A Breach in the Anti-Putin Groupthink

The mainstream U.S. media has virtually banned any commentary that doesn’t treat Russian President Putin as the devil, but a surprising breach in the groupthink has occurred in Foreign Affairs magazine, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

Realistically, no major change in U.S. foreign and defense policy is possible without substantial support from the U.S. political class, but a problem occurs when only one side of a debate gets a fair hearing and the other side gets ignored or marginalized. That is the current situation regarding U.S. policy toward Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

For the past couple of decades, only the neoconservatives and their close allies, the liberal interventionists, have been allowed into the ring to raise their gloves in celebration of an uncontested victory over policy. On the very rare occasion when a “realist” or a critic of “regime change” wars somehow manages to sneak into the ring, they find both arms tied behind them and receive the predictable pounding.

While this predicament has existed since the turn of this past century, it has grown more pronounced since the U.S.-Russia relationship slid into open confrontation in 2014 after the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych and sparking a civil war that led Crimea to secede and join Russia and Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region to rise up in rebellion.

But the only narrative that the vast majority of Americans have heard – and that the opinion centers of Washington and New York have allowed – is the one that blames everything on “Russian aggression.” Those who try to express dissenting opinions – noting, for instance, the intervention in Ukrainian affairs by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland as well as the U.S.-funded undermining on Yanukovych’s government – have been essentially banned from both the U.S. mass media and professional journals.

When a handful of independent news sites (including Consortiumnews.com) tried to report on the other side of the story, they were denounced as “Russian propagandists” and ended up on “blacklists” promoted by The Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets.

An Encouraging Sign

That is why it is encouraging that Foreign Affairs magazine, the preeminent professional journal of American diplomacy, took the extraordinary step (extraordinary at least in the current environment) of publishing Robert English’s article, entitled “Russia, Trump, and a new Détente,” that challenges the prevailing groupthink and does so with careful scholarship.

A wintery scene in Moscow, near Red Square. (Photo by Robert Parry)

In effect, English’s article trashes the positions of all Foreign Affairs’ featured contributors for the past several years. But it must be stressed that there are no new discoveries of fact or new insights that make English’s essay particularly valuable. What he has done is to bring together the chief points of the counter-current and set them out with extraordinary writing skills, efficiency and persuasiveness of argumentation.  Even more important, he has been uncompromising.

The facts laid out by English could have been set out by one of several experienced and informed professors or practitioners of international relations. But English had the courage to follow the facts where they lead and the skill to convince the Foreign Affairs editors to take the chance on allowing readers to see some unpopular truths even though the editors now will probably come under attack themselves as “Kremlin stooges.”

The overriding thesis is summed up at the start of the essay: “For 25 years, Republicans and Democrats have acted in ways that look much the same to Moscow. Washington has pursued policies that have ignored Russian interests (and sometimes international law as well) in order to encircle Moscow with military alliances and trade blocs conducive to U.S. interests. It is no wonder that Russia pushes back. The wonder is that the U.S. policy elite doesn’t get this, even as foreign-affairs neophyte Trump apparently does.”

English’s article goes back to the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and explains why and how U.S. policy toward Russia was wrong and wrong again. He debunks the notion that Boris Yeltsin brought in a democratic age, which Vladimir Putin undid after coming to power.

English explains how the U.S. meddled in Russian domestic politics in the mid-1990s to falsify election results and ensure Yeltsin’s continuation in office despite his unpopularity for bringing on an economic Depression that average Russians remember bitterly to this day. That was a time when the vast majority of Russians equated democracy with “shitocracy.”

English describes how the Russian economic and political collapse in the 1990s was exploited by the Clinton administration. He tells why currently fashionable U.S. critics of Putin are dead wrong when they fail to acknowledge Putin’s achievements in restructuring the economy, tax collection, governance, improvements in public health and more which account for his spectacular popularity ratings today.

English details all the errors and stupidities of the Obama administration in its handling of Russia and Putin, faulting President Obama and Secretary of State (and later presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton for all of their provocative and insensitive words and deeds. What we see in U.S. policy, as described by English, is the application of double standards, a prosecutorial stance towards Russia, and outrageous lies about the country and its leadership foisted on the American public.

Then English takes on directly all of the paranoia over Russia’s alleged challenge to Western democratic processes. He calls attention instead to how U.S. foreign policy and the European Union’s own policies in the new Member States and candidate Member States have created all the conditions for a populist revolt by buying off local elites and subjecting the broad populace in these countries to pauperization.

English concludes his essay with a call to give détente with Putin and Russia a chance.

Who Is Robert English? 

English’s Wikipedia entry and biographical data provided on his University of Southern California web pages make it clear that he has quality academic credentials: Master of Public Administration and PhD. in politics from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He also has a solid collection of scholarly publications to his credit as author or co-editor with major names in the field of Russian-Soviet intellectual history.

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

He spent six years doing studies for U.S. intelligence and defense: 1982–1986 at the Department of Defense and 1986-88 at the U.S. Committee for National Security. And he has administrative experience as the Director of the USC School of International Relations.

Professor English is not without his political ambitions. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, he tried to secure a position as foreign policy adviser to Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders. In pursuit of this effort, English had the backing of progressives at The Nation, which in February 2016 published an article of his entitled “Bernie Sanders, the Foreign Policy Realist of 2016.”

English’s objective was to demonstrate how wrong many people were to see in Sanders a visionary utopian incapable of defending America’s strategic interests. Amid the praise of Sanders in this article, English asserts that Sanders is as firm on Russia as Hillary Clinton.

By the end of the campaign, however, several tenacious neocons had attached themselves to Sanders’s inner circle and English departed. So, one might size up English as just one more opportunistic academic who will do whatever it takes to land a top job in Washington.

While there is nothing new in such “flexibility,” there is also nothing necessarily offensive in it. From the times of Machiavelli if not earlier, intellectuals have tended to be guns for hire. The first open question is how skilled they are in managing their sponsors as well as in managing their readers in the public. But there is also a political realism in such behavior, advancing a politician who might be a far better leader than the alternatives while blunting the attack lines that might be deployed against him or her.

Then, there are times, such as the article for Foreign Affairs, when an academic may be speaking for his own analysis of an important situation whatever the political costs or benefits. Sources who have long been close to English assure me that the points in his latest article match his true beliefs.

The Politics of Geopolitics

Yet, it is one thing to have a courageous author and knowledgeable scholar. It is quite another to find a publisher willing to take the heat for presenting views that venture outside the mainstream Establishment. In that sense, it is stunning that Foreign Affairs chose to publish English and let him destroy the groupthink that has dominated the magazine and the elite foreign policy circles for years.

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The only previous exception to the magazine’s lockstep was an article by University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer entitled “Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault” published in September 2014. That essay shot holes in Official Washington’s recounting of the events leading up to the Russian annexation of Crimea and intervention in the Donbass.

It was a shock to many of America’s leading foreign policy insiders who, in the next issue, rallied like a collection of white cells to attack the invasive thinking. But there were some Foreign Affairs readers – about one-third of the commenters – who voiced agreement with Mearsheimer’s arguments. But that was a one-time affair. Mearsheimer appears to have been tolerated because he was one of the few remaining exponents of the Realist School in the United States. But he was not a Russia specialist.

