America’s Putin Psychosis

Rather than examining the perspective of Russian national security interests, U.S. officials wrongly think the fate of European peace is in the hands of a single man: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, writes Scott Ritter.

Vladimir Putin. (Press Service of the President of the Russian Federation/Wikimedia)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

The war of words between Russia and the United States over Ukraine escalated further on Tuesday as Russian President Vladimir Putin responded for the first time to the U.S. written reply to Russia’s demands for security guarantees that were expressed in the form of a pair of draft treaties submitted by Moscow to the U.S. and NATO in December.

“It is already clear…that the fundamental Russian concerns were ignored. We did not see an adequate consideration of our three key requirements,” Putin said at a press conference that followed his meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Moscow.

Putin said the U.S. had failed to give “adequate consideration of our three key demands regarding NATO expansion, the renunciation of the deployment of strike weapons systems near Russian borders, and the return of the [NATO] bloc’s military infrastructure in Europe to the state of 1997, when the Russia-NATO founding act was signed.”

He detailed what he alleged was NATO’s long history of deception, re-emphasizing the 1990 verbal commitment by former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker that NATO would not expand “an inch” eastward. “They said one thing, they did another,” Putin said. “As people say, they screwed us over, well they simply deceived us.”

With some 130,000 Russian troops deployed in the western and southern military districts bordering Ukraine, and another 30,000 assembling in neighboring Belarus, U.S. policy makers are scrambling to figure out what Russia’s next move might be, a choice most U.S. policy makers believe boils down to diplomacy or war.

Rather than examine the situation from the perspective of Russian national security interests, however, these officials have placed the fate of European peace and security in the hands of a single individual: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Interests of an Entire Nation

The Kremlin. (Dmitry Ivanov/Wikimedia Commons)

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Tom Nichols opines that “no one really knows why Putin is doing this—or whether he really intends to do it at all. It is unlikely that his own inner circle even has a good read on its boss.”

Even the president of the United States, Joe Biden, professed a sense of frustration at not knowing what Putin’s objectives are vis-à-vis Ukraine. “I’ll be completely honest with you,” Biden said last month, “it is a little bit like reading tea leaves” when it came to predicting Putin’s next move.

The fact that the U.S. president is at a loss when assessing Russia’s next move regarding Ukraine should send a shiver up the spines of all concerned Americans. One of the main reasons for this confusion lies in the emphasis Biden placed on the importance of only what Putin was thinking, as opposed what the legitimate national security interests of Russia were.

This problem is not unique to the present circumstance, but rather is part and parcel of a national obsession with Putin the man that obviates the reality that Russia is a country whose interests are greater than any single individual, no matter how long serving or powerful.

The problem with focusing on an individual as the embodiment of a nation is that one is trying to solve the wrong problem. Russia’s ongoing issues with Ukraine are larger than Vladimir Putin, and as such, far more complex in defining national goals and policy boundaries. You can’t solve a problem unless you first accurately define the problem; by tying the problem of Ukraine to one man, American policy makers are, in effect, dealing with the wrong problem.

This disconnect from reality is further exacerbated when, as is the case with the majority of so-called “Russian experts” prevalent in America today, one seeks to play amateur psychiatrist by getting into the mind of the Russian leader.

Take, for example, Michael McFaul, the architect of Barack Obama’s infamous policy “reset” with Russia (a little-disguised effort designed to squeeze Putin out of power and replace him with the ostensibly more compliant Dmitry Medvedev). The title of his policy memoir, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia says it all. If you think you have the ability to define the character of an entire nation through the persona of a single named individual, you should be able to provide some insight into the thinking of that person.

But as McFaul himself admitted recently on MSNBC, “I want to state categorically that I don’t know what Putin wants. I don’t know what he’s decided. President Biden doesn’t know. The director of the CIA [William Burns] doesn’t know. I don’t think Sergei Lavrov knows, the foreign minister.”

A moment of honest humility? No; McFaul continues: “And from my experience dealing with Putin in negotiations, I don’t think he has made his own decision yet. I think that he likes this uncertainty. He likes that we’re all talking about, you know, negotiating with ourselves, making counter proposals. He likes to watch that.”

McFaul, by his own admission, doesn’t know what Putin wants, but he freely opines about what Putin thinks and likes. I would respectfully suggest that if you know a person well enough to publicly pontificate on their thoughts and desires, then you probably know what they want.

Perception Over Reality

McFaul honestly stated that he doesn’t know what Putin wants; the rest is simply speculative drivel motivated not by any genuine intellectually-based curiosity about Russia and the man who serves as its president, but rather the need to feed the American mainstream media’s appetite for a narrative that doesn’t challenge that of a White House that sets the tone and content of what passes for news based upon domestic political imperatives as opposed to global geopolitical reality.

Perception is everything; facts mean nothing. This is the Biden administration’s mantra. One only need look to Biden’s July 23, 2021, telephone conversation with then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. “I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things aren’t going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden told the beleaguered Afghan leader. “And there’s a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”

The fact that U.S. presidential administrations, as a matter of course, manufacture a fact-free narrative designed to mislead a domestic American audience should not come as a shock to anyone who has studied the sickening intersection of public and foreign policy in the United States since the end of the Second World War.

In this vein, one of the central themes that is being woven into the Ukraine narrative is the frenetic nature of decision making by Vladimir Putin.

McFaul described Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 as an impulsive move by Putin, not something long planned, but put into effect only after the 2014 U.S.-backed coup in Kiev. This line of thinking was endemic in the Obama White House where McFaul served. Journalist Susan Glasser, a long-time critic of Putin, quotes an unnamed “top Obama official” in her 2014 article for Politico, “Putin on the Couch.’

“I hear people say we were naïve about Putin and that the president didn’t understand Putin,” the official said. “No. We had a very sober, very steely-eyed realist assessment of Putin.”

But then the “top official” proved they did not. “It comes down to a debate going on in his own head,” the official noted. “He does impulsive, or dare I say irrational, things. I don’t think he’s the realist grand strategist that some people admiringly ascribe to him.”

Glasser ran with the theme, quoting David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker and Pulitzer Prize winning author of Lenin’s Tomb, who, speaking about Putin and Crimea, declared, “I think he has improvised, acted rashly and foolishly, even on his own terms.”

Stephen Sestanovich, the U.S. ambassador-at-large to the former Soviet Union from 1997 to 2001, continued this line of analysis, noting Putin’s “bad judgment, emotional decision-making, petty score-settling with little care for long-term consequences,” before concluding “But it’s vintage Putin.”

Fiona Hill, to the left of John Bolton, at meeting with Putin in Moscow, March 2018. (Kremlin Photo)

Even when fellow travelers like Fiona Hill, who doubled as the top Kremlinologist for both George W. Bush and Donald Trump, and Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former C.I.A. analyst who served as a deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia under Barack Obama, come together for a pragmatic assessment of Russia, they are colored by their collective Putin-centric approach to all things Russia.

