The US may never be good buddies with China or Russia, but it’s helpful to analyze the threats presented by both and to decide which poses the most danger. From Peter Schweizer at gatestoneinstitute.org:
The actions of the Beijing government since the earliest days of concern about the disease have shown in stark relief how a closed, authoritarian society tries to deny and shift blame for its misdeeds. How it seeks to co-opt international health agencies. How it tries to bribe foreigners to do its bidding. How it has infected more than not just American bodies, but American society and its institutions at many levels.
Almost no one in American politics, on the Left or Right, has been hailing the Chinese communist government for its efforts to stem the fourth deadly pathogen to come from its shores and devastate the rest of the world. The Chinese government concealed all information about how the virus originated, encouraging speculation they did so intentionally. According to Gordon Chang, they may even be preparing to do so again, only worse…. By comparison, Russia’s crimes against the West, real and imagined, amount to a relative nuisance.
Foreign policy, however, is made towards nations, not individual leaders. In geo-political terms it asks: What is another country’s ability to help you, or harm you?
In the 1980s no one would have suggested that Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, or Muamar Qaddafi was America’s greatest enemy. They were obnoxious sideshows, annoying tinpot dictators with a flair for the microphone, but not existential threats on the order of the Soviet Union.
What this poll suggests is that threat assessment has somehow become a partisan issue, based on political grudges and perceptions that have little to do with a particular nation’s real capacity to damage American interests. The divide among Republicans and Democrats between China and Russia as our largest threat fails to account for a modern analysis of China’s power, influence, aggressiveness in action, and willingness to corrupt American political and cultural leaders. It should not be a partisan issue, no matter how obnoxious one nation’s current leader may be.
Putin loves to tweak America; Xi prefers quieter, more damaging forms of aggression.
It is vital for American voters to understand that bribery is a key part of doing business for both China and Russia.
No matter how much he might like to, Vladimir Putin cannot threaten the balance sheets of huge American companies such as Apple and Microsoft; China could do it tomorrow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin loves to tweak America; Chinese President Xi Jinping prefers quieter, more damaging forms of aggression. (Photo by Kenzaburo Fukuhara – Pool/Getty Images)
Imagine yourself sitting at a poker table with one opponent who fingers his dwindling stack of chips while glowering at you and daring you to bump the pot. Meanwhile, your other opponent with more chips sits quietly behind his cards while his paid spies behind your chair signal him the contents of your hand.
The only way the summit is going to work is if the US rejects its own notions of unipolarity, a tall order. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:
Two recent moves on Moscow’s side suggest that the encounter in Geneva will mark the start of a long and welcome process.
Curious it was to read that the Russian judiciary ruled last Wednesday that Alexei Navalny’s political network is an extremist movement. Its members should be grateful that the courts recognized it as a movement, given Navalny’s nationwide support has never exceeded 3 percent or so, but on paper they are now liable to arrest and prosecution and, if convicted of one or another charge, could be fined or imprisoned.
There have been no arrests, so far as has been reported. But think of all those chances Western intel agencies and their clerks in the press may now have to lionize a new cohort of oppositionists as Navalny’s heroic followers. Let us not forget, a kooky poseur journalist named Oleg Kashin had the nerve to call Navalny “Russia’s true leader” in a recent New York Times opinion piece.
There is no limit to the silliness in all matters Russian, it seems. At least not at the Times.
I say “curious” because, in the ordinary conduct of statecraft as we have had it for the past seven decades, the Moscow’s court’s ruling, exactly a week prior to President Joe Biden’s first summit with President Vladimir Putin, would have to be counted obtuse. Wouldn’t minding one’s manners — especially given that the Navalny network’s significance resides solely in the minds and news pages of Western propagandists — be the wise course?
I don’t think so. I have no clue as to the independence or otherwise of the Russian judiciary, but it is unthinkable the Russian leader did not know in advance of what the courts were about to determine. I think Russia was indeed minding its manners — a different and altogether more honorable set of manners than American pols and diplomats have exhibited lo these many decades.
You didn’t think they were going to let Joe Biden go to Europe and meet all those European heads of state and then Vladimir Putin without a minder, did you? From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:
Blinken is staying close to his boss during the whirlwind tour, because Biden is liable to spin out of control and reap an embarrassing collapse.
It’s a big ask for a frail 78-year-old U.S. president to rally the world around a series of myths and falsehoods. Biden flies to Europe this week to galvanize allies under strong American leadership of supposed shared “democratic values” in a “historic confrontation” with the “autocracies” of China and Russia.
President Joe Biden’s worldview is so disconnected from reality that it is going to prove difficult mentally for him to consistently and coherently make the case over a series of summits in the next week.
That’s why he has his more youthful Secretary of State Antony Blinken (59) tagging along when Biden meets G7 leaders in England on June 11-13, followed by a NATO summit on June 14 in Brussels as well as top-level discussions with European Union leaders. After all that, Blinken is “to participate” in the face-to-face meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in Geneva, according to the U.S. State Department.
