The Kremlin

Ed.: 110217 – Words: 1313 – Audio: N/A

For as consumed as America is about Russia, Russian hacking of the election, oligarchs, Putin’s intentions, yada yada, we really have no idea what overall Russian intentions are toward us.  In fact… it’s likely we will never know.  Most likely Mueller and the intel services might uncover what the Russians did and what individual Americans may or may not have helped them and how they did that, but knowing the real intentions of Moscow is not readily apparent.

I recently did a post on how China is moving ahead toward it’s own aims to become not so much a military power but leveraging its thundering economy to embrace a world cooperation to achieve a measure of being an “alternative” to U.S. influence in the world; and they are doing this while America is busy consuming itself from within.  Well, Russia is also proceeding ahead in its own interests to carve a place in world dominance.

One outside source that has some experience in interpreting Russian intentions with some measure of credibility is Ivan Krastev and in a recent article he wrote as a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times he explains Russian perceptions of the West.  Before we get into his article too deeply I’ll toss your way some of this fellow’s credentials so you might be able to gauge his level of experience.

The following is found on Wiki…

Ivan Krastev became a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times in the spring of 2015. He is the chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria, and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. A widely regarded expert on Balkan and European affairs, he sits on the board of trustees of the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Erste Foundation, as well as the advisory councils of the Open Society Foundations, the Center for European Policy Analysis and the European Cultural Foundation. His latest book is Democracy Disrupted: The Politics of Global Protest.

Mr. Krastev has held fellowships at St. Antony’s College, Oxford; the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars; the Collegium Budapest; the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin; the Institute of Federalism at the University of Fribourg and the Remarque Institute at New York University. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Krastev was the executive director of the International Commission on the Balkans. From 2005 to 2011, he was the editor in chief of the Bulgarian edition of Foreign Policy.

Mr. Krastev lives in Sofia.”

So, the guy has a fairly good grasp of what he is talking about, but still… it is an opinion, albeit a very educated one.


His Article

Krastev begins by asking the obvious questions we all might ask regarding the Russian tinkering in the West…

Was this a desperate attempt to install a Russia-friendly president in the White House? Or was the main objective to discredit the American political system at a moment when the Kremlin has lost any hope for normalizing relations with Washington? Was it a major strategic move or just a “fun operation” meant more to hurt than to influence?

Then Krastev speculates about the future…

And there are important questions not just about what happened but also about the future: How have Moscow’s recent experiences in America and Europe influenced Russia’s willingness to interfere in Western democracies’ politics? Does the Kremlin consider its meddling in American elections and the chaos that followed a success? If so, was its inability to sway France’s presidential election this spring a failure?

Just reading this guy’s summations makes me wonder if anyone.. and I mean anyone… in the Trump administration is asking these same questions.  For sure, no one occupying the White House has any sort of world view concept to even formulate these questions because they are too busy scapegoating Obama and the Clintons.  Krastev concludes that the Mueller investigation and subsequent indictments will never answer these questions.  This makes me again question, who in our government is trying?

So if we want to figure out why the Russians did what they did, we need to leave the terrain of spy games and move to the realm of foreign policy.

Foreign policy?  You mean this is up to our State Department??  You mean, that shell of an organization being led by that ex-oil executive with no experience?

There’s more….

In my recent discussions with Russian foreign policy experts, they have made clear that if Moscow wants to be a world power, on an equal footing with Washington, it should be able and willing to match the United States. Russian leaders believe that Washington interferes in their domestic politics and that the United States intends to orchestrate a regime change in Moscow.

Whoa… where did Moscow get this idea we, America, had intentions of a regime change there?  Hmm.. let me guess… Libya?  Iraq?  Afghanistan?  How far back we wanna go.. Vietnam? Panama?  The list is actually quite long, going back well over 100 years.  BUT… Russia and the Soviets have done their fair share of regime changes in their own sphere.  Still… I am very curious what has led Putin and his bunch to even suspect we had/have that intention toward them, unless they have interpreted some direct or indirect action from us.

Here’s my thought… obviously they don’t fear us sending the Marines to the Kremlin… but very likely they could easily perceive exactly what they have demonstrated to us… “invading” their cyberspace to not only to try to tinker with election results but also to dabble in fake social networking, from blogs to advertising to sway public opinion.  Regime change has gone hi-tech.

Based on that idea, Krastev continues to speculate….

And contrary to conventional wisdom, Russia’s craving for global power status is not simply about nostalgia or psychological trauma. It is a geopolitical imperative. Only by proving its capacity to be a 21st century great power can Russia hope to be a real, equal partner with countries like China, which it needs to take it seriously. Believe it or not, from the Russian perspective, interfering in the American presidential election was a performance organized mostly for the benefit of non-American publics.

Hmm.. Russian hacking of our election, in whatever form that was, was nothing but a demonstration of power to the rest of the world that Russia can slap the face of America, and thusly curry favor for future international respect?  Isn’t it interesting that the other country on this planet, North Korea, is also trying to establish itself as an equal partner and garnering respect by playing the nuke game?  Is there a pattern here?

Anyone know where our State Department is, to try and figure this out?

Krastev has an interesting analogy….

The Russians see great power rivalries as a game of rock-paper-scissors. What is critical is what kind of power you aspire to or are ready to use: Rock beats the scissors, but it is defeated by paper; paper, of course, has no chance against the scissors.

A new kind of “warfare” demanding new kind of diplomacy?

Krastev sums it all up, concluding…

What makes the current situation so dangerous is that Russia will mirror not what the West is doing, but what Russia believes the West is doing. Russian perceptions are shaped by the country’s traumatic loss of power after the end of the Cold War. Russian actions are shaped by the conviction that the country has the capacity to take risks rather than economic or even technological potential that determines who will prevail.

The world has an agenda… we have Trump.


Krastev’s entire article is HERE.