M. K. BHADRAKUMAR: Obama’s overture to Putin has paid off; Asia Times, May 15, 2015

Following a remarkable analysis of the Empire’s road to nowhere and Kerry’s motives to make a pilgrimage to Sochi.
Excerpt (full text attached)

Asia Times,May 13, 2015 — http://atimes.com/2015/05/obamas-overture-to-putin-has-paid-off
Obama’s overture to Putin has paid off
By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR

There is no reason to doubt the disclosure by the unnamed senior State Department official who briefed the media even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was heading for Sochi, Russia, to meet President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, to the effect that the “Secretary and (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey) Lavrov have been talking for some time about when the conditions might be ripe, and we (the U.S.) obviously wanted to make sure that if he (Kerry) was going to make the trip (to Russia), he’d get a chance to talk to the main decision maker (read Putin).”

Indeed, there was an inevitability about yesterday’s meeting at Sochi and what happened is in the best traditions of the denouement of Russian-American tensions, historically speaking. The partisans on both sides who fought the media war through past year probably thought that the “New Cold War” was for real or that they were witnessing were the birth pangs of a new world order. They must be feeling let down.

Of course, the humility in the tone of the senior State Department Official is striking. The Russians have shown that they could hunker down like nobody’s business when it comes to defending their core interests, and the Obama administration has understood that. More importantly, the U.S. also understands that from now on the law of diminishing returns will be at work.

Simply put, the Chinese have made their appearance on the strategic landscape of Eurasia for the first time in history, and the U.S. badly needs Russia’s cooperation in the Middle East, more than at any time since the Cold War ended.

On the other hand, for all their bravado, the Russian elites also have understood that the future scenario for their economy remains grim if the western embargo on finance, investment and trade continue relentlessly. They realize too that at this rate they may eventually have to settle for a role as China’s junior partner. The world at large may sympathize with Russia’s plight and isolation, but life moves on, leaving the elites in Moscow to cope with the deepening economic recession as best as they could on their own faltering steam.

In retrospect, the Russians placed unrealistically high hopes on the independent foreign policies toward Russia on the part of the U.S.’ European allies. Even Greece caved in, finally. (…)

Equally, the sigh of relief in Moscow is almost audible. From the Russian viewpoint, the West’s boycott of Moscow has ended. We may expect European statesmen to travel to Moscow as before. Indeed, as the U.S.-Russia collaboration on regional conflicts advances, it will have positive fallout on the bilateral relations between the two big powers. (Last week, Washington had signaled willingness to engage Moscow in talks relating to the U.S.’ missile defence program.)

Both Washington and Moscow are in a chastened mood today, as the media briefings in Sochi strongly suggest. They peered into the abyss and didn’t like what they saw.

In the final analysis, Obama took a high risk by making the overture to Russia. His critics and detractors are bound to pounce on him, as they would only see his overture to Putin as yet another U-turn on a crucial foreign policy front. (…)

Evidently, he is outstripping America’s political class, large sections of the intelligentsia and the media – and, of course, annoying friends and allies in Central Europe who clamor for a hard line on Russia – Poland and the Baltic states, in particular.

Obama made three cardinal errors of judgment on Russia. One, he allowed the U.S. interference in Russia’s domestic politics to continue with the objective of changing the political calculus in the Kremlin in a direction that would serve America’s global interests. True, the U.S. had gotten used to stringing the Russian elites and once even had arranged Boris Yeltsin’s re-election as president (1996). But Obama could have sized up that the times had changed. (…)

Second, Obama underestimated Russia’s resolve to maintain a buffer on its western borders, which has been the traditional invasion route from Europe. Washington literally forced Putin’s hands on Crimea and eastern Ukraine. What happened was not Putin’s choice. In the obsessive drive to demonize Putin, it is often overlooked that he desires a partnership with the West, but on equal terms. The Russian “hyper sensitivity” is not difficult to comprehend.

Third, Obama has been obstinate in his refusal to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate aspirations as a global power.
(…) How could such an erudite mind and profound intellect have got it all so very wrong? Of course, Obama’s familiarity with Russian politics has been limited and he has allowed himself to be led by the seasoned “Russia hands” in the U.S. foreign-policy establishment who are weaned on Cold War era politics. The result has been that he ended up pursuing the very same containment strategy toward Russia that was ushered in by the Bill Clinton administration in the early nineties.

It has proved to be a road to nowhere, because the Russia that Bill Clinton in turn hoodwinked, bullied and pushed around no longer exists today. (…)

BHADRAKUMAR-Obamas-overture-to-Putin150513.pdf

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