Trump Quiets Some Russian Doubts

President Trump’s weekend phone call to President Putin seems to have quieted some of Russia’s concerns about the unpredictability of the real-estate-mogul-turned-politician, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

Donald Trump’s desire to establish constructive working relations with Russia got off to a rocky start, although for reasons that he might not have understood. In an interview with The Times of London just days before the Inauguration, Trump proposed changing the metrics used for possible lifting of sanctions on Russia from full implementation of the Minsk Accords, regarding the Ukraine conflict, to progress on curbing the nuclear arms race and disarmament.

A military parade on Red Square. May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from:

While the shift was seen by many Western observers as a concession to Moscow – because it separated the sanctions from the nettlesome Ukrainian crisis – Trump’s proposal failed to take into account the Kremlin’s aversion to any reductions in its nuclear arsenal as long as there is no new security architecture in Europe that would reduce NATO’s advantage in conventional weapons. So, the response from Moscow was a firm “nyet.”

This false start was compounded by remarks from Trump’s White House spokesman suggesting that America still favored creation of safe havens or a no-flight zone in Syria. This American initiative had already been dismissed when advanced by President Obama as just another ruse to protect anti-Assad terrorists and armed rebels who are supported by Washington and its Gulf State allies.

But those early reversals were more than repaired by the 45-minute telephone call between President Vladimir Putin and Trump on Saturday. Trump appears to have kindled a very respectful and enthusiastic response from Official Russia, i.e., the Kremlin elites in parliament, in the universities and think tanks, and in the media upon whom Putin depends for nationwide support of his policies. Their collective views may be a better indication of where Russia is headed than remarks of Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson.

There is no need for a bug under Putin’s pillow or that of his Kremlin entourage to figure this out. The reality is clear from open sources, such as the premier television news and political talk shows that run every Sunday night.

The first half-hour or so of Vesti Nedeli (News of the Week) on Sunday might have been mistaken for a U.S.-origin program dubbed into Russian because it was almost entirely devoted to the phone call and to the demonstrations against Trump’s various executive orders. The presenter, Dmitri Kiselyov, is also the head of all news reporting on Russian state radio and television, so his giving his seal of approval to the talks between the two presidents carried a lot of weight.

Another Thumbs Up

But the more telling “thumbs up” evaluation came on the next featured program of the Rossiya-1/Vesti-24 channel, “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev,” which has a deserved reputation as the most serious political talk show in the country. It was posted on immediately after airing on nationwide television and within 12 hours had received more than 280,000 views, which is a fair indication of its popularity with Russia’s chattering classes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin after the military parade on Red Square, May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from:

The Vladimir Soloviev show is important precisely because of the array of panelists having their own power bases and contributing what was complementary but clearly defined and individualistic appreciations of why the conversation between the presidents was so promising.

Among the panelists and the first to speak was Vyacheslav Nikonov, who as the grandson of Molotov may be called hereditary Soviet aristocracy; he is also chairman of the Duma’s Committee on Education; member of the top governing body of United Russia, chairman of the Board of Russky Mir, the NGO supporting Russian culture and the Russian diaspora abroad.

Second in the pecking order was Aleksei Pushkov, chairman of the Commission on Information Policy in the Federation Council and from 2011 to 2016 chairman of the Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs. Other notables included Oleg Morozov, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council;  Andrei Sidorov, head of the World Politics Department, Moscow State University; and Sergei Stankevich, head of the  International Contacts section in the center-right Party of Growth (Boris Titov).

Another noteworthy aspect of the program and of the positive view presented on prospects for collaboration with Donald Trump’s America is that it unfolded under the direction of the great Trump-skeptic, Vladimir Soloviev himself.

As I know from talking to Soloviev on the sidelines of one of his broadcasts last September, Soloviev was no fan of Trump before the U.S. elections and preferred to see Hillary Clinton win on the logic that it’s better to deal with the devil you know. In Trump, he saw only unpredictability and  volatility. He assured me that Trump’s pro-Russian statements were purely pre-election rhetoric which Trump would betray the day after taking office.

In later broadcasts, after Trump’s election, Soloviev was one of those who remained guarded, arguing that this businessman would hardly succeed in implementing his promises over the opposition of America’s Deep State. However, now it would appear that Soloviev is less leery of Trump and more hopeful.

With one phone call, it appears Donald Trump has set the stage for serious negotiations and, possibly, substantive “deals” with Putin at their eventual summit.

Below are translations of some select comments by the panelists:

Vyacheslav Nikonov

“All things considered this [Trump-Putin telephone chat] gave the maximum results one could hope for from the first conversation between Trump and Putin. To be sure, the American President is under very heavy pressure from opposition within his own party and the Senate of the USA, from the mass media with their anti-Russian tone. The fact that the conversation was constructive will, I think, disappoint many of the critics of Trump and Putin in America, though it did not really make the news there, being overtaken by the huge scandal over emigrants…. What were the main aspects? At the center of attention was Syria. This is precisely the aspect that was emphasized in the short press release from the White House. It means it is possible to create an anti-ISIS coalition with participation of both the USA and Russia. There are the first signs this is happening. The second important aspect I’d note is in the Russian press release, namely the agreement to the establish partnership on an equal basis The United States has not had partnership relations of equals not only with Russia but with no one else as well in the years following the end of the Cold War. They dealt with Russia as the side that had lost the Cold War and towards whom you can carry out any policy line without regard to our concerns. Then another very important word we noted was “restoration” – used to characterize our future trade and economic relations. Restoration of trade and economic relations is a rather transparent reference to the idea that one way or another the sanctions will be reexamined. This is so although the word “sanctions” itself was not mentioned. I’d also note that they reviewed a wide range of issues. Syria, Ukraine, Iran, the Korean peninsula, and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. This presupposes, at a minimum, that in this rather short conversation there were no serious disagreements or differences of opinion. They discussed what they wanted to discuss. The questions were prepared and the participants in the discussion afterwards were satisfied. Therefore, I consider this a very good, encouraging start in Russian-American relations. Let us not tempt fate and let us knock wood..Let us hope this continues in the same way in the future. We could not hope for better than this.”

