How do you know when a politician is lying?
Their lips move and words come out.
How do you know when the United States is at a disadvantage in a geopolitical quagmire?
Our diplomats and Presidents want to ‘open up talks.’
Multiple times in the past four years the U.S. has used negotiating ceasefires in Syria and Ukraine to rearm and regroup those we’re backing or get our opposition (the Syrian Arab Army, the Russians) to let their guard down and then attack within 24 hours.
We’ve used the U.N. Security Council as a bludgeon to brazenly lie about on the ground facts in Syria to attempt to save our pet jihadists in places like Aleppo and now eastern Ghouta.
And in each of these instances the Russian counterparts have documented the U.S.’s mendacity, patiently building up an international file of such incidents for future use. As I’ve pointed out so many times, the Russians rightly feel we are “Not Agreement Capable” either from a short-term or long-term perspective.
Winning Looks like Losing
So, why do I think the U.S. is in a losing position right now, despite the pronouncements from President Trump and his most ardent supporters that he’s winning on everything?
Because on the two most important issues of 2018, Korean denuclearization and strategic arms control, Trump is ready to sit down and talk. And we have not been willing to do that on either of these issues at the Head of State level for most of this century, if not longer.
I wrote recently that the Neoconservative cabal in D.C. is in its final push for war with Russia. The catalyst, for me, was President Putin’s state of the union address on March 1st where he unveiled new weapons that conjured up images from the finale of Dr. Strangelove.
I said, and still believe …
The neocons are cornered. All of their major pushes to destroy Russia and Iran and control central Asia are collapsing. The EU is fast approaching a political crisis. The U.K. is still a loyal subject but the White House has a cancer at its center, Donald Trump. The window has nearly closed on regime change in Russia. In effect, it’s now or never.
And the clock started the moment Putin unveiled these weapons. It’s not that the military and intelligence services in the U.S. didn’t know about these systems. They did.
The embarrassing part is that for fifteen years (or more) the neocons, through their mouthpieces like John Bolton, have argued that war with Iran and Russia was the right course of action precisely because it was winnable at minimal cost to the U.S.
They peddled the lie that the Russians couldn’t defend themselves against us while our military commanders, especially one James Mattis, argued otherwise and from a position of knowledge, not ideological fervor.
In Korea it is the Koreans themselves that are pushing for reunification. The election of President Moon Jae-in is a testament to that. And the rapidity with which the situation has gone from full throated U.S. push for war and regime change to, “Hey, let’s talk about this,” has been stunning.
It means that some underlying fact has changed which precludes the U.S. from taking the neocon approach of further encirclement and destabilization of Russia and China.
Trump is now willing, against the advice of his inner council, to talk with Vladimir Putin about arms control. Why? The Russians have weapons that we cannot and will not be able to counter for a decade, if not longer.
We may have or will soon have weapon systems of parallel aggressive capabilities, but counter systems, like missile defense and electronic warfare, no. In fact, the Russians are most likely ahead of us in both of those areas as well.
So, now that the neocon push for war has been outed as the worst kind of malicious fever dream the only thing left to do is push this moment to its crisis point and trap Trump and Putin in a stand-off that most likely ends in tears.
Remember, not two weeks ago U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley failed to advance a total ceasefire in eastern Ghouta to save our ISIS/Al-Qaeda pet Salafist head-choppers there before they were wiped out. The resolution went nowhere because you can only go to that well so many times before it doesn’t work anymore.
The hysteria surrounding the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal is being used cynically to force Europe back into the fold of the U.S.’s ambitions to destroy Russia.
Every time Haley goes to the security council with another worthless ceasefire she is building the case for Russia’s removal from the U.N. Security Council. Or, at least, that’s the thinking. But, if that happens, then the U.N. is finished.
Meanwhile, as I pointed out earlier, the Russians keep making the case that it is the U.S. that negotiates in bad faith, treats allies like lepers and abuses its status to push for ends orthogonal to their interests.
And that brings me to Germany and the Nordstream 2 pipeline, Russia’s next weapon in its war with the U.S. U.S. lawmakers are apoplectic that this pipeline is getting built. Just this morning Germany issued the permits to allow its construction over the most strenuous objections from the U.S.
More sanctions are being threatened, assets frozen. More pressure will be placed on Denmark to not issue the permit. But Nordstream can be re-routed around Danish waters if need be for a small cost. So, with Germany’s permit Nordstream 2 is, for all practical intents, a go.
Lastly, China’s yuan-denominated oil futures contract (which is convertible to gold, FYI) began trading on Sunday evening and the initial volume was impressive to say the least. With China becoming the world’s largest importer of oil and the need for an oil futures benchmark in something other than light sweet crude, the challenge posed by this contract to the pricing of oil to the current petrodollar system is real.
And this will play into any and all trade negotiations between Trump and Jinping over the next year. The goal of this contract is not only to remove unnecessary friction from oil pricing but also to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to un-peg the Riyal from the U.S. dollar and accept Yuan as payment for the significant amount of oil they sell China.
You will know in the next few months just how much this new weapon is forcing change by how willing the U.S. is willing to cut deals on trade.
We’re approaching the crescendo of Trump’s ‘Crazy Ivan’ ploy to exert maximum leverage in a number of areas including foreign policy and trade. I believe the neoconservatives are worried he will not cut acceptable deals in the end, because they know his hand is poor.
Therefore, the big bluff he’s trying to execute will be called. This is why they are pushing for war so badly. And this is why he’s willing to go along with them, they are handing him leverage that he understands.
Unfortunately, Putin doesn’t bluff. And for a bully like Trump, losing is not an option. Lying our way into war is a time-honored U.S. Presidential tradition. Is this time different? The world hopes so.