The questions posed led me to comment candidly on the regrettable state of Western statesmen like EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Yes, the same Blinken who, in one breath excoriates China and the “systemic challenge” it supposedly represents, and in the next makes a pathetically quixotic attempt to cajole his Chinese counterpart to abandon Beijing’s lockstep with Russia on Ukraine. (It’s a bipolar world again: the lily-white West pitted against pretty much everyone else – most of whom are people of color.)
Since Blinken and President Joe Biden will spend two days in Israel later this week, I called to mind the key role Blinken played in greasing the skids for the attack on Iraq in March 2003, in large part to eliminate what Israel argued was an existential threat from armed-to-the-teeth-with-WMD Saddam Hussein.
The Israelis loudly rejoiced when Biden nominated Blinken to head the State Department, The Times of Israel noting:
Tony Blinken, US President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of state, is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor whose stories shaped his worldview and subsequently his policy decisions, including in the Middle East.
I have a feeling this Middle East trip will yield as much success as Blinken and Biden were able to achieve during their recent trip to the Far East – that is, zero success.
Josep Borrell, for his part, recently lamented that the West had failed to win a “battle of narratives” (sic) on Ukraine and – worse still – that countries of the “Global South” won’t join in punishing Russia because [get this!] they are more concerned about their own national interests. In Borrell’s dismissive words, they worry more about “the consequences of the war for themselves” than in going after the supposed culprit. Wow.
Among the other issues discussed was Lithuania’s restrictions on the passage of sanctioned material through Lithuania to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. In response, the governor of Kaliningrad has just proposed a total ban on the movement of goods between Russia and the Baltic states.
I suggested that Russia had all kinds of levers to press in these circumstances and that its response to the Lithuanians is likely to be low key and proportionate. But who knows? I’ve guessed wrong before. And the Lithuanians are not above jabbing the bear in its other eye with a more lethal stick. And, just on general principle, it’s best to avoid provoking the kind of bear not likely to be deterred by bear-spray.
This originally appeared at RayMcGovern.com.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).