Vladimir Soloviev

“What bothers me is that I don’t remember that it was ever otherwise the first time in conversation with an American president. The first contacts with an American president always were very good, in their first terms in office. Is there anything special this time? You know, this Trump is a strange fellow. So far he is not at all like a traditional American president. He is fulfilling he pre-election promises like a bulldozer.”

Alexei Pushkov

“Trump is truly not like a traditional American president, because he does not come from the political milieu. He was never a Governor or a Senator or Congressman. He signifies a new style. Incidentally I think this is symbolic, because we are in new times. The times are changing. The world is changing. The US is changing. It think it makes sense that in new times Americans elected a new type of president. As for the suggestion that we always began this way with new American presidents, it’s not quite right. With Obama, yes. But then relations were not on such a negative basis. It appears that Trump set as his goal to improve relations with Russia considering that they are deeply negative. We are not starting out at 0 but at minus 10. A very negative zone. He said he wanted to pull us out of this during the pre-election campaign and now has repeated it during the conversation.  That is the first distinction. Next, consider how it was with Bush. He came to office on a very anti-Russian wave. He accused Clinton of having lost Russia, and he would apply a much tougher policy. Under Bush we established contact only 6 months after his [inauguration], that is in June 2001 when they met in Ljubljana and he said he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his soul. But that is not how it started. At the very beginning, he criticized Clinton for his close relations with Yeltsin. I won’t go into the details but it was a different scenario. So what’s important here? It’s that Trump, unlike what his critics say, is very predictable. He said what he did in the campaign, and now he is taking steps in this direction. He said, by the way, ‘I don’t know if I will succeed with Putin, but I hope it will work out. That is, he puts the question quite openly and honestly. He doesn’t promise what he cannot be sure to achieve. ‘I’ll try…’ He will try to find common language. And this explains the general shock of the whole American elite who got used to candidates lying during the electoral campaigns and then backing off from it all. ….Let’s remember Obama. How much he promised. He tried to fulfill some of it, the medical insurance. “

Vladimir Soloviev

“So we should nominate Trump for the next Nobel Peace Prize?”

Alexei Pushkov

“I think the Nobel Prize Committee is also in shock over Trump. They are liberal and Obama was rather close to them. Trump is on another branch entirely. The second thing I’d note, and this is in the American release, that the conversation between Trump and Putin took place in a warm atmosphere. It was a ‘warm conversation.’ By contrast the conversation with Merkel was ‘business-like’ and rather dry. And the conversation with Hollande was tense. These are the terms they used. Hollande is the outgoing president; he has practically no importance and can say what he likes. Trump called him out of respect for France and the French people, not respect for Hollande who has ratings of 10% if not less. The value of the conversation between Trump and Hollande was, for us, that Hollande, unlike Merkel, who is trying to stay in power and is very cautious and careful in my view, Hollande presented Trump with the whole list of liberal claims against him. You can see in his list the pressure points liberal Europe will try to use against Trump: that you cannot remove the sanctions until the full implementation of Minsk Agreements, that half-dead formula; then on Syria…..Hollande presented this fully aware of what he was doing. …. Trump has to find common language with Europe, with NATO allies. You have to remember that around Trump there are people who are accept the concerns of Europe. So not everything is decided. “

Sergey Mikheyev – political scientist

“This is not Reagan and Gorbachev…Gorbachev was trying so hard to please the West he forgot about the Soviet Union and everything else. ..If only they would like him in the West, he could change the whole world. Putin cannot do the same because over these years we learned a lot. If Trump tries to behave with Putin the way Reagan did with Gorbachev then that is an absolute dead end and will lead to conflict. If we try to behave like Gorbachev and please the President, then that is also a dead end. The challenge before them and us is to find a wholly new formula. ….We need to find a qualitatively new form of dealing with one another. In my view that will not be very easy. “

Oleg Morozov

“You posed the question – what has changed with the coming of Trump. I understand perfectly that the times of Gorbachev are long gone and thank God they will not return. ….What did we have before? There was always an agenda from one side and an anti-agenda from the other side. Each side set out an agenda that was not necessarily at all topical or important for the other side.   What did they set out 4 years ago: how to build democracy in Russia in dialogue with the USA , or human rights defenders, or whether it is good or bad that rockets appear right on the border with Russia because there is some sort of threat from Iran, so let’s put rockets in the Baltic States, in Romania, in Poland. What is now radically new is that the agenda proposed in this dialogue, which was clearly discussed in advance, this is an agenda that is absolutely interesting in equal measure to both sides. My second observation: all of the issues discussed are really of prime importance. They only had 45 minutes and Putin and Trump managed to cover it all. …Thirdly, I want to continue the idea of Alexei Pushkov. Here in this studio, but more especially outside this studio, there was a very strange reading of Trump – that he is a populist, that he doesn’t understand what foreign policy is all about, he doesn’t understand where Russia is located and what to do about Russia, that he will look to his more experienced partners who understand the world much better than he and so what will happen is he will succumb. But look at what is happening: instead he is constantly seeking to strengthen his own positions. Intuitively he entirely correctly guides the policy line he set out in his electoral campaign. He does not weaken his position but instead strengthens it. So when Trump says ‘let’s try to find a dialogue with Russia,’ in my view this Is not just tactics, it is really a long-term strategy of Trump today. And this gives us a good chance for this format…”

Vladimir Soloviev

“We have no illusions. We don’t expect anything good from Trump. Our task is to formulate our own agenda…..Soviet and Russian diplomacy had a tendency to get disappointed. When they say we have to reexamine our commercial and economic relations, remember that they will never be what they were before. We don’t need it. We were used to setting the table for guests. The vodka and snacks were gone and we were left asking, where is their technology, where is…? That won’t happen again. We seek equal relations. “

Alexei Pushkov

“We have just heard the phrase that ‘Europe has been sleeping.’ The discussion today is between Trump and Putin. ….Merkel and Hollande are stuck in the old formulas…..They have an old agenda. They don’t have anything in particular to offer…..Europe is off the highway and sidelined. This is another point that comes out of the [Trump-Putin] conversation.”

