The American Secretary of State is adding air miles to his account this week by visiting Kiev, Berlin and tomorrow Geneva for meetings with President Zelensky, Chancellor Scholz and RF Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov respectively. However, whether abroad or at home he is a captive of the U.S. foreign affairs community echo chamber, utterly indifferent to external stimuli and incapable of responding appropriately to the changing environment. Everywhere he repeats the mantra that Russia is about to stage a classical invasion of Ukraine, just as everywhere President Biden repeats daily that the Russians will face consequences for their actions, very grave damage to their economy as a result of American led sanctions.
Meanwhile reality develops on its own, paying no heed to the script written in stone in Washington, D.C.
The Russians have a very flexible and constantly changing set of responses to threats and opportunities. This is what makes it so difficult for us commentators to foresee the actual path to denouement. But it is also what makes it almost certain the Russians will get what they want and change the European security architecture to their advantage in the face of American obtuseness.
A couple of days ago, several Russian news portals carried the story of a new generation Russian nuclear submarine packed with missiles capable of laying waste to half of America surfacing just outside US territorial waters in a ‘peek-a-boo’ exercise to show they operate undetected by the Pentagon in permanent watch off of US shores. This may have been fake news, but if so it was seeded as a taste of what is to come shortly in real news as the Russians say ‘gotcha, the game is up’ to Washington and unsheathe their hypersonic missiles and deep sea nuclear drone on board real submarines off US east and west coasts. The message: ‘Please sign here on our treaties of mutual security in Europe.’
Yesterday, another route to resolving the Ukraine confrontation in their own favor was set out for the world to see: several legislators advanced a bill in Russia’s State Duma calling upon President Putin to recognize the rebellious Donbas republics of Lugansk and Donetsk as independent countries. This means applying to the Donbas the scenario which played out so successfully in Crimea in 2014: they become independent, then they hold a referendum to which international observers are invited calling for unification with the Russian Federation, followed in short order by their annexation.
In such a scenario, would a shot be fired? No! Would there be an invasion or even an attack by Russia on Ukraine to justify application of any new sanctions? No! Are these possibilities being entertained by Blinken & Company as the Secretary of State travels the globe to align allies? Obviously not, and this is why his diplomatic mission is a waste of everyone’s time.
I am surprised that Foreign Minister Lavrov is going the extra mile and proceeding to meet Blinken in Geneva tomorrow. From the Russian standpoint, such a meeting would have one purpose only: to collect the written response of the American side to the draft treaties they received on 17 December. In his press conference in Kiev yesterday, Blinken said he is not carrying the written response. Consequently, the meeting can be no more than a photo opportunity for the vacuous Mr. Blinken.
In mentioning the possible annexation of Donbas above, I do not mean to suggest that that alone will satisfy the Russians that their security concerns have been met. So long as the United States, the U.K. and other NATO member countries supply weapons and training to the Ukrainian military, Russia cannot rest easy. And just yesterday, in a move that makes as much sense as the Ukrainian idea of applying sanctions on Russia before they break any china, the United States announced it has approved sending another $200 million in military aid to Kiev. That is to say, it continues to prioritize pouring oil on the flames rather than finding solutions with Russia.
What move the Russians might make after an annexation of Donbas will also likely depend on the overall political context, including changes of position within Europe and consultations with China at the start of February when Vladimir Putin travels to Beijing.
Resolution of the Ukraine problem for Russia absent agreement with the US and NATO on the country being declared neutral would be possible only by destruction of Kiev’s military infrastructure, for example by aerial bombardment and missile strikes. That would put an end to NATO deliveries of materiel, training and war games at Russia’s front porch.
Meanwhile, there are growing signs of European disillusionment with leadership on Russia relations coming from Washington. Yesterday, in his five hour address and discussion with the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg, President Macron called for Europe to reach its own settlement with Russia as Europeans to Europeans, without US participation. Of course, Macron was grandstanding as usual and he is a lightweight in European decision-making compared to his counterpart in Berlin, the German Chancellor. However, Scholz also has been making sounds showing disagreement with the stiff-necked and utterly unrealistic sanctions policy coming from Washington. The influential business newspaper Handelsblatt had a day before indicated that the most severe sanction proposed by the US administration, cutting Russia off from SWIFT, would be a grave mistake, since the Russians could in short order achieve the same functionality in international settlements via a system they will jointly operate with the Chinese, and the only loser would be Europe. This is not to mention Scholz’s defense of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as very important to the German economy, whatever the Americans may wish.
As I say, the geopolitical landscape is changing daily. The only ones too stubbornly proud and intellectually limited to appreciate this are the top officials in the Biden Administration, including the president himself. Yes, there will be a price to pay…
In closing, I mention that Iran’s PressTV has been closely following developments between Russia and the West, with all the more reason to do so provided by the state visit of their President to Moscow. I had the pleasure of participating in an interview with them yesterday evening:
Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book is Does Russia Have a Future? Reprinted with permission from his blog.
