Risks in Demonizing Diplomacy with Russia

The crazy assailing of the Trump team’s contacts with Russian diplomats is demonizing the idea of cooperation and deepening risks of a dangerous arms race, says Jack Matlock, the last U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

By Jack Matlock

Our press seems to be in a feeding frenzy regarding contacts that President Trump’s supporters had with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and with other Russian diplomats. The assumption seems to be that there was something sinister about these contacts, just because they were with Russian diplomats.

Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2016 (UN Photo)

As one who spent a 35-year diplomatic career working to open up the Soviet Union and to make communication between our diplomats and ordinary citizens a normal practice, I find the attitude of much of our political establishment and of some of our once respected media outlets quite incomprehensible. What in the world is wrong with consulting a foreign embassy about ways to improve relations? Anyone who aspires to advise an American president should do just that.

Yesterday I received four rather curious questions from Mariana Rambaldi of Univision Digital. I reproduce below the questions and the answers I have given.

Question 1: Seeing the case of Michael Flynn, that has to resign after it emerged that he spoke with the Russian ambassador about sanctions against Russia before Trump took office, and now Jeff Sessions is in a similar situation. Why is so toxic to talk with Sergey Kislyak?

Answer: Ambassador Kislyak is a distinguished and very able diplomat. Anyone interested in improving relations with Russia and avoiding another nuclear arms race — which is a vital interest of the United States — should discuss current issues with him and members of his staff. To consider him “toxic” is ridiculous. I understand that Michael Flynn resigned because he failed to inform the vice president of the full content of his conversation. I have no idea why that happened, but see nothing wrong with his contact with Ambassador Kislyak so long as it was authorized by the president-elect. Certainly, Ambassador Kislyak did nothing wrong.

Question 2: According to your experience, are Russians ambassadors under the sight of the Russian intelligence or they work together?

Answer: This is a strange question. Intelligence operations are normal at most embassies in the world. In the case of the United States, ambassadors must be informed of intelligence operations within the countries to which they are accredited and can veto operations that they consider unwise or too risky, or contrary to policy.

In the Soviet Union, during the Cold War, Soviet ambassadors did not have direct control over intelligence operations. Those operations were controlled directly from Moscow. I do not know what Russian Federation procedures are today. Nevertheless, whether controlled by the ambassador or not, all members of an embassy or consulate work for their host government. During the Cold War, at least, we sometimes used Soviet intelligence officers to get messages direct to the Soviet leadership. For example, during the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy used a “channel” through the KGB resident in Washington to work out the understanding under which Soviet nuclear missiles were withdrawn from Cuba.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock.

Question 3. How common (and ethic[al]) is that a person related with a presidential campaign in the US has contact with the Russian embassy?

Answer: Why are you singling out the Russian embassy? If you want to understand the policy of another country, you need to consult that country’s representatives. It is quite common for foreign diplomats to cultivate candidates and their staffs. That is part of their job.

If Americans plan to advise the president on policy issues, they would be wise to maintain contact with the foreign embassy in question to understand that country’s attitude toward the issues involved. Certainly, both Democrats and Republicans would contact Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin during the Cold War and discuss the issues with him.

As the person in charge of our embassy in Moscow during several political campaigns, I would often set up meetings of candidates and their staffs with Soviet officials. Such contacts are certainly ethical so long as they do not involve disclosure of classified information or attempts to negotiate specific issues. In fact, I would say that any person who presumes to advise an incoming president on vital policy issues needs to understand the approach of the country in question and therefore is remiss if he or she does not consult with the embassy in question.

Question 4: In a few words, What’s your point of view about Sessions-Kislyak case? Is possible that Sessions finally resigns?

Answer: I don’t know whether Attorney General Sessions will resign or not. It would seem that his recusal from any investigation on the subject would be adequate. He would not have been my candidate for attorney general and if I had been in the Senate I most likely would not have voted in favor of his confirmation. Nevertheless, I have no problem with the fact that he occasionally exchanged words with Ambassador Kislyak.

In fact, I believe it is wrong to assume that such conversations are somehow suspect. When I was ambassador to the USSR and Gorbachev finally allowed competitive elections, we in the U.S. embassy talked to everyone. I made a special point to keep personal relations with Boris Yeltsin when he in effect led the opposition. That was not to help get him elected (we favored Gorbachev), but to understand his tactics and policies and to make sure he understood ours.