Hill, the author of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, recently observed that, “With Putin it’s always important to expect the unexpected. He makes sure that he has a range of options for action and different ways of leveraging a situation to exploit weakness. If all our attention is on Ukraine, then his next move might be somewhere else to throw us off balance and see how we react.”

Kendall-Taylor, whose assessments on Putin and Russia were regularly briefed to President Obama, testified before Congress in 2019 that, “Although Putin’s actions in Crimea and Syria were designed to advance a number of key Russian goals, it is also likely that Putin’s lack of domestic constraints increased the level of risk he was willing to accept in pursuit of those goals.”

These two seasoned Russian hands, both highly influential in terms of advising senior American policy makers, from the president on down, both continue the narrative of Putin as an impulsive, risk-taking gambler, who makes spur of the moment decisions based upon personal intuition.

They, like all the other so-called Russian experts, are wrong.

How Policy Is Made in Russia

The fact is, any Russian expert worth their salt knows what Russia’s goals and objectives vis-à-vis Ukraine are because the Russians told us back in 2008. One of the few genuine Russian experts in a position to influence policy, C.I.A. Director William Burns, put it all down in writing in a February 2008 cable entitled, simply enough, “Nyet means Nyet: Russia’s NATO Enlargement Redlines.” He wrote it while serving as the U.S. ambassador to Russia during the administration of President George W. Bush.

Burns, reporting on the Russian reaction to the 2008 NATO summit where the idea of membership for Ukraine was floated, noted that the Russian Foreign Ministry had declared that “a radical new expansion of NATO may bring about a serious political-military shift that will inevitably affect the security interests of Russia.”

The Russians highlighted that when it came to Ukraine, Russia was bound by bilateral obligations set forth in the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership in which both parties undertook to “refrain from participation in or support of any actions capable of prejudicing the security of the other side.” Ukraine’s ‘likely integration into NATO,” the Russian Foreign Ministry declared, “would seriously complicate the many-sided Russian-Ukrainian relations,” and that Russia would “have to take appropriate measures.”

Burns gave the Bush administration the Russian playbook of consequences should NATO seek to move forward on membership for Ukraine. This information was known to McFaul, Hill, Kendall-Taylor, and all the other so-called “Russian experts,” yet they failed to address it (further reinforcing Putin’s claims that “fundamental Russian concerns were ignored”).

The concept that Putin would act “impulsively” in 2014 to a problem outlined concisely and accurately in 2008 by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs likewise shows an absolute disregard for, or ignorance of, how policy is made in Russia today.

There is no doubt that Putin is a very powerful president wielding strong executive powers. But he is not a dictator, nor is Russia set up to be ruled by a dictator.

Russian policy is made by professional bureaucrat-specialists resident in the extremely dense permanent Russian bureaucracy. These bureaucrats, part of the Russian civil servant class, are responsible for turning policy guidance into detailed implementation plans from which the resources needed for implementation are assigned, along with a timeline for completion of the task.

These implementation plans cut across ministries and are designed to consider all foreseeable variables. In short, Russian policy is the by-product of a process which represents the coordinated effort of a vast bureaucracy—the exact opposite of the individual “impulsivity” ascribed by McFaul, Hill, Kendall-Taylor, and others to Putin.

The plan implemented by Russia regarding Crimea in 2014 was born of the Russian concerns expressed in 2008, and were not the knee-jerk reactions of an impulsive, risk-taking Russian President. The same can be said for the situation unfolding in Ukraine today. The fact that Biden and his national security advisors are locked on to Putin as the personification of all things Russia is indicative of a fundamental misunderstanding of how Russia works or — worse — a deliberate campaign of perception management intended to deceive the American public about the complexities and realities of U.S. policy objectives.

Putin, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to his right at the Kremlin. (U.S. State Dept.)

Getting it wrong when it comes to defining policy-making reality in Russia today goes well beyond simply formulating bad policy, which is then incompetently implemented. The United States is ceding the initiative to Russia and its president. At the end of the day, one would be hard pressed to make a case where the executive decision-making powers of Vladimir Putin far exceed those of his American counterpart.

The Russians, however, have a two-fold advantage over the United States in terms of policy implementation. First and foremost, they are dealing with an executive who has been at the helm of the Russian ship for two decades; Putin is unmatched when it comes to knowledge of his system of government, and how to make it work. Even someone like Biden, with his four-plus decades of government experience, operates like a rookie during his first few years in office, if for no other reason than he is, in fact, a rookie.

A U.S. presidential administration in its first term is, literally, starting from scratch. True, there is a standing American civil service (some call it part of the “deep state”) which provides a modicum of operational consistency from administration to administration, but the critical leadership for every administration is provided by the political appointees. As opposed to Russia’s twin decades of consistent policy formulation and implementation, the United States has witnessed during the same time frame four changes of administrations, each one with a radically different approach toward governance than its predecessor.

A Manufactured Narrative

The only consistency between administrations is the need to manufacture narratives used to placate a domestic constituency about policies linked to national defense and, by extension, the defense industry. Here, the demonization of Russia has played a large role in defining U.S. defense needs and, by extension, the acquisition of weapons.

No administration has trusted the American public to engage in a fact-based national dialogue about the “threat” posed by Russia and, by extension, the continued need for NATO. The main reason for this is, if the facts were presented clearly, no American could possibly support the continuation of NATO and, therefore, would not support the elevation of Russia as a threat worthy of hundreds of billions of our taxpayer dollars.

In this way, the United States can produce a class of partisan “experts” on Russia whose only claim to real expertise is the ability to conform to a narrative designed to further a lie, as opposed to seeking the truth. Gone are the days when masters of Russian studies, such as the former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock, held sway.

Even when the U.S. produced a qualified Russian expert in academia, such as the late Stephen Cohen, the mainstream media negated his true expertise by either drowning out his message in a sea of Russophobic propaganda spewed by his opposite numbers, or just simply ignoring him. Instead, we get the Michael McFaul’s, Fiona Hill’s, and Andrea Kendall-Taylor’s—academics whose sole claim to relevance is their collective embrace of Putin as the personification of all that ails Russia in the world today.

America’s dependence on this inferior class of ersatz Russian expertise has created a congenital defect in American national security decision making that is best expressed as a variation of John Boyd’s OODA Loop. Boyd, a renowned fighter pilot, claimed he could shoot down any opposing fighter within forty seconds from a position of disadvantage employing a decision-making cycle he called the “OODA Loop” (for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act).

In short, by executing one’s decision-making cycle faster than an opponent, one “got inside” the decision-making cycle of the enemy, forcing them to react to you, and thereby guaranteeing their demise.

The OODA Loop has been adapted by various non-pilot organizations and entities, from the U.S. Marines to business, as a model to improve operational efficiency. While neither the Russian Foreign Ministry nor the U.S. State Department have embraced the theory, it can be used as a vehicle of comparative analysis when assessing the effectiveness of the respective policy formulation and implementation cycles.