Foreign Affairs may have turned to Robert English because the editors, as insider-insiders, found themselves on the outside of the Trump administration looking in. The magazine’s 250,000 subscribers, which include readers from across the globe, expect Foreign Affairs to have some lines into the corridors of power.

In that regard, the magazine has been carrying water for the State Department since the days of the Cold War. For instance, in the spring issue of 2007, the magazine published a cooked-up article signed by Ukrainian politician Yuliya Tymoshenko on why the West must contain Russia, a direct response to Putin’s famous Munich speech in which he accused the United States of destabilizing the world through the Iraq War and other policies.

Anticipating Hillary Clinton’s expected election, Foreign Affairs’ editors did not hedge their bets in 2016. They sided with the former Secretary of State and hurled rhetorical bricks at Donald Trump. In their September issue, they compared him to a tin-pot populist dictator in South America.

Thus, they found themselves cut off after Trump’s surprising victory. For the first time in many years in the opening issue of the New Year following a U.S. presidential election, the magazine did not feature an interview with the incoming Secretary of State or some other cabinet member.

Though Official Washington’s anti-Russian frenzy seems to be reaching a crescendo on Capitol Hill with strident hearings on alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election, the underlying reality is that the neocons are descending into a fury over their sudden loss of power.

The hysteria was highlighted when neocon Sen. John McCain lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul after the libertarian senator objected to special consideration for McCain’s resolution supporting Montenegro’s entrance into NATO. In a stunning breach of Senate protocol, a livid McCain accused Paul of “working for Vladimir Putin.”

Meanwhile, some Democratic leaders have begun cautioning their anti-Trump followers not to expect too much from congressional investigations into the supposed Trump-Russia collusion on the election.

In publishing Robert English’s essay challenging much of the anti-Russian groupthink that has dominated Western geopolitics over the past few years, Foreign Affairs may be finally bending to the recognition that it is risking its credibility if it continues to put all its eggs in the we-hate-Russia basket.

That hedging of its bets may be a case of self-interest, but it also may be an optimistic sign that the martyred Fifteenth Century Catholic Church reformer Jan Hus was right when he maintained that eventually the truth will prevail.

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

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83 comments for “A Breach in the Anti-Putin Groupthink

  1. March 21, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Hopefully we’ll muddle toward sanity. I didn’t know that neocon barnacles had attached to Sanders’ campaign. He did make some innuendos reflecting that he might have drunk the kool-aid. Stephen F. Cohen in The Nation is also a breath of fresh air, but Foreign Affairs carries more gravitas with the Washington set. I’m sure those neocons will be working overtime to debunk English, though!

    • JWalters
      March 21, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Completely agree on Stephen Cohen. Here’s an excellent interview with his perspective on the Russia situation, including his views of the U.S. media’s “groupthink”.
      https://www.thenation.com/article/reheating-the-cold-war/

      Further background information on the origins of this “groupthink” is in “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.
      http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

    • evelync
      March 22, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      I also didn’t know that “neocon barnacles had attached to Sanders’ campaign” or even what that means – the innuendo is that these neocon barnacles had been welcomed into Sanders campaign and therefore had compromised Sanders’ seeming anti regime change positions, unless I misunderstood all of Sanders’ campaign rhetoric during the Democratic primary.

      I would appreciate a clarification on this from Gilbert Doctorow or anyone else who holds the same opinion, please.

      • March 23, 2017 at 12:18 am

        Sanders was bad on war & peace issues… Much better on socioeconomic issues.

      • Bill Rood
        March 23, 2017 at 9:01 pm

        Sanders approved of US drone policies and said he wanted Saudi Arabia to take a more active role in the Middle East. Those were enough to disqualify him for my vote until Tulsi Gabbard endorsed him. At that point, I thought maybe he was starting to rethink a little but I still wasn’t committed to voting for him.

        Also, many people in Vermont were unhappy with him for backing Clinton’s bombing of Serbia, even though they benefited from his “hard work” in getting F-35s based in Vermont.

  2. Patrick Lucius
    March 21, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Great article here. I look forward to English’s piece. I recall Mearshimer’s article as impressive.

  3. Sheryl
    March 21, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    The LA Times actually had an editorial piece that was surprisingly well balanced. It’s entitled ” Editorial: Beyond the ‘puppet’ question, what is Trump’s game plan for Russia?” by The Times Editorial Board.

    From the article:

    “In an essay for the Center for the National Interest, Thomas Graham, a Russian expert, has called for “a new equilibrium, that is, a balance of cooperation and competition with Russia that reduces the risk of great-power conflict, manages geopolitical rivalry and constrains transnational threats.” Under such an approach, the United States might address Russian concerns — about Ukraine joining NATO, for example — while reassuring U.S. allies.”

    • Kiza
      March 22, 2017 at 8:26 am

      With respect, such proposal looks simply laughable in the face of high-temperature, seriously nutty anti-Russian propaganda emanating from most US MSM. The two countries are on a verge of a nuclear war, how can we talk about “a balance of cooperation and competition with Russia”. The Russians are observing what is going on in the US MSM and before any “balance” could be sought, most US politicians, pundits and talking heads would have to go and see a psychiatrist. The psychiatry wards would be overflowing with those with unhealthy focus on Russia. Russia is actually not as important in this World as the sick and perverted US MSM make it look.

      • Sheryl
        March 22, 2017 at 11:33 am

        With all due respect, my point was that at least a major U.S. publication is acknowledging that cooperation is more desirable. I know the story isn’t completely correct, but it’s a start.

      • James van Oosterom
        March 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        “The two countries are on a verge of a nuclear war….”

        Not gonna happen.There’s no money in it. We’re more likely to see the Yellowstone caldera blow up.

        • Kiza
          March 22, 2017 at 8:00 pm

          Dear James, yours is the kind of thinking that is extremely dangerous: “it is not going to happen because there is no money in it”. This kind of thinking is extremely dangerous because it presupposes that all players are hyper-rational and that mistakes and errors could never happen. On top, if you ever spent any time in the military, you would understand that dumbness is the No. 1 characteristic in ALL militaries.

          The NATO and Russia are on the verge of the nuclear war because the two armies are facing each other on the Russian border in the Baltics (the main faceoff is in Latvia). There are hundreds of possible scenarios of things going wrong, some of which are false flags, but the simplest one is: a Russian cargo plane flying towards Russian enclave of Kaliningrad over a very narrow international corridor in the Baltic Sea experiences a navigation malfunction and strays a few hundred meters into the airspace of one of the nasty little Baltics countries and gets shot-down by a stupid or drunken military commander. Then one thing leads to another, tit for tat and …

          Most US people really have no idea what their government is doing by confronting Russia on its border, under the alternative reality excuse of “aggressive Russia”, or offence is the best defence. The countries such as Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania should have never been admitted to NATO (and Ukraine which must not be admitted to NATO). The Russians and those have a thousand year history of killing each other. Whenever Russia would be attacked by Germany, France or Poland they would join and kill as many Russians as they can. On the way back, the Russians would pay them back. Now, when US and Germany are sending tanks and troops to the Russian border, these Russia-haters feel emboldened to be aggressive again and to pick up a fight with Russia.

          Do you start to appreciate how dangerous things really are?