The whole brou-ha-ha over contacts with Russian diplomats has taken on all the earmarks of a witch hunt. President Trump is right to make that charge. If there was any violation of U.S. law by any of his supporters — for example disclosure of classified information to unauthorized persons — then the Department of Justice should seek an indictment and if they obtain one, prosecute the case. Until then, there should be no public accusations.

Also, I have been taught that in a democracy with the rule of law, the accused are entitled to a presumption of innocence until convicted. But we have leaks that imply that any conversation with a Russian embassy official is suspect. That is the attitude of a police state, and leaking such allegations violates every normal rule regarding FBI investigations. President Trump is right to be upset, though it is not helpful for him to lash out at the media in general.

Finding a way to improve relations with Russia is in the vital interest of the United States. Nuclear weapons constitute an existential threat to our nation, and indeed to humanity. We are on the brink of another nuclear arms race, which would be not only dangerous in itself, but would make cooperation with Russia on many other important issues virtually impossible. Those who are trying to find a way to improve relations with Russia should be praised, not scapegoated.

Jack Matlock served as U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991. [This commentary originally appeared at http://jackmatlock.com/2017/03/contacts-with-russian-embassy/]

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41 comments for “Risks in Demonizing Diplomacy with Russia

  1. mike k
    March 6, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    What does this effort to impeach Trump on false premises remind me of? The “soft” coup against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil conducted by her defeated political opponents. Check out what Chomsky said about that phoney impeachment:
    http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Noam-Chomsky-Dilma-Rousseff-Impeached-by-Gang-of-Thieves-20160517-0027.html

    • roy stanley johnson
      March 9, 2017 at 12:34 am

      well this a turn of events then maybe trump shouldnt be doing slimey deals with russia in the first place

    • Eileen Kuch
      March 9, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      You’re 100% right, Mike. This effort to impeach Donald Trump on false premises reminds me of the “soft” coup against Delma Rousseff in Brazil, conducted by her defeated political opponents. Now, it’s Trump’s turn. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the other losers of the 2016 election are attempting to do what the losers of the Brazil election had succeeded in doing. This is sedition, according to US law (it may be the same in Brazil).
      The leaders of this impeachment aka coup attempt against the legitimately elected POTUS must be arrested, charged and prosecuted for the crime of sedition, and if convicted, sentenced to the maximum penalty according to US law.

  2. Joe Tedesky
    March 6, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Ambassador Matlock raises a great question, what is wrong with an incoming administration official talking to a Russian ambassador? I will take this to another level, and tell you what I think Trump’s response to these allegations should have been. Trump should rally the American people’s acceptance for his Adminstrations apparent reach out to Russia, as his way to prevent WWIII. Instead of going on the defense, Trump could have continued to retain Flynn, and went on the offense under the guise of national security.

    When you are through laughing tell me what I’m missing. Seriously, tell me why this wouldn’t have worked, and maybe still could.

    I’m sitting here flipping through the cable news networks when suddenly it came to me, how this is all scripted and everyone is in on it. Okay tinfoiled hat time, but think of it Trump Obama the media CIA all in on it with a script which will boost the tv ratings of the cable news pressitutes and provide cover for hiding other events and policies which are going on uninterrupted with hardly nothing to none news coverage. Alright time to come back down to earth.

    What we are witnessing is a fight between some very rich entities. For all practical purposes this isn’t even a we the people’s fight, but we the people will most certainly carry the burden for this fights outcome no matter which side wins.

    N Korea could be just enough of a tail to wag to get things kicked up to the next level. A false flag, or possibly a real incident which could be blamed on terrorist, could also be enough for Trump to take a wartime leadership role and save his presidency…on a different cloud the Deep State operatives are planning to take Trump down totally by accusing him of dereliction of duty if something does go wrong….so consider the made for tv script theory, and enjoy your day tomorrow.

    • Skip Scott
      March 7, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Joe, I’ve thought the same myself. And here is what I think we’re missing. If Trump genuinely seeks detente with Russia to prevent WWIII, he will be removed. I believe he’s had his trip to the woodshed, and has been told as much.
      I think that’s why he instructed Nikki Haley to say Russia needs to give back Crimea. I think it’s pretty much “game over”. Picking Pence as VP may have been a mistake. The Deep State knows they could rely on him to pursue their agenda unquestioningly, and he’s only a heartbeat away.

