the war-torn country to achieve his goals, or revert to Barack Obama’s policy of military non-intervention in the conflict. [Emphasis added.]

Substantially more is generally involved in matters of foreign policy than is facially apparent or than government officials should discuss publicly, particularly while negotiations with foreign powers are underway. Leaks by held-over members of the intelligence community did much to reveal the opinions of the leakers but little to reveal what General Flynn had been doing, while upsetting the chances of better American – Russian relations in areas of mutual concern.

Conclusions — The Administrative State

The Federal Government has grown far too big for its britches, giving the unelected “administrative state” substantially more authority, and hence power, than is consistent with a properly functioning democracy. As they have been demonstrating in recent months, holdovers from one administration can succeed, at least partially, in paralyzing a new and democratically elected president. Holdovers with political appointee status can generally be fired. Few others who should be can be.

Getting rid of the obstructionist “civil servants” who have become our masters should rank very high on President Trump’s “to do” list and should be accomplished before it’s too late. The task may be difficult but is not impossible. Perhaps some particularly obnoxious Federal agencies (or departments within those agencies) can be relocated to places less congenial than Washington. Inner City Chicago comes to mind. So do otherwise pleasant cities in California, where housing prices are much higher than in the Washington, D.C. area. How many Federal employees faced with the choice of relocating or resigning would choose the latter option?

There are likely other and probably better ways to get rid of the fatheads. President Trump’s administration should devise them.

CIA broke the law to take out its critic General Flynn

February 14, 2017

CIA broke the law to take out its critic General Flynn, American ThinkerThomas Lifson, February 14, 2017

Make no mistake, we have just witnessed an operation by members of the CIA to take out a high official of our own government.  An agency that is widely believed to have brought down democratically elected governments overseas is now practicing the same dark arts in domestic American politics.

Senator Chuck Schumer, of all people, laid out on January 2nd what was going to happen to the Trump administration if it dared take on the deep state – the permanent bureaucracy that has contempt for the will of the voters and feels entitled to run the government for its own benefit:

New Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump is “being really dumb” by taking on the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

“So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

Or, as the old rueful saying has it, “You’ve got to go along to get along.”  Which means that we the people had better acknowledge that the bureaucrats have turned into our masters, and the old expression “public servant” is as ironic as anything Orwell came up with.  Schumer knows this and likes it, because the deep state wants a bigger more powerful government, just as he does.

Note that the law was broken by whoever leaked the transcripts to the media. Not only is the crime underlying the “scandal” being ignored, the criminals are being hailed. On Morning Joe’s first hour today, the host, a former congressman (i.e., a lawmaker) himself, called the leakers “heroes.”

This interference in domestic politics by the CIA should be regarded as a major threat to our democracy, but of course our Trump-hating domestic media are reveling in a major point scored against the new president.

David P. Goldman (aka, Spengler), writing on PJ Media, explains the level of hatred the CIA has for Flynn for daring to take on its spectacular failures:

gen-flynn

…the CIA has gone out of its way to sandbag Flynn at the National Security Council. As Politico reports: “On Friday, one of Flynn’s closest deputies on the NSC, senior director for Africa Robin Townley, was informed that the Central Intelligence Agency had rejected his request for an elite security clearance required for service on the NSC, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.” Townley held precisely the same security clearance at the Department of Defense for seventeen years, yet he was blackballed without explanation. At DoD, Townley had a stellar reputation as a Middle East and Africa expert, and the denial of his clearance is hard to explain except as bureaucratic backstabbing.

…Gen. Flynn is the hardest of hardliners with respect to Russia within the Trump camp. In his 2016 book Field of Fight (co-authored with PJ Media’s Michael Ledeen), Flynn warned of “an international alliance of evil movements and countries that is working to destroy us….The war is on. We face a working coalition that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua.” The unsubstantiated allegation that he presides over a “leaky” National Security Council tilting towards Russia makes no sense. The only leaks of which we know are politically motivated reports coming from the intelligence community designed to disrupt the normal workings of a democratic government–something that raises grave constitutional issues.

Flynn is the one senior U.S. intelligence officer with the guts to blow the whistle on a series of catastrophic intelligence and operational failures. The available facts point to the conclusion that elements of the humiliated (and perhaps soon-to-be-unemployed) intelligence community is trying to exact vengeance against a principled and patriotic officer…. The present affair stinks like a dumpster full of dead rats.

Note that the suspicions eagerly being raised by the media center around Trump being a pawn of Putin and Flynn secretly pledging fealty or some such absurd subordination. In other words, suspicions of treasonous behavior by the new president are being cultivated in the general public. We can expect the media to fan these flames at every opportunity.

