Has the Tide Turned on Russophobia?
-by Phil Butler
In his most recent marathon Q & A session with Russian citizens, Russian President Vladimir Putin hit hard and long on the logicality of Russia’s geopolitical position today. The eternal pragmatist, Putin showed renewed confidence and vigor in painting for the audience the reality of the current American strategy. Putin’s professions and a growing anti-America trend may show us a reversal of the tides soon. Here are some key points and indicators from the Russian front.
With Donald Trump on the veritable “tariffs” warpath with world nations, Vladimir Putin did not miss the chance to take a stab at the way America now seems to run roughshod over the rest of the world. Referring to Trump’s new tariffs levied onto neighbors as “sanctions” by another name, Putin said:
“The introduction of US tariffs on steel, on aluminum, not only for Europe but also for Canada and Mexico, are sanctions disguised in other terms.”
Russia’s leader went on to ask (referring to Canada and Mexico), “Did they also allegedly annex Crimea?” His point could not have been made more plainly or aptly, for successive U.S. administrations have had nothing but ambitions for strategies against all foreign partners since decades now. America is a partner to no other land unless the benefit flows to American businesses are threefold. Friends and enemies are “handled” in the same fashion – and Putin’s narrative is now surfacing outside Russia and the CIS.
How can we know that the balance of policy power is shifting back to Putin? One example comes in the form of a PBS report that is just that, reporting instead of opinion. This story on one of America’s most respected media outlets is titled “Vladimir Putin: West wrongly sees Russia as a threat,” and the new from Nataliya Vasilyeva, of the Associated Press, is just that – news. Since when has this happened? PBS News Hour once led the onslaught of Russophobia, and now we have a 50/50 mix of real reporting and some Putin bashing? Most people would not find this amazing, but as a media analyst, the reversion gives me hope for the world. But there’s more.
Down home on the farm in America, news distributed by Associated Press and used by media such as the News & Observer in North Carolina is (again) uncut news of the new Russia-China cooperation. The story, unlike so many out there, does not even go so far as to warn Americans and western nations of the “danger” of this relationship. I hope the reader hear my point. The full court press of the world press seems to be off, for the moment at least. Let me reframe this. North Carolina is getting straight world news! North Carolina, the heart of the South!
Of course, we have the holdouts at The New York Times, Bloomberg, BBC, and The Guardian staying the creepy anti-Russia course. But European leaders and the people especially are sick and tired of meaningless and useless economic warfare against Russia. Warfare that hurts the little guy and girl, I might add. Donald Trump is stomping about with threatening gestures like a reality show host, while his tariff and sanctions rows stomp the life out of other economies. Just the other day one of America’s best friends in this whole anti-Russia gambit, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker called for an end to “Russia-bashing” to an audience in Brussels. Furthermore, Donald Trump’s support for bailing out on the Iran nuclear deal hits the geopolicy success barometer at ZERO. I will not even count Israel in the calculations – Trump and Netanyahu batting for the same team and all.
And finally. My friend and colleague, Asia Times veteran correspondent Pepe Escobar brought up the other day the vast oil chasm forming on account of America’s crazy energy policies tied to hegemony. Pepe framed an argument on Facebook recently about what he called “The Coming Oil Cyclone” – or a crash in oil-producing/distribution capacity that will take crude to over $200 a barrel. The report (warning) hinges on new drilling rates and depletion, but the end of the story is a financial Armageddon on account of “quadrillion or more dollars in derivatives hanging over the global financial system.” Escobar continues in this revealing report on India staying in the Iran nuclear deal, but my brilliant friend’s arguments (fears) are not his alone. A story here on NEO about Saudi Arabia running out of gas is one of the dozens on the subject. And Europe is scared as hell.
So, in a crazy world where the American Dream turns out to be a world nightmare, what are we to make of this Putin fellow? Another friend of mine, radio legend Jeff Rense called him “The greatest statesman of our time,” in a conversation we had a few weeks ago. The vested hegemony interests in America and Britain have called Putin everything but “OK” the last few years, but without proof for all those allegations, the public can only be fooled for so long. And in Europe, politicians are scared to death of losing those pensions. Putin has the gas – how difficult is this to understand? What’s more, it seems to me the Russian bear has been pushed all the way back into the corner with all this Obama-Trump nonsense. Watch what Vladimir Putin had to say on via Vesti News about another poor sportsmanship attack like the one Ukraine acted out at the time of Sochi. Putin addressed a question about a repeat during FIFA 2018. The Russian president said in no uncertain terms that an attack on the Donbass region by the Kiev regime as a provocation during FIFA would provoke “dire” circumstances up to an including Ukraine’s overall sovereignty (paraphrased).
Like I said, the bear pushed way too far back into a corner, and by unscrupulous adversaries. The world is waking up, and Mr. Putin sees this too. He is not emboldened in his comments but justified. There is a hint of righteous indignation in him. And in the Russia people too. All things considered, Trump’s administration had best regroup before the United States ends up isolated and alone like the liberal world order wanted Putin and Russia to be.
Let us hear your views.
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.”