Trump’s Quiet Outreach to Russia

Facing fierce resistance from Official Washington to a détente with Russia, President Trump has retreated publicly but continues to push ahead with more military-to-military cooperation, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

Many backers of Donald Trump’s planned foreign policy, which sought détente with Russia, are wringing their hands and shaking their heads over what looks like the policy’s defeat in the face of media and Democratic Party attacks, abetted by maverick Republican senators, in which “Russian contacts” and “Russian meddling” are the code words.

Red Square in Moscow with a winter festival to the left and the Kremlin to the right. (Photo by Robert Parry)

But there may be another way to see the situation. There are indications that Trump may be continuing to advance a more collaborative approach toward Russia through the quiet expansion of military-to-military cooperation, such as the recent meeting in Turkey to coordinate strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

Still, the signs of a broader Trump retreat, even a rout, are undeniable. Several weeks ago we heard the first of several speeches from the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley repeating the same tired anti-Russian rhetoric of her predecessor, Samantha Power. Then we heard Defense Secretary James Mattis in Bonn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Brussels and Vice President Mike Pence in Munich speaking of unwavering support for U.S. allies and for NATO, the Cold War military alliance that Donald Trump had questioned during the campaign as “obsolete.”

And most recently there was the fact that Russia was not invited to the conference of the U.S.-led coalition of 68 countries against ISIS being held in Washington, D.C. on March 22-23. Russia’s exclusion would appear to contradict Trump’s campaign promise to forge an alliance with Russia to combat and vanquish ISIS.

Against this backdrop, one might expect the Russians to be in despair. After all, assuming they really had “meddled” in the U.S. presidential election, their risky efforts would have resulted in lots of pain and little gain. That was always one of the chief arguments against assuming that the Russians did undertake to undercut Hillary Clinton’s campaign, because the Russians would have assumed that their efforts would be detected by U.S. intelligence and surely would have infuriated the likely President Hillary Clinton. But even if Trump somehow had won against all odds, the Russians still would have faced the Russia-did-it controversy that now is consuming Washington and Brussels.

That’s assuming that the Russians did “meddle.” Assuming the opposite, that they were innocent of any “meddling,” then their hopes for a stroke of good luck with the arrival of a new President committed to détente would appear to have been dashed anyway. To paraphrase Viktor Chernomyrdin, a kind of Russian Yogi Berra in the local book of famous quotations, the Russians may have hoped for the best but it turned out as usual.

From the Sunday CNN interview of Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, we got a sense of how the Kremlin views the anti-Trump feeding frenzy now going on in the U.S. media and especially the attempt to portray Russian “meddling” as the reason that Trump won. Peskov called these assertions the “demonizing of Russia,” a situation to which Russians cannot be indifferent.

But the sentiment was much less negative on some of the leading news programs in Moscow, including channel Rossiya 1’s weekly news wrap-up delivered by Dmitry Kiselyov, who heads the news services on all Russian state radio and television channels, and Vladimir Solovyev’s political talk show, which brought together some of the country’s top legislators and leaders of key policy think tanks.

General to General

Both the Kiselyov news program and the Solovyov talk show drew attention to a development that was covered in the U.S. and Western press but with little or no interpretation so that it was easily missed: the meeting in the southern Turkish resort of Antalya of senior military officers of Turkey, the United States and Russia to discuss coordination of their military actions in northern Syria, where they are operating in close proximity and often at cross purposes. The meeting involved the Turkish Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine General

From the Russian standpoint as revealed by Solovyov’s guests, the meeting went very well and the only glum participant leaving the meeting was the Turkish general. The Americans and Russians seem to have been in agreement over how to keep the U.S.-sponsored Kurdish fighters — so resented by the Turks — in the forefront of the assault on the ISIS “capital” at Raqqa, and, as a corollary, how to sideline Turkish ambitions of capturing a sphere of influence in northern Syria using Turkish troops and local Turkmen proxies.

Elsewhere in the Solovyov program, panelists hinted that there also are ongoing talks between Trump’s people and various Russian institutions. But the Antalya military contact — involving top generals for the first time since the deep slide in U.S.-Russian relations in 2014 over the Ukraine crisis — bears more attention.

Trump appears to have concluded that the way forward in relations between the U.S. and Russia is to make progress out of sight of the media. Whereas bringing Russia into the U.S.-run anti-Islamic State coalition meeting in Washington would have invited the U.S. media’s brickbats, a summit of generals in a provincial coastal town of Turkey could be far more productive and produce much less controversy. It is not for nothing that the press is now complaining that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is inaccessible. That follows the desires of the Oval Office, which prefers a “just get it done” approach.

Trump can also expect the greatest loyalty in the U.S. government’s hierarchy from the military as well as fewer leaks from holdovers hostile to any rapprochement with Russia. Indeed, many senior U.S. officers had constructive relations with their Russian counterparts for years on crucial issues such as supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan and in sharing intelligence on terrorism. That was disrupted by the coalition of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists dominating the State Department and holding top political jobs at the Pentagon. So Trump has removed many of President Obama’s political appointees and has turned more to the military high command.

If Trump as Commander in Chief can keep the military in line, that would be an enormous step forward compared to the closing months of the Obama administration when Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who is regarded as a neocon ideologue, got away with stunning insubordination, including what appears to have been an intentional attack on Syrian military positions at Deir Ezzor.

That attack, killing dozens of Syrian soldiers, sabotaged the cease-fire agreement arranged in September 2016 by Secretary of State Kerry with the approval of President Obama. A military under tight control from the Oval Office is the best protection against similar provocations or just bad luck accidents in the field, incidents that could escalate quickly under conditions of a lack of trust and hair-trigger arsenals.