Three Phases

Putin at his press conference in December 2021. (Screenshot/YouTube/RT)

From the standpoint of observing, the fundamental tenant is to collect data using all possible resources. From the Russian perspective, when it comes to Ukraine and NATO, Russia has been focused on NATO policy, both expressed and implemented, when it comes to its eastward expansion, and the applicability of such expansion to Ukraine. The data collected by Russia is fact-based, and singularly focused on the problem at hand, which is the potential threat posed to Russia by Ukrainian membership in NATO.

The U.S., however, with its Putin-centric approach, focuses on the person of the Russian president, without any attempt to match observed actions with anything resembling actual policy. The data collected is of the tabloid variety, focusing on posturing, mannerisms, and photo opportunities.

While Putin does provide a plethora of data in the form of speeches and extended press question and answer sessions, the analysis conducted from these opportunities rarely goes deeper than turning the Russian president’s presentation into a cartoon-like depiction of evil.

The next phase, orientation, is guided by the data collected during the observation phase. Here, the Russians can zoom in on the U.S./NATO centers of gravity, so to speak — that which makes the trans-Atlantic alliance work, and that which could cause problems.

Here, Russia has predicted possible policy options that could be pursued by NATO in response to a wide variety of policy stimuli from Russia and gamed out each to find a range of actions and reaction possibilities that best suit Russian policy objectives.

The U.S., however, continues to focus on Putin, producing material in book, article, and television formats which attack the character of the Russian president while denigrating Russia as a nation (“Russia is nothing more than a gas station masquerading as a country” seems to be a popular jibe.)

By creating a false narrative built around the absolute nature of Putin’s quasi-dictatorial state, the Americans have lulled themselves into a false sense of complacency premised on the notion of Putin’s impulsivity which, by its very nature, cannot be predicted, and as such cannot be deterred through preventive measures.

The third phase, decision, is paramount. Here, the Russians, having gathered data, assessed its value, and formulated policy options derived from the same, pick the option that best suits their policy objectives. They are in control of the timetable, and as such, can allocate resources sufficient to the task.

The Americans, by comparison, remain engaged in the business of demeaning the Russians and their president in products designed for domestic consumption and, as such, virtually useless in the realm of reality.

The final phase, action, is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Here the Russians have initiated a process which not only has them operating at a time and place of their choosing, but also to have positioned themselves to immediately begin the next OODA Loop cycle by having the appropriate sensors in place to collect data regarding any potential American reaction so that new decision options can be rapidly prepared and acted on.

The Americans, meanwhile, are alerted to a potential crisis only through the actions of the Russians. The Americans initiate their own observation process, but their collection mechanism, so firmly rooted in the persona of Putin, is oblivious to the complexity and layering of the Russian action.

Russia, armed with the luxury of time and initiative, can isolate American actions as they take place, beginning a process of action-reaction which Russia controls.

In short, if the current diplomatic engagement taking place between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine were a dog fight, the Americans would be shot down by the Russians inside of forty seconds, guaranteed.

Russia isn’t simply operating inside the American decision-making cycle—they control it.

Propagandized Conformity

While the ultimate responsibility for bad policy rests with the senior policy maker — the U.S. president — there is no doubt that successive presidential administrations have been poorly served by the current crop of American Kremlinologists, personified by McFaul, Hill, Kendall-Taylor, and others, who made Putin bashing the standard for what passed for Russian studies.

In short, so long as your world view of Russia conformed with the Putin bashers, you were welcomed into the club; if, however, one opted to take a more nuanced, fact-based approach to Russian studies that went beyond the persona of the Russian president, and explored the complexity of post-Cold War Russia, the powers that be in government, academia and media would relegate you to the trash bin of relevancy.

Every American citizen should realize that they have been poorly served by these slavish servants of propagandized conformity, and the potential consequence of their collective failure — war — stares us all in the face.

If we can emerge from these difficult times intact, it will only be because the Russians—not Biden—picked a policy path that possessed a viable diplomatic offramp.

And if we are so fortunate, then the practitioners of this Putin psychosis —the McFaul’s, Hill’s, Kendall-Taylor’s, and others of their ilk — should be singled out for their respective role in bringing America to such a place policy-wise and treated accordingly — no more sinecures, no more access, no more credibility.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

64 comments for “America’s Putin Psychosis

  1. Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
    February 4, 2022 at 10:47

    As usual Scott Ritter rarely disappoints in his intellectual deliveries, this piece too is not an exception in this regard. He is so true that Russian foreign policy positions and interests are well institutionalized and grounded holistically in temporal, if not always in geopolitical, realities and not merely attached to Putin’s whims only. As an ex-espionage don Putin is, professionally, not primed to subjugate national objectives ultimately to his ideosyncracies. Still, the same applies to even William Burns, the contemporary George Kennan, I guess, and to the U.S. too, generally. The bold assertion here is American foreign policies are flippant in nature, executive-centric and regularly sways according to ruling party orietation. Well read people know that this, of course, has not always been true. There is nothing flippant about America’s policy on Israeli security, even allegedly “American” political parties don’t have the luxury of disorientating themselves from Israel’s survival, and definitely not under the dedicated scrutiny of the Jewish lobby and the American deep state easily weaves in and under even the U.S. Commander-in-Chief’s watch, i.e. Oliver North “mis-operating” right under Reagan’s theaterically-ethical nose. Actually, there is little that is flippant in American foreign policies, even in “democratic” Democratic Party ones !

  2. vito dumas
    February 4, 2022 at 10:33

    It seems Britain has the same problem the USA does.

  3. February 3, 2022 at 19:46

    “The problem with focusing on an individual as the embodiment of a nation is that one is trying to solve the wrong problem. Russia’s ongoing issues with Ukraine are larger than Vladimir Putin, and as such, far more complex in defining national goals and policy boundaries. You can’t solve a problem unless you first accurately define the problem; by tying the problem of Ukraine to one man, American policy makers are, in effect, dealing with the wrong problem.”

    This isn’t so difficult to understand when one considers that the U.S. empire and its officials do not even recognize, let alone acknowledge, that Russia even exists, much less has legitimate national security interests of its own. U.S. imperialists do not see other nations as nations, but as vassals with no sovereignty, identity, or interests outside the confines dictated by the empire. Therefore, they use Putin as the face to represent Russia as a whole, because they do not accept that Russia is an independent nation-state. Without a face and a name to serve as the embodiment of a disobedient vassal country, they have no ability at all to even have a dialog. You can’t talk to something you don’t even believe exists.

  4. February 3, 2022 at 14:50

    Stephen Cohen’s mantle has been taken over by Ray McGovern. However, he too is not listened to.

  5. Bob McDonald
    February 3, 2022 at 12:40

    When will our friends across the pond wake up? The underlying thrust of American foreign policy is not a stable Europe. The last thing the Americans want is another challenge to global hegemony, which is exactly what they’d get if Russia was no longer seen as a threat to Western Europe, but a full fledged trading partner and ally. US policy seems short sighted and rooted in 20th century thinking. One way or another America is going to be part of a multipolar world. The horse is already out of the barn. The focus needs to shift from prevention to optimization. Clearly, as the 21st century unfolds, the US and it’s western allies would be much better off with Russia on their side than they would be in a world with Russia as a cornerstone of Chinese power.