© Gilbert Doctorow, 2021
4 thoughts on “Anthony Blinken and the Intellectual Bankruptcy of the Biden Administration”
Ah, now in this article, Gilbert has done us a service by listing all the ways things can go Russia’s way without necessarily having to attack Ukraine.
There is still the little problem of the CIA/neocons/Ukraine-hardliners starting a war on Donbass. Unless Biden is capable of reining them in, we can still get a very bad war.
But Gilbert is right about the rest. Russia can annex the Ukraine breakaway republics. It will still be demonized for doing so, but it will provide itself with at least a fig leave of legitimacy if a subsequent referendum proves that population wants to join Russia as Crimea did.
Gilbert is also right about the Europeans wavering. Alexander Mercouris ran through all that in his Youtube video yesterday.
Unlike Ray McGovern’s Pollyanna approach, Gilbert correctly notes that Blinken is a waste of space-time and his visit to Vienna is also a waste.
As for why Lavrov is wasting his time talking to Blinken, as Andrei Martyanov says, quoting the Dune book “Convention”: “The Forms Must Be Obeyed.” Or as Andrei put it yesterday:
Am I the only one seeing a much broader challenge to the US-constructed hlibal power projection, It appear to me that post-Afghanistan world brought together all the natuons that for years worked on remiving US forces from Afghanistan. And the list of those collaborsting to this end is long, and involves diverse regional actors. Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan — obviously.
But less obvious was coordination among Central Asian states, members of SCO. Less obvious, until now —was role of Qatar and Turkey. Today, working with Kabul to manage Kabul international airport. Following Afghan departure, NATO was in disarray. US declared another mini-NATO by forming AUKUS,
France seems to believe that it is a master of Mediterranean, signing security agreement with Italy and Greece. Which leaves Germany awkwardly surrounded by East Europe’s most rabbid, US-mentored Poland and Baltic states,
Last summer, Iran was promoted to the top voting tier of SCO. Strangely enough, in August Saudi Arabia and Egypt joined SCO in partner level. This is why there is an Iranian Embassy opening being talked about in Riyadh. With China and Russia getting stronger in Balkans — there is a real fear of Americal project unravellung there. And Turkey has positioned itself brilliantly, being able to support Rusdia-China efforts, without slamming the door to US. Thus , it is entering into Balkans under suspicious US gaze, to be working with president of Serbia on resolving political impasse in Bosnia.
In fact, US cannot affort any more alienating Turkey, that is not giving up on Rusdian missile defence. Further afield, Korea quietly acquired Russian licenses to build their version of S-300 and S-400 missile defence systems, now being sold to UAE. Russian SU-59 is to be coproduced by UAE,
What is the purpose of the review? After we inculculate the market size of China led trade block that includes China, Kirea, Japan and 10 ASEAN nations — we get the picture. Recent losses of Ethiopia and Sudan, add to woes.
What is Europe goung to do if Russia and China degrade their economic relations to Europe? European parliament recently effectivelly put a block on EU-China trade deal, Far from being a threat — Russia and China could exit SWIFT, They already have interbank systems in place, France had to abandon Ghana as it bled its resources.
The glibal situatiin is not good. Blinken is wasting time going around the globe defending Clintin’s messes and since that time well established narratives. Bush and Ibama continued Clinton era, so did Trump — in spite of
remouncing those policies. Buden was to be Clunton revival — but it was downhill since.
There are prioblems at standstill that need to be redolved. Syria, Iran, Libya, Iraq, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Sudan, Venezuela, Cuba, Koreas, Taiwan, Ukraine, Georgia, endless Bosnia and Kosovo. All of those ppriblems cannot move ahead as US does not want them to be resolved unless it has a decisive role,
Does it not look like a process to close out many problems with US not being in a position to impose its will, The balance of economic power has shifted to the east — and the balance of military power has shiftedd as well.
The art of talking, examiningvall angles — belongs to Rusdia. Why is Lavriv talking, meeting, traveling? To insure patient, all encompassing procedure is not damaged by undue haste.
This is why I believe that there is a much bigger pucture evolving besides security in Europe. One step at a time.
“On the other side the United States is facing an unprecedented crisis, with galloping inflation, supply shortages, a weak president, a society more divided than ever. As a result, according to Irina Alksnis in RIA Novosti, “Russia as well as China and other powers working to transform the world system […] have a window of opportunity to accelerate the eviction of the United States from the global throne by increasing the pressure on them. Even though the weakening of the West has been going on for some time, the current crises indicate that the process has moved to a qualitatively new level, and it would therefore be foolish not to seize this opportunity. Especially since, for our part, we have completed our own mechanisms and strategic tools — alternative to those of the West — necessary for the smooth functioning of the national economy and relations with other countries, whether it is the production of goods, monetary regulations, dissemination of information, etc…”
Examine US crises using the Covid-19 report card. Massachusetts, among the smallest of US states, has suffered fourteen times the Covid-19 cases and almost five times the deaths as the entire country of China.
Abject failure is as clear for the entire US government as it is for the mini state of Massachusetts.
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