        • SteveK9
          March 23, 2017 at 9:06 am

          If Hillary had won and established the ‘no-fly zone’ she proposed in Syria, and subsequently shot down some Russian planes, where exactly would we have been. All the Russia garbage will probably not push Trump into something that idiotic.

          But, we are talking low probabilities against an outcome that would kill billions and end civilization. Given the consequences, it is prudent to push that probability as low as possible, not raise it like the morons in the Democratic party (I’m a Democrat) and CNN seem anxious to do.

  4. hillary
    March 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    We all should know by now that “Those who try to express dissenting opinions – noting, for instance, the intervention in Ukrainian affairs by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland as well as the U.S.-funded undermining on Yanukovych’s government – have been essentially banned from both the U.S. mass media and professional journals.”
    They are rare breed indeed maybe because thereafter their future will not entertained in the MSM & as they say “ won’t be appearing on “Meet the Press” any time soon.
    The MSM is & has been a shameful contribution to democracy for a very long time.

    • March 21, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      They don’t call it the Main Sewerline Media for nothing.

  5. Stumpy
    March 21, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    ” The wonder is that the U.S. policy elite doesn’t get this, even as foreign-affairs neophyte Trump apparently does.”

    Perhaps they _do_ get it, but their interests are not met by pleasing Moscow. Frankly, they probably see Russia as the eventual target, not of military conquest, but rather subjugating it to the globalists economic extraction doctrine.

    • Lois Gagnon
      March 22, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      They had that under Yeltzin and Putin took their fun away. That is why he is vilified. There’s nothing Washington hates more than an equal on the world stage.

    • Beard681
      March 23, 2017 at 8:24 am

      Please. Is it really so complex? With Bin Laden dead, and ISIS slowly being ground into the dust of The Levant by Russia and the Shias, without big bad Putin, how can the neoCONS possibly justify an $800 billion military budget?

  6. David
    March 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Anyone see this? http://journal-neo.org/2017/03/18/what-you-can-t-be-told-turkey-and-the-deep-state/

    This gentleman would have us believe that it was Turkey and Saudi Arabia behind the Ukraine coup.

    • Sam F
      March 21, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      The article seemed to me a bit off the wall; perhaps others know more.

  7. Bill Bodden
    March 21, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    During yesterday’s hearing held by the House Intelligence (?) committee Rep. Adam Schiff stated unequivocally that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. Unfortunately, FBI Director Comey didn’t ask Schiff to provide his evidence to assist with the FBI’s investigation into the matter.

  8. March 21, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Worth Listening to at link below:
    ———————————————————
    Intel community trying to undermine Trump’s presidency?

    “Wake Up America” Dennis Kucinich…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j_ZfKmcnSk

  9. Marko
    March 21, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Well , we’re not hearing that “Assad Must Go” too much these days – an encouraging sign if one is a fan of sanity and reality.

    Could ” Putin Must Go ” be on the same track ? I sure hope so. While we’re at it , can we also consign ” Must Obey Israel and Saudi Arabia ” to the same fate ?

    • March 21, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      May I say “AMEN” to that?

    • hillary
      March 22, 2017 at 9:46 am

      But we STILL hear the war in Syria referred to as “the Civil War in Syria”.

      Can anyone remember how MR. Paul Wolfowitz the neocon Ex US Deputy Secretary of Defense PUBLICALLY denied that there would any conflict between the Shia & Suni factions in Iraq after the invasion & has SINCE been held in high esteem as a pundit on the Middle East in the MSM..

      • Webej
        March 22, 2017 at 12:41 pm

        And we’re not seeing anything about the humanitarian situation in Mosul. 850.000 people are being crushed in this war. In Okt/Nov, when the campaign was nowhere as fierce as now, the UN report 4300 and 4700 casualties. Nobody is reporting casualties anymore. In Aleppo the 250.000 al-Nusra hostages turned out to be only 100.000, and most neighbourhoods were freed by secret dealings between Russia/Syria and the terrorists on the basis of extensive intelligence scouting. In Mosul by contrast air raids are moving forward house by house. But the West pretends that it is all humanitarian bombs falling on the populated houses there.

  10. D5-5
    March 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Why should this author English be sized up (possibly) as “one more opportunistic academic who will do whatever it takes to land a top job in Washington?”

    I won’t get an answer to this question but I’m curious. Does Gilbert think it necessary to suggest English can be slammed as a way to make him more palatable, given that he’s challenging Central Brainwashing? Why not assume Gilbert wanted to make a contribution?

    Nothing in what Gilbert has said suggests “opportunism” and ruthlessness. Why this backhand slap, what reasoning supports it?

    • D5-5
      March 21, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      This should say why not assume English wanted to make a contribution?

    • JWalters
      March 21, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      I suspect those points were a pre-emptive defense against the “groupthink” (i.e. Deep State) attacks to come.

    • Kiza
      March 22, 2017 at 8:34 am

      Common guys, Dr Doctorow is NOT an academic and probably for a good reason – because most academics are “intellectual” guns for hire who use universities as launching pads. Perhaps you need to familiarise yourself with US academia (or any Western academia) a bit better. Besides, Mr English has shown political ambition, so why are you getting hung up on a few words?

      • D5-5
        March 22, 2017 at 11:24 am

        Showing political ambition is apparently automatically in simplistic thinking “opportunistic academic who will do whatever it takes to land a job in Washington.” Doctorow appears to throw this out as some kind of cover in case this IS the case, without having provided any indication of its being the case–and you accept it automatically and scold those who question it? Automatic demonizing I think is something we should be suspicious of, and not airily dismiss as you have done here.

        • Kiza
          March 23, 2017 at 1:44 am

          How about Dr Doctorow is envious of Dr English’s cushy Government job with a good base salary on an academic launching pad to bigger and better things, which has nothing in common with his own position. Dr Doctorow has to work extremely hard for every grant dollar he gets, no jucy retainers where he is. Would this statement make you happier or would you still prefer to see regime-appeasing conspiracies (Brainwashing Central) wherever you look? We appear to be on the same side of the argument, no need to get hung up on exactly four words in an article. A bit more empathy would help.

  11. D5-5
    March 21, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    This morning with my coffee shop breakfast and a broadsheet old style local paper I was treated to several articles and editorial page repeating the NY Times and Washington Post, all authors assuming the Russia hacking allegations are a done deal, it’s fo’ shore, honey, although Comey indicated no results will be published necessarily (ever), the investigation could go on a very long time, and one of these smugly convinced journalists ends his article with “at some point we will find out, or not.”

    So the prop washjob is established over the first paragraphs with absolute they did it assertions assuming apparently readers’ eyes will glaze over any possible qualifications or suggestions of doubts, and by the time “or not” is reached, the previous assertions out of thin air have become as solid as the sausages and home fries on my plate.

    However, another part of this same paper reported that Trump’s supporters are entirely skeptical due to their seething disbelief in “The Establishment.”

    Diners around me all seemed preoccupied with other things and seemed to be having a good time.

    Couple of reminders:

    *DEMS (now known in the paper I was reading as “liberals”) are very very nervous that the whole flimsy meme is about to come crashing down and be exposed. This is still hot.

    *Guccifer 2.0 is still being touted as a Russian agent connected to Putin, although there is the possibility this source is from US intell itself as discussed on this site some weeks back.