Despite the summit of the generals, panelists on the Solovyov show acknowledged that full cooperation with the United States in Syria or elsewhere is a long way off. Secretary of Defense Mattis’s report to Trump on how to conduct the war on ISIS does not provide for close cooperation with Russia, only for greater exchange of information. What the panelists clearly expect, though, is a more civilized relationship with the U.S. than under President Obama, even as the Americans still try to counter Russian influence in the region

A Confident Mood

The overall mood of the panelists was very confident, not because “their man” is in the White House, as U.S. media would have us believe, but as a result of what they construe as Russia’s winning hand in the Middle East, demonstrated by the visits to Moscow in the past week by two of the key players in the region’s geopolitics – President Erdogan of Turkey and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel.

Couple walking along the Kremlin, Dec. 7, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

To be sure, the visit by Erdogan had been planned long in advance around an agenda heavy with economic issues. It was to mark the culmination of the normalization process that began late last year when the Turks officially apologized for shooting down a Russian jet over Syria, which led to the killing of the pilot, followed by Russia applying very tough economic sanctions as retaliation for what President Putin called “a stab in the back.”

Now, however, with Erdogan’s visit on Friday, progress is being made on the two biggest projects around which Russian-Turkish economic relations are built: the Turk Stream gas pipelines and a major nuclear generating plant. Still, from the Russian perspective, as the panelists made clear, the Russians have the whip hand on the economic relationship with Turkey.

Turk Stream has importance for Moscow not so much for itself but because of the leverage it gives the Russians with Europe in forcing approval of Nord Stream II because Europe will not want to deal with Turkey as a major supplier of Russian gas. Moreover, the Russians are in no rush to lift the agricultural embargo they imposed on Turkey during the worst moments in their relations, nor are they re-instituting the non-visa travel, which existed before the shoot-down and which was very important for Turkey’s tourist industry.

But Erdogan’s real hopes for the visit lay elsewhere. Due to quick progress of Kurdish and Syrian state forces on the ground against ISIS, the Turkish president had pressing questions to discuss with Putin and wanted them resolved before the next meeting of the warring parties in Kazakhstan this week.

The Israeli visit was on very short notice, at the insistence of Netanyahu, and was also motivated by concern over how the end game in Syria is shaping up, with Iranian forces allied with Russia among the apparent victors. There was unanimity among the Russian panelists on this one point: The visits prove that Moscow is now the inescapable center to be courted by all those seeking solutions not only in Syria but in the broader Middle East. The Russians’ winning hand in Syria has come while it has cooperated with many competing sides in the conflict, including such adversaries as the Turks, Iranians and Kurds.

Russia is a co-guarantor of the partial ceasefire, which seeks to limit military actions to attacks on designated terrorist groups. Russia is also a leading actor in the talks between the Syrian government and the armed opposition being held in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana. Meanwhile, the panelists expressed deep satisfaction over the encouraging warming of relations with Egypt and over Russia having chosen the side in the Libyan civil war that looks to be coming out on top.

Genuine Experts

Unlike many American news shows where the “talking heads” are often journalists imparting second-hand information, the key panelists on these Russian programs tend to be well-connected legislators or other government insiders. For instance, last Sunday’s shows included Aleksey Pushkov, chairman of the Federation Council’s Information Committee and, until the last Duma election in September 2016, chairman of the Duma’s Foreign Relations Committee.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a press conference in Turkey on Dec. 1, 2014. (Russian government photo)

The second major contributor on the Solovyov show was Vyacheslav Nikonov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Education but best known as the chairman of Russian World, the NGO which promotes the cultural interests of the Russian diaspora abroad. In that capacity, Nikonov, who is Kremlin aristocracy as the grandson of Molotov, also has a wide information base within and outside Russia. He is a Putin stalwart while also believing in Trump and in an eventual accommodation with the U.S.

The third legislator was the irrepressible Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Though known as something of a clown in the West for outrageous statements, he is in fact a very shrewd observer of the international scene and — as a Turkish-speaker and close follower of Middle East developments — his contributions were highly relevant to the discussion on how to get greatest advantage for Russia in the present Middle Eastern situation.

A fourth panelist was think tank director Yevgeny Satanovsky, director of the Near Eastern Institute. A fifth was Israeli Yakov Kedmi, who left the Soviet Union as one of the first Jewish activists who wanted out. Settled in Israel, he eventually became the director of one of their intelligence agencies. Persona non grata in Russia until several years ago, Kedmi has been invited back to Moscow recently to participate in Solovyov’s and other leading talk shows.

Serious Debate

Unlike RT, formerly Russia Today, which is the voice of Russia to global audiences, the shows on Rossiya 1 are directed at the domestic audience. On the Solovyov show, we have Russians debating with Russians about key issues facing the country, its capabilities and options.

Besides the broader geopolitical discussions, a top question of the day was how to turn Russian victories into something more tangible, meaning hard cash. The challenge was set out in the opening moments by the show’s provocateur, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who insisted that Russia must practice a policy of deception: tell everyone what they want to hear, be friends to all, but serve only Russian national interests, starting with economic interests.

President Donald Trump announces the selection of Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new National Security Adviser on Feb. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from

Here is the point about American policy on which all the key panelists concurred: the tight relationship between geopolitical and commercial success by America is something Russia must emulate. Wars should always end in great financial benefits for the victors, we were told, and Russia should not hesitate to exploit its position as favored military partner in the Middle East at present to promote the interests not only of its oil and gas companies, but also its industrial companies for infrastructure projects in the region.

That being said, panelists questioned whether their country can overcome endemic corruption so that projects abroad genuinely benefit the Russian nation and not only selected state-owned companies. Moreover, the reserved Near East expert Yevgeny Satanovsky asked whether it is appropriate to engage in infrastructure projects abroad when there are great needs for the same in Mother Russia itself.

One point made by panelists which seemed to go unchallenged is that Russia should provide a defense umbrella with its S-300 and S-400 ground-to-air systems that locks in its strategic relationships from the Syrian conflict: for Turkey, Iran and Israel.