Yakov Kedmi [Israel, ex-Soviet, ex-Israeli intelligence]

“The conversation showed Trump’s rejection of bloc mentality. – EU and NATO are blocs. The USA prefers to deal with nations one to one. There is sense in this. When the US is so confident in its might, it is easier to deal with one than with many. They expect to achieve better results, and most likely it is correct….Two other observations. The conversation with President Putin was in a constructive tone, to agree and resolve conflicts. This is not due to Russia having changed its policy. Russia has not moved a millimeter from the position it held. The US administration was obliged to change its position. That is the US was obliged to change its positions and Russia stayed in the positions it held. The same happened with Turkey, which has radically changed its position.”

Sergey Stankevich

“It is good that the Presidents of the United States and Russia had a conversation. As a citizen of Russia, I don’t like to think half the world is holding its breath over how they prepare for this conversation and then hangs on every word, that we expect the course of the world to change or of Russia to change as a result of the two presidents conversing. I’d like a predictable international order. And I hope after this conversation it will begin. An order that is safe, comfortable and pleasant to live in. I’d like to see in this diplomacy the start of it which responsible statesmen….”

Vladimir Soloviev

“And I think of battalions marching when I hear the term ‘new world order.’ This is a dangerous combination of words.”

Sergey Stankevich

“We had a new world order at Yalta, Potsdam, then the creation of the UN, then in Helsinki where a new order was set down that included many elements including humanitarian issues and defense of human rights that were necessary for the world. I’d like to see this now, in the sense of building on predictability…”

Oleg Morozov

“Before this telephone conversation the world order existed in a state that did not suit anyone. Even the Americans were not satisfied with it. Not one of the tasks called out could be resolved. Dialogue between Russia and the USA is precisely the foundation on which you can build the new world order.”

Andrei Sidorov

“I’d like to start with agreeing terms. World order is precisely the agreements between victorious powers after a global war. That is what was done at Yalta, Teheran, Potsdam. Helsinki was not on that level. When the Yalta arrangements collapsed the West, and the USA in particular took this to mean its victory. And it was not accidental that we had all those discussions about the unipolar world. And it was the dissatisfaction of Russia and others with this unipolar world led to the fact that now Trump will set up a new world order by reaching agreement with those powers who did not accept globalization from the 1990s which was supposed to set up a new world order. ….Russia can now be a participant in the creation of the new world order. Putting aside the list of issues, the main item on the conversation was when do we meet and in what format…..ISIS is the number one evil of our times. And if it is possible to joining forces to combat ISIS why not do so. That would be the implementation of precisely what Trump spoke about all during his electoral campaign.”

Yakov Kedmi

“What we are talking about is not a new world order but a new set of rules of conduct. It is not just a stop to military interventions but also to interference in other countries in general. That is what Trump was talking about. ….Order is too rigid…. That is what Trump was saying, what Putin was saying. Let’s set up proper relations: everyone will live at home as he wishes. No one will give instructions to others. Not in the name of democracy, not in the name of God…All the wars and cruelty took place in the name of ideals. Therefore let’s not speak about a new world order but about a new, civilized way of communicating and dealing with one another.”

Vyacheslav Nikonov

“In fact that world order which is now being reconstructed, it was born not in Yalta or Potsdam but in the end of the Cold War. This was a unipolar world order in which strictly speaking the ‘world government’ was the United States itself , which was more powerful than the Roman Empire in its day, or the United States and its allies acting through the NATO bloc and the international financial institutions. This was the global, liberal world order in which Russia had its place as a conquered power on which others wiped their feet or in the best of circumstances was ignored. Precisely this world order is passing into history. Firstly because the United States was unable to maintain world domination nor did it have the desire to do so as we now see. As Trump said in his Inauguration speech, you have to allow that other states have their own interests. That had a revolutionary sound to it coming from an American President, since they never recognized national interests other than their own and their allies. Nobody now wants to dissolve the NATO bloc, but I’d call attention to the following. During all the years of NATO’s existence, the press of the member states has not been allowed to ask any serious questions about the American leadership, except for the period of the war in Iraq. Now 90% of what you read in the newspapers about the USA is so very negative like we never saw before. A real trans-Atlantic split that never existed before. So, what is coming? We see application of the term “new normalcy,” which is very debatable. The “new normalcy” of a world with Trump, Putin, Brexit. What does that mean? There are various opinions, but it is clear it will be a multi-polar construction in which the poles are the great powers: ….China, India, Russia, United States. Maybe it will be 4-sided. Brzezinski recently spoke about the need for a triangular system: the USA, Russia and China. We also have a place in the Eurasian project, in the Chinese Silk Road, which might include the European Union. Ahead will be very serious re-formatting over the coming years, not months….But one thing is clear, in the new world order one of the decisive places will be held by our country.”

Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.


43 comments for “Trump Quiets Some Russian Doubts

  1. delia ruhe
    February 2, 2017 at 18:24

    That is a very interesting conversation — hardly a whiff of that Slavic sensibility (e.g., “Life is short, then you die”). Hardly a whisper of the usual deep suspicion (warranted) of the West. See, Washington, what you can generate when you meet your counterparts on an equal footing, instead of treating them like vassals — or worse.

    Hang on to this moment; it’s bound not to last.

  2. FobosDeimos
    January 31, 2017 at 21:38

    It is so frustrating to see that it took a lunatic, white supremacist thief to defeat the warmonger liberal interventionists in the November election! I really tried to give Trump a chance because the Russia bashing campaign had turned into a collective hysteria in Europe and the USA, but honestly it is impossible to hide the fact that this guy is a disgrace. All of his nominations for cabinet positions are awful, he is giving a lot of power to a brown shirt as Bannon, militarizing (even more) all the national security apparatus and spreading hatred and racism as his Gospel. I am sorry but either for the right reasons or for the wrong reasons, as Shaun keeps repeating, you will have a President Pence very soon.

    • Gilbert Doctorow
      February 1, 2017 at 03:23

      What exactly do you mean by your last sentence?

      Do you mean that President Trump should be assassinated? Then say it directly and face charges in court for incitement and sedition.
      Do you mean that President Trump should be impeached? Then say that and explain where you were when Congressman Denis Kucinich was calling for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney on a long list of well documented “high crimes and misdemeanors” as meant by the framers of our Constitution. Where were you during the Obama drone wars and the false flag operations against Russia over Donbas, over MH17, over Syrian government chemical attacks hosted by the CIA? If you were not out on the streets then, well, you forfeited your right to holy outrage now over presidential nominations and Executive Orders of a man less than two weeks in office.
      What you are really saying is that you disagree with the policies of the man whom 60 million Americans put into the White House. Period. That is not a persuasive argument for ending American democracy in a color revolution.