        • Skip Scott
          March 7, 2017 at 4:40 pm

          Thanks, Joe. Many interesting points. I wonder if Trump is just the usual sort of lying politician, or if he veered from his campaign rhetoric due to all the pressure from the “Deep State”, aka his “trip to the woodshed.” His cabinet picks are a nightmare. I suppose another possibility is that he is so ignorant that he didn’t understand Russia’s strategic relationships with Iran, Ukraine, and Syria; and that the Deep State used his ignorance to guide him to hold contrary positions on the key issues regarding possible detente with Russia. Dark days ahead.

          • Joe Tedesky
            March 7, 2017 at 5:21 pm

            My own impression is that Trump is running in his own lane, and that those around him are doing what they need to do. Kind of like the boss giving you cover while you pursue your own objectives. I’m probably wrong, but this whole affair stinks. I can’t remember another time in America quite like it…can you?

    • Kiza
      March 7, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      One has to admire how the US Deep State, using the MSM, can turn on a dime a completely normal diplomatic activity into something sinister, whilst the same kind of diplomatic activity keeps going on daily with most countries of the World. On top, Israel and Saudi Arabia truly control US politics exactly the way the Russians are accused of, but it is accepted as normal and even beneficial to US (just because it is beneficial to the pockets of the corrupt agents of the people).

      Something close to a mass orgasm of indignation is being generated by the empty talking heads in the wide US MSM: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-06/mika-melts-down-i-have-lost-hope-completelythis-presidency-fake-and-failed. It is a waterfall of fact-free high emotion influence aimed at affecting the “news” consumers on the receiving side.

      Ambassador Matlock is methodically and successfully putting into perspective this Deep State generated media craze.

    • Kiza
      March 7, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      Reposting without a link:
      One has to admire how the US Deep State, using the MSM, can turn on a dime a completely normal diplomatic activity into something sinister, whilst the same kind of diplomatic activity keeps going on daily with most countries of the World. On top, Israel and Saudi Arabia truly control US politics exactly the way the Russians are accused of, but it is accepted as normal and even beneficial to US (just because it is beneficial to the pockets of the corrupt agents of the people).

      Something close to a mass orgasm of indignation is being generated by the empty talking heads in the wide US MSM. It is a waterfall of fact-free high emotional outpours aimed at affecting the “news” consumers.

      Ambassador Matlock is methodically and successfully putting into perspective this Deep State generated media craze.

      • Joe Tedesky
        March 8, 2017 at 12:11 am

        KIza, I admit how I don’t find much comfort with the fact that Donald Trump is our 45th president, but I simply cannot subdue the pain of watching how subverted and infiltrated out MSM is by the under world figures who control our country’s CIA. What’s even more troubling, is that it appears how most American citizens can’t see this captivity of the MSM for what it is. I mean read a New York Times article, or a WaPa piece, and then turn on CNN or MSNBC, just to mention a few media outlets who 24/7 demonize Trump, and then ask yourself ‘where is the objectivity? In a society which brags about it’s 1st amendment rights and freedom speech, why is there hardly any diverse opinions to be found? How can so many news agencies be on the same page, with their reporting and opinions?

        Trump seems to have Sean Hannity and a few right wing talk radio politico jocks on his side, but his numbers just don’t add up to surpass the overwhelming numbers that the MSM has on their side. Picture Custer against the outnumbered odds of warriors that the SIoux nation had, and then put Trump in Custer’s place and the MSM represents the numbers of the Sioux and this is what I see Trump in the middle of.

        My apologies to the Sioux for using this Custer Last Stand Defeat, but the metaphor in my mind creates an appropriate visual….for what visuals maybe worth.

        KIza I’m not sure that you and I are that close together on the whole Trump presidency, but it does appear that you and I are traveling down the same avenue of suspension and thought to what is really going on in our American society as it stands. Trump of course is rich and he is calling himself a Republican, but I’ll bet a dollar to a donut that his fellow one percenters and his political party of choice can’t stand the man. For some it could be jealousy, while for others Trump’s presidency is intimidating to their very own selfish career needs.