Whereas there are those in the Trump administration, possibly including the President himself, who reckon on wooing Russia away from Iran, it was clear from the well-networked panelists that Russian elites are dead set against any possibility of disowning their recent comrades in arms in Syria, notably Iran. Also, Iran occupies a key position in the Chinese led “One Belt One Road,” which Russia strongly supports. It is a key part of the North-South energy route that Russia also supports.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky has talked for many years about how and why Russia should stop looking West, should stop looking East, and should look to the South. But in the past, this recommendation had little content other than the offhand remark harking back to the Nineteenth Century when Russia and Britain were fierce rivals. Zhirinovsky said Russian soldiers deserved to take R&R on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

However, in light of Sunday’s discussion of commercial and diplomatic opportunities for Russia as a big player in the Greater Middle East, Zhirinovsky’s “look south” point of view is getting a new respectability in Moscow. The pressing question now is what the Trump Administration will make of all this once it can get past the rearguard skirmishes with domestic opposition and focus on how to interact with Russia.

Highlighting those continuing U.S. obstacles to a détente with Russia, the Kiselyov news wrap-up devoted one segment to the current American hysteria over Russia, labeling it “McCarthyism” as a number of Americans now do. The segment showed the Russian audience just who Sen. Joe McCarthy was and how he and other fierce anti-communists in the 1950s engaged in the sort of personal denunciations, destruction of careers and imprisonment of dissidents that older Russians vividly remember from the Stalin era.

The segment concluded with a reminder of why comic genius Charlie Chaplin, whom Russians know and love from childhood, spent the last 25 years of his life in Switzerland – after being hounded out of the United States in the zealotry of McCarthyism. This Russian TV segment was not “holier than thou” with respect to the United States, but rather self-confident as if saying: Russia has been through its own version of this intolerance and regrets that another wave is now sweeping the U.S.

Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.

57 comments for “Trump’s Quiet Outreach to Russia

  1. Arseniy Urazov
    March 19, 2017 at 20:31

    So I am Russian myself and I want to say a few words on Solovyov’s program. There are many different panelist coming to the program, and some of them are pure garbage (they come to advertise themselves basically), while others are really good (like Satanovskiy who gets invited to closed-doors military briefings in Russian MOD). So I wish the author could include the names of the panelist to which he is referring when saying that “From the Russian standpoint as revealed by Solovyov’s guests, the meeting went very well…”

  2. Eileen
    March 16, 2017 at 16:59

    Trump watchers who have followed him for 18 months see his backtrack on Russia as something is going on behind the scenes. Until he rids the government of Obama holdovers, which may be never, there will be two governments: what you see and what you don’t see, even in places like Drudge or Breitbart.

    • Gilbert Doctorow
      March 17, 2017 at 04:41

      You are much too pessimistic. Trump has created a schism in the US foreign policy establishment that is growing bigger by the day. The stranglehold of the Neocon-Liberal interventionist center on professional journals has been broken, most recently in the first quarterly issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, and more importantly in the coming second quarterly issue. This is not a small achievement. Beyond the braying of the US hegemony donkeys that we all have heard since 2007, when Putin issued his challenge to the USA and the West at the Munich Security Conference, we now see that very articulate and very well informed specialists in the Russia field are at last being given the microphone, and they are using it effectively to demolish all the crap you and I have been reading these past 9 years about Russia. If the ground is not prepared for a New Foreign Policy it cannot succeed. That is what is happening now.
      So don’t despair! Will be writing about this in greater detail shortly.

  3. Michael Kenny
    March 16, 2017 at 15:27

    When an American media outlet publishes something negative about Putin, we’re told it’s fake news but we’re supposed to believe unquestioningly everything said on Russian state TV (“directed at the domestic audience”). As Donald likes to say, I don’t think so! Even if it was all true, it’s very meagre fare to try to prove that Trump is hell bent on capitulating to Putin and is being held back by the dastardly old somebody-or-others. Putin has bogged himself down as irreversibly in Syria as he has in Ukraine and declaring him the “winner” of the Syrian civil war just means that he’s condemned to prop up Assad for all eternity. That suits the US very well because Putin can’t escape from the Syrian quagmire but the US can lower the boom on him at any time by re-igniting the civil war. It would bog Putin down further to drag him into the (unwinnable) war against ISIS and might even cause him the kind of casualties that would arouse opposition back home. So general’s pow-wowing is logical.
    As Mr Doctorow says, “Turk Stream has importance for Moscow not so much for itself but because of the leverage it gives the Russians with Europe in forcing approval of Nord Stream II because Europe will not want to deal with Turkey as a major supplier of Russian gas”. In other words, Putin is trying to bamboozle Erdogan into letting himself be used to put pressure on the EU and then, having been used, to be thrown away like a paper handkerchief. Surely Erdogan isn’t that stupid! Neither are EU leaders! As a matter of geographical reality, if gas from these pipelines doesn’t go to Europe, where can it go? And if “Europe will not want to deal with Turkey as a major supplier of Russian gas”, what’s the point of building the pipelines? Thus, the whole Turk Stream project seems to be a very transparent scam.
    Netanyahu’s visit should set off warning bells in Moscow. Did Putin really think Israel was going to let him turn Syria into a puppet state and then snuggle up to Israel’s declared enemy no. 1? Given Israel’s influence in American politics and the fact that Trump is the most pro-Israel president in US history, there will be no “détente” with Washington without satisfying Israel, no satisfying Israel without breaking with Iran, no breaking with Iran without dumping Assad and no dumping Assad without losing the militarily useless prestige naval base. Putin has painted himself into yet another corner!

    • Gilbert Doctorow
      March 17, 2017 at 04:35

      the devil is in the details.
      The original proposal for Turk Stream which was on the table before the Turks shot down the Russian plane over Syria called for a throughput of 60 billion cubic meters of gas via 4 pipes. The present plan is for half that capacity, of which 15 billion is for the Turkish market and the other 15 is to go to Western Europe, meaning Italy and Southern Europe. This fits in with Turkey’s positioning as a gas hub by its agreements with Azerbaijan, drawing on the Deniz II field.
      That is to say, the present Turk Stream plan is no scam whatsoever. It is simply a big hint to the EU, and in particular to Germany, that we, Russia, will get out gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine one way or another. If you allow Nord Stream II, you, Germany, will be the big beneficiary of revenue when you pump the gas south to Italy and the Balkans. If you do not allow Nord Stream II, we will serve those markets without you. As for Ukraine, the notion of Russia-haters in the European Parliament and the Commission that they can force the Russians to use the decrepit and hostile Ukraine infrastructure to serve Europe after the expiration of contracts in 2019 is a “pipe dream” and not a reality of our times.

