The Great Recession Blog
by David Haggith
The infamous Clinton reset button for US-Russian relations turned out this week to be the other proverbial red button used to launch nuclear missiles. Wikileaks documents that will be covered in this series of articles reveal a chain of wars that started due to Hillary Clinton’s diplomacy.
Hillary’s Wars exploded this week when Russian President Vladimir Putin terminated nuclear disarmament agreements that existed between Russia and the United States:
Tensions between the U.S. and Russia escalated Monday as the Obama administration suspended talks over Syria’s civil war hours after Moscow announced it was ending cooperation with the U.S. on a 16-year-old program for the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium to curb the production of more nuclear bombs.
The Obama administration stopped pursuing diplomacy with Russia amid renewed attacks by Russian and Syrian forces on the city of Aleppo. Frustrated administration officials acknowledged that Syrian President Bashar Assad is making territorial gains with Moscow’s help after the collapse of a cease-fire negotiated by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (The Washington Times)
Why Clinton reset button went nuclear
Putin stated that he is ending the Plutonium-elimination agreement because the United States has failed under Barrack Obama to hold up its end of the agreement.
Mr. Putin’s decree cited Washington’s “unfriendly actions” and the U.S. inability to fulfill its obligations under the 2000 deal as reasons for the move. Under the agreement, which was expanded in 2006 and 2010, Russia and the U.S. each were to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, enough material for about 17,000 nuclear warheads…. Russia said last year it had started up a plant that produces mixed-oxide commercial nuclear reactor fuel known as MOX from weapons-grade plutonium. Meanwhile, the construction of a similar U.S. plant in South Carolina has been years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The Obama administration wants to cancel the Savannah River Site’s MOX project…. Defending Mr. Putin’s move, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the U.S. has “done all it could to destroy the atmosphere encouraging cooperation,” citing U.S. sanctions on Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis and deploying NATO forces near Russian borders.
Unfriendly actions by the Obama Administration, in the Russian view, include the coup in Ukraine, which Russia believes was US sponsored, sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea (intended ostensibly to keep Crimea out of the hands of an illegitimate (coup) government), attacks made against Bashar Assad (whom Russia has long supported) aimed at regime change, not at stopping ISIS, and the long-term build-up of NATO artillery on Russia’s border, which accelerated after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The Russians explaining their withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, the Russians stated particularly that, in order to resume the treaty, the US will have to pull back its military installments near Russian borders to where they were before the Bush years and that it will have to get used to the idea that “it cannot bring sanctions against us and at the same time continue selective cooperation in areas it sees as advantageous.”
“Russia has been observing the agreement unilaterally for quite a long time, but now it no longer sees such a situation as possible amid the tensions,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Given the timing of the announcement and the statements about tensions, I think it’s clear Russia’s break from nuclear disarmament was triggered by the concurrent stalemate between the US and Russia over how the war in Syria should be handled, even though Russian statements show that it is the culmination of a great many earlier affronts.
The Obama administration also announced this week that it is talking about stepped-up military strikes in Syria as a “means of forcing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to pay a cost for his violations of the cease-fire.”
Clinton Reset button was a bad joke from day one
Hillary’s crudely made toy reset button for relations with Russia was defective from the day she had it made. It said “reset” in English for Americans who would see photos of it and “peregruzka” for Russians. Undoubtedly, a lot of thought went into putting the Russian word first in order to make the Russian’s feel good, since the button was being presented to Russians, not to Americans. However, not much thought went into how the word was written. Hillary Clinton’s state department missed the little detail that Russians read in Cyrillic alphabet, not in Roman. As a result, Russians had to read their own language in the American way. Rather symbolic, I think, of the ham-fisted way in which America has approached Russia on many issues from George Bush onward. “We’ll work with you … our way.”
Russians also found the Clinton reset button amusing because the Russian word Hillary Clinton and her Department of State chose actually meant “overload.” Oops. A truer word for Clinton’s relations with Russia during her time as US secretary of state and Obama’s relations from that point forward could not have been chosen.
What Hillary apparently didn’t foresee when she presented her toy reset button back in March of 2009 was that she brought the wrong button to her meeting with Russia’s foreign minister. Without realizing it, she was holding out the opportunity for her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to put his finger on the nuclear button. Ironically, it said “reset” in English only because the policies of the Clinton state department and the subsequent Kerry state department would ultimately reset Russian-American relations back to Cold War status.
Hillary miscalculated Russian response in Syria
While the next article in this series will establish from Wikileaks archive of Hillary Clinton’s emails that the Clinton State Department always intended a war against Syria for the sake of regime change, I want to point out one part of that masterplan that shows how Hillary’s strategies clearly misfired.