    *Comey’s swearing up and down Donald is full of BS on surveillance of him and his team, misleadingly, didn’t qualify that he was only talking about the FBI when he denied such surveillance happened.

  12. backwardsevolution
    March 21, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    “Listening to Comey and Rogers today, if they are not working against President Trump, what would classify as working against Trump? Trump supporters ask why Trump doesn’t fire these two men who are working to block a reduction in the dangerous tensions between Washington and Russia. Are the Democrats, Comey, Rogers, the CIA and their media whores so stupid that they don’t understand what it means when the President of Russia says, “the Americans have destroyed our trust in them?”

    Trump doesn’t fire Comey and Rogers, because he cannot fire them. If he fires them, the Democrats and presstitutes will explain the firings as proof that Trump is a Russian agent and is covering up his treason by removing those investigating it.”

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/03/20/conspiracy-president-trump/

    Yes, Trump has got to let this play out on its own. But if no evidence surfaces against Trump and his team, then those who are responsible for this witch-hunt need to be hunted down and jailed, Comey and Rogers need to be fired. They certainly went through Anthony Weiner’s laptop emails quickly. I’m sure they won’t stall on this investigation (sarc!)

    Trump should turn around and pass a law that ends the monopoly of the 6 corporations that own 90% of the lying media.

    • Kiza
      March 22, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Excellent comment.

      “Trump doesn’t fire Comey and Rogers, because he cannot fire them. If he fires them, the Democrats and presstitutes will explain the firings as proof that Trump is a Russian agent and is covering up his treason by removing those investigating it.”

      I explained the current “survival” of the Democratic appointees exactly the same and I concluded that they will drag on their “investigation” of Trump-Putin links forever, to drip-feed the Deep State media machine with their ambiguous statements for months to come (the Main Sewerline Media). It was funny to watch Comey’s cockiness during a dumb speech he gave recently, I think at some university or something: “I have a long contract with FBI, you will keep seeing me for quite a while!” As you suggest, he is obviously going to wrap up that Trump-Putin investigation as quickly as he analysed through 60,000 Clinton emails on the Weiner’s laptop to declare Clinton innocent.

      • Realist
        March 23, 2017 at 4:45 pm

        It sure was an insightful comment. A lot of people don’t appreciate why certain moves cannot be made, no matter how necessary and obvious. Another approach that Comey and the insurrectionists can take is to drag their “investigation” out over the long term, constraining the policies that the administration can make until its term of office ends. They might be especially inclined to take this tack if they’ve got bupkis in the way of evidence against Trump and/or his appointees. Dragging the “scandal” out will also aid the Democrats in the next two election cycles, because American voters tend to develop rapid onset amnesia about political and international events, having the collective long-term memory of goldfish.

  13. backwardsevolution
    March 21, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Here’s a excellent March 13, 2017 interview with Assad. Watch the second video (the first video is just a short version of the second, and the third video is in French). It’s a good listen and very current. 26 minutes. Assad speaks of Russia, Iran, Amnesty International, the “moderates”, the West.

    http://hildegardvonhessenamrhein.over-blog.com/2017/03/bachar-se-fait-deux-pressetituees-de-tf1-europe-1-au-petit-dejeuner.html

  14. Lisa
    March 21, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    After taking a hasty look at the original article by Robert English in Foreign Affairs, I can agree that it truly is revolutionary among US media reports on Russia, complete with excellent background knowledge and thorough research on the issue.

    There was just this one remark that left me wondering:

    “Few Russians who endured this corruption and humiliation (US openly supporting the corrupt Yeltsin regime – my remark) have much sympathy with U.S. anger over Russian meddling in the 2016 election.”

    The author does not seem to argue with this allegation of Russian meddling. Maybe it would have been just too much for the American readers who by now have been hearing daily of the Russian interference in the election for about four months.

    Generally, the article is very tough reading for many Americans – everything they have learned to consider the truth, suddenly appears to be just the opposite. Can they swallow it?

    • backwardsevolution
      March 21, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Lisa – “The author does not seem to argue with this allegation of Russian meddling.” A mind can only take so much at one time. Perhaps he thought he’d better throw a bone to the believers.

    • exiled off mainstreet
      March 21, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      It is indeed a weakness for him to accept this official deep state story even though it is collapsing of its own weight as we speak. It is a sign of how far things have declined that such disclaimers appear necessary to opponents of the groupthink.

    • Beard681
      March 23, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Meddling can have many different meanings. i have been watching RT (also Al Jezzera, BBC and France24 among others) and RT certainly tilted towards Trump. So perhaps this can be considered “meddling”. Certainly RT got a lot press at the recent hearings, and appearing on RT is tantamount to treason in the eyes of the MSM.

      One interesting observation on national press organs. When Wikileaks published CIA papers on infiltration of the French political parties during recent campaigns, it got scant attention in the US MSM, while it got really big attention from RT. I went over to France24 to see what they had to say and they completely ignored it!

  15. March 21, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Obviously this preoccupation with Russia could be a diversion. We are dealing with people in power (past and present) that are up to their dirty necks in planned wars and playing both sides. I wonder when if ever these war criminals will be held accountable?
    [much more info at links below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/10/the-unpunished-war-crimes-of-war.html
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/03/the-scumbags-of-western-world-and-their.html

    • D5-5
      March 21, 2017 at 7:59 pm

      This is absolutely THE question, I think. You’ve nailed it. Why should those responsible for the financial fiasco of 08 not be held accountable?

  16. exiled off mainstreet
    March 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    It is heartening that the truth is still publishable in such a venue, though the dominance of fascist imperialist claptrap is also apparent. If the truth does not will out, our survival is in question.

  17. D5-5
    March 21, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    A question I have mentioned but not seen covered yet, and I could be missing the information, is just what constitutes the interference the Russians are accused of?

    Notice it doesn’t seem to get much beyond: “They interfered with our elections, or they attempted to interfere.”

    I keep scratching my head with HOW did they do this? What does this mean?

    And I never see it qualified or spelled out, always just stated in a very general sort of way. They did it, end of story.

    I’m asking: what is it? What did they do?

    Let me suggest some answers and I welcome being straightened out on what I’m missing here.

    *they interfered because they favored Trump and made this preference known to the world?

    *they interfered because they made secret deals with Trump and others who became members of his team well in advance of the election itself, despite all indications Hillary would win (up to the very eve of November 7, I might add, as we all watched dumbstruck the results) and these team members hadn’t been chosen yet?

    *they interfered because indications of these secret deals are now known, for example with Flynn, who said the Trump administration would take another look at the dismissed diplomats and the sanctions? True, this was after the election but it shows how Trump and Russia had to be cooperating all along with sinister projects?

    *they interfered because they actively assisted in what Greg Palast has studied as fixing the election for the Republicans? They were involved in that?

    *they interfered because they hacked into the vote counting systems across America and fixed the actual vote counting, county by county, so that the electoral count is not accurate (or they attempted to do this)?

    *they released the emails showing the DNC was corrupt in favoring Hillary over Bernie, including engineering smears against Bernie and helping Hillary to know upcoming questions in the debates?