  4. exiled off mainstreet
    March 16, 2017 at 02:06

    What I get out of the article is that Russia appears to have a less restrictive media structure today than the US and its satellites. It is also interesting that what I take away from it is that while serious problems and failures will continue, they will certainly be survivable, whereas if the deep state had fully triumphed, our very survival might be in doubt.

  5. backwardsevolution
    March 15, 2017 at 20:16

    “It is about money and power, as is everything in the United States. Wall Street, the Pentagon, the Neocons, and the Empire run America. Trump has threatened their rice bowls.


    He has threatened to cut the F-35, a huge blow to Lockheed-Martin and hundreds of subcontractors; to pull US troops out of South Korea, a blow to the Empire; to end the wars, a blow both to the Empire and the military industry getting rich from them; to pull troops out of Okinawa, crippling the Empire in the Pacific; to start a trade war with China with a forty-five percent tariff of Chinese goods, threatening American corporations with factories there; and to chase out illegal immigrants, an important source of cheap labor to businesses. He has called NATO “obsolete,” when leaving it would be the death knell of the Empire; and threatened to establish good relations with Russia, when the lack of a European enemy would leave NATO even more obviously unnecessary.
    Thus New York and its branch operation in Washington resuscitate Russia as a bugbear to terrify the rubes, meaning most of the public. Money. Power. Empire.

    What sense does this make–apart from money and power? Russia is an economically challenged nation of 145 million, less than half of Europe’s population and much less than half of America’s. Its economy is a small fraction of the combined economies of Europe and America. It is not on a war footing. It is not moving forces into position for an invasion. It is not mobilizing. To satellite photography, to NSA these things would be as obvious as leprosy on a prom queen. The Establishment would be screaming to high heaven if there were the slightest trace of preparation for war. The whole business is manufactured.”

    When Putin stepped into Syria in September of 2015 (I believe it was), when he settled the Iran nuclear dispute, when he settled the chemical weapons problem in Syria, when he took back Crimea (as he had to), he was foiling the best-laid plans of the U.S. Imagine the anger blowing off the roof of the White House and Pentagon! If you could have captured that anger in a tank, you could have sent someone to the moon and back.

    Time to roll back Bill Clinton’s Telecommunications Act of 1996, the act that enabled six corporations to buy up 90% of all media. The U.S. citizens are not stupid; they’re just being lied to.

  6. Hank
    March 15, 2017 at 18:27

    Could Robert David Steele be correct and Trump is the “accidental” President. Did he make the same fatal mistakes JFK did in placing neocons in key positions who might just work against him? Would he have made better choices if he had given it more thought? Or is the President being “isolated” and pressured to cave in to the shadow government that runs foreign affairs?

  7. Brad Owen
    March 15, 2017 at 14:32

    I just saw a headline on Global It said that Assange said that Hillary and Intelligence officers are quietly pushing a Pence take-over of the Trump Administration. To me, this means the war criminal faction refuses to relinquish the steering wheel, insisting that we all must drive over that cliff into war and more war.

    • Geoffrey de Galles
      March 15, 2017 at 16:00

      Surely it was Pence, motivated by some undeclared and quite possibly long-term agenda of his own, who single-handedly and successfully pressured the ordinarily headstrong Trump into firing Michael Flynn — aka: ‘to have demanded MK’s resignation’. In other words, didn’t Flynn — with his gloss as to all he had discussed with the Russian Ambassador in the immediate wake of Obama’s childish and spiteful eviction of so many Russian diplomats on patently spurious spook charges — conveniently provide Pence with a first opportunity to throw his weight around as VP and, ipso facto, as a pretender to the throne?

      • backwardsevolution
        March 15, 2017 at 19:01

        Geoffrey de Galles – Flynn had a lobbying company that had just been paid over $500,000.00 by Turkey. Erdogan wanted Flynn to lobby hard for the return to Turkey of Fethullah Gulen, who Erdogan sees as the person behind the failed coup against him last year. Gulen is holed up in the U.S. somewhere (Pennsylvania?), and Erdogan wants him back. Erdogan fired and jailed all Gulen followers after the failed coup.

        Now, Flynn did nothing wrong with his lobbying, but by doing it, it could be seen that he’s working for himself more than he’s working for the U.S. government. Maybe he started pressing for Gulen’s return and somebody started to ask some questions. I was upset when Flynn was forced to step down because he had talked to the Russian ambassador (which should have been fine), I too was suspect of Pence, but maybe the above is the real reason. You just can’t have a conflict of interest like that. Could be the right decision was made?

        • Geoffrey de Galles
          March 16, 2017 at 16:26

          Thanks, backwardsevolution. You are indeed so right in floating this counter-scenario. Incredibly for me, I had thought through just such a version of events when the story first broke re: Turkey’s ‘largesse’ toward Flynn, but then blanked out on it totally when posting my comment. Incredibly because — I am here in the Middle East and, by now for some fifteen years, have been pretty familiar with and closely attentive to the whole Gulenist phenomenon.

          (Indeed, entirely by chance, invited to dinner one evening by some faculty members at an Izmir university, I once had occasion to meet Gulen’s niece — who, once she and her company had left, was roundly denounced by all of the remaining academics at the table as a spy, largely by inference from the fact that she had NOT been wearing a head-scarf. And it was in the wakew of that moment that I was soon to become acquainted with the kind of byzantine intrigue that is endemic to this part of the world — but also, of course, to America too, by now.)

