By Dr Subhash Kapila
United States suffers a serious drawback in being unable to make a dramatic geopolitical reachout to Russia as American policy formulations on strategically cooperative relations with Russia are held hostage by US domestic political compulsions and the fixative Cold War mindsets prevailing in the Washington Establishment across the entire spectrum of political establishment, policy makers, national security establishment, intelligence agencies and the US media.
US President Trump’s imitative in seeking a US-Russia Summit at Helsinki on July 16 2018 despite serious reservations/ objections from within the Washington Establishment was a bold and courageous step and his statements during the Joint Press Conference on conclusion of the Summit stressing the need for good US-Russia relations was a welcome reiteration.
Regrettably, within minutes of the Press Conference US TV stations went berserk in terms of denunciation of President Trump’s statements marshalling sound- bites from prominent US political and media dignitaries harshly critical of President Trump.
The main emphasis of this criticism was that Russia was the enemy of the United States and President Trump should not have criticised the intelligence agencies on the Russia probe and should have been harsh and tough with Russian President Putin.
A former CIA Chief in Brennan his Tweet on President Trump at the Helsinki Summit went to the extent of labelling President Trump’s statements as treasonous. The Republican Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee was also critical but in guarded tones. Only a former US Ambassador to Russia with long years in Moscow was balanced and stressed that good US-Russia relations were essential for global stability and peace.
Over the last fifteen years or so and so also reflected in my Book on China one had constantly stressed that a co-optive and cooperative US-Russia strategic relationship was an inescapable imperative for the United States in the context of the evolving global geopolitical imbalance generated by China’s military rise with hardly any benign intentions.
Also reflected in all my writings on USA and Russia was that the global community was NOT willing to accept a US-China G-2 imposition but that the global community was quite open to US-Russia G-2 combination for global security and peace.
It was therefore frustrating as an impartial strategic analyst that the US Establishment instead of recognising this global geopolitical reality was still intent on perpetuating their Cold War mindsets in their US TV discussions immediately following the Helsinki Summit. There were even echoes during these US TV discussions that US President Trump should be ‘impeached’ for going off the script and that the US President’s Russian translator at Helsinki needs to be debriefed. Such is the hostility of the US Establishment prevailing in mid-2018 when all geopolitical indicators point to the contrary.
The moot question that the Russia-hawks in the US Establishment evade or are oblivious to is that in mid-2018 whether the United States needs Russia on its side or does Russia need the United States?
In all objective geopolitical analyses of the global security environment and challenges that is emerging in 2018 it is resoundingly clear that it is the United States that needs Russia on its side as a strategic imperative for global balance of power.
China is the foremost challenger and threat to US security and global interests when compared with Russia. Chia is virtually holding the Indi Pacific as a hostage in its not so subtle geopolitical confrontation with the United States.
Yet, the US Establishment weighed down by the Nixonian Moment of 1972 and Henry Kissinger’s decidedly pro-China US doctrines further backed by the vested interest of major US business giants with entrenched interests in China have skewed US realistic geopolitical policy formulations on Russia.
It must also be remembered that Russian President Putin have steered Russian strategic resurgence in the last eighteen years despite US Establishment induced hostilities. In these eighteen years three successive US Presidents tried their best to “RESET” relations with Russia but their attempts stood stymied by the US Establishment. It needs to be remembered that the US Congress has the final say on US foreign policies and that becomes the playground for all those components of the US anti-Russia lobbies to queer the discussions and policy formulations.
United States would gain immensely with Russian cooperation in tackling its challenges on North Korea and Iran. China is in no position to do so. In fact Chia has been subtly double-timing the United States on North Korea. Presumably, United States would have solicited Russian help to advance the progress it desires on North Korean denuclearisation. The same goes for Iran too.
Russia has under President Putin put in place an effective presence in war-torn Syria which it strategically befriends. Russia has also succeeded in wrapping into its fold US and NATO strong ally Turkey, despite some Turkish aberrations. Russian assistance in removing the ISIS menace in the Middle East could supplement effectively United States similar efforts.
Overall, in the Middle East, the United States stands to gain geopolitically in a working co-optive relationship with Russia which could only be possible if the United States can effectively reset its Russia-policy formulations the away US President Trump strives for.
The only other major irritant in US-Russia relations is Ukraine and which should be a major concern for the European nations closer home, but it is not so. Then why so much US Establishment focus here when the same establishment is noticeably quit on China’s decades-old China Occupied Tibet.
It also needs to be reminded that the United States and Russia fought the Second World War as Allies and that shared experience is something to be built upon. Even at the height of the Cold War, both the United States and Russia cooperated to contain regional military conflicts and let them not endanger global security. If, that was the past template of US-Russia sharing the joint management of the global security system. What hold the US Establishment from following historical trends?
Reverting back to the Helsinki Summit, it needs to be emphasised that the Helsinki Summit far outweighed President Trump’s China Summits and his Singapore Summit with the North Korean President Kim in terms of strategic gains for the United States. The Helsinki Summit was marked by a rare display of candour and personal bonhomie between the US and Russian Presidents as they stuck to their respective national security interests.
Concluding, it needs to be stressed that if this trend continues and not interrupted or ambushed by US domestic compulsions inflicted on President Trump’s Russia –reset policies, the global community could hope for a more stable management of the global security system than so far attempted by the United States. Further, the United States Establishment should seek to discern the convergence points that the United States can exploit in its reset of relations with Russia rather than over-analysing areas of divergence.