    • Alex Grimsson
      February 3, 2022 at 17:49

      Bob McDonald-

      Your observations & conclusions [above] are entirely sensible….. (which is why they’re also very likely to be ignored by the USA’s current National Security State “thinkers”…..

    • Litchfield
      February 3, 2022 at 20:04

      ” the US and it’s western allies would be much better off with Russia on their side than they would be in a world with Russia as a cornerstone of Chinese power.”

      “. . . would HAVE BEEN much better off . . .”

      Unfortunately that horse has long left the barn.

    • Victor
      February 3, 2022 at 21:39


      You seem to mistakenly think of Europe as ONE actor, but the reality is that after decades of centralization from the top down, Europe and the EU is still a collective of nations, not unlike the UN.

      (Having a multitude of national identities and a history that goes back for over 1000 years in many cases, tend to do that.)

      So the European reaction is of course very mixed. A few countries, like the UK are fully onboard with the US. Others, like France are more cautious. Some, like Germany are decidedly against military action, while countries like Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary are more or less leaning towards Russia’s side.

      Across the continent, and across the EU however, there is a will to normalize relations with Russia.

  6. Jo
    February 3, 2022 at 12:01

    brilliant article . USA Putinphobia hysterical visceral analysts have blinded them to reality….Russia has had decades to observe…plan..rationalise…..risk analysis of all options and probabilities. They will regret it. And the EU poodles are left just yapping around chasing each other in the street .

  7. Heathermk
    February 3, 2022 at 09:11

    With America it is always about the resources, they are jealous and want to get their hands on Russia’s resources – the money.

  8. Apna
    February 3, 2022 at 09:04

    Nato is a fraud entity created by impotent England after second World War to keep English pirates relevant.
    NATO’s first Secretary General, Lord Ismay famously said it was created to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
    When he took command of NATO’s forces, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower stated: “If in 10 years, all American troops stationed in Europe for national defense purposes have not been returned to the United States, then this whole project [NATO] will have failed.”

  9. Apna
    February 3, 2022 at 09:00

    Russia was so foolish not to kick out that macfaul from ambassorership in Moscow.
    After all macfaul was actively engaged in destabilising Russia. But Russia did nothing against such enemy.

    • Bart Hansen
      February 4, 2022 at 08:55

      The Russians would not like to be the ones who start a tit for tat of PNGing ambassadors.

      The replacement might be someone like John Bolton.

      And there is the ‘keep your enemies closer’ theory.

  10. Prof
    February 3, 2022 at 07:26

    Brilliant, Scott. A great read and diagnosis. Every semester, I have my IR students read and compare the liberal and realist debates on the ‘new cold War’ and Ukraine crisis. They read McFaul’s book, and then readings by Cohen, Mearsheimer and Richard Sakwa. Invariably, they end siding with the realists and discovering that McFaul is a fanatic and liar. It’s a great moment of discovery for the students.

  11. Realist
    February 3, 2022 at 02:16

    Joe Biden and his anti-everything-Russia posse in the White House are either the biggest dolts or the biggest liars on the planet when they ascribe dictatorial powers to President Putin whom they characterise as unstable and unpredictable, prone to taking big gambles at the expense of his people and world peace. There is a robust echo of Trump Derangement Syndrome in this steaming pile of excrement. In other words, it is just a load of propaganda spewed forth wholesale by the American Deep State and its bipartisan “War Party” tools.

    People who are familiar with Russia, its leaders and its foreign policies know and appreciate this, whether they are Russian nationals, Russian expats, genuinely honest non-Russian Europeans or that rare gem, an honest American academic, like Stephen F. Cohen, who spent a lifetime and a career actually studying Russia, its history, its leadership and its policies close-up, on the scene, in that country. He was the most accomplished such scholar, but there are a handful of others–John Mearsheimer and Gilbert Doctorow come to mind–and in this present atmosphere they are all incessantly dismissed, derided and practically accused of treason when they strive to be fair and objective. Over-the-top brinksmanship is the only game allowed on America’s court these days, no matter the risks.

    It is actually the American camp that are the high stakes poker players for what is risibly passed off as “diplomacy” now. Russia can explicitly spell out exactly what are the problems and the risks and the American gamblers will not see them, refuse to see them or lie through their teeth that nothing is there. The Russians can recount the exact words uttered and actions taken by each side going back to the first cold war and the Americans will not hear it, not listen to it, and most certainly not adjust their own actions in response to it. This latest dust-up over Russia’s security requirements in the shadow of the Ukraine crisis precipitated in entirety by American actions is only one such example. Obama put the peddle to the metal with all of his anti-Russian trash talk as soon as his goons had successfully overthrown the legitimate government of Ukraine and there’s been no stopping or looking back ever since. Russia can outline chapter and verse of how the American state has maligned and threatened them non-stop, but it’s like trying to talk the hangman out of carrying out his orders.

    Washington’s many false narratives have been so lame that a 2nd grader could poke holes in them. Yet the American leadership continues to play its own citizens as dupes and the ultimate fall guys if their long game turns to a nuclear apocalypse. (As I have said before, Washington does not have an exit strategy from war if their actions take us beyond the precipice.)

  12. Eddie S
    February 2, 2022 at 23:12

    Good article!

  13. FredFromDredd
    February 2, 2022 at 21:32

    Very insightful article by Scott Ritter – in total contrast to all of the constant BS we are being subjected to here in the West MSM.

    Just today (wed evening) I started to see some changes in the reporting – on Al Jazeera especially – a dawning of reality, a realization ..

    One worrying thing – here in the West it’s not just “the McFaul’s, Hill’s, Kendall-Taylor’s, and others of their ilk” that are incompetent.

    There has been a general dumbing down in education all over the West – in lockstep – since … the end of the USSR.
    In the UK a university education used to be free in the 80’s – your local Council paid the Uni fees as well as gave one a modest grant to live off. That was a long-standing thing. Now students have to pay for it all.
    In the UK there were Universities and then colleges & polytechnics which were of a lower standard. Now every two-bit educational institute is a “University”.
    I believe these “capitalistic” moves have been implemented in almost every country in the West.

    And this is just one aspect of the changes in society in the west – now we have woke, cancel culture, LGBTQ stuff, huge immigration, cutting of public services & especially the Police – the list goes on. It all seems to be coming from the USA.

    Given the historic changes that may be unfolding in the World – more than geopolitical it is potentially Civilisational – a once in 500 year change – these are notable observations, and presumably a large part of the problem.

    Back to the Ukraine, Russia, NATO, US – this story is way not over, it still has a way to run – February will probably be an absolutely crucial month. China.
    And it may be that if we survive it – it will be written about in the history books for centuries to come.