          Anyway, I was surprised late last year to encounter Flynn’s rather curious article on Gulen in TheHill, and wondered what might possibly be afoot. And I think now maybe you are quite right in theorizing that it may well actually have been his then clandestine work for Turkey as a US lobbyist that Pence, and perhaps others, cognized upon learning of it as a potentially insurmountable liability.

          Nota bene, it seems perfectly clear in this part of the world that, given Gulen’s long-time collaboration with the CIA over many years, it was pretty much unthinkable that Obama & Co. would ever actually agree to Turkey’s demand for his extradition, whilst nevertheless feigning to be forever receptive to doing so. There would be simply too much risk of compromising so many of their past operations.

          So I don’t doubt that high-up members of the CIA would simply have freaked when Flynn, then slated to be Trump’s Security Adviser, published that short essay in TheHill actually advocating Gulen’s extradition. Indeed, maybe it was actually the Deep State that then compromised him by confidentially advising Pence if not Trump himself that Flynn was in fact a paid lobbyist for the Erdogan government.

          So much more could be said about the whole Erdogan / Gulen history, but I think I’ve said enough, for now at any rate, in responding to your welcome comment. Thanks!

  8. Heman
    March 15, 2017 at 13:11

    “And most recently there was the fact that Russia was not invited to the conference of the U.S.-led coalition of 68 countries against ISIS being held in Washington, D.C. on March 22-23. Russia’s exclusion would appear to contradict Trump’s campaign promise to forge an alliance with Russia to combat and vanquish ISIS.”

    The Professor put an interesting slant on the matter that Russia’s presence would be untimely, and not be helpful for détente. Still, it is amusing and bizarre that the country that has accomplished the most combatting ISIS or its ilk is excluded; Russia certainly has the most experience in fighting Muslim extremists and otherwise which we have financed and armed on it borders.

    • James lake
      March 15, 2017 at 16:18

      This so called anti – Daedh coalition was never fighting Isis/isil/ or any of the assorted jihadis
      There job was to overthrow Assad –
      Trump met Saudi Arabia crown prince to day and it looks like the same old obama/ bush policies of pandering to the Saudis

      • backwardsevolution
        March 15, 2017 at 19:14

        James Lake – wait! We don’t know what was said between Trump and the crown prince. All we see is them shaking hands and kissing rings as they wave good-bye. Trump might have caved or he might have read the riot act. Let’s see what happens before we jump to conclusions. I am quite certain that Trump did not meet with him to commend him on the stellar job he was doing.

  9. Bill Bodden
    March 15, 2017 at 12:57

    After I read this article I continued with my morning routine and checked in at CounterPunch where I caught the headline for an article by John Feffer of Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF) – “Trump and Russia: the Shortest Reset Ever” – and thought it would be of interest here. FPIF has published some good articles in the past so I was thinking of making a donation to it. Fortunately, I read this article before pulling out my piece of plastic. When I got about halfway through Feffer’s article I could hardly believe what I was reading.

    “The Trump administration and its followers on the right continue to push the notion that Russia has done nothing wrong. So, strangely, have some people on the left — including Stephen Cohen, most recently in The Nation. Glenn Greenwald, Robert Parry of Consortium News, and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity all question whether Russia was behind the DNC hack. It’s a “witch-hunt,” they say, and the Kremlin agrees.

    “The counter-evidence? Julian Assange of WikiLeaks says that Russia was not the source of the hacked materials, and the Obama administration has a “reputation for manipulating intelligence for political purposes.””

    So, I did some checking and found, according to Wikipedia, that John Feffer is a fellow at the Open Society Foundation that is funded by George Soros.

    Later today I’ll make the donation I planned except for the recipient. Consortium News instead of Foreign Policy according to George Soros.

    • Tommy Jensen
      March 15, 2017 at 16:25

      How much did you donate…10 bucks?

      • Bill Bodden
        March 15, 2017 at 17:44

        There is an old saying attributed to the Chinese that says things come in threes. I was taken aback by John Feffer’s remarks about Russia and its “friends on the American left.” That’s one.

        Now I’m taken aback by your impertinence. That’s two. Maybe it is a generational thing.

        I wonder what the third will be?

  10. Geoffrey de Galles
    March 15, 2017 at 06:42

    Sophie Shevardnaze’s very recent interview @ Moscow with Russian scholar and former Reagan adviser Suzanne Massie, a US citizen from Maine, is to be highly recommended as a true breath of sanity in these deranged and desperate times. Vide, on line: Sophie & Co. @

    March 15, 2017 at 06:23

    Gilbert Doctorow,

    An amazing piece which I will immediately put up on Facebook. The sophistication of the Russians, about which I knew but not much in detail, and the sophisticated approach of the Trump administration, forced by stupid anti-Trump cabal members here in the United States, comes through loud and clear. Thank you. I think your closing two paragraphs well summarizes the strengths and depth of your incredible presentation:

    “Highlighting those continuing U.S. obstacles to a détente with Russia, the Kiselyov news wrap-up devoted one segment to the current American hysteria over Russia, labeling it “McCarthyism” as a number of Americans now do. The segment showed the Russian audience just who Sen. Joe McCarthy was and how he and other fierce anti-communists in the 1950s engaged in the sort of personal denunciations, destruction of careers and imprisonment of dissidents that older Russians vividly remember from the Stalin era. The segment concluded with a reminder of why comic genius Charlie Chaplin, whom Russians know and love from childhood, spent the last 25 years of his life in Switzerland – after being hounded out of the United States in the zealotry of McCarthyism. This Russian TV segment was not “holier than thou” with respect to the United States, but rather self-confident as if saying: Russia has been through its own version of this intolerance and regrets that another wave is now sweeping the U.S.”

    Thank you very much.

    Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy (ethics; public policy–e.g., the book “The Deep State Versus Donald Trump”) and Religion (books: “On the Buddha”; “On Gandhi”; “Why Christians and World-Peace Advocates Voted for President Donald Trump”; with an interest in Russian cosmism).