      • FobosDeimos
        February 1, 2017 at 20:29

        Wow! I am not advocating for anything, let alone murder! You are hyperventilating, I think. I am describing a reality. All I am saying is that the guy is a sociopath. I was glad when Killary was defeated. I harbored the hope that Trump would cut the anti-Russian hysteria, but I did not know that in the process he would launch his country and the world into crazy, racist, xenophonic policies, which are set on motion in a whimsical fashion, more like a modern day Caligula than like the president of a repuclic. And….based on all that I think that his many enemies in Congress will move for impeachment sooner or later. And when they do I will not shed a tear about it, because I am not a single issue guy. I am not prepared to excuse all of Mr. Trump’s nasty amd dangerous actions ONLY because he says (it remains to be seen) that he wants to get along with Putin.

  3. Herman
    January 31, 2017 at 20:24

    With the extent of Trump bashing before and after the Inauguration, you have to wonder whether somebody put something in our water supplies. My goodness, he’s been President for what –two weeks! Regime change is alive and well in America. To be decided is the color of the revolution.

    • John
      February 1, 2017 at 00:17

      Purple is the color that has been decided.
      Just look at Lady MacBeth’s concession outfit and her Serial Rapist husband’s matching tie.

  4. D5-5
    January 31, 2017 at 13:05

    This kind of information is what we need to see a Russian view not unlike an American longing for civilized advance toward global communication and support, versus globalization for the plutocrats. Mr. Doctorow indicates these voices are representative of Russian thinking and the exposure here is surely counterpart to progressive thinking everywhere, including on this site, as we fight on against the dying old world order. To me, that the two leaders could converse for forty five minutes without tension on a wide variety of issues, as pointed out by these commentators, is encouraging that Trump may be serious toward international change. There is a huge difference between Trump and Putin here and George W., as pointed out in the translation, who took a long time to meet with Putin, then spoke in a sinister way about what he saw in Putin’s eyes, stoking the demonizing we now see (according to Mr. Summers above) that could lead to 70% of Americans believing the rubbish that Putin fooled with the election. A vast difference in this tone is here indicated via the discussion between Putin-Trump. But as usual the automatic expectation Trump is false here will stir our paranoia and further hysteria on his inadequacies and duplicity. I give the development reported on here a plus, despite all our worst expectations of Trump, based on the obvious reality that these commentators are no fools, and their hopefulness is thus very encouraging. Thank you, Mr. Doctorow, for all the work involved in producing this report.

  5. January 31, 2017 at 11:57

    Mr. Doctorow

    I’m highly skeptical that Trump and Putin will build a strong and successful partnership. Trump and Putin have very large egos so there will be a lot of ebb and flow to negotiations depending on the issue. Trump prides himself in his tough negotiating style as he demonstrated with the Mexican President. Neither one will want to be perceived as backing down. While they certainly could find common ground on Syria because Trump inherited a lost cause for the rebels, Trump still wants to push ahead with a “safe zone” which will require a heavy US military presence. He has already discussed this idea with the Saudis. This also doesn’t begin to address the US-Turkey-YPG problem. In other words, the US is not just going away in Syria.

    Ukraine is going to be much trickier since Russia illegally annexed Crimea and is militarily supporting secessionist in Eastern Ukraine destabilizing the Ukraine government. A whole host of issues surround the Ukraine conflict including NATO, the EU and the US intrusion into Russia’s “sphere of influence”, the military build-up in NATO countries and nuclear weapons reductions. A lot of this will depend on Trump accepting the idea of a tri-polar world which possibly translates to throwing ethnic Ukrainians under the bus (for peace). That literally could take years to sort out. Trump might not have two terms.

    “……..In later broadcasts, after Trump’s election, Soloviev was one of those who remained guarded, arguing that this businessman would hardly succeed in implementing his promises over the opposition of America’s Deep State……….”

    The so called “deep state” has some political capital to pressure Trump. US intelligence agencies determined with high confidence (except the NSA which was moderate) that Russia hacked the DNC and turned over the emails to WikiLeaks to elect Trump. In a Pew poll, over 70% of Americans believe that Russia definitely or probably was behind the hack (Politico, 1-10-2017; “Majority of Americans believe Russia was behind DNC hack” Congress has a lot of backing by the American people on this issue so Trump will be pressured (tremendously). In other words, the DNC hack will remain an issue.

    In addition, Trump surrounded himself with generals presumably because he is weak on foreign policy. Trump will have plenty of help with the negotiations on Syria and Ukraine as well as other areas of interest. Of course, the generals have extensive experience with Russian foreign policy, interests and concerns. They might be able to explain to Trump the difficulty (and commitment) in creating safe zones in Syria which are really just meant to prevent refugees from immigrating to the US. Resignations within the Trump cabinet could become a good indicator what direction the negotiations are going. Turnover will likely be very high.

    • Ted Tripp
      January 31, 2017 at 12:41

      First, there are no ‘ethnic’ Ukrainians, just cultural. Ukraine was the original home of the Russian people. Second, the real illegality in Ukraine was not Russian annexation but the coup in Kiev that brought the current government in power. The whole affair was not thought out, as if NATO could acquire the Russian naval base in Sevastopol without resistance.
      The rest of this post is pretty good!

    • D5-5
      January 31, 2017 at 13:16

      The DNC hack/leak certainly does need more investigation, since very little has been offered in this direction due to the huge cloud of smoke blown by Clinton to distract from what was revealed. Instead of the revelation Assange intended it to be, and from well back in the spring with his hints on what was coming, the significance of a DNC politically fouling away from what millions of people preferred as their candidate was almost immediately blown off and ignored, and further leaks on the pay-for-play at The Clinton Foundation also ignored. What are the specifics in both these cases? That I’d like to see. Plus why Sanders so quickly backed away instead of fighting back against what happened–which he had suggested he would do. Then on to the further denser cloud of smoke after Trump’s surprise win–how was that orchestrated, so as to pull in the falseness of US intelligence departments, so thoroughly revealed now in analysis after analysis, including here on this site?