        So far for every step of the way Trump has proven the naysayers to be wrong…you may consider me to be among that crowd. Although time and time again Donald forges through, and proves us all wrong. Is he lucky, or is he just that smart? I don’t know, but I do know how he is vastly outnumbered. I also know that Trump’s Vice President has a greater appeal to the Establishment that has up until now controlled the seating arrangements inside the Oval Office.

        After watching a bit of the news today my wife said that the news had brought up that thing I had talked about a couple of weeks ago. When I replied to what thing it was I brought up, my wife said that amendment thing…you know. I then said you mean the 25th Amendment Section 4 clause…she said yes that thing.

        • Kiza
          March 8, 2017 at 9:33 am

          I sincerely feel that we agree on most things regarding current politics, because you are reasonable left and I am reasonably (I hope) libertarian. This is why we have such a similar view of things. We have agreed before that Pence taking over the Presidency would be an unmitigable disaster for US and the World. But what truly keeps shocking me, and I am not easily shocked, is how the “news” have shed any last pretence of real news and any objectivity and have gone into pure shilling. There is more reality in TV commercials now than in the “TV news”. Which reminds me of that joke from the movie Demolition Man, that in the future radio and TV play commercials/ads 24×7. Now I know why the people would prefer such stations. Thanks again for your great debating.

          • Joe Tedesky
            March 8, 2017 at 12:01 pm

            KIza I’m going to use that line, ‘there’s more reality on tv commercials’. I like that, it’s funny but so true. At times for me it feels like I’m on a speeding train where the tracks end at edge of a high cliff, and I can’t get off nor can I stop it.

            History shows how life on earth for man has always been filled with intrigue, and corruption, but now it’s televised which adds an interesting dimension to our living it. I mean in the pass I may have been high on a hill, and would have missed much of what the king did, but with all the media at our finger tips it’s hard to ignore ….or better yet it’s easy to get lied to.

            If I had a solution I would share it with you, but other than you and a few others I’m afraid most would write me off as that stupid old man. Funny thing is looking back I and some others were right about such things as for example Vietnam, or military spending, but the Establishment always is smarter and with that I will wish you KIza a nice day my friend….take care Joe

    • roy stanley johnson
      March 9, 2017 at 12:28 am

      t really hope they do take him down

  3. Lorie Mauk
    March 6, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    There are two concerns regarding the contacts:
    First, they occurred while Russia was known to be actively interfering in our election to specifically benefit Trump
    Second, they were repeatedly lied about

    Those make the conversations concerning. In Flynn case, he discussed sanctions and upcoming policy changes- undermining the sanctions imposed by the current President.
    In Sessions case, we have no idea what was discussed- because he didn’t reveal the meeting until it was made public. He did say that he had never met with the ambassador prior to this year. Which brings up another conflict/ lie: that the meeting was part of his Senatorial duties.
    You point out that it should be investigated and prosecuted if there is any wrong doing- but ignore that the mechanisms for doing so are largely in the hands of the accused and a partisan congress, whose very jobs rely on the idea that we had a fair election and whose power is reliant upon keeping and maintaining the three branches of government.
    When the Justice department won’t act, and Congress won’t investigate- how is any of this looked into?

    There is no issue with pursuing regular diplomacy- the issue is with having illicit conversations regarding quid pro quo with a foreign power that is currently being sanctioned by our government, while also hiding numerous financial ties.

    • Jim
      March 7, 2017 at 4:11 am

      “There are two concerns regarding the contacts:
      First, they occurred while Russia was known to be actively interfering in our election to specifically benefit Trump
      Second, they were repeatedly lied about”

      You ASSUME Russia was actively interfering. That has been alleged, over and over, without any real proof. Read Robert Parry’s article from just a few days ago, right here on consortiumnews.com Once that very weak reed is removed, the entire foundation of your case crumbles.

    • Sam F
      March 7, 2017 at 8:07 am

      Dem propaganda with no foundation in reason or fact. Get the facts before you make conclusions. You have no evidence and are deliberately spreading propaganda to conceal the abject corruption of the Dems.

      Maybe you will tell us why you prefer endless war for Israel?

