James George Jatras
James George Jatras is a former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership. He is the author of a major study, "How American Media Serves as a Transmission Belt for Wars of Choice”.
It’s another week in Washington and another horror show. This time it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions being grilled by Senators on whether, when, and how he might have met with certain Russians, or any Russian, or someone who might actually know a Russian. In addition to fishing for any inconsistency that could be used to support an accusation of obstruction of justice or perjury – the usual sleazy methodology of politically motivated investigations here – the transparent aim was to further poison the well on any possible initiative to improve ties with Moscow.
The strategy appears to be working. The Russian Embassy in Washington confirms that for the first time since the Russian Federation’s founding the State Department did not send pro forma national day greetings. Perhaps the bureaucrats were afraid they would be tainted and themselves become targets of multiple investigations into «collusion» with the Kremlin. (Luckily, this intrepid Washington analyst has no qualms about such associations.)
Or more likely, they themselves are part of the Russophobic mob undermining the White House. It has been reported that soon after the inauguration Trump sought to open dialogue with the Kremlin and set an early summit with President Vladimir Putin. This produced a hysterical counteraction from the Deep State. As reported by conservative columnist and former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan:
«The State Department was tasked with working out the details.
«Instead, says Daniel Fried, the coordinator for sanctions policy, he received ‘panicky’ calls of ‘Please, my God, can you stop this?’.
«Operatives at State, disloyal to the president and hostile to the Russia policy on which he had been elected, collaborated with elements in Congress to sabotage any detente. They succeeded.
«‘It would have been a win-win for Moscow,’ said Tom Malinowski of State, who boasted last week of his role in blocking a rapprochement with Russia. State employees sabotaged one of the principal policies for which Americans had voted, and they substituted their own».
So much for constitutional government and the rule of law...
But now it gets even worse. This week Congress moved legislation designed to codify in statute sanctions imposed on Russia by Barack Obama over Ukraine and evidence-free charges of Russian election interference. Provisions for a presidential waiver, which are standard in any sanctions legislation, are unusually narrow. Congressional proponents are clear that their aim is to take the matter out of the president’s hands. Democrats, seemingly devoid of any other policy agenda or ideas, vow to keep banging the Russia drum through the 2018 Congressional elections.
When all is said and done, there are lots of reasons the political class hates Trump. His heresies on immigration and trade are near the top of the list. But make no mistake: for the Deep State and its mainstream media arm, demonizing Russia and Vladimir Putin personally is a dangerous obsession. (There is reason to suspect «Russian collusion» figured in the thinking of a fanatical Leftist’s shooting attack on Republican Congressmen: «The shooter also signed a petition calling for an investigation into Trump-Russia ties, confirming he was radicalized by the mainstream media’s obsession with conspiracy theories about Russia interfering with the election».)
It remains to be seen whether Oliver Stone’s extended interview with Putin on the Showtime network will have any impact. So far the commentary seems to be divided between descriptions of the substance of the discussion and attacks on Stone for talking with such a bad, bad man: «Speaking after the interview, Stone refuted allegations that he became an unwitting messenger of pro-Putin propaganda or of dishonest information given by the president».
With regard to substance, relatively little attention has been accorded in American media to Putin’s flat accusation that U.S. «special services» have supported terrorists, including in Chechnya. Of course anyone paying attention would know that arming jihadists is a standard part of U.S. policy, going back at least to Afghanistan in the 1980s and repeated in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, and today in Syria. Indeed, as early as the 1950s the U.S. had established a very close relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist elements as a weapon against Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and Baathists in Syria and Iraq, who Washington thought were a little too cozy with the Soviet Union and far too socialist and secular for the taste of our pals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
There is a real symbiosis between the anti-Russian imperative in American foreign policy and support for radical Islamic elements. It did not end when the Soviet Union and communism collapsed but rather was intensified. This is why Moscow’s constant calls for a common front against terrorism are always rebuffed. Such cooperation doesn’t make any sense for anomenklatura whose number one goal is hostility to Moscow and for whom jihadists are at worst «frienemies» – people who may be troublesome but useful.
We can only imagine how completely different the world would be if the U.S. were to recognize that Russia is a country that in many respects is not that different from the United States or Europe and that we had common interests. But for the U.S. Deep State, that would amount to switching sides in a global conflict, where we see jihadists essentially as «freedom fighters» against a geopolitical adversary. These same clueless «elites» are then puzzled when their carefully nurtured, cuddly, «moderate» jihad terrorists attack us back here at home.
This irrational pattern is at the root of the hostility of American policymakers toward Russia and any prospect of normalizing bilateral ties. In large part, it’s what underlies the «soft coup» being directed against Trump, of which the Sessions pillorying was an episode. (A late report based on unreliable, unverified sources suggests that Special Counsel on the Russia probe, Robert Mueller, is expanding his investigation to include potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. Mueller, a close personal friend of ousted FBI Director James Comey, has already packed his team with partisan Democrats.)
Those behind this attempted coup think we can continue to treat Russia as though it were a minor power of the magnitude of Serbia, Iraq, Libya, or Syria, or even Iran. They think if we just keep pushing, pushing, pushing, either the Russians will collapse or back down. They will do everything possible to box Trump in and prevent him from pursuing any path other than the disastrous course laid out by Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama. They can see no other outcome than removing Putin and returning Russia to the condition of a Yeltsin-era vassal state – a term Putin used in the Stone interview – or, better yet, its territorial breakup along the lines suggested by the late Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Will the Oliver Stone interview change any minds? It’s too soon to tell. But if the soft coup against Trump succeeds, it might not matter, since then America could not be considered a self-governing constitutional republic even in a residual sense. We may have already passed our own Rubicon and just don’t know it yet.