  6. bozhidar balkas
    January 31, 2017 at 10:50

    After defeating Isil [and/or Nusra] and forcing any remnants of it to flee Syria, the Syro-Russo-Iranian bloc should no invade Iraq to fight sunnis there.
    The sunni-shia wars, fears of and hatreds for one another, result largely [or even only] from Quran, emirs, kings, princes, imams, ulema; their conflict, thus, is not solvable as long as Quran in its present form, its clergym and arab ‘nobility’ exist.

    Let them then fight, hate, fear forever one another or seek peace, agreement…
    But this analyses is also valid for US; its lusts for wars, abuses, hatreds stem largely from the Bible, its clergy, most believers and US ‘nobility’.
    So, US serious problems are not solvable and i expect they’d even worsen.

    • Ted Tripp
      January 31, 2017 at 12:34

      The Quran preceded the Sunni-Shia split by a number of years. The Messenger received and proclaimed the Quran, accepted many followers, and established Islam. After he died, battle over succession created the schism, but political and economic interests propelled the struggle that we see today. So, there is no genuine religious reason for the Sunni-Shia split, unlike the Protestant-Catholic split of Martin Luther.

  7. Dan Kuhn
    January 31, 2017 at 09:49

    Putin has to be very wary of Americans bearing gifts. He does not have to venture very far back in history to see what Americans do to their friends turned enemies over night.

    The Americans want war with China. they want to destroy China before it gets any bigger, more powerful militarily and economically. The only safe way for them to do that is to peel Russia away from China so that they can take on one at a time. Putin should realize that after they are finished with China that Russia,s neck will be next on the chopping block. The Russians need to adopt a resolution in the Duma that states no truck nor trade with the USA. Kick out all American NGOs and close down all American owned businesses.

    There is a possibility that Putin is sucking up to the Americans to buy him more time to prepare for the coming war. But he cannot turn his back on China after China had Russia´s back over these last three critical years. He would be a fool to do so.

  8. January 31, 2017 at 09:08

    worst President ever, domestically

  9. Michael Morrissey
    January 31, 2017 at 07:59

    I can’t give as detailed a review of “elitist” opinion here in Germany as Doctorow does of Russia, but the MSM narrative (TV news, Stern, my local paper) is identical to that in the US: the Russians “invaded” Ukraine, hacked the DNC and thus helped elect Trump (and they are now worried that the German election in September will be similarly compromised), shot down (via the separatists) MH17, and as long as the Minsk accords in Ukraine are not implemented, the economic sanctions and the NATO maneuvers in Poland et al. are justified and needed. One simply does not hear reasonable discussion of these issues. In fact, it’s worse here, because the German MSM mostly just translate or regurgitate what the US MSM say, so you have to cut through two layers of media propaganda in two languages to get to the ultimate source of the lies and misrepresentations. To put it differently, in the US you are up against Big Brother, but here in Germany we are up against Little Brother as well!

  10. Peter Loeb
    January 31, 2017 at 07:42


    Assumptions in many remarks discussed above are helpful but mysteriously
    off the mark.

    Presumed is that the US is willing to accept an “equal” place to Russia
    and others. (ie not the place of the victor). I seriously doubt that is the case.

    (Imagined but not confirmed: Trump perceives this deal as a businessman,
    perhaps a hostile “takeover” by the US?) of a smaller a smaller, weaker
    company. The larger entity cannot tolerate anything but complete
    “victory” and mastery whatever the PR and spin says.)

    NB: In one case after another the Trump Administration has demonstrated
    an ability to destroy minor partners/allies. Excepted are those where the US
    and the Trump Administration intend to do business. A good example is
    enlarging the military. But the military needs consumers. And the military
    is a gigantic employer.(See William Grieder: FORTRESS AMERICA).

    Note: There is no implication that Democratic administrations have been
    essentially different as demonstgrated by mass weapons deals to
    Israel and Saudi Arabia, military aid to so-called “moderates” (= terrorists)
    in Syria and so on.

    Both the US and Russia are giving each other opening lines each supremely
    confident that when all is said and done each will demolish the other.
    Personally, I doubt either is naive.

    Other policies –outside the telephone conversation discussed above—
    are making the US a weaker potential partner in any worldwide “agreement”.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  11. backwardsevolution
    January 31, 2017 at 06:14

    Gilbert Doctorow – great article! Thank you.

  12. eric
    January 31, 2017 at 05:50

    I see Trump now using the same language as the political correct use in describing the enemy of political Muslims or radical Islam . Trump says we have to defeat ISIS . But fails to mention the hundreds of other Muslim terrorists groups that have a identical agenda . Partnering with Russia and destroying ISIS in Syria would be possible .ISIS could be destroyed but radical Islam would still be alive and well in the Muslim Brother hood , Boko Harm , KLA , AL NUSra , AlQaida and hundreds other groups . They still will be willing and able to be traveling to Mecca , go on Jihad and do what political radical Muslims do . I don’t see Muslims trying to accommadat us and living with us in peace if we keep granting them special priviledges . Liston to the news as Trump put a 90 day day ban on citizens leaving 7 terrorist unsafe countries coming to the USA .This has been discussed and criticized by all the fake news 24 hours a day for over a week . How un-American the discrimination is 5 U.S. states even initiated court action . Just to prove to every one we do have fake news Obama also put a no refugee 180 day ban on citizens leaving Iraq in 2011 . I sure don’t remember hearing about it coming out of our fake news 24 hours a day for weeks on end how un-American this ban was . The only real difference was most of the refugees were not leaving a war zone the war was over and the New government Bush installed in Iraq was really persecuting their Christian citizens by murdering them in the streets . By the time the ban was lifted . most of the Christians had been eliminated from Iraq . You don’t think this was important enough to be on the fake news agenda .. Really never heard about Obama’s 180 day ban did you .Of course not with fake news .

    • shaun
      January 31, 2017 at 09:55

      President Mike Pence.