    • SteveK9
      March 7, 2017 at 8:38 am

      I keep hearing from Democrats (I was one, before this Russia garbage) that Russia’s ‘interference’ in our election is ‘beyond dispute’. Well, saying something over and over, does not make it true. Although, it is a well-known tool of propaganda.

      Anyone who believes that nonsense, is heavily biased, or was born yesterday.

      • Bill Bodden
        March 7, 2017 at 1:34 pm

        I keep hearing from Democrats (I was one, before this Russia garbage) that Russia’s ‘interference’ in our election is ‘beyond dispute’.

        There is also the hypocritical indignation (typical Washington) that comes with anti-Russian accusations. How dare the Russians interfere in our elections? There is no nation on the planet that interferes more in the elections of other states than the United States – often with monumentally disastrous results. Chile, Honduras, Ukraine, etc.

    • aquadraht
      March 7, 2017 at 8:43 am

      You wrote: “You point out that it should be investigated and prosecuted if there is any wrong doing- but ignore that the mechanisms for doing so are largely in the hands of the accused and a partisan congress, whose very jobs rely on the idea that we had a fair election and whose power is reliant upon keeping and maintaining the three branches of government.”

      That is what we are calling rule of the law. Both the president and the Congress (house and senate equally) are elected. What is to be investigated and prosecuted is in the hands of the powers in office, in government, parliament, and jurisdiction. That is how a democracy is meant to work.

      With the judgment over what is “illicit” or “undermining” being in the hands of the “intelligence community” and Neocon fanatics together with the parliament minority and media supportive to it, the situation of lawlessness arises.

      I am not in favor of bipartisanship at any cost, political competition is a value in itself in a democracy. But so is respect for the elected executive. By illoyalty of the deep state and fanatic pressure groups democracy is going tits up.That is what Pres. Eisenhower warned about decades ago. And nowadays, the Dems are burying democracy in collaboration with the deep state.

    • GM
      March 7, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      There has been no evidence presented that the Russian Federation or any state actors either hacked the DNC or interfered in any way in the 2016 election. The DNI stated as much as recently as Sunday on meet the press. Assertions are not evidence.

  4. Marc B.
    March 7, 2017 at 1:15 am

    a pity the United States needs a ruthless almost satanic enemy to maintain the illusion of exceptional status, one cant help feeling that the plutocrats and political classes are cynically manipulating an increasingly fragile geopolitical arena, in almost everything they do and say.

  5. Alexandr
    March 7, 2017 at 1:36 am

    Joe Tedesky, Abe, Typingperson, Kiza, Realist, Josh Stern, Lee Francis, Bryan Hemming, Miranda Keefe, Zachary Smith, Sam F, Jim DiEugenio, Rob Roy, Bill Bodden, Litchfield, evelync, backwardsevolution, Geneva Observer, and many-many others guys and girls, men and women whom I haven’t mentioned! Thank you for … your position probably. I am not much writer here, more reader. As an average 30-years old guy from Russia… I wish I met you someday to have a chat or drink or something.

    • Miranda Keefe
      March 7, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Aw, shucks! :)

      • Kiza
        March 8, 2017 at 9:43 am

        Now you are in trouble Miranda, you have been identified as a Russia-friendly commenter. But just imagine the level of trouble you are in if Alexandr were to become a Russian ambassador to US one day.

    • Joe Tedesky
      March 8, 2017 at 12:26 am

      Alexandr you bring the Sushki and your choice of Volka, and I’ll bring the Jack Daniels and what toppings would you like on your pizza? Thanks for your comment. When people from other nations outside the U.S. comment on this comment board I can’t help but wish there were more of this type of exchange. Honestly I wish we citizens could get together and iron out all of our countries differences. Keep writing, don’t be shy or afraid we will find fault with your grammar or spelling…just read some of my comments and that will give you all the encouragement you will need….take care Joe

    • Lisa
      March 8, 2017 at 9:27 am

      Alexandr, so nice to know that several Russians follow this site. Do write how things look like from your viewpoint. You are only 30 years old? I might be able to tell you things about your country that you know only from history books. I spent much time in USSR in the 70’s and beginning of 80’s, living among normal Russians, mainly in Moscow. Would also be happy for a chat.

      As for this article by Mr Matlock, I wish people would listen to these persons who really know Russia / Soviet Union from inside, not only from CNN etc.