He also explains why the Logan Act references are insulting:

Senior officials speak to their counterparts in other countries all the time, and for obvious reasons do not want these conversations to become public. The intelligence community, though, was taping Flynn’s discussions, and the transcripts (of whose existence we are told but whose contents we have not seen) were used to embarrass him.

This last point is critical. The entire “scandal” is based on innuendo. Flynn tripped over his own feet by misinforming Vice President Pence on the nature of his call, and allowing the veep to issue a too-sweeping denial of any discussion. If Flynn had said in his conversation with the Russian Ambassador that we will discuss the sanctions after Trump takes office, he might well have told Pence that they did not discuss the sanctions. And the CIA leakers could have used the appearance of the word “sanctions” in their transcript to brand Pence a liar. We don’t know, and for some reason, nobody is gaining access to the actual transcripts so that we may see the content. Perhaps the Congressional investivartions to come will gain access. But Flynn is now gone and media memes have been firmly planted int he public mind.

The Flynn Affair is a huge scandal, all right. But the media are misdirecting our attention toward the lesser dimension while they studiously ignore the real threat to our democracy.

President Of The Pro-Kremlin Think Tank RIAC: ‘The Process Of ‘Perestroika’ Induced By The New Global Balance Of Power… Will Probably Stretch Far Beyond Trump’s Presidency’

January 23, 2017

President Of The Pro-Kremlin Think Tank RIAC: ‘The Process Of ‘Perestroika’ Induced By The New Global Balance Of Power… Will Probably Stretch Far Beyond Trump’s Presidency’, MEMRI, January 23, 2017

A common assessment made by the Russian media is that with the advent of a Donald Trump presidency, a new “perestroika” has begun. Igor Ivanov, president of the pro-Kremlin think tank Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and formerly Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (1998–2004), believes that this “perestroika” (i.e. reconstruction) process was induced by the “new global balance of power” and finds its representative in Trump. This process like Gorbachev’s “perestroika” is now out of the bag, unlikely to be “quick and easy”, and “will probably stretch far beyond Trump’s presidency”. A Trump-lead “perestroika” in the West by Trump will compel Washington “to take a fresh look at the role the United States plays in global affairs, the parameters of the country’s leadership, and the idea of American exceptionalism as such”.

As for Russia-U.S. relations, Ivanov predicts that under no circumstances will today’s international relations return to the “bipolar model of the second half of the 20th century”. Nevertheless the establishment of ground rules is a must irrespective of whether bilateral relations are head for rivalry or more hopefully partnership. However, he believes that “even limited success in this area would undoubtedly have a great positive impact on the overall situation in the world.”

Below are excerpts of Ivanov’s article, titled “Trump and Russia”, published in RIAC’s website:[1]

ivanIgor Ivanov (Source: Russiancouncil.ru)

‘Voting For Trump The American People Showed That They Were Tired Of Anti-Russian Propaganda’

“Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States. How could this happen? Politicians, experts, journalists will long be debating this question. But no matter how analysts assess this event, they all agree that American society and the U.S. political system are experiencing serious, even fundamental shifts. The presidential election held in November, 2016 became the starting point of a new era in the American political and public life development.

“Such a major shift was bound to happen sooner or later. Stagnation cannot go on forever; Russia learned this lesson first hand. The old socio-political system that has existed virtually unchanged in the United States for decades is no longer compatible with the new reality that has developed both in the United States and in the world as a whole. The electoral campaign turned into a fierce battle between those who wanted to preserve the status quo no matter what, and those who made destroying the status quo their goal. The American people opted for change in domestic and foreign policies, sometimes without realizing the exact nature of those changes.

“What will be achieved during Trump’s presidency? Hardly anyone is ready to give a certain answer to this question. Judging by the President-elect’s statements, it appears that in the coming years, we will witness out-of-the-box decisions, some of which may be a success, while others may be quite the opposite. This applies both to domestic politics and economic development in the United States, as well as to the country’s foreign policy.

“Speaking of the long-term foreign policy implications of the Trump ‘revolution,’ it is likely that Washington will be forced to take a fresh look at the role the United States plays in global affairs, the parameters of the country’s leadership, and the idea of American exceptionalism as such. The process of ‘perestroika’ induced by the new global balance of power is unlikely to be quick and easy, and will probably stretch far beyond Trump’s presidency. But, as Mikhail Gorbachev’s favorite phrase goes, ‘the process has started,’ and it will not only affect the United States, but also the global situation as a whole.

