Obstacles Facing Improved US-Russian Relations – Analysis

Lauren Windsor’s April 15 Huffington Post article “Maxine Waters: Tension In Syria ‘Phony’, A Ruse To Lift Oil Sanctions On Russia“, gives a misleading impression on what constitutes the political left and right. Especially in this day and age, these categories alone don’t tell the whole story. Concerning numerous issues, a good number of folks on the left and right find some agreement that disagree with others on the left and right.

Regarding this particular, there are individuals on the left and right (along with some of those who aren’t as easy to categorize), who reasonably disagree with California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Russia related comments. She’s known for making provocatively flippant remarks without much protest. Refer to her not so distant “scumbags” remark on MSNBC, directed against some in Russia and the Trump administration.

(Following an article of mine I noted the likely outrage if someone prominent referred to Waters as a douchebag. When he was with Fox News, Bill O’Reilly felt compelled to apologize for his saying that she wears a James Brown wig. Such are the double standards, which include O’Reilly receiving little criticism when he called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer“. How many high profile American journalists and politicians have called O’Reilly a sexual predator? Another double standard concerns the characterization of Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov as a “thug“, for his replies to the UK and US ambassadors. Upon further review, Safronkov didn’t initiate rude behavior. He’s reflecting the many Russians who don’t take kindly to seeing their country treated as a kind of punching bag. Those resorting to rude behavior should expect the chance of being accorded the same treatment.)

Contrary to what the Democratic Party connected MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell suggested, the Trump administration’s strike on a Syrian government military base isn’t a coordinated covert Kremlin ploy to deflate the (faultily claimed) conspiracy, involving a Trump-Russian government collusion to weaken Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Waters’ use of “phony” (regarding the raised US-Russian tension over Syria) more accurately applies to the Democratic Party establishment’s selectivity when it comes to seeking an investigation of any Trump-Russia ties, unlike investigating the questionably premised Trump administration military strike on the Syrian government military base. The latter involves the possibility of a false flag operation, that jives with the Democrats’ desire to poke at Russia, which is supporting the Syrian government as the realistically best option (at least for the moment) in Syria.

Politics aside, there’s a very good basis to investigate the pretext that the Trump administration used to attack a Syrian government military position. At present, there hasn’t been conclusive evidence provided on what led to the recent chemical incident in rebel held Syrian territory. Instead, there’ve been unsubstantiated statements claiming proof of Syrian government culpability, which Anglo-American mass media hasn’t been keen to challenge.

Two examples from last week come to mind. On RT, a Syrian rebel representative claimed to have the name of the pilot who dropped the sarin gas as claimed. To date, the name of the pilot hasn’t been provided. CNN ran an unnamed source, claiming the existence of an intercepted communication of Syrian officials planning a chemical attack. The release of the anonymously quoted intercept claim hasn’t been provided. These claims are much different than the raw evidence the US provided in the instances of the Cuban Missile Crisis and downing of KAL 007.

Meantime, some credible Americans cast serious doubt on Syrian government culpability in the recent chemical incident. Among them are Lawrence Wilkerson, the retired US Army Colonel and former Chief of Staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Theodore Postol, an MIT emeritus, who has experience in dealing with a matter like the recent chemical incident in Syria. Postol and former US President Barack Obama join some others in doubting the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in 2013.

To the regret of some Donald Trump supporters and others, the US president seems like he might’ve been conned into supporting the US attack on the Syrian military position. As has been noted, there’re several key individuals in his administration who contradict some of his earlier stated views, that have included the reluctance to go against the Syrian government. In addition, Trump might’ve reasonably assumed that the strike would benefit his ratings. A US military attack on a humanitarian based claim, involving no US casualties, can likely (at least initially) lead to an increase in popularity, as has happened in this instance.