    • Irene
      January 31, 2017 at 10:15

      Not a fan of Obama. We should have been out protesting all his interventions that led to the massive refugee crisis. That said, Obama’s 180 day suspension of refugees from Iraq did not result in people with airline tickets, visas and even green cards being turned away, detained and deported to the wrong country. President Pence indeed.

  13. Brad Owen
    January 31, 2017 at 05:47

    Yes, the NWO has been stiff-armed, thrown back on its’ heels. The people are sick to death of it all, of being reduced to peasantry in our own country and forced into,soldiering for a new Roman Empire. It looks like Trump is hurling that agenda out the White House window, calling Putin for a do-over. That TransAtlantic community, with all our European partners and THEIR centuries of imperial geopolitical games, is drawing to a close. What’s coming next? The new Trans-Pacific Community. People forget we have a West Coast too, and our East Coast will become the far-end rump of our Nation, while the West Coast, ESPECIALLY Alaska, takes Leadership of our Country, in a ” Tetrarchy” of China, India, Russia, USA, managing global relations on a more civilized basis. War is over; development and Great Projects will replace the activity of war-fighting.

    • msavage
      January 31, 2017 at 12:58

      That would be lovely, Brad Owen. But you’ve got an awful lot of sociopathic oligarchs who are going to do everything in their power to see that that doesn’t happen. What about them?

      • Brad Owen
        January 31, 2017 at 13:21

        They grow a little weaker with each succeeding generation. They’ve actually been on a long downhill slide since the English Civil War (1640’s) until now. Sure, they keep trying to make comebacks, and succeed for a little while, but then slide a little further downhill, after an initial temporary success. This time they’re going under for the final count, IMO, as they’ve grown increasingly insane, rendering themselves incompetent and unable to govern or even hold onto power. Their grip, on the World, on the Money Power, and on their own minds, is slipping. Amazingly, the peasantry seems to be winning The War while having lost most of the battles. Coyote Trickster works in mysterious ways.

  14. Monte George Jr.
    January 31, 2017 at 01:06

    Why do we keep hearing about rescinding of sanctions as an incentive for Putin to compromise on this, that or the other? What part of ‘Sanctions are a benefit to Russia’ do people not understand? Sanctions are giving Putin the political cover to rebuild and develop Russia’s domestic industry and economy, something which Russia desperately needs to pursue. ‘Nyet’ is the correct answer to America’s condescending offers.

    • Lisa
      January 31, 2017 at 03:53

      Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been hearing from some Russians. “A statue should be raised for Obama in the center of Moscow, for introducing the sanctions.” Earlier, Russia had been importing all sorts of western consumer goods and food products, including American chicken and French cheeses, instead of supporting their own industries. Now the situation has changed. Probably many western businessmen are longing for the end of sanctions, in order to spread their goods all over the vast Russian territories again. However, soon their will be no demand for them as the Russian-made products have replaced the import.

    • Ted Tripp
      January 31, 2017 at 12:26

      Similar sanctions in Cuba have led to inspiring developments in pharmaceuticals and sustainable agriculture.

  15. January 31, 2017 at 00:49

    So a phone call from the Don has put their minds at ease? After all the threats and bashing they get from the US? That’s a fairly naive analysis, to put it kindly.

  16. Wm. Boyce
    January 31, 2017 at 00:40

    I wish them luck with the mad president, they (and us) will need it.

  17. D Olson
    January 31, 2017 at 00:38

    I do so appreciate reading the unadulterated comments of intelligent men. I do believe that we all see the haze of dawn breaking over the horizon and wonder what the light of day will bring.

  18. CitizenOne
    January 31, 2017 at 00:16

    Let’s agree on some points of history.

    Russia led a revolution against capitalism based on gross usurpation of citizen’s rights in a former Oligarchy.

    Russia enacted a Marxist based communist government.

    That led to mass social upheaval and also mass death. Collectivism was eventually put to death as a viable form of government because government alone in any flavor will become corrupt.

    Russia was an ally of necessity in WWII. That alliance immediately broke down after WWI resulting in a Cold War wherein to super powers were locked in a geopolitical fight for dominance.

    Both nations have vast military’s and are on opposite sides of a divide which has been ebbing and flowing and changing over decades balanced between war and peace by the MAD or mutually assured destruction brought about by the nuclear age.

    Recent events have seen the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the emergence of Detente which has had the effect of slowly normalizing relations with growing economic partnerships highlighted by cooperative ventures in aerospace and orbital missions.

    Today, Russian technology is used in American rockets and Russian rockets routinely and successfully ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

    Today, Russia is still penalized and is locked out of major western economic unions based on old cold war strategies and there are entrenched military defense organizations which continue to view Russia as a major threat to western security.

    Today, there is a mixture of old hostilities and their resulting defensive positions which coexist with other cooperative and successful examples of economic cooperation such as aerospace and a shared peaceful space initiative.

    We are at a place where cooperation with the Russians on other economic and political fronts can benefit both nations. The fight against global terrorism is one of those fronts.

    The former democratic regime in Washington clung to old cold war strategies and tried to destabilize Russian interests through CIA backed plans for regime change in former Soviet allied states with disastrous consequences. The cooperation between Russia and the USA has persevered despite these unilateral aggressions by the USA and so far the government of Vladimir Putin has stayed its hand by not retaliating.

    The Trump administration has expressed an interest in furthering cooperative efforts between the two former allies turned enemies and now turning towards economic partnerships.

    Forging productive economic relations between the Unite States and Russia have the potential to benefit both nations as they find common interests and rely on each other to provide goods and services for the mutual benefit of both nations. The cooperation in the area of space missions is a great example of how high technology can be shared by both nations for the good of both nations.

    What is needed now is for both nations to see themselves more as equals in the forefront of technology and to have mutual respect for the capabilities and accomplishments of the other. It is clear that Russian space technology has been more advanced in many ways than the USA and we have seen the successful application of that technology to deliver payload after payload to the ISS without incident both ferrying USA astronauts to the ISS and safely returning them.

    What is needed now is a more in depth exploration of other areas where Russia and the USA can work cooperatively for the benefit of both nations in forging economic partnerships.

    To the extent that Putin and Trump can look past the old cold war mentalities and the hyperbole presented in our media and espoused by our military and intelligence agencies which are hard wired to view all association with the former USSR as a military duel then the future economic partnerships will be enabled.