    • Beard681
      March 16, 2017 at 15:05

      Of course the Russian are more sophisticated. They have lived for decades under czarist, then communist, then oligarch rule, where the elites jockeyed among themselves for political power, and short of taking to the streets, the power of the people was limited to non-existent. Americans still believe that they have a voice and that they can change things via a simple act of voting.

  12. Realist
    March 15, 2017 at 01:30

    “Trump appears to have concluded that the way forward in relations between the U.S. and Russia is to make progress out of sight of the media. Whereas bringing Russia into the U.S.-run anti-Islamic State coalition meeting in Washington would have invited the U.S. media’s brickbats, a summit of generals in a provincial coastal town of Turkey could be far more productive and produce much less controversy.”

    Yeah, Russia got swindled out of the family cow, but at least they got these keen magic beans in return.

    Or, you can look at it this way. According to quantum physicists, the Many Worlds hypothesis predicts an infinite number of alternate universes in which events differ from our own according to a probability curve. Let’s say the pollsters were right and Hillary’s chances of winning were really 98%, which she did in 98% of the alternate universes. Only 2% of the alternate universes, including our own, saw Donald Trump win that election close to midnight on November 8th. Just maybe those 2% of the universes are the only ones with an Earth left standing after the nuclear war Hillary triggered soon after her inauguration. After all, think how pissed she must have been towards Russia in those worlds, knowing they had tried, but failed, to subvert her election. We should all breathe a sigh of relief, take a good stiff drink, and hope we keep winning in the Quantum Casino.

  13. Joe Tedesky
    March 14, 2017 at 23:46

    At certain moments while reading Gilbert Doctorow’s article I started to find some hope, and then I couldn’t remember what it was I was hoping for. Trust me I would be a static if I were to wake up tomorrow and find out that Russia and the U.S. were partnering up, and casting away this ugly Putin is bad witch hunt project. Then again I’m at that age where it’s better to anticipate nothing, and wake up accepting it as it being just another work day. It’s like me saying to the world, surprise me.

    Now if America were to quit selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, and quit handing over billions of dollars to Israel, now there’s something that would surprise me. If America were to lift the sanctions on Iran, and do something creditable to quiet down N Korea, now that would surprise me also. Beyond surprise would be for the U.S. to cut it’s defense spending by no less than 60%, and this would lead to scaling back of our militaries global presence from every corner of this globe. Shocking would be to see the CIA slimmed down to become a ‘gathering information only’ operation, and NGO’s would become a thing of the past. Finally if detente with Russia were to lead to a reliable healthy relationship between the U.S. and Russia that would be greater than any shocking surprise, it would be an end to a dangerous rivalry, and that would be a comforting feeling for all to enjoy.

      March 15, 2017 at 06:25


      I think that the Trump administration is going to quiet down North Korea by attacking their nuclear and rocket facilities. I’ve posted on this on my Facebook page (“posted” means “put an article up on my page”).

      Best wishes to all of us,


      • Joe Tedesky
        March 15, 2017 at 18:02

        I wrote a comment the other day where I compared Iran and N Korea to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although the reason I can say things like that, is because I’m not always right.

    • FobosDeimos
      March 15, 2017 at 14:51

      Great comment, Joe. You summed it up perfectly. So far there is no shred of evidence that Trump’s foreign policy will differ from that of his predecessors, including Obama.

      • Joe Tedesky
        March 15, 2017 at 17:58

        Cheney and Rumsfeld developed the Continuity of Government program, and I sometimes wonder what all that means since nothing ever seems to change no matter who sits in the Oval Office.

      • backwardsevolution
        March 15, 2017 at 18:37

        Fobos – I’ve read a few articles that do provide evidence of recent cooperation between the U.S. and Russia in Syria, but it’s being done quietly, just like the meeting in Turkey, behind the scenes. No other way it could be done at the moment, considering the present hysteria in the U.S. Let’s give this administration some time, some distance.

        • FobosDeimos
          March 15, 2017 at 19:11

          I hope you are right. Thank you!

  14. Tommy Jensen
    March 14, 2017 at 22:19

    The single meeting of military Generals in Antalaya described as Russia´s optimistic hope for a “Trump will save us” dream seems pathetic.
    Also sad to hear elite Russians just wanting to copy the American Jew way, using force for deception and looting.
    This contradicts the sympathy among many for the Putin´s government visions for social values and humanity.
    Unfortunately this is an attitude among many 2´nd world countries, they are so obsessed about being Western because of the money flow, that they adapt all destructive systems and manners into their society.
    Just look at Europe who destroy themselves by copying everything American.

    • James lake
      March 14, 2017 at 22:42

      These people are not the government
      They are on a talk show giving opinions for gods sake!!

      The writer needs to understand Zhironovsky is not Putin he represents a completely different party ideology.
      He is somewhat of a clown actually no wonder he supports Trump!

      The other gentleman Pushkov he mentions was actually removed from his role in the elections to the Duma. United Russia got a majority but this guy was removed – why? This needs to be born in mind

      I am fed up with a TV review acting as political analysis

      There really is s lack of real Russian insight and it leads to so many misunderstandings and mistakes

      • Tommy Jensen
        March 15, 2017 at 16:13

        Got it!

  15. Tristan
    March 14, 2017 at 21:14

    Excellent article, illuminating the fact that so much can come from good thoughtful articulation of ideas, discussion and debate, the facts and analysis.

      March 15, 2017 at 06:27


      Yes. You said it well—an incredible article, well written even though a very complicated subject.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

  16. Susan
    March 14, 2017 at 20:05

    Folks this dude is a Russian stooge just like Parry. So pissed I subscribed to this rag. Parry was once a real journalist. Now he’s a Russian hack. Trick or Treason indeed! I was tricked by a traitor. Glad Gary Webb doesn’t have to witness this.

    • John
      March 14, 2017 at 21:27

      Susan I hope you send your loved ones to KILL THE RUSSIANS……simple minds destroy peace… the way I hope YOU deploy personally to destroy Russia…..You are a coward with a big mouth

    • Evangelista
      March 14, 2017 at 21:44

      An intellectual bulletin, Susan:

      Everybody with a cranial compartment harboring a functioning intellect is “a Russian stooge”. The reason is almost too simple to reduce to simple enough words, but, here we go with a try: Putin has an intellect. He uses his intellect. Putin is an intellectual.