      February 3, 2022 at 05:50

      Indeed there has been a slight shift in mainstream coverage. For instance here, it has gone from “imminent” to “could.”

      NYT: “Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, and *could* be preparing for an invasion, U.S. and NATO officials have warned.”

  14. Jeff Harrison
    February 2, 2022 at 21:13

    Not bad, Scott. Couple of comments and observations.
    1. You provided some figures for Russian military strength in the Russian districts to the East and South of the Ukraine as well as in Belarus. This is misleading. Michael Brenner here on CN pointed out that the satellite photos were doctored and the closest concentration of Russian military forces (in their own country) was some 180 miles from the Ukrainian border.

    2. Interestingly, Blinken, our inept SoS, called his Chinese counterpart and tried to pressure him into interceding with Russia over the Ukraine. Wang Yi essentially told Blinken to go piss up a rope. To even attempt to solicit the assistance of a country which you are sanctioning and perpetrating economic warfare on bespeaks a breathtaking level of cluelessness, arrogance, and incompetence.

    3. Somebody needs to have some harsh words for the bozos and bozoettes that pass for “experts” on Russia. Mr. Putin is not impulsive or irrational or erratic. Considering the long string of foreign policy successes that the US has had in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, and China, one would have thought they might have considered the possibility that it was they, and not Putin, who were impulsive, irrational, and erratic. Indeed, the “with Russia, expect the unexpected” is not a sign that there’s something wrong with Russia or Putin but rather that the Americans don’t understand their subject and are not competent at making executive decisions hence always coming up with the wrong answer.

    4. Somebody needs to explain to these guys that the US is NOT exceptional nor are Americans. Anyone who thought that Russia was going to let NATO (US) get control of Sevastopol – Russia’s only warm water port – was/is an idiot (right up there with trade wars are easy to win). In reality we were only “exceptional” because we were rich. But we aren’t really rich anymore. The US couldn’t do a Chinese style Belt and Road program. We don’t have the money. I guess we’ll see where we are when the US goes full on economic warfare. We’ll find out what kind of power the US$ has. If I had money, I’d be shorting the dollar.

  15. Antforce62
    February 2, 2022 at 21:02

    This is a incredible article, so insightful & really highlights how shallow, stupid & insipid the American thought process is compared to the Russians & even the Chinese? We are seeing in real time how America’s “Fake it till you make it” reactive Foreign Policy is unraveling before our very eyes, America makes Policy, made on the hoof in comparison with Putin’s Policy process, which is logical, sane, measured & strategically proactive & based on playing a long game in which he controls the tempo? That’s why American Leaders are going insane, Putin is mindf**king them by outmanoeuvring & outmatching them at every turn, making them second guess themselves & the amateurish American’s & their hysterical behaviour is the result? Biden’s crashing poll numbers & Domestic failures is also seeking to distract attention away so why not drum up a War with the evil Russians & particularly Mr Putin to deflect the blame, so we are back to calling names & petty personal insults? Pathetic! America’s Geopolitics decision making is short term decision making based on its 4 yr Election cycle & a bewildering bunch of new President’s? Russia & China have Leaders for life so provide a level of stability & continuity that even Trump acknowledged! This is going to be fascinating to see our all this plays out, but what is certain is that you are seeing a dying US Empire that’s on the way out & going down in a screaming heap? What’s frightening is that this Empire has no qualms in taking down everyone else before it collapses & that’s what is so dangerous about this Geopolitical situation? America will not go quietly into that good night, they have the mentality that says, if we can’t rule the World, no one else will as well!

    • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
      February 4, 2022 at 11:37

      Excellent comment for an excellent article !

  16. Antiwar7
    February 2, 2022 at 20:41

    Do people like Biden and Sullivan actually believe these Putin/Russia caricatures? I understand that they’re promulgated to sway the masses, but do these practitioners really believe it? What do they believe?

  17. Peter Duveen
    February 2, 2022 at 20:18

    To me, the key is not some misapprehension of Russian priorities, but rather long-standing American objectives with regard to Russia. Russia as “the enemy” is a cornerstone of US policy, although it is not clear what the objective, the goal, of such a policy is. But one perceives that there is a goal, an unstated goal, and this goal, not some misapprenehsion of Russian priorities, is what is setting US policy. I would love our friend Scott Ritter to have a discussion about what this long-standing objective might be. I do not think it is solely about the arms industry, although the arms industry may have a stake in it.

  18. Georges Olivier Daudelin
    February 2, 2022 at 18:45

    Je ne crois pas qu’elle soit si imaginaire cette guerre: Washington a une marionnette en Ukraine, un immense terrain pour guerroyer, et une population à utiliser comme chair à canon.

    I don’t think this war is so imaginary: Washington has a puppet in Ukraine, an immense terrain to wage war on, and a population to use as cannon fodder.

  19. Guy
    February 2, 2022 at 18:07

    I agree with Scott about how blaming Putin for everything vs the Russian Federation team .It is so much easier for MSM ,the think tanks and the Atlanticists crowd to point the arrow at the one man they love to hate ,Vladimir Putin .Probably because he speaks for the Russian Federation and not the globalist corporate elite.
    I can’t say enough about Scott Ritter’s knowledge of how the Russian system works and how it is interpreted by the talking head in Washington DC.
    It is very unfortunate that we don’t also have have the input of the late Stephen Cohen to help shed light on the existing predicament.
    True though ,that when it comes to what passes as American moves visa vi Russia ,it is always referred as Biden said this or that .We should not be fooled by this either .Most of us that have been watching know that Biden is just a template and his experience in foreign policy outside of using it exploitatively is close to zero .
    Without blowing up any egos ,would it be possible to clone the likes of Scott Ritter to help the US administration out and stop it’s proverbial race to the bottom of credulity . Time for another donation to CN for such a good and sane article by Scott Ritter .

    February 2, 2022 at 18:05

    Russia is not being threatened, it is just suffering from delusions of grandeur. If it were not for Putin and his friends, Russia could in time become a member of the European Union, and completer the link from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

    • Moses
      February 3, 2022 at 09:13

      Why NATO, then? Security against whom? The Warsaw Pact was disbanded 30 years ago, and Russia was completely at the mercy of Western neoliberalism for 15 years while NATO continued to expand and encircle Russia.

      Even now, where are Russian forces stationed, in contrast to where American forces are based?

      There are none as blind as those who refuse to see.

    • vito dumas
      February 4, 2022 at 10:45

      Russia tried for years to be part of Europe and the west, applied for NATO at one point. But the US kept circling, sanctioning and isolating. Russia long ago made the decision to focus on the east. How the US will behave when it realizes it is no longer the big dog in the world is anyone’s guess, but it won’t be pretty.

  21. A.Kondakow
    February 2, 2022 at 18:04

    Chronic, habitual and compulsive lying is a description of the U.S. in a collective state of mythomania. When the population is constantly lied to from generation to generation . When history and politics from kindergarten through to the highest level of academia is all lies and half truths.When truth such as Mr.Ritters’ breaks out somehow ,it becomes too complicated and uncomfortable for the plebs , so they go back to their bread and circuses. The saddest thing about a liar is when he believes his own lies. When a great super power country and society believes it’s own lies it’s could end up being a nuclear tragedy .Thank you Mr Ritter for the truth and courage.