The Department of State, under Hillary’s lead, put out a document recommending war against Syria, that assured President Obama — based on Hillary’s close experience with her Husband’s war in Kosovo — that Russia would never involve itself in a Syrian War if the Obama administration chose to take the State Department’s advice and pursue regime change:
Russia will never support such a mission [as regime change in Syria], so there is no point operating through the UN Security Council. Some argue that U.S. involvement risks a wider war with Russia. But the Kosovo example shows otherwise. In that case, Russia had genuine ethnic and political ties to the Serbs, which don’t exist between Russia and Syria, and even then Russia did little more than complain. (Wikileaks)
Oops! I guess Russia thought differently after years of feeling pushed around its borders by the US and realized that it needs to do more than complain if the US is going to take its objections seriously and not discount them as the State Department did above. Rather than just complain Russia leaped directly into the Syrian Civil War with its own bombers.
This week, it took another leap and ended cooperation on its nuclear treaty with the US, taking both nations deeper into Cold War status. Oops again in terms of Hillary’s calculations about how Russia would respond to US efforts to turn over the Assad regime.
As the next article will show (“Wikileaks Proves Syria about Iran and Israel“), the cost of getting a tenuous nuclear “deal” with Iran was the loss of an established nuclear treaty with Russia. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s a winning outcome; but it is clearly a case where Hillary’s state department miscalculated how much the US can keep pushing Russia around, which the next step in Russia’s warnings makes even more clear:
Hillary’s War in Syria becomes a proxy war with Russia
While a few have claimed US involvement in the Syrian war was really intended as a proxy war against Russia, I think the next article will show that the US simply miscalculated how involved Russia would get in Syria because they show the state department clearly had a different (but equally imperial) motive than engaging with Russia. In the statement above, they show they didn’t believe Russia would get involved at all.
That said, the proximity of war with Russia in Syria certainly intensified Friday. Russia has placed anti-aircraft artillery in and around areas where Assad’s forces are located, and then issued the following warning late last week:
An extraordinary warning tonight from Russia to the US against conducting military strikes in Syria. In a strongly worded statement, a spokesperson for the Russian defense minister said any [US] strikes against President Bashar Assad’s regime … could result in American aircraft being shot down. (ABC)
US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter responded Friday that Russia will face the consequences for its growing involvement in Syria. (See, they are surprised Russia has had the boxy to involve itself in a way that endangers US aircraft as a result of earlier advice from Hillary that said it wouldn’t. Thus, the Obama administration professes outrage that things have taken this seriously dangerous turn.)
The Pentagon this week has been presenting the Obama administration with options for potential strikes on Assad’s air force bases to punish the regime for its failure to abide by the recent ceasefire agreement. (And, as the next article shows, because overthrowing Assad was always Plan One as a measure of support for Israel.) State Department officials, however, have said that Obama is unlikely to approve the strikes, though the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in favor of them.
To this news of recommended air strikes directly against Assad, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian defense ministry spokesman, responded,
I would recommend our colleagues in Washington to thoroughly consider the possible consequences of the realization of such plans.
This is about as close as you get to a hot war with Russia without actually being in one. Russia is not just saber rattling. It is saying its missiles will be in the air, and Russia won’t have time to coordinate missile flight plans with the US. So, if the US happens to be in the air in the same place and same time, its planes could get shot down.
I think there is even more to this warning than concern that US planes may accidentally get caught in the fire:
Konashenkov, however, suggested Russia would target any unidentified aircraft attacking Syrian government targets and warned “American strategists” not to assume a covert intervention would go unanswered…. Konashenkov also warned that Russian troops were now widely deployed across Syria, implying any strikes could hit them, pulling the U.S. into conflict with Russia. Konashenkov referred again to a strike on Sept. 17, when U.S. military aircraft killed dozens of Syrian government troops accidentally. The Pentagon has said the strike was a mistake, but Konashenkov said Russia was prepared to prevent “any similar ‘mistakes’” against Russian troops.
In other words, all stealth aircraft (by nature “unidentified”) that attack Assad will be targeted and shot down, even though they most likely belong to the US if they are not planes Russia can identify as its own; and any US attacks against Assad that wind up endangering Russian troops will receive a direct Russian counter-attack.
Russian bombardment of the besieged city of Aleppo during the past week was described as the most intense in this war to date. At the same time, the fact that the talk of targeting by the US has been directed at Assad’s air bases says that clearly regime change is the only order of the day for the US. ISIS seems to have become a sideshow compared to US rage against Assad. (It was, in fact, a sideshow from the beginning of Clinton’s recommendations for a US war against Assad.)
Was the US also the destabilizing force in the Ukrainian coup d’etat?
