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Jun 2, 2021
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“From now on you will not be a shield …”

Why the American press writes so little about the Geneva meeting

Little is written about the upcoming Geneva summit in America, surprisingly little. It would seem that this event is an excellent occasion for political science speculations about the possible and the actual. It would seem that geopolitical gurus could fantasize about the subject of the conversation between the American president and the Russian president, and about the possible results of this event. But the gurus for the most part either remain silent or get off with insignificant remarks.

On the topic of the summit, they write mainly those experts and those resources that have long been lobbying for some warming of relations between the two countries, such as American conservative or National interest, but, admittedly, they do not pin great hopes on the summit. The contradictions between the countries are too great, the prejudices are too strong to expect anything positive on June 16 in Geneva.

Photo: REUTERS / Kevin Lamarck.

It is curious, however, that the Biden administration has been very weakly criticized by its Republican opponents for a kind of softness towards Russia. After reports that the State Department decided not to sanction the main German builders of Nord Stream 2, hawks such as John Bolton and Marco Rubio tweeted condemning the decision. Bolton even called it “outrageous”, but that was the end of it. It is impossible even to compare with the reaction of anti-Russian senators to Obama’s refusal to bomb Syria in 2013, and even more so with the persecution of Trump by Democrats for his alleged “sympathy” for Putin. True, a journalist for a conservative publication American viewer already predicted a defeat for Biden in the confrontation with Putin, but such exclamations from a dead Trumpist corner do not change the situation.

Photo: REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton

And it looks paradoxical. For the Republicans today have a great chance to strike back at Biden, declaring that it is he, and not Trump at all, who is the real “Kremlin agent”, albeit unwitting. It would seem that opponents of the White House could organize a campaign pointing to such “egregious” signs of weakness as the extension of START III, behind-the-scenes bargaining with Iran over the renegotiation of the nuclear deal and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Nevertheless, there is no response wave yet. There are individual voices drowning in an atmosphere of general indifference. This circumstance has several reasons.

The first and most obvious: the media that support the Republican Party and personally Trump are noticeably less influential in the United States than those that support the Democrats. At the same time, the Republicans are hopelessly split into a majority that continues to see the former president as their leader, and a minority that is trying – so far unsuccessfully – to find an internal party alternative to him. The former do not yet feel a great desire to use the “Russian card”, the latter are wary of fighting Biden, suspecting that they will soon have to seek refuge in his party.

The second reason is partly related to the first: the electoral “overthrow” of Trump in 2020 had all the features of a conspiracy, in which, obviously, representatives of the army and the intelligence community took part, recoiling from the president, which they considered unpredictable. Now the main task of the entire coalition of “conspirators”, including the same Deep state, to prevent the revenge of the Trumpists, which is very, very likely, given the calm course of events. The main newspapers in America now write mainly on this topic – how to avoid the return to the White House and Congress of Trump supporters and, in general, Republicans who are currently electorally dependent on Trump. Therefore, no matter what the US espionage departments may think about Biden now, the newspapers do not receive any leaks, any compromising evidence against him. Therefore, the topic of the Geneva summit, which is unpleasant for Biden, is practically not discussed in the media.

Photo: REUTERS / Djordje Kozhadinovich

Finally, the third and most important reason. The topic of the summit is unpleasant for the Democrats, first of all, because at the moment it is the Americans who look more interested in the Geneva meeting than the Russians. The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry and his deputies publicly express skepticism about the outcome of the summit, openly talk about the discrepancy between the agendas of the parties, about the absence of illusions on the Russian side regarding the motives of Western partners. The secretary of the Russian Security Council in a recent interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta spoke about the possible use of force in the event of a threat to the country’s security, and this statement was at the top line of Yandex. In America, however, only such a well-known “think tank” as Atlantic Council ***, the site of which, unfortunately, is not available for the Russian user. There are articles one after another on Russia and Belarus. Mainstream media are limited to editorial columns calling for “containment of Russia”, including in cyberspace. What should be done specifically in this case remains unclear.