    *but if they did this, showing wrongdoing in the DNC operation and Hillary Clinton, wasn’t that actually doing America a service instead of interfering? Was that hey, you guys, might have some criminals involved in your elections? Is this negative interference, as a friendly heads-up?

    *or possibly they interfered because whatever the state of our elections it’s “none of their business”?

    *they interfered because they released the emails showing suspicious activity with The Clinton Foundation, and they did these last because that would cause Hillary’s defeat and put Donald in The White House?

    *as with above: revealing possible pay-for-play behavior, which could be seen as serving America versus interfering with it, is “none of their business”?

    (but these two last have been challenged numerous times and are not yet proven, including that recently we have ex-intelligence officials coming forward to tell us there is no flame, “only smoke” and “there is no there there”)

    *they didn’t really interfere but they certainly could have, and stating they actually DID IT is needed because otherwise people won’t pay attention?

    This COULD HAVE in fact is the basis of the “assessments” that Mr. Comey spoke about January 6. Although at that time Mr. Comey’s FBI did not conduct an investigation and relied on Crowdstrike, an intell service hired by Clinton. So if NOW (yesterday) Comey is announcing an investigation does this somewhat suggest the January 6 announcement was a) premature b) entirely false c) more smoke with no fire for the sake of public relations?

    *they interfered because what with problems in Syria, Ukraine, and NATO encroachments, they don’t really have enough to do and being them lowdown rotten commies of The Soviet Union they have a longing to take on control of America as part of their lust for global hegemony?

    • Brad Owen
      March 22, 2017 at 4:41 am

      The only way Russia interfered with the election is by consistently refusing to play the official “opponent” for the Western Empire of London & Wall $treet, and consistently being a strong proponent of China’s New Silk Road win-win policy of cooperating on vast projects of concern for the common destiny and general welfare of all humanity. This cancels the war party’s grand designs for divide & conquer & immiserate via austerity. The voters are tired of war & poverty.

      • D5-5
        March 22, 2017 at 11:26 am

        Yes, of course on the real reasons, they are clear. My concern was for the official reasons, which seem to me to have been quite scarce, indicating all that’s needed is repeat after me dogma as the way to establish “truth.”

        • Brad Owen
          March 22, 2017 at 2:49 pm

          I understand. I was just using the opportunity you’ve afforded with your question, to state the reality of the situation for the record, for other eyes to see, in black & white. I know you understand, D5. A sort of releasing of a “vibe into the aether”, so to say.

    • Beard681
      March 23, 2017 at 8:53 am

      I knew Trump would win, and I am actually surprised he didn’t win the popular vote. How? Because my engineering job requires travel to parts of America from Upstate NY through PA, IA. MI, WI etc. Those areas were awash with Trump signs. This included gritty, solidly Democratic Union factory towns. I can only imagine how all those people reacted to being called scum of the earth “deplorables”. Even if they were not enthusiastic about Trump, the name calling applied to their neighbors and friends.

      Meanwhile back in NYC “I’m with Her” signs and stickers were rare, showing limited enthusiasm. Maybe the Russian diplomatic staff in the US actually did their jobs, gauging the will of the people, while the elitist MSM minions never left their coastal bubbles.

      • Skip Scott
        March 24, 2017 at 7:25 am

        I saw the same thing myself. I travel across country by car about 4 times a year to visit family, and I saw Bernie signs and I saw Trump signs, but I didn’t see a Hillary sign or bumper sticker until I hit the coast, and even then very rarely. Yet the DINOS can’t figure out why they lost. Must ‘a been those damn Ruskies!

  18. March 21, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    Folks, As a follow up to Gilbert Doctorow’s excellent piece above, I just had to read the Foreign Affairs piece he references. In this hugely important narrative, Robert English places a wholly new spin on the breathless hyperventilating in Washington from the Beltway Bedlamites and their hacks, flacks ‘n lackies that populate the MSM over Russian “aggression”, Russian “spying”, and Russian “interference in US elections” and sundry other Russian sins. An absolute must read for those seeking some admittedly rare balance and sanity given the current furore that’s consuming all and sundry on both banks of the Potomac. Please note to access the full article, readers will have to sign up, but can access I think up to 4 articles a week FOC (something like that). This one is though well worth the effort; I cannot recommend this article highly enough. On a slightly different tangent, the very fact that Foreign Affairs published the piece must now make the FA editors bona fide Russian apologists and Putin’s puppets. Now that’s what I call a turn up for the ?! Dobro pozhalovat’ comrades to the club!!! For my part, I’m sending a link to the article to our foreign affairs minister here in Australia (Julie Bishop) so she can officially ignore its implications for our own country’s stance on all things Russia and Putin.

    • D5-5
      March 21, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      They’re everywhere! And they multiply . . . they have red little eyes

      • March 21, 2017 at 10:28 pm

        “Mine eyes have seen the coming of the terror of the Reds. They are hiding in the closets: they are underneath the beds.”

  19. Antiwar7
    March 21, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    The article discussed, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/2017-03-10/russia-trump-and-new-d-tente , is surprisingly strong.

    Also, I like how it mentions Serbia a few times, a symbolic watershed that gets overlooked in the West.

  20. John Doe II
    March 21, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    The ‘Birth Pangs’ of a New Middle East, Remixed
    Pepe Escobar

    You all remember former US Secretary of State Condi Rice’s notorious 2006 prediction about “birth pangs of a New Middle East.” True to the George “Dubya” Bush/Cheney regime, Condi got it all spectacularly wrong, not only about Lebanon and Israel but also Iraq, Syria and the House of Saud.

    And that leads us to the adults in the room in the Trump era, the ones that are actually monitoring the birth pangs of the real new Middle East: Russia.

    http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_76258.shtml

  21. Zachary Smith
    March 21, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    From the English essay:

    Russia’s misery during the 1990s is difficult for outsiders to comprehend. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s economy entered a sharp slide that would continue for over eight years. Although this decline is rarely is referred to as a depression in Western media, in fact it was much worse than the Great Depression in the United States-between 1929 and 1932, U.S. GDP fell by some 25 percent, whereas Russia’s fell by over 40 percent between 1990 and 1998. Compared with the Great Depression, Russia’s collapse of the 1990s was nearly twice as sharp, lasted three times as long, and caused far more severe health and mortality crises. The public health disaster reflected Russia’s prolonged agony: stress-aggravated pathologies (suicide, disease caused by increased alcohol and tobacco use) and economically induced woes (poor nutrition, violent crime, a crumbling public health system) combined to cause at least three million “excess deaths” in the 1990s.

    This particular outsider knew times were rough in Russia during that period, but the “Mainstream Media” made sure I didn’t get any details from them. To the contrary, I recall a PBS show featuring a Russian guy who had taken over a huge parcel of land. According to the show he was a really nice fellow, and there was nothing at all in the way of an explanation of how HE happened to have become the owner of the former public collective farm lands.

    While I was trying to locate the English article I ran into this “hit” on the google search:

    If the only reason you register at ‘Foreign Affairs’ is to read this article by Robert David English: “Russia, Trump, and a New Détente” ….you should go ahead and register…

    I agree, for the piece has been an education to me and I thank Mr. Doctorow for bringing it to my attention.

  22. March 21, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    FP also published Naill Fergusons piece which was very realist and relatively Russia positive.