    The recent action by Trump to block immigration is not likely to stir Russian anti-American sentiment but it will give them pause to question the sanity of the current administration and to question whether it might be dealing with an unpredictable and reckless partner.

    A phone call is not likely to relieve their angst.

    Trump has relieved their angst greatly by allowing them to restore order to the middle east and to fight a common enemy of the West. We need to start viewing this as a positive rather than aggression of an old foe. Putin again stayed his hand and remained silent when the former administration enacted sanctions in an attempt to punish Russia. We need to realize that the former administration was lured into the cold war trap by old guard insiders who only view Russia through the eyes of a former era.

    Putin’s patience has payed off well for him and Russia has emerged as a nation that other nations want to ally with like Turkey who face the disruptions in the middle east in a very direct way. Putin’s actions have been received with a welcome sigh of relief that future actions will not further destabilize that tormented region of the World.

    Trump and his team have indicated through their actions that they also understand that stabilization in that region of the World depends on cooperation between the USA and Russia. Trump probably knows that Russia is far more experienced in fighting Islamic Jihad-ism than is the USA. Trump and team hopefully realize that both nations face a common enemy which has conducted brutal attacks on western interests and also realizes that the USA has been responsible for much of the disruption from Iran to Iraq to Afghanistan and Syria.

    Throughout all of the wars we have waged in the middle east which were based on geopolitical strategies to secure oil interests, Putin has stayed his hand and has only been provoked into action when it became apparent that the former Sunni leadership in Iraq regrouped as ISIS posed a new virulent strain of Islamic Jihad-ism for the rest of the Western World that he felt it necessary to intervene.

    The actions of Russia in all of these USA inspired regime change plots have been those of a concerned yet restrained nation that only acted when its interests were directly threatened by the interventions by the USA such as defending Ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine when a CIA backed coup launched by the former administration in a bold and highly dangerous move to pry Ukraine away from Russia and deliver it to the NATO bloc went horribly wrong and resulted in ethnic purges of Russians from Ukraine and the like.

    With a leader in Russia who has shown restraint and an unwillingness to outright challenge the USA and a new president that seems to want to make peace not war with Russia after so many affronts to Russian self identity and national interests, I am hopeful that the lunatic in the White House can make good on his promises to attempt to further new economic relations with Russia and yield benefits for Russia as well as the USA.

    When I say “lunatic”, I am referring to the recent edict to ban immigration while ignoring the systemic failure of vast domestic spy agencies to apprehend actual terrorists before they carry out their attacks. Such a move indicates a failure to understand the mechanisms which allow attacks on Americans at home and a willingness to place collective blame for extremism on entire nations. Not a good start for the administration. Not something the Russians with their steady hands and patience will see as welcome signs of future stability and peace.

    We here have done due diligence to debunk the domestic intelligence claims of Russian interference in the election but it is up to the current administration not to do “crazy” with its current actions which are clearly crazy.

    The Russians have even attempted to warn us when two known terrorists were allowed into the country and then carried out the attacks in Boston.

    We need to focus on how we allowed ourselves to ignore the Russians and allowed so many terrorist attacks in a willfully ignorant disregard for fair warning.

    In short, Mr. Trump needs to internalize the terror attacks as failures of our own domestic intelligence and counter terrorism agencies which have failed miserably and not further engage in international destabilizing moves like barring entire regions of the World’s population from traveling to the USA. Such actions serve no purpose especially in the light of our own failures to act on obvious clear and present threats.

    The jury is out and is in deliberation as it questions the sanity of the current administration and over whether it can make good on any of its promises or whether it will continue a pattern of the USA to continually blunder its way forward with disastrous consequences.

    The Russians are watching you Mr. Trump with a skeptical eye. They avoided Hillary the Neocon but they fear you not be made of the right stuff either.

    • January 31, 2017 at 10:19

      “That led to mass social upheaval and also mass death. Collectivism was eventually put to death as a viable form of government because government alone in any flavor will become corrupt.”

      I always have to shake my head when I read styatements like that above. What happened in the Soviet Union was that it was left on it´s own to rebuild after being totally flattened by Germany during the Second World War. The West let Germany go at Russia unmolested because they were hoping the Germany could defeat communism. After Russia defeated Germany the West turned it´s attention to Russia once more only this time Russia had both a shattered country and a shattered economy to rebuild. At the same time there were rumblings in Great Britain and the USA about dropping enough atom bombs on Russia to send it back to the stone age. Russia was given no choice it had to spend more money on guns than butter. Their national security was at stake.

      Another point China is a communist country. It´s economy is booming. Corrupt officials are either jailed or put to death. Where do you see that kind of integrity in any of the Western democracies? The rich are above the law in the West. In China no matter how big, no matter how rich all are subject to law. I do not buy this communism is a failed system bullshit. As compared to the capitalism we are experiencing in the West it is a model form of government . Capitalism ruins every country it infests.

      • CitizenOne
        January 31, 2017 at 22:27


        You said:

        “I always have to shake my head when I read styatements like that above. What happened in the Soviet Union was that it was left on it´s own to rebuild after being totally flattened by Germany during the Second World War. The West let Germany go at Russia unmolested because they were hoping the Germany could defeat communism. After Russia defeated Germany the West turned it´s attention to Russia once more only this time Russia had both a shattered country and a shattered economy to rebuild. At the same time there were rumblings in Great Britain and the USA about dropping enough atom bombs on Russia to send it back to the stone age. Russia was given no choice it had to spend more money on guns than butter. Their national security was at stake.”

        1. I agree Russia was left to its own devices and Stalin grabbed up the Eastern Bloc, erected an Iron Curtain, built a wall in Berlin, murdered millions in his own country. All this without any interference from the West. No nuclear bombs fell so speculating about what didn’t happen is pointless. Russia cannibalized itself. It is true that the Marshall Plan left Russia out but that was because Russia withdrew from treaty talks and formed its own plans. Stalin was the one who withdrew from the West not the other way and he did it in a big way with a giant land grab. He was probably provoked to do it early on but Russia withdrew from the Marshall Plan. Motive and opportunity for grabbing up lands show he was the guilty party.

