Geopolitical Notes From India
M D Nalapat
IN 1993, US and EU had the opportunity of a century to reset relations with Russia, given that the Soviet Union had collapsed and an individual, Boris Yeltsin, had taken over in Moscow who was amenable to US influence. However, the chance was lost because the newly sworn-in Clinton administration sought to do to Russia what Henry Morgenthau had sought for Germany after 1945, which was to “pastoralize” the country. This involved the destruction of manufacturing industry as well as the hollowing out of advanced technology. Yeltsin bowed and bent, and yet the kicks kept coming, including in the manner in which NATO was expanded to the boundaries of the Russian Federation. Interestingly, although Moscow was ready to join NATO and even the EU, that overture was spurned.
This was for two reasons (a) the entry of Russia into the EU would diminish the importance of France and Germany, which in tandem were then dominant in the group and (b) were NATO to include Russia, that hyper-expensive administrative structure would lose its reason for existence. After all, NATO was set up to challenge Moscow, and even after the USSR’s collapse, that central focus was not altered. Yeltsin’s Russia was humiliated over and over again, including by the way in which ally Serbia was bombed into submission by the US, the UK and other air forces. During the 1939-45 global war, it had been Croatia and Bosnia that had backed the Germans, while Serbia remained anti-Nazi. However, the US and the EU went along with the 1990s German position on the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, which was that Serbia was the enemy while Bosnia and Croatia were to be backed.
It must be said to Berlin’s credit that this is a capital that stands by those who in the past were with them in rather than against them in conflict situations, unlike the US and the UK, which had much shorter memories where friends were concerned. A visitor to Washington would need to be pardoned for believing that there was an ongoing war between the Russian Federation and the US. Newspaper columns and television screens are filled with denunciations of Russia. An example was the May 11 Senate Intelligence Committee Open Hearing, where Senator after Senator ascribed almost all the problems faced by the US to Russia.
Similarly, the US has an ongoing intelligence gathering and covert activity basket of measures in Mosciw, which is almost certainly much larger than any of the activities being conducted by what is a much poorer country, Russia. Led by the still-dominant Clinton machine within the Democratic Party but including anti-Trump Atlanticists such as Senator John McCain, politicians have been vociferous ever since the January 20,2017 swearing in of Donald John Trump in characterising Russia as an existential enemy of the US that spends much of its time seeking to destroy the world’s most powerful nation. Given the decades of anti-Soviet propaganda that has filled the public space in the US since the 1950s, it has been a relatively simple matter to convince large numbers of the US people that the biggest threat facing the US is a Russia led by Vladimir Putin. Of course, the real target of these critics is not Putin but Trump. The Clinton machine is on overdrive seeking to ensure that the 45th President of the US faces dismissal through impeachment or is made to resign well before his term ends on January 20,2022. Hillary Clinton had put much more effort into how she would run her administration than in how she would win the election. Unlike in case of President Trump, who is still in the process of identifying individuals to fill the thousands of patron positions in US federal administration, the Clinton campaign had already prepared lists of those President Hillary Clinton would appoint to high positions.
It must be said that several of such picks are of exceptional quality, such as Ambassador Wendy Sherman, who was a potential UN Ambassador or even Secretary of State in a Clinton administration. Hillary Clinton had prepared in detail for the task of running the country, which is why it must have been a shock that the much more skeletal Trump machine bested them in the polls. In the targeting of President Trump, Russia is collateral damage. The reality is that foreign diplomats routinely keep in touch with campaign officials during a Presidential poll. However, thus far the media in the US has been incurious in seeking details about the contacts between the Clinton campaign and foreign diplomats, the focus being solely on meetings between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, meetings that took place in every election cycle. The effort has been to create a toxicity about Russia that makes suspect any contact with that country, and then to insinuate that the Trump campaign connived with Moscow in somehow undermining the interests of the US. That this strategy was being employed was no secret. Indeed, in a televised debate, Hillary Clinton herself called Donald Trump “a puppet” of Vladimir Putin. This was a charge of treason, but it failed to ensure victory for the Democratic Party candidate. However, it must be said to his credit that President Trump has refused to be cowed down by the attacks on him in the matter of Russia. Indeed, he met both the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador to the US in the Oval Office itself, clearly showing that he has nothing to hide.
The effort of the Clinton machine is to get a Special Investigator appointed, so that the next few years will see the news cycle dominated by negative reports on Trump and his staff spread by a Special Investigator whose future would be bright indeed were he to manage to secure the resignation or dismissal through impeachment of a sitting US President. Aware of such a conspiracy, the Republican Party is for the moment holding firm. However, the Clintons are nothing if not persistent, and their effort to punish Donald Trump for defeating Hillary Clinton at the hustings can be expected to continue. The spirit of Joseph McCarthy, who destroyed many careers by making false accusations of sympathy for the Communist Party, is once again stalking to corridors of power in Washington.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.