  23. March 22, 2017 at 12:14 am

    Why is the info below not being raised in the Media?
    ——————————————————————————-
    VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Legislation to Stop Arming Terrorists
    December 8, 2016

    Press Release

    Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.[i]…
    [much more at link below]
    https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/video-rep-tulsi-gabbard-introduces-legislation-stop-arming-terrorists

  24. Mervyn
    March 22, 2017 at 1:49 am

    I have been listening to Prof. Cohen’s podcast since Ukraine fiasco, similar school of thought. Now I see Prof. Cohen is much more visible on NPR and other interviews. Perhaps Russian is coming indeed.

  25. Realist
    March 22, 2017 at 3:32 am

    I’m just a simple retired biochemistry professor, someone who spent his life trying to understand the role of differential gene expression in the manifestation of infectious diseases, so I’m what the political blowhards and activists might call a “hoaxer,” someone hoping to find logic, or at least understandable patterns, behind reality–you know, like one of those frauds who believes in evolution or the application of first principles of physical chemistry to atmospheric gases. Now, the blowhards, largely of the Democratic persuasion, but including bipartisan tenured-for-life featherbedders in the Deep State, spooks in the so-called “intelligence” agencies, and execs from the MIC, otherwise known as war-profiteers, all seem to be reading from the same hymnal that our elected president, Donald J. Trump (supposedly a Republican from NYC, in case anyone forgot), is no more than a manikin into which Russia’s president Vladimir V. Putin has mastered the art of throwing his voice, or, as Hillary Rodham Clinton described to the world back during July or August last, “Putin’s Puppet.” Sorry, she didn’t make clear whether she was exposing a “sock puppet” or a Howdy Doody-like marionette, but we can still explore the concept.

    Is it not logical that if, in fact, said Donald J. Trump really were Vladimir Putin’s “puppet” he should be mouthing or otherwise expressing policies and ideas vigorously supported by Vladimir Vladimirovich? There should be major congruency in their thoughts and public statements, at least in some cases, if not all? Right? That seems to logically hold together for this old hoaxer. Please let me know if I am unwittingly living in Opposite World.

    Just for ducks, let’s carry out a brief exercise in comparative rhetoric between what alleged puppet and puppet master have to say on a number of subjects.

    The Donald says that Iran is a vile nest of world class terrorists which must be kept in check, even if it means abrogating the nuclear containment treaty agreed to by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and brokered by Vladimir Vladimirovich. He further contends that Iran is an existential threat to Israel, just champing at the bit to spring a suicidal surprise attack on the Chosen People. Vlad, not surprisingly, has truck with none of that. His country has normalized relations with Iran and actually fights alongside them as allies in the Syrian proxy war started by the United States. That observation leads us directly to Syria as another topic we can parse. President Putin wants to preserve the sovereignty of Syria and the leadership of its elected president Bashar al-Assad against the ISIS and Al Qaeda proxy mercenaries recruited by the U.S. and NATO. Is that the same thing President Trump says he wants? No. He is presently sending American troops into the country (something even his predecessor dared not do) and claims he wants to establish “safe zones” within the country, which can readily be exploited as bases of operations for the jihadi terrorists attacking the government troops. President Trump backs Israel to the hilt, against Iran, regarding their illegal military activities in Syria, against Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinians in general, and pretty much against every Arab faction throughout the Middle East except for the Saudis and their bellicose Gulf States cousins. Trump has also bombed Yemen just to placate the oil-rich Saudis (I jump to that conclusion because, for the life of me, I cannot discern any threat to the USA by little old Yemen). Putin tries to stay on good terms with Israel, though not for the same reasons as Trump whose country is micromanaged by AIPAC. Putin is generally sympathetic to the countries and factions that America routinely bombs in the Middle East, though he gives little in the way of direct military assistance to them the way America supports everything Israel. So, once again, I don’t see Putin putting ANY words into Trump’s mouth.

    President Putin was hoping that America would finally see the light of sweet reason on Crimea and the Donbass once Trump was elected president (though they didn’t expect it to happen for an instant, figuring just like Nate Silver and every American pollster that Hillary was a lock to win that election). Putin hoped he could work with Trump to see the Minsk II Accords actually implemented, Cold War II ended, and a renormalisation of relations between Russia and the United State established. Is that how it played out? No, the first words on the subject by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (and later corroborated by Trump himself) was that Russia would have to give back Crimea to Ukraine if they expected any good relations with the U.S., let alone any lifting of sanctions. As to the Donbass, we have recently discovered that American-trained Ukrainian terrorists have been busy assassinating local leaders in Donetsk and Lugansk, with NO apologies from Trump’s Washington. Minsk II is dead, though Trump’s Washington keeps demanding that it be implemented by Russia rather than Ukraine in whose court the ball remains to be played. So, on yet another very major foreign policy upon which a world conflagration may hinge, there is absolutely no congruence between words of the puppet and his alleged puppet master. On to Poland and the Baltics: Putin says “why are you threatening us with NATO troop buildups on our very borders?” Trump says, “if you don’t like it you can lump it. We are merely constraining “Russian aggression.” Kind of yet another disconnect between the puppet and its string puller, no? When will we get to a meeting of the minds between these two alleged carbon copies?

    Can we find one in China? Mmmmm, no. Putin has made deals out the gazoo with China and now conducts military exercises with them. He supports their actions in the South China Sea. Like China, he prefers to see North Korea remain a buffer state between China and the Western vassal states of Japan, South Korea and others in the region. It is also a buffer state along a small bit of the Russian border. Trump’s generals threaten war with North Korea over armaments, and with China over the issue of sovereignty over some islets and atolls in the South China Sea. Further nuclear development by North Korea is to be verboten but Trump suggests that South Korea and Japan develop their own nuclear arsenals. I see no similarity let alone congruence between Messrs. Putin and Trump on China or the whole of East Asia. Maybe there’s some agreement on Europe, NATO and the European Union? Russia wants to trade with the EU and be on good diplomatic terms with the whole of Europe (notwithstanding the irrational hatred heaped upon it by Poland, the Baltics and other Eastern European countries in its general neighborhood). It loathes NATO which has never ceased to threaten it since 1949 when it was founded to “defend” Europe and the North Atlantic allies (Canada and the United States) from the alleged threats of the Soviet Union even long after the Soviet Union ceased to exist. For a short time it seemed that maybe perhaps Donald Trump might share a notion with Vladimir Putin that NATO had outlived its usefulness and the time had come to disband the destabilising money pit that the military alliance had become. That didn’t last long as Trump was either convinced or coerced into full throated support of the organization, just as long as every member state “paid their fair share,” which was never really a serious concern as America always simply went to the printing presses whenever it needed more money for a war or a new weapons system. I do believe that we still have a perfect game going here with absolutely NO agreements between the alleged puppet and his master whatsoever.

