Sanctions, smoke and mirrors from a kindergarten on LSD
July 31, 2017
The latest US sanctions and the Russian retaliatory response have resulted in a torrent of speculations in the official media and the blogosphere – everybody is trying to make sense of a situation which appears to make no sense at all. Why in the world would the US Senate adopt new sanctions against Russia when Russia has done absolutely nothing to provoke such a vote? Except for Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, every single US Senator voted in favor of these sanctions. Why?! This is even more baffling when you consider that the single biggest effect of these sanctions will be to trigger a rift, and possibly even counter-sanctions, between the US and the EU. What is absolutely clear is that these sanctions will have exactly zero effect on Russia and I don’t think anybody is seriously expecting the Russians to change anything at all in their policies. And yet, every Senator except Paul and Sanders voted for this. Does that make any sense to you?
Let’s try to figure out what is going on here.
First, a simple reminder: like all US politicians, from the county level to the US Congress, Senators have only one consideration when then vote – “what’s in it for me?”.
The very last thing which any US Senator really cares about are the real life consequences of his/her vote. This means that to achieve the kind of quasi unanimity (98%) for a totally stupid vote there was some kind of very influential lobby which used some very forceful “arguments” to achieve such a vote. Keep in mind that the Republicans in the Senate knew that they were voting against the wishes of their President. And yet every single one except for Rand Paul voted for these sanctions, that should tell you something about the power of the lobby which pushed for them. So who would have such power?
The website “Business Pundit: Expert Driven” has helpfully posted an article which lists the 10 top most powerful lobbies in Washington, DC. They are (in the same order as in the original article)
- Tech Lobby
- Mining Industry
- Defense Industry
- Agribusiness Industry
- Big Oil
- Financial Lobby
- Big Pharma
- Pro-Israel Lobby
Okay, why not? We could probably rearrange them, give them different labels, add a couple (like the “Prison Industrial Complex” or the “Intelligence Community”) but all in all this is an okay list. Any name on it jump at you yet?
One could make the case that most of these lobbies need an enemy to prosper, this is certainly true of the Military-Industrial Complex and the associated high tech industry, and one could also reasonably claim that Big Oil, Mining and Agribusiness see Russia has a potential competitor. But a closer look at the interests these lobbies represent will tell you that they are mostly involved in domestic politics and that faraway Russia, with her relatively small economy, is just not that important to them. This is also clearly true for Big Pharma, the AARP and the NRA. Which leaves the Israel Lobby as the only potential candidate.
“Israel Lobby” is, of course, a misnomer. The Israel Lobby has very little interest in Israel as a country or, for that matter, for the Israeli people. If anything, the Israel Lobby ought to be called the “Neocon Lobby”. Furthermore, we also have to keep in mind that the Neocon Lobby is unlike any other lobby in the list above. For one thing, it does not represent US interests. Neither does it represent the interests of Israel. Rather, it represents the interests of a specific subset of the US ruling elites, in reality much smaller than 1% of the population, which all share in the one common ideology of worldwide domination typical of the Neocons.
These are the folks who in spite of their 100% ironclad control of the media and Congress lost the Presidential election to Donald Trump and who are now dead set to impeach him. These are the folks who simply use “Russia” as a propagandistic fulcrum to peddle the notion that Trump and his entourage are basically Russian agents and Trump himself as a kind of “Presidential Manchurian Candidate”.
Keep in mind that the historical record shows that while the Neocons are fantastically driven, they are not particularly smart. Yes, they do have the kind of rabid ideological determination which allows them to achieve a totally disproportionate influence over US policies, but when you actually read what they write and listen to what they say you immediately realize that these are rather mediocre individuals with a rather parochial mindset which makes them both very predictable and very irritating to the people around them. They always overplay their hand and then end up stunned and horrified when all their conspiracies and plans come tumbling down on them.
I submit that this is exactly what is happening right now.