  22. Michael Urban
    February 2, 2022 at 17:52

    An excellent analysis of the US’s Russia “experts”, outlining in detail their massive incompetence.

  23. blimbax
    February 2, 2022 at 16:37

    Very informative piece, and, given the author, this is not surprising. It is an extremely important and useful article. It is also a basis for pessimism, in that it describes a foreign policy establishment that is so wedded to a myopic view of Russia that it is hard to imagine how that establishment could be changed in a way to allow for clearer thinking on the part of the U.S.

  24. Robert Emmett
    February 2, 2022 at 16:15

    An important perspective to hear, thank you, S.R.

    There’s a phrase I once heard that might apply to these self-important, deluded, so-called experts in the upper levels of state hierarchy: they seem a bit drunk off a whiff of their own perfume.

  25. Gerald
    February 2, 2022 at 16:15

    Since when have the Americans ever been any different? Its always ‘that guy’ – if we could just get rid of ‘that guy’ Nonsensical and childish. Sadam, Gadaffi, Castro, Assad, Chavez, Putin … we know what happens and yet the US fails everytime. The pioneers of make it up as you go along foreign policy which has been so disastrous and so damaging for so many countries over the last 70 years are still at it. Americans really don’t do straegy at all. In the past the military has been there to bluff them through the charade and of course more often than not the real reason to invade/assasinate/sanction has been resource theft dressed up as ‘freedom & democracy’ two things America knows very little about. Now with Russia and China in a symbiotic relationship looking forward over the next 2 or 3 decades the US just runs home to mama and resets to 20th Century default, only this time you’re dealing with real strategists, real thinkers and philosophers with vision and the military to back it up … Americas dwindling influence will continue to wane and the RF and China will continue to out build and out think, out plan and out manouvre the US in all spheres, from Europe, to the middle East and the far east. Bidens (Obamas) pivot to Asia is dead in the water, just like it was when Obama tried it the first time around, instead of moving troops to Asia the US is now moving troops back to Europe, bogged down waiting for a war which simply isn’t going to happen (even if the US choose the false flag option) Watching the US being out played on all levels is becoming a great sport. The China, RF, Iran axis is going to create merry hell for the US military, keeping them on their toes and over stretched and over committed for the next few years.

  26. Peter Loeb
    February 2, 2022 at 16:11

    Russia is playing both sides of the game.

    On the one hand Russia could pursue military means though it prefers not to do so.
    On the other hand it can become a major peacemaker and use diplomatic means
    not only to serve Russian objectives but also to break up European and western
    allies. This is made clearer by the contacts made outside of the negotiating process
    per se (UK, Germany, France etc.).

    Historically, Washington has feared so-called Russian “peace initiatives” because for
    their narrative it is necessary to have an evil enemy. For the role of champion of
    “democracy” and peace it is necessary to have a “bad guy”.

  27. robert e williamson jr
    February 2, 2022 at 16:10

    Seems Mr. Ritter has his subject material mastered. The result is this masterful work.

    Thanks Scott for the clear and insightful information.

    Thaks CN

  28. vinnieoh
    February 2, 2022 at 16:07

    One of Ritter’s best compositions. I do have reservations though to his analysis, as I do to Michael Brenner’s and to some extent others dissecting not Putin’s, but the US’ intentions. Specifically, my opinion is that too little weight is given to the energy aspect of the current state of affairs. Pointedly – Nord stream II. But NDII should be seen as not of singular importance on its own, but as a stand-in, a place-marker of US hegemonic ambitions.

    All ideological and political rhetoric aside, humanity still lives in a material world, and this current world is dominated by the petrochemical paradigm. US actions over many decades more than suggest that those who shape US policy and actions understand that power is leveraged upon the fulcrum of fossil fuels. One need only observe where the US attempts to intrude itself: Iran, KSA, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, wherever oil is found in Africa and Central and South America. It is not necessary for the US to control – for its sole use and consumption – all of the supply: all that is necessary is for the US to control, or at least inhibit, access by others (our “enemies”) to energy supplies (or to limit producer peoples/nations’ ability to sell what they produce – i.e. Iran, Venezuela.)

    In the current dilemma the US wishes to: promote and enrich its domestic gas industry; coincidentally, it wishes to handicap the Russian economy by hindering their energy industry; also coincidentally it counts on intimidating possible European (and other) defectors from the circle of US finance/influence by holding access to energy like a club over their heads.

    Can’t Europeans see how shabbily the US is treating them? And that is even before considering the prospect of promoting another bloody conflict in their backyards, their front yards, their side yards, in their living rooms and kitchens.

    The US does not “need” to place Russian targeted missiles in Ukraine, that would just be icing on the cake. The US targeted Ukraine for interference because the bulk of Russian gas to Europe transited through there. Before 2014 Russia and Ukraine had been in an escalating dispute of transit royalties and discounted allotment promises. My reading of those events showed bad faith by both sides in a slowly deteriorating dispute that was at an impasse by 2014. Also, by that time (if not since the collapse of the USSR) Ukraine was bankrupt which resulted in the dueling $15b aid packages offered by the US/EU and Russia. When U’s Russian leaning prez chose the Russian offer the coup was launched.

    Russia could not – would not – yield Sevastopol for security reasons and those very same security realities dictated that the Ukrainian pipeline export routes had to be detoured around. NDII is a result of the US sponsored coup in Kiev, just as assuredly that the Islamic State of Iran owes much of its impetus to the US/UK coup in Iran in 1953. The shale gas boom really got going in the US in 2008 and by 2014 was already in need of markets for all the gas it had overproduced; corporate investors MUST have profits and baby needs a new pair of shoes.

    About the time that Rex Tillerson was Trump’s first SoS I did much researching on matters relating to oil and gas. For those that might have forgotten, Rex had been earlier feted by the Russians as a sort of national hero for all the commitments he’d made on behalf of Exxon and affiliates for promises of financial and technical joint development of Russian energy projects from the Arctic Circle to the Stans of south-central Asia. I found public reporting that showed summations of the investors in the speculative areas of the Stans, and “US owned” entities were the majority stakeholders.

    Of course it is preposterous to substitute Putin for all of Russia, but I believe it is equally disingenuous and dangerous to believe that US “leadership” is guided merely by ideological fanaticism, Cold War triumphalism, or “End of History” academic fallacy. US “leadership” still believes it can dictate terms to the rest of humanity, and the route to that end is through control of energy.