The latter detail in the busy itinerary – Biden’s first overseas trip since taking office in January – is the most salient. It is unprecedented that the U.S. foreign secretary should “participate” in what was previously billed as a one-on-one meeting between the American and Russian leaders. There is no indication so far from Russian media reports that Sergei Lavrov – Blinken’s counterpart – is to take part in the Geneva summit.
SLL’s money is on bust. From Ray McGovern at antiwar.com:
Reading the tea leaves a week before Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva puts a premium on the kind of media analysis we old-school Kremlinologists had to rely on back in the day. Not all rhetoric is equal though; it is just as important to make an honest attempt to reconstruct the circumstances surrounding a major initiative like the summit proposal. The weird timing of the invitation cries out for explanation.
You Asked For It, Joe
Lest we forget, President Biden suggested a summit with Putin in the midst of very high tension over Ukraine. On March 24 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued an official decree that Ukraine would take Crimea back from Russia; Kiev’s strategy includes “military measures” to achieve “de-occupation.” U.S. and NATO voice “unwavering” (rhetorical) support for Zelensky, who sends tons of military equipment south and east. Russia sends troops and arms south and west into Crimea and the border area opposite Luhansk and Donetsk in the eastern Ukraine.
One Day in April
The following refresher on what all went down on April 13 may throw some light on why – in such tense circumstances – Biden proposed a summit with Putin.
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg slams Russia for sending “thousands of combat-ready troops to Ukraine’s borders.”
I have my doubts whether the Putin-Biden summit in Geneva will take place later this month, but even if somehow it is pulled off, recent Biden Administration blunders mean the chance anything of substance will be achieved is virtually nil.
The Biden Administration was supposed to signal a return of the “adults” to the room. No more bully Trump telling NATO it’s useless, ripping up international climate treaties, and threatening to remove troops from the Middle East and beyond. US foreign policy would again flourish under the steady, practiced hands of the experts.
Then Biden blurted out in a television interview that President Putin was a killer with no soul. Then US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discovered the hard way that his Chinese counterparts were in no mood to be lectured on an “international rules-based order” that is routinely flouted by Washington.
It’s going to be a rough ten days for President Biden. Just as news breaks that under the Obama/Biden Administration the US was routinely and illegally spying on its European allies, he is preparing to meet those same allies, first at the G7 summit in England on June 11-13 and then at the June 14th NATO meeting in Brussels.
Make no mistake, Joe Biden is up to his eyeballs in this scandal. Ed Snowden Tweeted late last month when news broke that the US teamed up with the Danes to spy on the rest of Europe, that “Biden is well-prepared to answer for this when he soon visits Europe since, of course, he was deeply involved in this scandal the first time around.”
Putin has outsmarted American and European politicians many times, but it never gets old. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
On Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the successful reaching of a major milestone in the Nord Stream 2 Russia to Germany natural gas pipeline despite an aggressive US sanctions campaign toward thwarting the project which began under the Trump administration (and ironically somewhat softened under Biden, at least on the German side), which will imminently bring the controversial project to completion.
In an address to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which is often referred to as “Russia’s Davos”, Putin said “I am pleased to say that today, just two-and-a-half-hours ago, we have completed laying the pipes for the first section of Nord Stream 2, and works are advancing on the second segment.”
Just days ago TASS cited the governor of the Leningrad region, where the pipeline originates, as sayingtesting will begin as early as next week. At the end of March, Russia’s energy giant Gazprom had declared it to be 95% complete.
Russia and China have done a masterful job of countering the US’s designs on a unipolar world order, of course headed by the US. From Pepe Escobar at zerohedge.com:
As Sino-Russo-Iranophobia dissolves in sanctions and hysteria, mapmakers carve the post-unilateral order…
It’s the Nikolai Patrushev-Yang Jiechi show – all over again. These are the two players running an up and coming geopolitical entente, on behalf of their bosses Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
Last week, Yang Jiechi – the director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee – visited Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow. That was part of the 16thround of China-Russia strategic security consultations.
What’s intriguing is that Yang-Patrushev happened between the Blinken-Lavrov meeting on the sidelines of the Arctic Council summit in Reykjavik, and the upcoming and highest-ranking Putin-Biden in Geneva on June 16 (possibly at the Intercontinental Hotel, where Reagan and Gorbachev met in 1985).
The Western spin before Putin-Biden is that it might herald some sort of reset back to “predictability” and “stability” in currently extra-turbulent US-Russia relations.
That’s wishful thinking. Putin, Patrushev and Lavrov harbor no illusions. Especially when in the G7 in London, in early May, the Western focus was on Russia’s “malign activities” as well as China’s “coercive economic policies.”
Russian and Chinese analysts, in informal conversations, tend to agree that Geneva will be yet another instance of good old Kissingerian divide and rule, complete with a few seducing tactics to lure Moscow away from Beijing, an attempt to bide some time and probing openings for laying out geopolitical traps. Old foxes such as Yang and Patrushev are more than aware of the game in play.