Everyone, however, understands what Washington wants and what Biden is going to do at the Geneva summit. There are practically no secret trump cards in the sleeve, the layout is clear to both sides. And both sides are aware of how the planned game will end. Nevertheless, it is impossible to refuse it. The Americans need to split a possible Russian-Chinese alliance in any way. Which, after the strategic agreement between China and Iran, concluded in March 2021 for 25 years, may well become an alliance of three civilizations – Muslim, Marxist-Confucian and Orthodox. This alliance is what the late Samuel Huntington and Zbigniew Brzezinski feared most of all. Indeed, all American political realism since the late 1960s has set itself the main task of preventing the emergence of such a Eurasian axis.

Photo: REUTERS / Wana News Agency

And Biden’s main goal is undoubtedly the same – to drive a wedge between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. And no matter how angry the Republicans are at Biden, they understand that Washington has no alternative to this strategy. All discussions in the spirit of the Atlantic Council about the need to rally the “world of democracies” against the “world of authoritarianism” can be left for external and internal propaganda, useless in the field of diplomacy.

The collective West has already, in general, revealed two cards that will be used by the American president in this “wedge-driving” project. The first is a message from British intelligence about the laboratory origin of the coronavirus. We will probably never know how this infection actually originated, because all public messages on this topic will be political in nature. It is clear that now it is a pass to Biden. He will not have to ask Putin to come up with some kind of joint anti-Chinese declaration, which is obviously unacceptable for Russia. He will simply call on his Russian counterpart to declare the destructiveness of the development of biological weapons and the conduct of appropriate virological research on this topic, which is dangerous for all mankind. Nothing seems to be political, but it is clear that any joint communique on this topic, even if it is in the most neutral tones, will be implicitly anti-Chinese in nature. I am sure that the Russian side perfectly understands this game and will prefer to refrain from such statements.

Photo: REUTERS / Dado Ruvich

There is also a second theme that brings Russia and the United States closer together and, conversely, divorces Russia and China. This is the topic of using the resources of the Arctic. Russia and the United States are full-fledged and full-fledged members of the Arctic Council, they are among the “Arctic” states and can therefore use their part of the Arctic shelf in their own interests. In contrast to them, China is a pretender country that has declared its “subarctic” status, but has not been supported in its polar ambitions by any of the states of the Arctic eight, including Russia. Under Trump, the United States paradoxically tried to fight both China, which sought to internationalize access to the Arctic (modeled on Antarctica), and Russia and Canada, which declared their sovereignty over the polar sea routes passing through their territorial waters. I think that today America could come a little closer to Russia in this matter, and in this case Russia would move a little away from China. On the site The National interest This is the strategy of “paradoxical rapprochement” that is proposed to the American administration by Thomas Rotham, an expert on Russia’s Arctic policy, an employee of the Woodrow Wilson Center at the Kennan Institute, who, by the way, directly calls this polar “detente” “driving in the thinnest of wedges.” (drive in the smallest wedges) between Beijing and Moscow.

Photo: REUTERS / Natalie Thomas

What is Russia doing in response? She rather harshly demonstrates the price for which she is ready to go in response to timid diplomatic rapprochement with Washington, at least on those agenda items where there are common interests with the West and disagreements with China. As I said, I doubt that the coronavirus propagation will work, but the climate and Arctic themes can work. But this will require from the Euro-Atlantic and its military and political structures a clear refusal to further advance to the borders of the Russian Federation. Sergei Lavrov has already quite definitely expressed this priority of Russian diplomacy on the eve of the summit, and judging by the more than sluggish reaction of the American press to all these diplomatic tensions of recent days, the message of the Russian Foreign Ministry has been heard by the Americans.

Photo: REUTERS / POOL New

Russia, obviously, does not want to take one side in the coming conflict between the Euro-Atlantic and China. At the same time, Russia is currently not economically self-sufficient. She cannot simply withdraw into herself, go into self-isolation. However, she also does not want to be a “shield” between the West and the East, to cover one of these forces from the blow of another. After all, we are talking about a clash of “winners” in the Cold War that destroyed the Soviet Union; The United States and China acted in the final stage of this war as de facto allies, and the third partner in this alliance was Islamic fundamentalism. The winners fell out and are now fighting each other. Russia is forced to interact with each of them, and the most advantageous strategy for it would be a mediator’s strategy between these two forces, the hegemony of each of which is unacceptable for Russia.

Let’s hope that our country will be able to maintain this strategic line and thereby win the 21st century for itself.

Cover photo: katehon.com

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