The question arises on how long will that last? In the aftermath of the US strike in question, Trump tweeted about how US-Russian relations will improve. Over the past weekend, his National Security Adviser HR McMaster took a hardline, by unfairly putting the blame on Russia, while suggesting that the US-Russian relationship can improve on the basis that it’s at such a low point. In terms of overall improvement, setting the bar at a low point isn’t as good as seeking a higher standard from the get go.

As a high ranking military officer, who has been unhesitant to use force when he felt it required, McMaster can consider an open role reversal as part of an effort to foster better US-Russian relations – assuming that he sincerely seeks this goal on mutually reasoned terms. McMaster probably wouldn’t like a scenario where the Russian government (in let’s say some place in Russia’s near abroad) initiated a debatable humanitarian military action against a perceived US ally, that included the Kremlin telling the White House to remove its personnel to avoid getting hit. The US strike on the Syrian base included the US warning Russia to withdraw its personnel in the area, just prior to the attack.

It has been made less easier for Trump to improve US-Russian relations. A main criticism of him concerns his flip flopping stances. There’s nevertheless hope. During the Cold War, US President John Kennedy mistakenly believed the hawkish wing that advocated the Bay of Pigs operation. Its failure is said to have motivated Kennedy into using some restraint when the Cuban Missile Crisis developed. The late Ronald Reagan, his immediate successor George HW Bush and Barack Obama, are among the past US presidents, who took foreign policy stances that differed with some influential elements in their country.

The Syrian and Russian governments haven’t been shy in seeking an investigation on the recent chemical incident. Without counter-evidence, the false flag claimed by them isn’t so unbelievable. Should this predicament remain, Trump has a good enough base to take the initiative on what he campaigned for. One more shift on his part doesn’t necessarily rock the boat too much more than what has occurred. Trump won the US presidency, unlike Hillary Clinton, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Marco Rubio. Trump’s appointed cabinet work under him and not vice versa.

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. This article is an updated version of the one that initially appeared at the Strategic Culture Foundation’s website on April 19.

Michael Averko

Michael Averko

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. He has appeared as a guest commentator on the BBC and WABC talk radio, in addition to having been a panelist at the World Russia Forum, Russia Forum New York and US-Russia.org Experts' Panel. Besides Averko's Eurasia Review column - Counterpunch, Foreign Policy Journal, Global Research, History News Network, InoSMI.Ru, Johnson's Russia List, Journal of Turkish Weekly, Kyiv Post, Oriental Review, Penza News, Pravda.Ru, Pravoslavie.Ru, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Russia Insider, Sputnik News, Strategic Culture Foundation, The Huffington Post, Valdai Discussion Club and WikiLeaks, are among the numerous venues where his commentary have either appeared or been referenced. The American Institute in Ukraine and the Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, have referenced some of his commentary, along with academic white papers prepared for NATO Watch, Ohio State University, Problems of Post-Communism and the Royal College of Defence Studies. He is source referenced in Richard Sakwa's book "Frontline Ukraine". Averko's Eurasia Review article on Pavlo Skoropadsky, provides the first full online transcript of Skoropadsky's edict calling for an "All-Russian Federation", inclusive of Russia and Ukraine. Among other issues, that article explains the relationships among the major combatants in the Russian Civil War. He can be reached via [email protected]

2 thoughts on “Obstacles Facing Improved US-Russian Relations – Analysis

  • April 20, 2017 at 11:05 am
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    Poor Maxine is a nice lady I’d like representing me at a tenant meeting, giving hell to an intransigent landlord who wasn’t delivering hot water or heat in the winter. As for her “Russia hacked the DNC and influenced our elections” nonsense, she really needs to get a brain transplant, though recently she did get it right when she claimed Exxon wants to get back to business in Russia.

    As for countries influencing our elections, why aren’t she and her colleagues looking at the real elephant in the room, namely Israel. Is it because they are bought off or are blackmail targets- or, are simply afraid that if they don’t toe the line, or show just a smidgen of independence, they’ll be demonized and be defeated in the next election because the big money will have been dished out to their opponents?

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