One of the more enjoyable facets of Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov is their sardonic wits. Anybody or anything that makes fun of just about any aspect of US foreign policy should be encouraged. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
Moscow had some stinging words for Washington which were also hilariously ironic on Monday, as both Putin and Biden look ahead to their in-person summit set for June 16 in Geneva. Warning of “uncomfortable” signals to come, the Kremlin indicated that high on the agenda would be a range of human rights and free speech issues in the United States, particularly the “persecution” of those behind the January 6 Capitol riot by the Biden administration.
The words appear Moscow’s ultimate trolling response to Biden remarks on Sunday wherein he vowed to confront Putin on egregious human rights abuses: “Of course, we will be ready to discuss everything, including problems that exist in the United States,” Lavrov told reporters Monday following Biden’s statements. According to AFP:
He said Russia was monitoring the “persecution” of those behind the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
How an American reacts to something like this is a superb Rorschach Test to measure so many important attributes: https://t.co/lQyTry3VcF
The US always never starts wars, is always defending itself and its righteous way of life, and is never at fault. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:
The American press has been in the business of keeping readers ignorant since the Cold War—its most essential responsibility turned upside-down—and in our time it gets worse, not better.
Putin and Lavrov. (UN Photo/Cia Pak)
Vladimir Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation speech, delivered before the Federal Assembly in Moscow last Wednesday, is an occasion we must not miss for its very considerable import. The Russian president confirmed in maximally explicit terms that we have entered a new era in U.S.–Russian relations. It’s more dangerous than one would wish, but is an interim through which we must pass on the way to achieving our century’s primary imperative, global parity between the West and non–West.
Putin’s remarks to the assembly comprised of the Duma and the Federation Council (the lower and upper houses of the national legislature) struck an interesting balance. Three-quarters or more of the speech was devoted to domestic affairs—infrastructure budgeting, climate emissions, prices and family incomes, subsidies for everything from single mothers and “sick pay” to cultural centers and university places for those in underdeveloped regions, and so on through a long list.
Holding together a nation with a sharp urban-rural divide and all the associated imbalances was, per usual with Putin, a major theme. “The country is developing and moving forward,” he said, “but this is only taking place when the regions of the Russian Federation are developing.”
This is a man who spends most of his time looking inward, still preoccupied with remedying the mess Boris Yeltsin and savage brigades of Western venture and vulture capitalists handed to him 21 years ago.
The short answer to the title question is that once again Vladimir Putin has outsmarted the US, NATO, and Ukraine. From The Saker at unz.com:
Before we look into what just happened in the Ukraine, we need to first recall the sequence of events which lead to the current situation. I will try to make a short summary (skipping a lot of details) in the bullet-point style:
Whether Ze initially intended to stop the war in the eastern Ukraine we don’t know, but what we do know is that he failed not only to stop it, in many ways his policies were even worse than Poroshenko’s. This might be the well-known phenomenon of a supposedly “pro-peace and happiness” politician being accused of being “weak” and thus not “presidential”; this politician has to show his “strength” is “patriotism”, that is acting recklessly on the external front. We see that from putatively “liberal” politicians such as the Dems in the USA and Labor in Israel. Historically, “liberals” are the most common war initiators. Ze showed his weakness almost from day 1, and the Ukronazis immediately seized this opportunity to engage in a massive multi-level campaign for war against Russia. This resulted in:
A quasi-official repudiation of the Minsk Agreements and Steinmeier Formula by Kiev, followed by a sharp increase in bellicose statements and, most crucially a large scale move of forces (including tanks, heavy artillery, MLRS and even ballistic missiles!) towards the line of contact. At the same time Ukronazi politicians began making statements saying that a) the Ukrainian army was capable and willing to “liberate” all of the “Russian occupied” Ukrainian land thus, including both the Donbass and Crimea b) that Russia was going to attack the Ukraine anyway and c) that the consolidated West had to help the Ukraine because only the Ukrainian forces were keeping the asiatic drunken Russian hordes from over-running not only the Ukraine, but even the rest of Europe. Since the Ukraine simply has no agency, this begs the question of the US (and, to a lesser degree, the UK) rationale was for these moves. It is quite simple:
Force Russia to openly intervene to protect the population of the Donbass from the inevitable genocide which the Ukronazis would have meeted out to the population of the LDNR.
How good was this plan? I would argue that it was a very solid plan which, for the USA, meant a win-win situation. Here is how it should have gone:
First, the Ukrainian forces would attack the LDNR, probably along three axes: one between the city of Gorlovka and Donetsk, one frontally attacking Donetsk proper, not to invade the city, but to tie down LDNR forces in protection of their capital, and one in the south with the aim of reaching the Russian border. This way, the LDNR defenders would have to defend their capital while, at the same time, risking envelopment on two axes. Remember that the LDNR has no strategic depth (Donetsk is practically on the frontline) and that the LDNR defenders could not trade space for time.
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