      Everyone who has intellect, as Putin has, and who uses his or her intellect, is an intellectual, like Putin, and, therefore, an intellectual stooge, ergo, a Putin stooge, and, Putin, being Russian, is a Russian intellectual, a Russian intellectual stooge. This because all intellectuals are stooges. This because all intellectuals however wide their intellects may range, and however disparate (widely opposing) their intellectual views may be, hold a common belief that intellect and intellectual exchanges, may, through processes designate ‘intellectual exchanges’, produce beneficial results, which results intellectuals designate ‘understandings’. Understandings are apart from agreements. They may include mutual understandings of differing views and viewpoints. It is the naive belief intellect imparts to intellectuals, that intellectual understandings may supervene over emotional excitations that makes intellectuals stooges to their intellects, and the fantasies those intellects induce them to believe.

      For this intellectually induced naiveté intellectual imaginations differ from emotional outrages, such as you enjoyed as you wrote. Emotional outrages are a form of excitation that non-intellectuals enjoy, even become addicted to. They find the adrenaline surges they are able to infuse themselves with through emotional outrage invigorating.

      Bathed in balms of invigorating adrenaline fury, non-intellectuals are able to rapture themselves into eruptions of emotional outrage and emotionally satisfying physical action. In these they attack, assault, mob, riot, maim, murder, lynch, burn, destroy, desecrate and urge escalation to war. I imagine the description here is familiar to you, and may even read, to you, as pornography.

      This would not be the case for your God Gary Webb, however, because Gary Webb was an intellectual. He was also an investigator, who sought his information, who chewed it to extract the facts, instead of sucking it as pap from nippled bottles of official sources formula.

      • John
        March 16, 2017 at 12:49


      • Halit
        March 16, 2017 at 22:05

        What a crappy crap that is crappy intellectual specialised verbal diarrhoea.

      • Sharon
        March 19, 2017 at 19:03

        Nice rant, Evangelista, you’ve nailed it.

    • Realist
      March 15, 2017 at 01:50

      Susan, you seem to be missing the necessary logical and factual foundations to your accusations against Mr. Parry. Rather they seem to be based on a lot of emotion, belief, hearsay or follow-the-herd mentality–you know, the Russophobia presently polluting the air in America. One rarely finds a journalist today as dedicated to presenting hard factual evidence and exacting logical analysis as Mr. Parry does across a range of subjects every day.

    • Sam F
      March 15, 2017 at 08:30

      This person is a paid or military hack, who certainly never subscribed here.

    • zman
      March 17, 2017 at 09:18

      There is no replying to such an attack, other than to realize that you have indeed drank the kool-ade and desire more. Gary Web is probably rolling over in his grave at your invocation of his name in such a manner, as he discounted the MSM and their lies in the quest for truth. You clearly have no such intention.

  17. Joe B
    March 14, 2017 at 20:00

    A Trump plan for de facto rapprochement with Russia seems unlikely but possible, although military cooperation is a good sign.

    US involvement in Syria’s future insurgency quagmire is highly suspect for many reasons, but no doubt welcomed by Russia. The result seems unplanned, as Iraq apparently has no plans to grant Sunnis an autonomous province in Anbar like the Kurds have, thus guaranteeing continuing insurgency. There will be no point at which the US can withdraw unless it does so immediately upon the “defeat” (guerillization) of ISIS/AlQaeda, and settling of any territory issues involving Turkey.Syria/Kurds. The US has a long history of installing tripwire forces claimed to be advisors, invading as soon as these suffer casualties, causing a disaster for everyone, and failing to withdraw during the ensuing guerilla war.

    These matters would be clarified if, after the Israeli/KSA/MIC/WallSt-controlled media settle down, Trump restrains Haley and draws down the NATO forces, perhaps claiming that – Surprise – Russia proved to be not about to invade Western Europe.

    The “Russia meddling” propaganda should be ignored: it must not be allowed to distract from the revelations that the Dems are controlled by Israel/KSA/WallSt as much as the Reps. Apparently the Reps want that distraction as much as the Dems, since their common oligarchy sponsors want to continue using the Dem facade to trick liberals into voting for the oligarchy.

  18. March 14, 2017 at 18:19

    Excellent analysis!

    Trump being president has very few silver-linings, but avoiding WWIII with Russia definitely tops the list. It’s good to know Trump is quietly keeping positive relations with Russia; a country that should be an ally of ours. There is no reason to be poking the Russian bear, a country who is poised to deal with the effects of Global Warming far better then us which will only increase their prominence, power and influence on the word scene

      March 15, 2017 at 06:36

      Absolutely, Michael K.—

      This was the single theme of my “Why Christians and World-Peace Advocates Voted for President Donald Trump.” I am amazed that all of my academic critics have overlooked this obvious point—not one philosophy Ph.D. of which I (I know hundreds) or my applied ethics mentor Professor Samuel Gorovitz (he knows thousands) know of anyone but me who supported Trump. This is worse than remarkable, and I go after these unthinking “philos sophia” folks in a chapter of my new book about the Deep State and President Trump. I am truly embarrassed by the blindness of my fellow senior professors in philosophy and their best graduate students. To be so taken in by the Clinton Propaganda Cabal is the height (or depth) of epistemological blindness, which should be blasted away instinctively by any real philosopher.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Northeastern University, Boston, MA—and I give full permission to anyone/everyone to blast away at any philosophy professors they know IN MY NAME. Thanks, in advance.