    Having covered most of the important international topics (but not all, including topics like Brexit, South Stream, Nordstream or Turkstream), I could go on and prattle on about a multitude of domestic issues and even there, agreement between Trump and Putin would often be totally lacking or totally irrelevant. Does anyone really think that Vladimir Putin has a preference as to whether America keeps Obamacare or adopts some other national health policy? Or with respect to the reproductive rights of American women? Or America’s tax structure? He may have personal opinions about what might work or be preferable in his own country, but that is of no consequence to the U.S. or to Donald Trump’s political viability. Possibly one thing that Presidents Trump and Putin might agree upon is Pussy Riot. I’m sure both would agree that the obscene performance the group put on in a major cathedral was sacrilegious, whether you believe in a god or not. It was offensive to believers. Mr. Trump would have been as offended had the group profaned St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC as Putin was when the women desecrated Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. As it is, Putin relented to Western pressure and commuted the prison sentences the women had earned through their anti-social behavior. Trump may not have been so generous. And, yes, it’s quite possible that both men are poseurs when it comes to religion, but they both agree with upholding the group norm on this. If you want to expand the comparison to pussy grabbing, again I think we will find that the two men are not carbon copies, not master and puppet. The Donald got entrapped on that issue with an old video tape I’m sure he had no idea existed. Putin would never let that happen to his reputation. Not saying he never lets his hair down, he just never does so in public.

    Anyone still believe that Donald J. Trump is Vladimir V. Putin’s puppet? If so, with regard to WHAT?

    • D5-5
      March 22, 2017 at 11:33 am

      I enjoyed this sane comment and thank you for it. Of course the point is rational thinking and propaganda do not belong together, and the forces smothering the populace with it know this full well.

    • backwardsevolution
      March 22, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Realist – well done!

    • March 22, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Yes but what you are saying is common sence, and just restating the facts. Surely you do not expect Americans to have truck nor trade with either. Seeing as to how you are retired, you are old enough to know that if the general american public ever looked for, let alone practiced, common sence or insisted on facts you would be astounded.

      • Realist
        March 22, 2017 at 7:16 pm

        Actually, I find the American media so biased and so remiss that they rarely state the obvious or ask the obvious commonsensical questions, leaving a yawning information gap for those who would seek the truth over propaganda. I also find most Americans so oblivious and so willfully ignorant that they don’t even notice the absence of a basic rational discussion of the real facts and their implications. Most could not find their proverbial ass with both hands and a flashlight, as the saying goes, so I methodically try to help those who are willing to read, at least a little bit, how to connect the dots. And, geez, Dan, don’t you at least think I have an entertaining quirky style of writing to attract a reader’s attention. If I should quit making contributions here because you think they are too naive and simple-minded, who will effectively explain the articles to you?

        OBTW, the style of my contribution here is commonly known as a reductio ad absurdum.

        • Gregory Herr
          March 22, 2017 at 9:42 pm

          Definitely entertainment value and style points! Obviate the absurd by all means! Your explanations are efficacious & highly readable.

  26. Real Democracy
    March 22, 2017 at 5:20 am

    As long as Wall Street capitalism in crisis desperatly needs the Russian resources for investment options – so, as long as these banksters mainstream media initially support chaos spreading Wahhbi terrorism in the Middle East in order to bring terrorism to power and use it as an excuse to bomb the countries or initially support chaos spreading fascist terrorism in Europe in order to bring terrorism to power and use it as an excuse to bomb the countries, every “break in anti-Russian groupthink” should be seen as tactical retreat in order to regroup the imperialist warmongering forces.

    • Brad Owen
      March 22, 2017 at 7:22 am

      Hence the phrase “A Republic if you can keep it”. Eternal vigilance.

      • jimbo
        March 22, 2017 at 9:05 am

        Forgot the Mark Vonnegut book but I remember this line from it. (I think I have it right.) “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. The price of eternal vigilance is insanity.”

  27. Lee Francis
    March 22, 2017 at 8:17 am

    In fact there was an earlier piece in Brookings: Thursday, May 22, 2014, entitled ”Ukraine: A Prize Neither Russia Nor the West Can Afford to Win.” by Barry W. Ickes and Clifford G. Gaddy, in which they argued that attempting to pull the Ukraine into the west’s orbit by force was unlikely to work or satisfy anyone, including Ukraine itself.

    They argue:

    Almost forgotten in the discussions of the conflict between Russia and the West is what happens to Ukraine. The answer to that question, like so many other problems, depends on how much each side is willing to pay for their preferred outcome. It is important therefore to understand the costs of the potential outcomes for Ukraine and how those costs will be apportioned between Russia and the West.

    The West sees itself as defending Ukraine against Russia, and since it won’t wage military war against Russia it has two main ways to do that, both economic. The first is to shore up Ukraine’s huge economic vulnerabilities, mainly by helping Ukraine pay its bills and plug its deficits. The IMF has pledged $17 billion to that end, the EU a nearly equal sum. The second way the West is defending Ukraine is to levy economic sanctions against Russia to deter it from further aggression.

    From Russia’s standpoint, things are more complicated, but in the end there, too, it comes down to economics. Russia sees Ukraine as a front in a war being waged by the West against Russia. Through its actions in Ukraine, Russia is telling the West to stop using the country as a staging ground for operations against Russia. Russia sees sanctions as a yet another weapon in the West’s war. Russia knows it is far inferior to its adversaries in terms of economic size and strength (the combined GDP of Russia’s NATO and EU adversaries is roughly 15 times that of Russia’s), so it has opted not to engage in tit-for-tat responses to Western sanctions. Instead, it resorts to “asymmetric” measures. It looks for weak spots. One obvious such weak spot is Ukraine’s economy. The Russia attitude is, if the Western coalition wants to use Ukraine against us, let them see how much it will cost.

    It is clear to most observers that the West would not be able to defend Ukraine economically from a hostile Russia. Russia is in a position to do far more damage than the West can defend against or repair. It’s always true that it’s easier to undermine a country economically than to build it up. It’s easier to destabilize than stabilize. It is perhaps less evident that the West would have a very hard time stabilizing the Ukrainian economy even if Russia weren’t around to make mischief. The simple fact is that Russia today supports the Ukrainian economy to the tune of at least $5 billion, perhaps as much as $10 billion, each year.”

    Sadly for Ukraine nobody really wants it any more. The EU has virtually washed its hands of the seemingly intractable mess which has been created, and the US is simply using it as a means to embarrass Russia. The creation of a viable, democratic, law-abiding democracy, is light years away and in truth is never going to happen. The Russians may help out the DPR/LPR but aren’t going to stump up any money for Kiev and neither is the EU, which has problems of its own. Another regime change debacle to add to a growing list. The policy of bringing Ukraine into the western orbit was flawed from the outset – for military, economic, political and cultural reasons. The only policy left would be a joint repair job by the outside parties and a guarantee of Ukraine’s nuetral status.

    As the authors concluded:

    ”The key point here is that there can be no viable Ukraine without serious contributions from both Russia and the West. Of all the options for Ukraine’s future, a Ukraine exclusively in the West is the least feasible. A Ukraine fully under Russian control and with severed links to the West is, unfortunately, possible. But it is in no one’s interest — not Russia’s, not the West’s and certainly not Ukraine’s.”

    Over the neo-cons dead body.

    • March 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      I really like the way you talk about NATO, and the EU being a monolithic block. They aren´t. There are serious fractures in NATO over it´s aggression towards Russia.( It has hurt Europe as much and more than it has hurt Russia) Even the stronger members like France and Germany have reservations about sanctions against Russia. And under no circumstances will they want to go to war against their nuclear armed and powerful military. ( I am sure the Germans need no reminder of how they felt about Russian soldiers sitting in their living rooms to want a repeat. ) Berlin was not pretty after the Red Army was through with it. I am certain that the population of Germany does not want a repeat of that scenario.