Predictably, the US defended itself from accusations that it is at fault for the breakdown in relationships with Russia by trying to pit the blame on Putin:
State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters Monday. The U.S. “seeks a constructive dialogue with Russia on strategic issues, but it is Russia instead who continues to engage in destabilizing activities. (Bloomberg)
But is it really Russia that is initiating destabilizing activities? Part Two of this series shows that the US Department of State saw the Syrian Civil War as an opportunity to work covertly for regime change in order to help Israel and in belief that regime change in Syria will transform the Middle East into a more friendly place for the US.
Syria’s Civil War is not a war the US needed to be involved in for its own protection any more than the US needed to change regimes in Iraq in order to protect itself (another war Hillary Clinton fully supported). Syria has also become a hardened training ground for ISIS, just as Iraq became an incubator for ISIS.
Putin has maintained for years that the US is moving imperially to reshape the Middle East in a manner best suited to US interests. So, who is the destabilizing force, given that neither of these countries ever brought an attack agains the US or its NATO allies? Who is destabilizing things by trying to change the entire Middle Eastern map?
And US efforts at regime change (or, at least, backing of illegitimate regime changes) are not just happening in the Middle East. The Obama administration worked through the UN in 2014 to censor Russia with sanctions for involving itself in Ukrain’s civil war by annexing Crimea, even though there is good reason to believe the US sponsored the coup d’etat that started the civil war by throwing over Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
Putin’s suspicion of US support for the coup is warranted, given that the Obama administration’s full approval and support of the insurrectionist government that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected government was almost instantaneous.
So much for supporting democracy … if it winds up electing a government that is much more aligned with Russia than with the US. How could the US assess and support an uprising that happened almost overnight if the Obama administration didn’t know a lot about the group behind the coup to begin with? In the very least, from Putin’s standpoint, the US is fully supporting a government that took over Ukraine by insurrection, directly in conflict with Russian interests.
Wether the US can be proved to have been directly funding the coup or not, it certainly supported an insurrection that moved against Russian interests in the region.
During that time, Hillary Clinton (no longer secretary of state) had to defend her reset button against criticism that Russia’s annexation of Crimea proved the reset had obviously failed. In defending the Clinton reset button, Hillary pointed out how Russia had subsequently agreed to sanctions against Iran and to allowing US planes to fly over Russia in order to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan.
True it had, but the beginning of a serious tear that happened over Ukraine does not have to mean that all attempts by Russia toward good relations were immediately terminated. These kinds of tears get worse and worse over time (like a deteriorating marriage) until they are complete. This past week, however, put the US and Russia much closer to complete breakdown of the relationship. The only way it can become any more complete is if we start actually intentionally shooting at each other.
In 2014, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that a “reset of relations” between Russia and the US was impossible due to the United States’ “destructive” and “stupid” sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea. Russia, of course, says that it annexed the predominantly Russian-speaking Crimea to keep it out of the hands of an illegitimate coup government.
Has Clinton’s reset button reset the US and Russia to Cold War status?
That same year (2014), the man who ended the first cold war, Mikhail Gorbachev, warned that the United State’s conflict with Russia over Ukraine was likely to reset relations back to a cold war status. After that, some politicians and pundits argued that calling Russian-American relations a return to cold-war status was unwarranted because things had not deteriorated that far.
Gorbachev, however, was not saying relations had returned to a cold war status, but that Hillary Clinton’s reset strategies were marching everyone down that path.Now that Russia has stepped away from this nuclear disarmament treaty, a lot of weight has been added to the argument that we are moving back into a cold war position.
How much does the following article this week sound like the days of “duck and cover” during the Cold War?
Amid growing international tensions, particulary over Russia’s conduct in Syria, the Defence Ministry-run Zvezda TV network announced last week: “Schizophrenics from America are sharpening nuclear weapons for Moscow.” (The Independent)
That comment was prelude to other announcements this past week that Russia’s Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) will be running a three-day emergency drill with 40 million civilians and 200,000 emergency responders to assure the nation is prepared for nuclear, chemical or biological attacks from the West.
Sounds like the Cold War “duck and cover” drills to me:
Russia also stated its plans this week to build underground nuclear shelters in Moscow sufficient to house the city’s entire population, and it has begun building a new generation of nuclear bombers and ICBM’s, missile launchers and nuclear-armed subs. The Kremlin is reportedly seeking nuclear fire power superior to that of the US.
That doesn’t sound like the Cold War?
In Syria, these tensions advanced this week very close to becoming a hot war — about as hot as the Cuban Missile Crisis. As soon as US Secretary of State John Kerry terminated diplomatic relations with Russia in the Syrian war this past week, the Syrian war began to look and sound all the more like the “very, very familiar proxy war cycle from the bad old days of the Cold War” (Vox) that some said it was.
The Clinton reset button looks more and more like the proverbial nuclear button that launched a purposeful chain of regime-change wars that is turning out to be more of chain reaction.