      Off topic – I took a look on the comments on the NYT website yesterday after the newest Wikileaks revelation on the CIA surveillance. Guess what? Many commentators screamed: “It’s one more proof of the cooperation between Wikileaks and Russia/Putin!”
      Among Consortium commentators, there are occasionally such opinions also, “paid pro-Russian article”. Please, if you hold these opinions, join the discussion with arguments. Not just with accusations of trolling. It can be beneficial for both sides.

    • Alexandr
      March 9, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      Thanks to reply for everyone and now to each of you guys! =)

      Kiza, clever, you are totally right about such prespective for Miranda. I am even scared for myself too, if I visit the US someday.

      Hello, Joe. Well… I have never tried Sushki with Vodka =) Sushki, if we are talking about the same thing and not mistaken in term, is a sort of farinaceous confectionery, usually we use it with tea. But it doesn’t matter – we could try it with vodka, I don’t mind. As for pizza, any meat topping would be fine, mate! The meeting itself is more important.

      Lisa, I started to browse that resource couple of year ago, when I had encountered a mention about it on some russian website. Yeah, I am already 30 -) I have my parents alive and older brother, in regarding of mentioning about 70s in USSR. But I am not against your knowledgement about country of my birth! Just constated the fact that I have alive sources not only books? for the good sakes! I suppose, it seems to me, you were in USSR work-related and you are not Russian? I live in Engels city, it’s Saratov region. Something about 1000 km away from Moscow.

      One more thing I wanted to say… actually I have said it already in other article. Anyway. Unfortunately, Soloviev’s program doesn’t contain English subs. I tried to do subtitles to then upload subbed video for anyone of You, but there’s so much words (mostly its running time more than 2 hours) and I refused to do that. I even thought to dub it, ’cause I have pretty decent mic. Huh. Maybe I will find time.

  6. Marc B.
    March 7, 2017 at 1:37 am

    Ruthless exploitation of racist fears creating an atmosphere of high anxiety among the confused increasingly impoverished masses, a softening up for impending war , which depends upon we hapless masses achieving a fever pitch of blind rage against a “belligerent enemy”, bigoted blind rage narrows the focus on many salient incidentals, such as the profits derived from the wholesale slaughters and reordering of the world in a state of perpetual warfare…..it’s genuinely terrifying and that is the point.

    • Lois Gagnon
      March 7, 2017 at 9:58 am

      I think you are on the mark in your assessment. The real terrorists are the actors within the Deep State whipping up hysteria and confusion in order to facilitate the scenario you describe.

  7. Vera
    March 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Not quite the same context but…American oil companies certainly didn’t see anything wrong with doing business with Hitler. So why is it wrong for Americans and Russians to talk to each other with the hope of preserving peace. The Democrats are sore losers and keep trying to deflect their incompetence with hateful behaviour.

  8. Bill Bodden
    March 7, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Ambassador Matlock and Consortium News: Thank you for this very sensible and enlightening article.

  9. Exiled off mainstreet
    March 7, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    The fact is that the Russians are a part of western civilization, while the jihadi thugs favoured by the yankee deep state and their minions are hostile. Thus, the deep state are traitors to western civilization.

  10. Auntie Tedesco
    March 8, 2017 at 6:30 am

    @ Joe Tedesky
    “Ambassador Matlock raises a great question, what is wrong with an incoming administration official talking to a Russian ambassador?”
    A good question indeed.
    Answer: It only *seems* to be wrong when regarded with psychological projection:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    US embassies and consulates all over the world have been actively trying to topple governments, even democratically elected ones (so-called “regime change”).
    If diplomats of any other country would dare to try something like that, they would quickly be sent packing. And what’s more, the diplomatic corps of that country would gain a reputation as bad as that of the US diplomatic missions worldwide.
    But obviously regarding interference in the politic of the guest country many US politicians think along the lines: “We do it, so it is normal to do it and everybody else also does it.”
    Under this premise, contacts between politicians and diplomats of another country are obviously sinister. But the premise is wrong. Professional diplomats (yes, other countries have *professional* diplomats) don’t *ever* interfere in this way. It would be totally contra productive for their job.