      Another point. Just how strong is the US Military. No one knows for sure. But even though the US spends six times what Russia spends on it´s military, recent reports showing serious waste, no audit or any accountability to test the amount of waste, graft, outright theft etc, just how much of that money actually goes towards making the US Military stronger. Another point. The US military is spread all over the planet with bases in at least 70 countries. Just how big a chunk does that take out of the military budget. besides if the US were to say pool it´s military in a war with Russia they would lose their already tenuous grip on the rest of the planet. NATO might just split and some nations side with Russia in that war out of self interest.

      In short the West will huff and puff and apply ever loosening sanctions but it won´t be going to war to bring The Ukraine into the NATO fold. It might mean the end of Russia but for a certainty it would spell the end of the USA, Great Britain and Europe. Even the Beltway Warriors are not going to risk that scenario.( their own skins would be at risk and everyone knows how Chicken Hawks react to that possibility.) I still think that the Russian intevention in Syria was more of a show the West just what they would be up against if they attacked Russia as much as it was to preserve their naval base in Syria. As one US General said ” The Russians used some eye watering equipment in that intervention”.

    • Beard681
      March 23, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Well, movement is already underway to cement the facts on the ground in Ukraine. This includes nationalization of Ukrainian owned industries in the breakaway republics, closure of the borders and issuance of passports and other documents which are accepted by Russia. This is similar to the breakup of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines.

      It is interesting how the elites in the Western Europe and the US decry the rise of ethno-nationalism within their own states but are certainly more than willing to exploit it elsewhere.

  28. March 22, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Thank you, Lee Francis, for an important comment. The Foreign Affairs article is worth copying for uninformed people who might have an open mind. I also read in Sputnik, I believe, that a leader in Donbas region of Ukraine stated publicly that Donbas is ready to “go with Russia”, perhaps a reference to the intractable mess created by the EU and US, as you aptly call it.

    The “Trump Era” may be an era when Americans realize that they have been lied to for years about their “democracy” and its goals reported by MSM. But powermongers do always work to regroup.

  29. Daniel Admassu
    March 22, 2017 at 9:44 am

    A skilled commentary on an indeed notable flicker of hope. If nothing else, the article by the mentioned author will encourage other foreign policy scholars and publications to come open on their opinions. Excellent.

  30. Tommy Jensen
    March 22, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Its a manipulation trick.
    MSM use lonely riders to show the other side of the coin, pretending they are impartial. In reality it only underscores that the people like the lonely rider belong to an obcure minority, while the correct majority opinion is the one MSM bombard you with.

  31. barf
    March 22, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    The mainstream U.S. / western media is fascist-oriented – and amply predisposed to war across the globe. Right now, besides trying to start a confrontation with Russia, these fascists of the Deep State want to arm India in order to turn it into an ally. Or another crony puppet fascist vassal. See scribd.com/document/340355580 for the story.

  32. March 23, 2017 at 4:42 am

    Thank you Consortium News and author, Gilbert Doctorow for this excellent article letting us known about the article Russia, Trump and a new Detente published in Foreign Affairs. Wonderful to know that at last someone, respected academic and author, Robert English, has blasted through the thickened walls of cultivated deception and the dangerous prejudice of mainstream media and let the light beam on the hideous relationship that America has developed towards Russia. Hopefully this light will continue, it’s terrible living
    in a politically deranged world dedicated to war, devoid of real communication, and good relations and intentions. – Kay Weir, Wellington, New Zealand.

  33. Rick Patel
    March 23, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Don’t expect the truth to prevail in the USA. It never has.

  34. Sprickoló Tömegek
    March 23, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Stephen M. Walt of Foreign Policy journal was already outside of this groupthink at least as far as 2014.

  35. Michael Kenny
    March 23, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Esentially, Mr Doctorow is simply repeating his oft-repeated thesis that Russia’s attack on Ukraine is justified by US conduct in Ukraine and elsewhere. In other words, because A violated B’s rights, C is also entitled to violate B’s rights, or even because A violated B’s rights, C is entitled to violate D’s rights. That amounts to denying that Ukrainians have human rights and are simply a tribe of subhumans control over whom is being disputed by two master races. That Mr Doctorow is not the only one who propounds that thesis is not news. That Foreign Affairs might have chosen to give an platform to one of those people is not an earthshaking development and reading that as “an encouraging sign” is really just wishful thinking (or clutching at straws!). Professor English himself merely repeats the standard “party line”: Trump is Putin’s stooge and is just dying to capitulate to him but is being prevented from doing so by some dastardly group or other.

    • Gregory Herr
      March 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      Mr. Doctorow proposes no such thesis. Russia has not attacked Ukraine. You can continue to throw your wet blankets over the truth as much as you want. You can continue to mischaracterize and show that you didn’t read either article and just want to spout off anyway, or you read the articles and do not comprehend, or you have comprehension and are a liar. All three possibilities don’t bode well for you.

    • Skip Scott
      March 24, 2017 at 7:32 am

      Mike, you’re all mouth and no ears. Either you live in a reality free world, or you’re a paid troll. Go back under your bridge.

  36. Jean Pearce
    March 23, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Interesting reading, how can you not believe the games of politics,

  37. Curious
    March 23, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    This whole Russia bashing affair reminds me of an earlier time in history when a president said he had “lust” for the German people. Those who know German would realize the translation was “desire” or deep feelings, not the typical English version of lust.

    Putin made a remark about Trump and the Russian word he used meant ‘colorful, flamboyant, and talented. In no translation I have seen did Putin call him “brilliant” a word Trump made up himself to add to his ego. So many papers in the US have still not translated Putins’ words correctly and therefore think Putin was on the side of Trump and then they get into their writing ‘skills’ and perpetuate a myth that never happened. Putin did say he was not fond of Hillarys’ warmongering posture, and who can blame him? Her desire to go into sovereign countries uninvited and bomb was offensive, but he said the vote is up to the people of the US to deside. To me this attitude represents a consummate professional politician, not a ‘paid for ‘ US hack with very little worldly knowledge.

    To have an entire body of journalist still clueless as to what Putin actually said about Trump is beyond belief. Correction, it is believable in todays MSM, but embarrassing for the US and the written words used to inform the public. It is just a disaster to have no one correct the Russian words Putin said. CNN was there when Putin explained the difference to a question asked by Zakaria, and I haven’t heard a peep out of CNN nor Zakaria to correct the record. Never let the truth get in the way of Russian bashing must be the new model.

    Thank you for the article on a possible “breach” in the groupthink. Maybe journalist might be interested in passing grade school parroted writing for a new beginning.

  38. GMC
    March 26, 2017 at 7:20 am

    It’s about time some of these ” used to be honest media circulations” realize that the truth will eventually leak out and they will be totally distrusted. I’ve tried to tell the Truth/Pravda to all of my friends in the states but they have been programmed and propagandized to the point where they don’t even correspond with me anymore since I live in RU. I lived in Ukraine and Crimea during the Maidan and afterwards and the truth was trampled on by the West. No police state here – no taxes here – no junk food here- no gangs here -no disrespectful teenagers here ….

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