    • Carstie Clausen
      February 2, 2022 at 20:46

      You have correctly assessed exactly half of the overall equation. When you posit the role of petroleum derived substances, most heavily, gasoline and diesel, a single factor needs to be considered—that factor being the single greatest customer for those derivatives–the U.S. military.
      Thenceforth, we must consider that the WarDefense industry happens to be the #1 devourer of those taxpayer dollars (and the “borrowed” ones from the bank$ters who own the “Fed”). That industry also happens to be the primary industrial productive entity in America today. Spread over scores of Congressional districts, that octopus also represents numerous jobs…and votes.

      Then a very curious consideration must be posited. Lockheed-Martin, featuring it’s F-35 “flying turkey” as professionals in the field of military aircraft use tend to call it, not only happens to be the #1 recipient of federal funding in the “defense” matrix–it also happens to have as its primary shareholders a nice little consortium of City of London bankers as well as some Wall Street allies.

      In layman’s terms, what we are looking at is one huge circle-jerk of those vested interests, who both above and behind the scenes just happen to be the prime driving force behind US foreign policy. Those vaunted “Kremlin” experts are mere minor minions regurgitating propaganda read off a common script.

    • CW
      February 2, 2022 at 21:59

      Thank you for adding your insightful comments to the discussion. I think you are absolutely correct that the actions of the US (and Ukraine) are driven as much, if not more, by economics and the desire to control energy resources as idealogy.

  29. JohnA
    February 2, 2022 at 16:00

    I have lost count of the number of articles, columns, think-pieces etc., written by so-called US, British, and European so-called experts on Russia/realpolitik who baldly state that ‘Putin is determined to reestablish the former Soviet empire’. Yet I have also heard Putin say in his own words that ‘Russia is the largest country in the world, why would we want to become any bigger?’. None of thse idiot analysts consider this contradition in their view and Putin’s for a single second. Crimea was a special case, the naval port and desire of the residents to rejoin Russia to escape the neoNazi lunatics in Ukraine can explain the reuninification not annexation. Russia simply wants to feel secure within its boundaries, without US weapons on its doorstep. It is as simple as that.

    • Dr. Hujjatullah M.H.B. Sahib
      February 5, 2022 at 00:53

      Absolutely true !

  30. jo6pac
    February 2, 2022 at 14:17

    Thank You, Thank You.

  31. Bulat Bayzuldin
    February 2, 2022 at 13:27

    The author is right. It’s not about Putin, but about Russia’s many difficulties after the collapse of the USSR.

    One of them is that the USSR, at the junction of Russia and Ukraine, fell apart along completely “wrong borders” that were artificially drawn by communist rulers, primarily Lenin, a fanatic obsessed with Marxism. In order to promote communism, Lenin needed as more as possible republics as part of the USSR he created, so he cut off a piece of territory from Russia and called it the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, in which Donbass was artificially included.

  32. Alan
    February 2, 2022 at 13:16

    Scott Ritter, you have outdone yourself with this piece. Bravo! It is the clearest explication of the differences between Russian and American policy making that I have ever read or heard.

    As for the claims by Western politician, journalists and academics that they cannot fathom what Russia and Putin want, I would point out that last December, Russia presented “ultimatums” both to the US and NATO clearly stating Russia’s demands. Were the ultimatums written in Sanskrit or some other ancient language that no scholar can decipher. No they were not. So, I offer this advice to all the puzzled Russia “experts:” READ THE FREAKING ULTIMATUMS!” Try to comprehend them, as difficult as that may seem. I promise that your puzzlement will disappear instantly.

  33. bobo rebozo
    February 2, 2022 at 13:14

    Surely the McFauls, the Fiona Hills, the Vindmans are not leading this parade, but are chosen for their positions based on their willingness to spout certain “facts” or promote a certain narrative. If their narrative ever changed (it won’t), they would be discarded immediately. So, who is in fact driving all this?

    • Alan
      February 2, 2022 at 13:59

      Fiona Hill had an opinion piece in the NYT within the last two weeks that was pure propagandistic drivel. Of course, it was perfectly in line with the reporting in the Times “news” section that often reads like a CIA press release. David Sanger, in particular, seems to be a CIA scribe, as does David Ignatius of the WaPo. Pounding the drums of war must get lots of clicks, and it pleases the Masters. A crucial point is that the Russophobia and Putin-hating that grips much of the country is a direct continuation of Russiagate–debunked but not dead. Like the creature in “Alien,” it’s very hard to kill.

      • Brian Bixby
        February 3, 2022 at 19:51

        “seems to be a CIA scribe”

        Operation Mockingbird never actually shut down, just the control and payment mechanism changed. Now instead of getting a check from the Ford Foundation or the Lyla Wallace Fund they make a speech in front of a dozen people and get paid five figures for it.

  34. Thomas
    February 2, 2022 at 12:28

    Thank you for this analysis, it is spot on.

    I noted from another article that according to a WaPo survey, 84 percent of Americans are unable to locate Ukraine on a map. It is probably related to efforts to dumb down the populace as it certainly makes for easier control and manipulation.

    Meanwhile, we have absolute ideologues and/or neo cons cranking up war frenzy and hysteria while not having a clue as to the risks; arrogance, hypocrisy, incompetence, delusions in the extreme.

    • Carstie
      February 2, 2022 at 20:58

      Thomas: You have hit on something which needs buttressing when you cite “efforts to dumb down the populace”. The policy dates to the early 20th Century. It was instigated via the College of Education within the Rockefeller-funded Columbia University as a means by which the populace could be rendered quiescent when it would involve public policies. The perpetrators of the scheme are the noted educators John Dewey and James Bryant Conant, whose point of view was “why should these people be taught Latin, Greek and calculus, when their only utility for us is to work in our factories and provide food.
      As Columbia, with its opulent funding was positioned to become the leading school of education in the nation; it’s graduates, over decades, soon assumed their appointed roles as heads of departments of education in leading post-secondary institutions clear across the fruited plain. As those decades rolled by, this engendered policy of deliberate dumbing down filtered through those “leaders” in the field and ultimately to lesser colleges and universities and thence unto essentially America’s entire public education system.

  35. Guy Willoughby
    February 2, 2022 at 12:25

    Putin, having a history of KGB, international, knew the problems of spun intelligence, to flange up with a political narrative, as was the case with the Russian communist leadership, which lead to bad decisions, was a part of the down fall of the Soviet Union. Now, Russian intelligence isn’t spun.

    The USA, now spins it’s intelligence to meet a neoliberal/neoconcervative narrative. That has lead to many bad decisions. Does German or French intelligence use this intelligence to make pragmatic decisions that are obviously different from the American’s over Ukraine?

  36. Patricia Tursi, Ph.D.
    February 2, 2022 at 12:14

    If Sevasterpol, Crimea is the only warm water Naval Port Russia has available, Putin would be crazy not to maneuver to keep access.
    This is crucial to Russia’s world standing as a world naval power. Crimea is part of Russia’s sphere of influence, if not a part of Russia. If Biden is not aware of this, the military, media and states’ persons are, so, why isn’t this being discussed? Also, there is the historical significance of the site of the Crimean War which is similar to the U S’s Alamo.
    Furthermore, if this is the reason the US is putting US and world citizens in danger, I say, US butt out. Quit using Russia as the bugaboo that it has been all during my 85 years of life time.