      • Al V.
        March 16, 2017 at 21:36

        Trump’s campaign speeches attracted me in two main aspects (and we need to separate main from other important but secondary, partly stemming from the main ones):
        1. Antiglobalization –> peace, saving money for America and skillful re-balancing/re-harmonization of the international situation based on reality and… minimal assumption of good will. Russia and China here are obvious obstacles to the globalization aspirations –> hence enemies.
        2. Small government and decentralization/localization of power opposing the already outgrown police state, which usually leads to fascism (only one party forever = democrats with millions of immigrants and illegals) and totalitarian socialist dictatorship Stalin’s style. Trump correctly said that his election was the last chance…

        Otherwise, just these two unsolved problems lead to the local and global catastrophes. Hope Deep State will not bet on his survival instinct. Yes, you have to be a bit crazy and narcissistic to carry this fight alone against the whole cemented multidecade-evolved Western regime where all mechanisms and careers are set against these two initiatives. I hope that those who energetically and blindly are promoting the agenda of the democrats now will one day realize who and what they serve and where they are pushing the world, while being blinded by the intoxicating feel of righteousness in smaller issues.

    • Brad Owen
      March 15, 2017 at 06:37

      It’s even better than most people think. The new paradigm that’s taking the World by storm is China’s Belt-and-Road-Initiative (BRI), of which Russia is a founding partner. It’s currently the ONLY economic engine that’s driving the World economy. The Trans-Atlantic Community (TAC: post-WWII alliance of USA, British Commonwealth, and Europe under EU/NATO) is bankrupt from repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, to the Crash of 2008, with an even bigger Crash on the horizon. The Neocon/Neolib policies of austerities and permanent warfare are also bankrupt. The oligarchy of this TAC (finance community of London and Wall Street, along with their Managerial Elites in the MIIC and EU), are in disarray and in panic mode, because their time on the World Stage is up. It is over…post-WWII World is OVER. Russia and China are awaiting USA’s joining up with them, in the BRI era of New Deal/Marshall Plan activities for the entire World. The time of “beating swords into plowshares” has arrived. Trump knows this and quietly proceeds towards it…but our Establishment holds on to the old era of austerity/war, so it resists (the actual reality underlying the Resist Movement) because it can’t give up the unipolar power policy, even though it’s irrevocably OVER, in this new Multi-Polar BRI era. And the ONLY way Trump can fulfill his economic policy of “make America Great Again” is with massive financial assistance from China and Japan, which they WANT TO DO for us, to help drag us into the new BRI era. Trump stinks on the domestic/General Welfare side of policy, but that’s mainly due to the Republican Establishment (as thoroughly rotten and corrupt as the Democratic Establishment), surrounding him. He’s also ham-strung by Bannon’s “Holy War’ ideas concerning the Muslim World…BUT, this too, will be subsumed into the new BRI era, and will vanish like a bad dream upon awakening (into the new BRI era). I get this analysis from Executive Intelligence Review (EIR).

  19. James lake
    March 14, 2017 at 16:02

    The writer really doesn’t want to admit Trump had back tracked on all his stated

    The truss Ian on this show seem equally deluded

    Thank god they are not in kremlin government they will Judge the actions of trump, Clinton would be proud

    there is nothing positive about Trumps foreign policy
    – Nikki Haley is Samantha power 2.0
    – the ground troops in Syria
    – drone use and arms sales in Yemen

    • Kiza
      March 14, 2017 at 19:40

      Well, it is the author’s strong interest that there is a detente with Russia, therefore, it may be hard for him to accept that it is dead.

      Personally, I am not very optimistic for the US-Russia relationship, if for now other reason then for the second part of this essay, which describes Russian geopolitical ambitions in direct opposition to US imperial and Israeli interests. Russian policies of cooperation with Iran are economically strengthening Iran, which is the last thing that Israel wants. Then, either will the Russians fool Israelis or the Israelis will fool the Russians, both cannot win.

      Also, my impression is that the Russian elite now wants to be holier capitalists than the capitalists, to create a mini-empire of the US kind. We help you militarily, you give us most of your business. Not much different from: “we destroy you and then we take all of your business (oil etc)” that US does. Not sure how that will turn out, the best indication will be the final outcome in Syria. Russia has the upper hand in Syria now, but there is no real, long-term solution on the horizon. If Russia manages to stabilize Syria, its stature will increase even further.

      This article really convinced me that US is justified in considering Russia one of its key competitors in the World. What is the point of detente with you major competitor when your interests will keep clashing around the World? Perhaps a revival of dialogue?

        March 15, 2017 at 06:38


        You write:

        “Well, it is the author’s strong interest that there is a detente with Russia, therefore, it may be hard for him to accept that it is dead.”

        I think you missed the parts of the article where the author addressed this concern and showed that this concern is, here, still-born.

        • Kiza
          March 16, 2017 at 06:18

          There is a light delusion present in Dr Doctorow and in some Russians a read on Russia-Insider, that Trump will be doing a stealth detente. I still think that Clinton would have been un unmitigable disaster and under her by now the tensions would have been extreme. Trump is much less confrontational: no chance of detente, but yes to status quo with up-down variations.

      • Joe B
        March 15, 2017 at 08:22

        But real interests of the US do not conflict with those of Russia, except as ordinary trade competition.
        We are not a gas exporter, because it is uncompetitive to ship it in tankers, not the fault of Russia.
        We can buy and sell wherever they do.
        There is no cause to bring militarism into competition.
        So there is no more cause to oppose Russia than to oppose the NATO countries.

        Israel is the cause of all of the Mideast militarism.

        • Kiza
          March 16, 2017 at 06:13

          One reason to oppose Russia is also to maintain a packing hierarchy of the NWO: our Euro-servants have to be ahead of our enemies. The NWO packing order is:
          1) US Zionists
          2) Israel
          3) Gulf countries lead by KSA
          4) US population
          5) Five eyes countries (e.g the British)
          6) EU countries
          7) all countries of our coloured servants
          8) all our enemies led by Russia and China.

  20. Geoffrey de Galles
    March 14, 2017 at 15:09

    Cf. #24 of Prof. Filip Kovacevic’s weekly RUSSIAN NEWSPAPER MONITOR (approx. 35 mins.)
    scheduled for posting on March 19/20, 2017 @ Newsbud / Boiling Frogs Post @ YouTube.

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