    • Joe Tedesky
      March 8, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Auntie Tedesco, psychological projection I agree is what our American government and media rely upon to keep us Americans blinded of the facts. The basic foundation to make this psychological reversal of facts work, is that we Americans are the white hatted good guys, and all the rest of the world is somehow black hatted monsters. No one in America is the better for it of course, because if any American were to turn their own lights on they would see that while we Americans are (not) ‘freeing’ the rest of the world we Americans are losing one right after another right.

      All of this is done within a controlled 24 hour news cycle. George Orwell certainly saw what was coming, and we who rely on the Western Media are living what Orwell predicted. Orwell although described a dark world where this authoritarian media would prevail, while we are doing what Orwell wrote about with sexy news sets and watching it all play out on 50″ wide screen tv’s, it still comes out the same…we are being lied too. Funny thing is there are many among us who just gave up, or just don’t care.

      Your name Tedesco is like my Italian name Tedeschi. Part of my heritage goes back to Parma Italy. Somewhere around 1180 Fredrick Barbarosa conquered Parma. The name Tedesco Tedeschi means ‘one from Germany’. Barbarosa took my people from Parma and somewhere along the way to fight the third Crusades armored up Fredrick the First fell off his horse crossing a river and drown. My people then did the next best thing, and turned around and went home, and said to hell with war. Maybe the world could learn something from us once were German Italians…what ya think?

      Oh and Auntie thanks for giving a name to what we all are experiencing….psychological projection!

      Joe Tedesky the American version of the German Italian peacenik

  11. Gregory Herr
    March 8, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    It’s very good that Mr. Mattock presented his sensible understandings based on a wealth of international experience and Russian expertise. It would be awesome if Trump could hold a brief press conference with Mr. Matlock as his guest for the express purpose of laying out his “answers” from the essay.

  12. Boris M Garsky
    March 8, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    This whole affair about Russia is a non event. It is a distraction, a smoke screen. Why is no-one speaking of and investigating the special and suspicious relationships of our government officials, the clintons, bush, obama all had with the Mossad, Israel. It was very clear that Israel called the shots, not our presidents, or secretary of State, or congress. And rightfully so, Israel gloated about it. This is all a distraction executed by the neocons. We don’t seem to learn.

  13. Jim
    March 9, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Trump’s mistake in the beginning is not going to the American people and emphatically pushing his goal to improve relations with Russia. He could then point to the disasters in the MidEast the past decades as reasons to reach out to the Russians and seek peaceful means to resolve issues. It would have been well received.

    Instead, he went on the defensive. You never win that way.

  14. Bob Charron
    March 9, 2017 at 10:15 am

    The unfortunate thing is that making a strong charge against Russia (or any strong charge for that matter) has the effect of locking that person into that position. They must continue to defend the charge generally by making more charges or admit they were wrong in making the charge. And if this charge is picked up and applauded by members of the public , the person making the charge can’t backdown. It is sort of like a positive feedback effect which in time grows the charge into a fact and leads to more charges. The way a rumor grows into a full blown hysteria is described in an opera which I can;t quite remember.

  15. Michael Kenny
    March 9, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Ambassador Matlock’s diplomatic background is obvious! He systematically sidesteps the four questions! More interesting though is that I think this is the first time in American history that it has been suggested that a President was the stooge of a foreign power. Thus, the real question is not whether or not there is anything wrong with this or that person meeting this or that ambassador. The real question underlying the debate is whether or not Donald Trump is a loyal American. Is he serving US interests or is he misusing his office to serve the interests of a foreign power? The latter hypothesis would surely be an impeachable offence. What is clear is that there is a pro-Putin lobby in the US which is seeking to push Trump in the direction of an “accomodation” (sic!) with Putin on terms that seem to be entirely to Putin’s advantage. The arguments put forward by this lobby always seem to me to be pretexts. “Won’t you come into my parlour”, so to speak. Either it’s “nice Mr Putin wouldn’t hurt a fly” or it’s “Putin’s invincible military machine, including his massive nuclear arsenal, will be visited upon you if you don’t capitulate”. The fact that such arguments strike me as pretexts makes me very suspicious of what the real arguments might be. What’s lurking behind the “black curtain” ?

  16. Mark Thomason
    March 9, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    A close look at who is doing this, and what they said before, suggests this is all about attacking Trump and de-legitimizing the incoming Administration.

    Those who say this now were talking the opposite when Obama was running those relations, and Hillary had a reset button.

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