“Russia, of course, is mostly interested in the way changes in the United States will affect relations between the two countries. Contrary to common sense, Russia all but became the primary focus of the presidential campaign. The Democrats followed the Cold War stereotypes and attempted to demonize Russia, while Donald Trump, on the other hand, spoke about his willingness to actively cooperate with Russia on a wide range of issues. Only time will tell whether he truly thought so, or whether he was just trying to distance himself and his party from the Democrats. In any case, the Washington hawks failed in their attempts to play the “Russian card.” Voting for Trump the American people showed that they were tired of anti-Russian propaganda and were less and less inclined to see Russia as a source of ‘evil’ threatening the interests of their country.

‘Under No Circumstances Will Today’s International Relations Return To The Bipolar Model Of The Second Half Of The 20th Century’

When we think about the future of Russia–United States relations, we would first need to explain the failure of the ‘reset’ policy announced by Barack Obama during his first presidential term. Both countries pinned significant hopes on this ‘reset’ policy. Eight years ago, many people believed that all the conditions for the ‘reset’ to succeed were there. Indeed, much has been done in terms of cooperation in various spheres, including security. Suffice it to mention the signing in April 2010 of the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the new START treaty) by presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama. Nevertheless, the Obama administration leaves the White House with relations between Russia and the United States at their lowest point since the long since forgotten times of the Cold War.

“We can talk about certain mistakes and miscalculations made by both parties, unreasonably high expectations, and bureaucratic inertia here. All of that is true, but I believe that the ‘reset’ policy’s historical failure occurred due to deeper, systemic reasons. Since the latest détente in relations between Russia and the United States, both parties have focused on resolving important, yet quite specific issues, without paying proper attention to developing and articulating new basic bilateral relations principles that would reflect the strategic interests of both countries. As a result, stand-alone achievements failed to take US–Russia relations to a qualitatively new level and create the necessary margin of safety. This is why the ‘reset’ failed the test of the latest international crises – most notably the crisis in Ukraine.

“Hence the principal lesson for the future: when resolving important issues with the new U.S. administration, Russia should initiate a serious dialogue with regard to the strategic interests of the two countries, yet considering both the existing potential and the objective limits for bilateral cooperation. During my tenure as the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, we tried to engage in such work with the George W. Bush administration, but as the United States was not ready for it, we did not achieve any viable results. However, this does not cross out the crucial importance of this task.

“What questions should be made a priority? The main question that both parties have to answer – both to each other and to themselves is: ‘Are Russia and the United States irreconcilable enemies in the world today? Or, given all their possible differences, could they still be partners?’ If the two countries are bound to be enemies, then our key task is to work out and agree on ‘rules of the game’ that would minimize the risks of a direct confrontation between Russia and the United States in the event of a conflict, for such a confrontation would threaten international security. We could turn to the experience of the Cold War, when Moscow and Washington knew very well where the ‘red line’ was located.

“If Russia and the United States are prepared to work together as partners, in the interests of advancing stability, security, and jointly respond to global challenges, then we need to construct effective forms of dialogue at all levels – from the very top down to specific agencies and civil society – so that the relations between the two countries can be open and predictable. Thus, should any differences arise, which is natural for U.S.–Russia relations, we are able to overcome them with mutual respect, without allowing the situation to escalate into a major crisis.

“Creating a multi-layered architecture of bilateral relations in this way would make these relations more stable and create opportunities for a constructive dialogue on key global issues today, which cannot be resolved without the active participation of both Russia and the United States. There is a significant pile of such issues: what the future world order should look like; how to restore manageability of international affairs; how to fight terrorism and the threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation; what to do about the increasing number of regional conflicts; etc. Being permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and the United States bear special responsibility for these problems’ resolution, and they have a lot of potential to do just that.

“Clearly, even the most productive relations between Russia and the United States are not able to solve all the global issues. Under no circumstances will today’s international relations return to the bipolar model of the second half of the 20th century. Yet even limited success in this area would undoubtedly have a great positive impact on the overall situation in the world.”

[1] Russiancouncil.ru, January 20, 2017.

Renowned Russian Scholar Valery Solovei: ‘The New American Administration Will React From A Position Of Strength, And We Can Never Win In This Competition’

December 6, 2016

Renowned Russian Scholar Valery Solovei: ‘The New American Administration Will React From A Position Of Strength, And We Can Never Win In This Competition’, MEMRI, December 6, 2016

On November 30, 2016, Russia’s daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets published an interview on U.S.-Russia relations with one of the most influential and highly quoted intellectuals, Professor Valery Solovei. According to Solovei, who chairs the department of public relations at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), the new Trump administration will respond from a position of strength, and Russian will never win in such competition. He also added that the new American administration can tear Russia’s economy into shreds within 2-3 years.