First, the Neocons lost the elections. For them, it was a shock and a nightmare. The “deplorables” voted against the unambiguously clear “propaganda instructions” given to them by the media. Next, the Neocons turned their rabid hatred against Trump and they succeeded at basically neutering him, but only at the cost of terribly weakening the USA themselves! Think of it: 6 months plus into the Trump administration the USA has already managed to directly threaten Iran, Syria, the DPRK and in all cases with exactly zero results. Worse, Trump’s behavior towards Europe and the anti-Trump propaganda inside Europe has now put the EU and the US on a collision course. This is absolutely amazing: for the Russians the current tensions between the EU and the USA are a dream come true and yet they had absolutely nothing to do with it – it was all done by the self-defeating stupidity of the Americans who created this situation completely ex nihilo!
So while Kim Jong-un fires missiles on the 4th of July, the Syrian Army is closing in on Deir ez-Zor, the Ukraine is turning into Somalia, the Russian economy is back to growth and Putin’s popularity is as high as ever, the Neocons are totally freaking out and, as is typical of a person losing control, they don’t do things which would make sense but do what they are used to doing: slapping sanctions (even if they are totally ineffective) and sending messages (even if they are totally ignored). In other words, the Neocons are now engaging in magical thinking, the deliberately chose to delude themselves about their power and influence and they are coping with their full-spectrum failure at everything by pretending that their votes in Congress matter. They truth is – they don’t.
Here is where we need to turn to the other misconception in this matter, that the Russian reaction to these latest sanctions is really about these sanctions. It is not.
First, let’s tackle the myth that these sanctions are hurting Russia. They really don’t. Even the 100% russophobic Bloomberg is beginning to realize that, if anything, all these sanctions have made both Putin and Russia stronger. Second, there is the issue of timing: instead of slapping on some counter-sanctions the Russians suddenly decided to dramatically reduce the US diplomatic personnel in Russia and confiscate a two US diplomatic facilities in a clear retaliation for the expulsion of Russian diplomats and seizure of Russian diplomatic facilities by Obama last year. Why now?
Many observers say that the Russians are “naive” about the West and the USA, that Putin was “hoping” for better relations and that this hope was paralyzing him. Others say that Putin is “weak” or even “in cahoots” with the West. This is all total nonsense.
People tend to forget that Putin was an officer in the foreign intelligence branch of the KGB, the so-called “First Main Directorate” (PGU). Furthermore, Putin has recently revealed that he worked in the highly secretive “Directorate S” of the PGU and he was in charge of contacts with a network of illegal Soviet spies in East-Germany (were Putin was under the official cover of Director of the USSR-GDR Friendship House). If the PGU was the “elite of the elite” of the KGB, and its most secretive part, then the “Directorate S” was the “elite of the elite” of the PGU and its most secretive part. This is most definitely not a career for “naive” or “weak” people, to put it mildly! First and foremost, PGU officers were “specialists of the West” in general, and of the United States especially because the USA was always officially considered as the “main enemy” (even if most PGU officers personally considered the British as their most capable, dangerous and devious adversary). Considering the superb level of education and training given to these officers, I would argue that the PGU officers were amongst the best experts of the West anywhere in the world. Their survival and the survival of their colleagues depended on their correct understanding of the western world. As for Putin personally, he has always taken action in a very deliberate and measured way and there is no reason to assume that this time around the latest US sanctions have suddenly resulted in some kind of emotional outburst in the Kremlin. You can be darn sure that this latest Russian reaction is the result of very carefully arrived to conclusion and the formulation of a very precise and long-term objective.
I submit that the key to the correct understanding of the Russian response is in the fact that the latest US sanctions contain an absolutely unprecedented and, frankly, shocking feature: the new measures strip the President from the authority to revoke the sanctions. In practical terms, if Trump wanted to life any of these sanctions, he would have to send an official letter to Congress which would then have 30 days to approve or reject the proposed action. In other words, the Congress has now hijacked the power of the Presidency to conduct foreign policy and taken upon itself to micromanage the US foreign policy.
That, my friends, is clearly a constitutional coup d’état and a gross violation of the principles of separation of powers which is at the very core of the US political system.
It also is a telling testimony to the utter depravity of the US Congress which took no such measures when Presidents bypass Congress and started wars without the needed congressional authority, but which is now overtly taking over the US foreign policy to prevent the risk of “peace breaking out” between Russia and the USA.
FOLLOW PRESIDENT TRUMP ON TWITTER:
Facebook Pages and Groups for You to “Like and Share”