04.06.2021 Author: Phil Butler

A Little Light Shines Into the Pit of Think Tank Russophobia

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Our world is in a deadlock because few western experts think progressively. If we have a prayer of solving the crises unveiled by the coronavirus pandemic, we will have to throw useless, archaic, and dangerous ideas out. To get Earth on track to a sustainable future, we must realign our thinking and the ideas churning inside some think tanks. Fortunately, there seems to be hopefulness we can hold out for.

Before I reveal a more progressive trend surfacing, it’s important to emphasize just how entrenched and moronic western foreign policy is. The hatred and bias, the stone age ideas that Russia haters like the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, who cemented into the American and European psyche decades ago, they’re still all-powerful where international policymaking is concerned. Their disregard for the public, their harsh and cruel machinations against peace is even more horrendous than at the height of the first Cold War. If you doubt me, read this ludicrousness at Foreign Policy Magazine. According to Amy Mackinnon and Robbie Gramer, Vladimir Putin has authorized hackers to hack into USAID to get into Russia bashing think tanks and find out what is already widely known. The Russian president is the world’s all-time arch-villain. Don’t you believe me? Well…

“Hackers linked to Russian intelligence services breached systems used by a leading US aid agency to target other government agencies, human rights organizations, and think tanks.”

That’s right, the FP Group, the media people who dance to the tune of former Federal Reserve Chairman and Facebook board member Donald E. Graham, think the American public is just dumb as hell. As if Washington think tanks have better server protection than U.S. Government agencies? They are sure the readership will believe Putin will do anything to find out how the geniuses on Think Tank Row create the latest lies about Mother Russia. Microsoft! Really? A blog post is now all it takes to generate Putin-Biden summit talking points and treaty levers? I guess the FSB needs to confirm that there are those in the west determined to destroy Russia! Fortunately, the insulting nonsense these goofball security experts whip up is not all that the U.S. Congress and the president have to go on.

A recent Brookings Institute report entitled “To face Russia and Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden needs a smart strategy” is a somewhat positive indication a few people are looking at new ideas. The report is contradictory evidence that Think Tank Row on Massachusetts Avenue may not need to be shuttered for good. Defense and security expert Michael E. O’Hanlon makes a few excellent points including suggesting we’ve had stupid strategies for useful detente for decades. He also contends that expanding NATO further will only make the current crisis worse.

O’Hanlon argues that the United States and the Europeans do not need to live up to her “promise” to bring Ukraine, Georgia, and other former Soviet republics under the NATO militarism banner. However, he is wrong in perpetuating the idea that Russia is the aggressor and that every action from the west must be a lever to deal with Vladimir Putin at the policy table. Herein lies a significant problem with geopolitics today. Everyone seems to have lost sight of committing policy simply because it’s the right thing to do for the people. To quote from the report:

“Biden is not wrong to seek a better relationship with Russia, even with Putin ensconced in the Kremlin. Yet any new initiative towards Moscow must place demands on Russia as well.”

Innuendo and veiled antipathy aside, who the leader of Russia is or how well established Putin is, is of no consequence. Today’s problem is an age-old one that has very little to do with the boy from Leningrad. The Brookings fellow shines a realistic light where dimwit ideas have governed policy in America for decades. He frames the current NATO expansion in this way:

“By extending American commitments far into the former Soviet space, it would incur military obligations that would be very difficult to meet while virtually guaranteeing an antagonistic relationship with Moscow.”

NATO currently has 30 members, nearly twice the alliance encamped in at the end of the Cold War. And into this quasi-imperialistic situation, Michael E. O’Hanlon interjects what may be the smartest geostrategy proposed since the end of World War II. He says it’s time to envision a new security architecture for eastern Europe. Exactly how a mutually guaranteed eastern European security framework might play out is secondary to the potential of the west and east working together, for once. I would add that this new architecture would need to be mutually guaranteed by the U.S., Europe, and Russia.

Don’t get this wrong, O’Hanlon’s rhetoric is still highly aggressive where Russia and Putin are concerned. Perhaps he uses the cliche defamation in order to herd hardcore Cold warriors into some new flock of pragmatists? The guy seems bright, so this is logical. But, what we need to focus on is the slight shift here. For the first time since I’ve been an analyst, there seems to be a glimmer of light shining on the potential for progress. Strangely, this comes when one of the real Russia hawks is in the White House. Most of the other so-called “strategies” involve more sanctions, expanding NATO, and a same old horrific narrative about Putin being the ultimate enemy.

Nothing the Russian leader has done indicates Russian aggression, expansionistic goals, or the crazy assertion people there desire a new Soviet empire. Even though the anti-Russia propaganda has succeeded in America, we must hold out hope that the failed lie of the global community revealed by the COVID situation will open a few eyes. Let’s remember the definition we were given and how this globalization paradigm was supposed to lead us to the promised land. The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) gives us this:

“Globalization is the word used to describe the growing interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures, and populations, brought about by cross-border trade in goods and services, technology, and flows of investment, people, and information.”

What COVID-19 has shown is that when crunch time comes, we are independent, dogged in our national self-interest, and suspicious of other cultures and technologies. The west-east divide also reveals how investment flows and information are not contributory but are being manipulated and even leveraged to subdue real or perceived competitors. And, although experts at the Washington Post say COVID-19 is “undoing globalization,” I would say a genuinely global community never existed in the first place. The Center for Global Development comes closer to the truth in a report that says the “common purpose,” “shared values,” and “global village” may have always been nothing more than empty platitudes.

W. Gyude Moore, a senior fellow from Liberia at the center, points out how an authentic global community would have responded to the pandemic. Many are questioning the western response to the pandemic and the leadership roles western democracies play across the spectrum of crises. Xie Tao at The Diplomat points out that the United States and its allies have led the world in every crucial aspect of political stability, economic development, educational achievement, social welfare, public health, technological innovation, and military power worldwide for the last 70 years. He also says the “west” has not met the general expectations the world came to expect. And I would say the Trump reaction to COVID-19 from the onset signaled the end of any sense my country could lead in anything but a pandemic disaster.

Of course, these tiny bright points of luminescence are always overshadowed by the nincompoop ravings of Russophobes in the halls of knowledge in Washington. We have an army of “experts” like Amy Mackinnon, who won her fame for locating some homophobes in Russia. She got the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for uncovering anti-gay cells outside anti-gay central there in our own America. Brilliant. And Robbie Gramer? He managed the NATO portfolio at the Atlantic Council, the unbiased (right) Washington-based think tank. The most glaring point in his young career is that he’s never held an internship for longer than a few months since graduating from American University. Perhaps he’s insulted the intelligence of defense policy research consumers before?

I cannot help being amazed at how easily my countrymen have the wool pulled over their eyes these days. There’s no longer a need for well-studied Russia haters like Zbigniew Brzezinski. The western elites no longer need to rely on Machiavellian geniuses like Henry Kissinger. They can just cook up some idiotic analysis that is no analysis at all. I almost feel bad singling out journalists like this. What makes no sense for me is the fact these fellows and interns have access to all the necessary points, studies, and theories but choose to try and convince us that Russia’s indomitable Putin is at once the equal of Dr. Moriority and a hapless nincompoop who employs redundant and irrelevant intel to defend Mother Russia with. Thank goodness there’s at least one Michael E. O’Hanlon to interject a pin prick of light into a dark chasm of stupidity.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”


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