by James George Jatras, Ron Paul Institute:
Well, that didn’t take long! No sooner had Robert Torquemada Mueller wrapped up his obscenely expensive inquisition without finding any so-called collusion with Russia than the obstacles to rapprochement between Washington and Moscow immediately dissipated. Calls for a new détente issued from sound thinkers such as Daniel R. DePetris of The American Conservative (Trump now has his “first opportunity to settle on a Russia policy without the risk of an extreme political backlash”) and Srdja Trifkovic of Chronicles:
Now that the Russian Collusion Myth has been revealed to be a mendacious conspiracy by the Deep State, the Democratic Party and the media, President Donald Trump needs to move on with his election promise to improve relations with Moscow. That is a geopolitical and civilizational necessity.
The undeniable wisdom of such recommendations was instantly recognized by the Washington establishment. Not only did Democrats and Never-Trump Republicans back off their Nazi-Putin paranoia, Trump’s own team, starting with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rushed copies of DePetris’ and Trifkovic’s musings onto their boss’s desk.
The most striking (though, oddly, little commented upon) evidence of the now-liberated Trump administration’s beeline towards a new realist overture towards Moscow was explicit US recognition of Crimea as part of Russia. The newfound respect for Russia’s security needs is evident:
The White House
Proclamation on Recognizing Crimea as Part of the Russian Federation
Issued on: March 25, 2019
The Russian Federation took control of Crimea in 2014 to safeguard its security from external threats. Today, aggressive acts by NATO, including US forces, in the Black Sea and Ukraine continue to make Crimea a potential launching ground for attacks on Russia. Any possible future peace agreement in the region must account for Russia’s need to protect itself from NATO and other regional threats. Based on these unique circumstances, it is therefore appropriate to recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim that, the United States recognizes that Crimea is part of the Russian Federation.
DONALD J. TRUMP
Let’s get something straight. It is a fantasy to believe that Trump has been freed by Mueller’s goose egg. The Democrats will use his work as a starting point (not as a finish) to keep digging into Trump’s private and business affairsto find something for which they can impeach him. As far as Russia goes, sure there was no direct “collusion,” but on the other hand the report, even before its release, is being cited across the political spectrum as proof that Russia“interfered” in our election to undermine our “democracy” and thus as reason to keep the demonization campaign against Russia going. Pathetically, Trump will continue to defend himself by boasting that “nobody’s been tougher on Russia” than he has while futilely calling for better relations (and even mutual decreases in military spending, which will join his nonexistent Mexican wall, his national infrastructure rehab, his Syria pullout, his … ).
In that sense Mueller has changed nothing. We will continue to sputter along like this for the remainder of Trump’s presidency in a continued downward slope. If anyone in Moscow thinks Trump now will be able to move towards normalized relations they are sadly mistaken.
Aside from occasional pipe dreams that supposedly “declining power” Russia can be pressed into service as a check against China (without offering Moscow any positive incentive, of course) what we can count on is continuation of the coordinated campaign to render Russia’s strategic situation untenable: deployment of intermediate-range weapons in Europe to make warning virtually nonexistent (and a strong possibility that START will follow INF into oblivion);strategic bomber probes with prototype nuclear-armed cruise missiles to prepare the aircraft for the possibility of launching the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) weapon; NATO maneuvers around Russia’s land and sea borders (but only to deter aggression, of course!); more sanctions; yet more expansion of NATO (Ukraine and Georgia still on the agenda!); vilification of Russia and, particularly, of President Vladimir Putin; militarization of Ukraine; attacking the Orthodox Church; the Skripal hoax; more chemical false flags in Syria; trying to tank South Stream 2; blaming Russia for “undermining democracy” in every western country in addition to the US – all are components of a full-spectrum operation to destroy Russia’s economy, to destabilize its society, to replace its “regime” with one more to their “partners’” liking, and ultimately to dismember Russia.
In the face of this, one is mystified why Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and other Russian statesmen continue to refer politely to their Western “partners” even when it’s painfully clear that they have no Western partners. While these “partners” – who, it should be noted, never that use that term about the Russians – claim they only want to change Moscow’s “behavior,” that isn’t true. There is nothing Russia could do short of surrendering its sovereignty and returning to the 1990s that would even begin mollify Russia’s “partners.” As US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put it in December 2018, America’s “mission is to reassert our sovereignty [and] reform the liberal international order,” and “we want our friends to help us and to exert their sovereignty as well.” But Russia and other countries that haven’t “embraced Western values of freedom and international cooperation” to Pompeo’s satisfaction aren’t our “friends” and thus have no such sovereign liberty.
In short, these Western “partners” hate Russia not for what it does, but for what it is: an obstacle to absolute global domination by a US-led “liberal international order.” Russia’s deployment of the most powerful weapons imaginable perhaps can limit the military aspect of that agenda, but it cannot reverse it. Quite to the contrary, such actions, like Moscow’s defensive moves after the 2014 regime change in Ukraine or Russia’s 2015 deployment in Syria or current presence in Venezuela, are held up as further “proof” of Russians’ “typically, almost genetically driven” aggressiveness, in the words of former CIA Director James Clapper.
Does this mean that western war planners are preparing for a redux of the 1812 Grande Armée or 1941 Operation Barbarossa rolling across Belarus or Ukraine into Russia? No. Rather, western officials, mainly in the US, are confident (aren’t they always?) that under constant moral, economic, financial, and military pressure a tipping point will be reached in Russia’s internal instability and strategic vulnerability (the latter including the knowledge that leadership decapitation without warning is possible), forcing Moscow to fold, either through revolution, or coup, or inflicting a (we would hope, limited) military humiliation on them somewhere.
Notwithstanding their soft rhetoric, the Russian leadership understands this quite well. As Professor Stephen Cohen observes:
Moscow closely follows what is said and written in the United States about US-Russian relations. Here too words have consequences. On March 14, Russia’s National Security Council, headed by President Putin, officially raised its perception of American intentions toward Russia from ‘military dangers’ (opasnosti) to direct ‘military threats’ (ugrozy). In short, the Kremlin is preparing for war, however defensive its intention.
Just over a year ago, in March 2018, Putin unveiled a new set of deterrent capabilities against “all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, [and] introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development.”(Hint: he was talking about the US and NATO.) “Nobody listened to us,” Putin said then. “Well, listen to us now.”