Last week, we considered how the Bush and Obama administrations worked in tandem – wittingly or unwittingly, but I’m betting on the former – to move forward with the construction of a US missile defense system smack on Russia’s border following the attacks of 9/11 and Bush’s decision to scrap the ABM Treaty with Moscow.
That aggressive move will go down in the (non-American) history books as the primary reason for the return of Cold War-era atmosphere between Washington and Moscow. Currently, with the mainstream news cycle top-heavy with 24/7 ‘Russiagate’ baloney, many people have understandably forgotten that it was during the Obama administration when US-Russia relations really hit rock bottom. And it had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton’s home computer getting allegedly compromised by some Russia hackers.
The year is 2008; welcome to the international peace tour – although ‘farce tour’ would be much more accurate. Fatigued by 8 long years of Bush’s disastrous war on terror, with over 1 million dead, maimed or on the run, the world has just let out a collective sigh of relief as Barack Obama has been elected POTUS. Due to Obama’s velvety delivery, and the fact that he was not George W. Bush, he was able to provide the perfect smokescreen as far as Washington’s ulterior motives with regards to Russia were concerned; the devious double game America was playing required a snake-oil salesman of immeasurable skill and finesse.
Just months into his presidency, with ‘hope and change’ hanging in the air like so many helium balloons, Obama told a massive crowd in Prague that, “To reduce our warheads and stockpiles, we will negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Russians this year. President Medvedev and I began this process in London, and will seek a new agreement by the end of this year that is legally binding and sufficiently bold (Applause!).”
It would take another 8 years for the world – or at least the awakened part – to come to grips with the fact that America’s ‘first Black president’ was just another smooth-talking, Wall Street-bought operator in sheep clothing. In the last year of the Obama reign, it has been conservatively estimated that some 26,000 bombs of various size and power were duly dropped against enemies in various nations. In other words, nearly three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.
But more to the point, US-Russia relations on Obama’s watch experienced their deepest deterioration since the days of the US-Soviet standoff. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that the 44th US president picked up almost seamlessly where Bush left off, and then some. Initially, however, it looked as though relations with Russia would improve as Obama announced he would “shelve” the Bush plan for ground-based interceptors in Poland and a related radar site in the Czech Republic. Then, the very same day, he performed a perfect flip-flop into the geopolitical pool, saying he would deploy a sea-based variety – which is every bit as lethal as the land version, as then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted – instead of a land-locked one.
Following that announcement, Obama appeared intent on lulling Moscow into a false sense of security that the system was somehow less dangerous than the Bush model, or that the Americans would eventually agree and cooperate with them in the system. In March 2009, a curious thing happened at the same time relations between the two global nuclear powers were hitting the wall. A meeting – more of a photo opportunity than any significant summit – took place between then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. To the delight of the phalanx of photographers present, Clinton, in a symbolic gesture of “resetting relations” with Russia, produced a yellow box with a red button and the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.
“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said to general laughter. “It should be “perezagruzka” [reset],” he corrected somewhat pedantically. “This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means ‘overcharged.’”
Clinton gave a very interesting response, especially in light of where we are today in terms of the bilateral breakdown: “We won’t let you do that to us, I promise. We mean it and we look forward to it.”
As events would prove, the US State Department’s ‘mistaken’ use of the Russian word for ‘overcharged’ instead of ‘reset’ was far closer to the truth. After all, can anybody remember a time in recent history, aside from perhaps the Cuban Missile Crisis, when US-Russia relations were more “overcharged” than now? In hindsight, the much-hyped ‘reset’ was an elaborate ploy by the Obama administration to buy as much time as possible to get a strategic head start on the Russians.
It deserves mentioning that the fate of the New START Treaty (signed into force on April 8, 2010), the nuclear missile reduction treaty signed between Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, hung in the balance on mutual cooperation between the nuclear powers. Nevertheless, it became clear the Obama sweet talk was just a lot of candy-coated nothing.
What is truly audacious about the Obama administration’s moves is that it somehow believed Moscow would radically reduce its ballistic missile launch capabilities, as prescribed in the New START treaty, at the very same time the United States was building a mighty sword along the entire length of its Western border.
The Obama administration clearly underestimated Moscow, or overestimated Obama’s charm powers.
By the year 2011, after several years of failed negotiations to bring Russia onboard the system, Moscow’s patience was clearly over. During the G-8 Summit in France, Medvedev expressed frustration with the lack of progress on the missile defense system with the US.
“When we ask for the name of the countries that the shield is aimed at, we get silence,” he said. “When we ask if the country has missiles (that could target Europe), the answer is ‘no.’”
“Now who has those types of missiles (that the missile defense system could counter)?”
“We do,” Medvedev explained. “So we can only think that this system is being aimed against us.”
In fact, judging by the tremendous strides Russia has made in the realm of military technologies over a very short period, it is apparent the Kremlin understood from the outset that the ‘reset’ was an elaborate fraud, designed to cover the administration’s push to Russian border.
As I wrote last week on these pages: “In March, Putin stunned the world, and certainly Washington’s hawks, by announcing in the annual Address to the Federal Assembly the introduction of advanced weapons systems – including those with hypersonic capabilities – designed to overcome any missile defense system in the world.
These major developments by Russia, which Putin emphasized was accomplished “without the benefit” of Soviet-era expertise, has fueled the narrative that “Putin’s Russia” is an aggressive nation with “imperial ambitions,” when in reality its goal was to form a bilateral pact with the United States and other Western states almost two decades ago post 9/11.
As far as ‘Russiagate’, the endless probe into the Trump administration for its alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, not a shred of incriminating evidence has ever been provided that would prove such a thing occurred. And when Putin offered to cooperate with Washington in determining exactly what happened, the offer was rebuffed.
In light of such a scenario, it is my opinion that the Democrats, fully aware – despite what the skewed media polls erringly told them – that Hillary Clinton stood no chance of beating the Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential contest, set about crafting the narrative of ‘Russian collusion’ in order to not only delegitimize Trump’s presidency, possibly depriving him of a second term in 2010, but to begin the process of severely curtailing the work of ‘alternative media,’ which are in fact greatly responsible for not only Trump’s victory at the polls, but for exposing the dirt on Clinton’s corrupt campaign.
These alternative media sites have been duly linked to Russia in one way or another as a means of silencing them. Thus, it is not only Russia that has been victimized by the lunacy of Russiagate; every single person who stands for the freedom of speech has suffered a major setback one way or another.
Part I of this story is available here.