Below are excerpts from Solovei’s interview with Mk.ru:[1]

znakcom-709673-890x591Valery Solovei (Source: znak.com)

“[Russian President] Vladimir Putin talked today about his recent telephone conversation with U.S. president-elect Donald Trump, and expressed hope for a correction in  Russian-American relations. How justified are [Putin’s hopes]  Is Trump really ‘ours’? … The Russian ruling elite’s euphoria over Trump’s victory was even higher than that at Trump headquarters – says Valery Solovei – For example, I know that at some government offices, when the results of U.S. elections were announced, they opened champagne and smoked cigars.

“But now, naturally, the euphoria has subsided. First, among people who understand something about foreign policy, and how the U.S. governmental mechanism is built. Trump is not that unpredictable as he is often depicted. To rule successfully he must rule in accord with his own party. Now, by the way, a unique situation has developed in the U.S.: the Republicans control both houses of Congress, and they are also in charge in the majority of states. Hence, Trump must respect the balance of forces, interests and views developed in the party establishment which [in turn] forms part of a common American establishment. And Trump’s first nominations attest to a realistic and very balanced approach.

“It is noteworthy that these personnel decisions have earned encouragement not only from the Republicans, but from Democrats as well. It must be said that presently the American establishment shares a broad anti-Russia consensus that is non-partisan in character. All regard Russia as a former great power in a state of long and irreversible decline. But which tries, in fits of despair, to revise the outcome of the Cold War. I emphasize: this opinion is shared by the entire U.S. establishment.

“Nevertheless, the Americans have several obvious interests for cooperating with Russia. Trump understands perfectly that his ability to solve the Syrian puzzle will be an important indicator of his foreign policy success.  And he does not set himself the goal – not publically, at least –of overthrowing Assad. Trump avers that fighting terrorism is the top priority. Therefore, there a certain foundation exists not only for coordination, but even for some joint actions.

“Of course, the Russian leadership secretly hopes to trade Syria for Ukraine. This means reaching agreement with the Americans on Syria by bargaining for an agreement that includes Ukraine in the Russian interest zone. And I can say that official Kiev is extremely scared of this– to the point of cramps.

‘If We Do Not Reach An Agreement With The U.S., We Shall Find Ourselves In A Most Unpleasant Situation’

“It is not quite clear yet what will happen in this direction. But I’ll return to the beginning of my speech: a Republican establishment exists, an American establishment exists that attaches importance to contain Russia’s feeble revisionist efforts. Even if Trumps decides to conclude such a deal with Moscow, the establishment, most likely, will not allow its implementation.

“As for Crimea, this problem is in any case marginalized. Today it is clear to all. The US, like the EU, will never recognize Crimea as part of the Russian Federation. But de-facto the situation will remain the same.

There are several other problematic subjects in Russian-American relations which are unlikely to be solved with the advent of the Trump administration. For example, [there is] the “Magnitsky List” [of sanctioned Russian officials] or the case of the downed Malaysian “Boeing”. Very soon the international commission investigating this catastrophe will release the list of the guilty. In Moscow they fear that the list will be very unpleasant for us.

“As soon as it appears, the damage suits from the families and relatives of the fallen will immediately follow and will most probably endanger Russian Federation property abroad. Russia, most likely, would prefer the package deal with America – to sit by the [negotiations] table and to solve all the problems. But I am sure that Americans will not go for it.

“That aside, another most serious conceptual problem exists, which few currently consider. The issue in question is that for the last two years Russia had demonstrated to the whole world that it places force in the very forefront. Meaning: you, Americans and Europeans, talk about values, but all this is hypocrisy, lies. You have no values: we applied pressure – you have retreated, without deciding to do anything.

“But Trump is not Obama. In the foreign policy domain, the Obama administration was the weakest postwar American administration. Trump cannot allow himself such weakness. Therefore, though the situation opens some new possibilities before us, it carries much larger risks. The new American administration will react from a position of strength, and we can never win in this competition. The Soviet Union had lost it, and Russia is much weaker than the Soviet Union. Our  [US vis a vis Russia] potentials are grossly disproportionate, have no illusions about it.

“This means that all depends on our readiness to evaluate the situation realistically and to compromise. If we do not reach an agreement with the U.S., we shall find ourselves in a most unpleasant situation. There are many tools in their arsenal that allow [them] to drive us into a corner. The economic and financial ones will suffice: within 2-3 years, Russia’s economy will be torn to shreds.”

Endnote:

 

[1] Mk.ru, November 30, 2016. The interview was performed by Russian journalist Andrei Kamakin.