    • Cal Lash
      February 2, 2022 at 12:44


  37. helmut
    February 2, 2022 at 11:55

    USA and UK are the biggest criminals in the world

  38. Britt Franklin
    February 2, 2022 at 11:37

    Brilliant and–as far as I can tell–absolutely correct. It appears that what we have in the US trying to address these incredibly complex issues are a number of rank amateurs who are responding to feelings rather than facts.

    • Alan
      February 2, 2022 at 14:12

      It’s very hard for the American ruling elite to accept the fact that the United States is no longer the world’s sole hegemon. The implications for them are both financial and psychological. But facts are stubborn things. You can pretend that they aren’t facts for only so long. When will the US learn to exist in a multi-polar world? We can only hope that it’s sooner rather than later, which is to say before there is a major war with Russia and China.

      • February 2, 2022 at 21:36

        It is the death of the US$ as global reserve currency that the US fears most. Without the power of the dollar, the US is relegated to third world status, albeit nuclear armed third world status. Without the power of the dollar, the US cannot manipulate other countries to do their bidding other than through pure force of arms, a manner that has proven very inefficient.

  39. helmut ucke
    February 2, 2022 at 11:32

    spot on

  40. Kerry McNamara
    February 2, 2022 at 11:30

    Great piece, sir. Thank you!

  41. TimN
    February 2, 2022 at 11:10

    I was reading something the other day by Ralph Nader in which Ralph referred to Putin as “dictator Putin.” That is inexcusable; Nader was also keen on Russiagate, so it didn’t surprise me, but still.

    • Andrew Thomas
      February 2, 2022 at 23:01

      And Mr. Nader is a brilliant man, and remains an astute commentator on any number of important subjects. His insights are universally ignored by the mainstream. And he is one of the most honest men who has ever had the ear of the US public. This, however, was never his main focus. So, if someone with his enormous intellect and beyond amazing critical thinking skills can be propagandized on a subject not in the center of his mind to believe that Putin is a ‘dictator’, it says something about the effectiveness of the non-stop excrement rain of lies and propaganda upon persons of lesser intellects, which includes, I suspect, all of us. The totalitarian nature of this system is beautifully disguised by the decentralized form it seems to have if you don’t look at it closely. What Russia wants, as well stated above, is in writing and in clear language. What the DC blob wants is also, horrifyingly, in writing. 25 years ago it published a document called the Project for a New American Century. It was clearly set forth that what it wants is full spectrum dominance of the entire earth, from pole to pole. Russia is in the way; ergo, there must be regime change in Russia. It wasn’t in the way at all in 1997, so it wasn’t mentioned, but every apparently deranged action of the Blob in the last quarter century can be explained by reference to this utterly insane manifesto. The obsession with Putin isn’t real- it’s a PR strategy to get the passive consent of the subjects of the US empire, here and in the other Five Eyes countries and throughout Europe. The farcical Security Council meeting a few days ago indicates it is working very well indeed. This is a very bad situation.

  42. mgr
    February 2, 2022 at 10:38

    The core problem perhaps is the inherent incompetence of ideologues. It is popular, albeit trite, to say that even paranoid people have enemies. True. However, by definition, a paranoid person is not in a position to know. Nevertheless these are the very people that America’s presidents, who have steadily shrunk in character and ability to our current low ebb, have installed to drive its policies. And drive they are, with a gusto that only the truly incompetent can muster. Trump, inadvertently, pulled back the curtains. Biden was going to solve all that and bring us back to the earlier, pre-Trump, status quo, according to the “DP”. Of course, the deeper problem is that the golden-hued status quo is itself the problem, it’s destination being extinction. In any case, consider the marketing of Biden and look at the reality.

    In that sense, America’s core problem that it eschews people who think and instead embraces ideologues. Like turds that float, they rise to the top in the American system, in particular in government and mainstream media. The idea that the inmates are running the asylum in America is all too painfully true. And quite naturally, based on that ideological incompetence, whatever America touches turns to mud. The muddiness is not an anomaly, it is built in. In particular with Reagan and Thatcher, utter banality became a mainstream virtue. It seems that the ability to think, reason and understand events has been steadily demeaned to fit the ever more shallow character of our diminishing leaders who, perhaps by necessity, embrace “messaging” over ability. America seems to believe that media is reality. But actual reality is never far away and eventually comes knocking. That, for example, is the present fact of climate change. There is no negotiating with nature.

    Unfortunately, part of the banality of evil is that there are always banal people ready to support it, and so it continues. Note our current predicament and how we arrived here. This is the status quo that America is foisting on its own people and the bill of sale it is trying to sell abroad.

  43. Tedder
    February 2, 2022 at 09:41

    Scott Ritter remembers the most excellent Professor Stephen F Cohen as the Russian expert who actually knew something about Russia and Putin, but was not only ignored, but vilified by the Washington Consensus. I appreciate his analysis, but still recall the World Cup I remember when I was in Korea, 1997 or so. The Koreans outplayed the Germans at every turn, but in the end the “big dumb Germans” just overpowered the field. Perhaps that is the American dream, that they need not understand nor recognize Russia’s concerns because in the end, they will simply overpower Russia, replace Putin, and enjoy further hegemony in Europe, now Eurasia. I think that is a pipe dream…

  44. jonny
    February 2, 2022 at 08:27

    Wonderful writing!

  45. Piotr Berman
    February 2, 2022 at 08:05

    Two comments. Russian actioned are indeed planned, with almost maniacal attention to resources and the case presented to people in the Russian Federation. 2014 was an emergency, that required a degree of economic sacrifice, the emergency was compelling to Russia so the action in Crimea and Donbass were widely supported, even though the timidity of the support for the Russians of Donbass is often criticized. And the economic crisis that ensued was managed very competently, creating “sanction proof” economy. Without a doubt, this management was pre-planned.

    Then nothing much happened till 2021. As the commodity cycle was turning to Russia’s favor, so were the tensions triggered by actions that were actually modest, but evoking deep hysteria — after all, there is a huge apparatus in charge of fomenting hysterias. And here we are:
    1. Super sanctions. Commodity driven inflation is already in place, populations are grumpy because of COVID restrictions and prices, and you want to fuel the domestic discontent? Many Western leaders think otherwise, even Washington.

    2. Principles. NATO cannot deny “open door”. Since when? The formulation became that the door must stay open, a sacred principle after all, but the entry will not be given in foreseeable future. Truly the least enticing policy platform in my memory (I am recently retired). Now the collective West stews on slow fire. Russians are perhaps not partial to popcorn, but some zakuski are probably served already (Kremlin kitchens surely had meticulous plans for that too).

    3. Credibility. USA and NATO credibility does not suffer when treaties are broken, claims justified invasions and sanctions are false, but only when threats are not followed by actions. As we will probably observe, this is a rather brittle ideology.

  46. John F Murtha
    February 2, 2022 at 07:53


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