        2. Disagree that the West let Germany go at Russia. There was no way to stop Hitler’s eastern front from attacking Russia as long as Western Europe was being strangled by the advancing Nazi armies to the West. Defending Western Europe was the natural focus of the allied attempts to defeat Hitler. All western efforts were focused on defending Britain and the Battle of Britain denied German air superiority over Britain and eventually won the allies air superiority over the other side of the Channel. Allied air superiority over the landing force enabled Operation Overlord to happen. If the reverse had happened, Germany would have been able to launch an invasion of Britain and then an impenetrable Atlantic Wall would have denied any attempt at attacking Europe from the land except to somehow launch the attack from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean which was impossible with the technology of the day. It was classic air war logic which proposes that the fighting force which establishes dominance in the sky controls the fate of ground forces. It was true in WWI which at first was a denial of reconnaissance missions to spot troop movements in advance and then quickly turned into a bombing campaign. It was also true in WWII as it is today where air superiority is held as key to the success of ground operations. In fact, today it is seen universally as a requirement and a prerequisite for any ground operation. Clearly the dominant focus, in fact the only focus, was to defend Britain from the air and thus be able to ferry arms, planes, etc. to a coastal area from which it could mount forces for a land invasion of Europe. Everything hinged on defending Britain. The war would have been lost without protecting Britain. It worked. The allied forces eventually defeated the Germans in the Battle of Britain and then established air superiority over Western Continental Europe which led to the successful ground invasion which led to the defeat of Germany. It is a historical fact.

        3. Planes could do little at first even to defend Western Europe let alone have the needed range to fly past Germany to defend the Eastern front. It was impossible at first to even provide cover for attacks on Germany let alone continue on to deal any blow to the Germans east of Germany. Basically, the support of Russia was an impossibility. It was not by choice but was due to the technological limitations of the day. Having said that, even if it were technologically possible to somehow aid Russia, there were more pressing matters. Preserving Britain so as to allow an allied beach on the coast of Western Europe would have inevitably been the plan to win the war. Overreaching is a classic move of defeat. In fact, that is what did the Germans in. Nazi hubris and a belief their armies could storm the entire World which was their goal set them up for defeat as supply lines were stretched and vulnerabilities for resupply were attacked successfully by their enemies on both sides. Stalin cleverly or out of egotism poured all efforts into Hitler’s pointless attack on Stalingrad which mired the Germans and denied them resupply which eventually led Paulus to defeat and the beginning of the End on the Eastern Front for Germany.

        4. Your claim that the allies deliberately left the Russians to fend for themselves and secretly wished for the Germans to defeat Russia in order to defeat communism is quite frankly absurd. The Russians were a key ally and without them, Germany might have won. You could make an equally false claim that Russia didn’t help the allies and secretly wished for Germany to defeat them. Each scenario is obviously false. You fight and attack the enemy you face. Each allied force did exactly that. The war was won.

        5. Russia and the USA officially joined the allied forces each in 1941 with the Russians being the first to officially join. America provided arms and support all along however. Even before the Germans attacked Russia. So how is it we were secretly trying to defeat communism way before communism was under attack by Germany by funding and supporting the war against Germany? Think about it.

        • zman
          February 5, 2017 at 12:56

          No.1 To talk about nuking a country does not engender trust. Stalin also saw that the Marshall Plan would have given the US a certain amount of influence of purely Russia affairs. This is not to aggrandize Stalin, as he was reprehensible. But in retrospect, looking at our shenanigans in the western sphere and Operation Gladio in Europe in particular, gives one pause. Remember, these attacks on the public were against our allies post WW2.
          No.2 Your assessment of the outcome of WW2 is incorrect. Proof of this is the fact that Patton (in his own words) needed to race the Russians to Berlin. Russia would have defeated Germany on their own in another 6 months.
          No.3 In fact we did aid Russia. We sent them ships and planes…as we did Britain. The difference is that though what we sent Britain was old, what we sent Russia was obsolete, with some equipment being useless .
          No.4 Please explain the monetary help Germany received from American banks, Ford, British banks, International banks. If they were in fact not working for the benefit of Germany, what pray tell were they doing? Working against their own countries? Look into Prescott Bush. Why wasn’t he prosecuted after the war? These entities provided assistance before and during the war.
          Your points and arguments are by no means conclusive.

    • Ted Tripp
      January 31, 2017 at 12:24

      Just a slight adjustment of facts and notions:
      First, the Soviet economy faltered because it just substituted state capitalism for private capitalism, state collective agriculture for aristocratic latifundias. Soviet leadership never dared to experiment with socialist cooperatives and other forms of production.
      Two, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Yeltsin kleptocracy, the US turned Russia into a colony, disastrous for the Russian people. When Putin pushed back and restored some balance to Russian society and economy, as well as earning the devotion of the Russian people, he earned the undying enmity of US elites.

      • msavage
        January 31, 2017 at 12:55

        “Two, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Yeltsin kleptocracy, the US turned Russia into a colony, disastrous for the Russian people. When Putin pushed back and restored some balance to Russian society and economy, as well as earning the devotion of the Russian people, he earned the undying enmity of US elites.”


  19. David Hamilton
    January 31, 2017 at 00:09

    Trump is doing well, overall, and Putin, Brexit.

    • January 31, 2017 at 09:06

      worst president ever, domestically.

  20. Guy Nonplussed
    January 31, 2017 at 00:02

    The dialogue from “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev” is quite fascinating. Better than “Meet the Press”. Thank you.

  21. Carl Rising-Moore
    January 30, 2017 at 23:07

    If the world can evolve into a multi-polar concept to replace the sole super power than so be it… Time will tell all.

    • January 31, 2017 at 09:13

      He won’t be President much longer, so Mike Pence will tell. Whole basis of this assumes a Trump presidency, which is, asmy neighbors and my Boss at work say, is almost over.

      • Ted Tripp
        January 31, 2017 at 12:11

        Shaun, please say more!

  22. D5-5
    January 30, 2017 at 20:40

    “Pre-election rhetoric which would Trump would betray [did betray?] the day after taking office.” Very interesting piece. Previous statement is not clear to me.

  23. January 30, 2017 at 17:23

    I believe the taxpayer funded NATO monster is a Huge Problem to a peaceful world. See link below:

Comments are closed.