It is believed that Russia meddled with our election. We are outraged at the very audacity [forget the hypocrisy of our outrage] of the evil upstart Putin. We have been promised by both our President and our Vice-President that the U.S. will retaliate [make an attack or assault in return for a similar attack] because Russia must learn that it cannot get away with such an outrage.

     What I have not heard any suggestion of is diplomacy.

     If it is so very important to our way of self governance, and I believe it is, that we make certain that Russia never meddles with our process of choosing leaders, then why not offer Russia a  deal? Why not say we will never [again] meddle with your internal affairs if you will agree to not meddle with ours? We could offer the deal in the form of a limited non-aggression treaty. The only real problem I see is the many countries around the world that would want the same deal. 


     If the first offer is diplomacy rather than a response in kind, the US looks weaker than it already does. Putin is a bully. If you try to compromise with a bully as your first move, you can expect another attack. It is likely that the US is already engaged in a cyberwar with Russia. The question is how far to take the counterattack.

    1) I agree with rmrd. Trying to cut a deal without any retaliation would be to negotiate from weakness.

    2) The U.S. does not meddle in Russia's "internal affairs." Despite Putin's history of corruption, suppression of opposition, and instigation of separatist movements in other counties, the U.S. did nothing more than voice occasional criticism until Crimea, when we imposed sanctions. The invasion of Ukraine was hardly an internal affair.

    3) We should be concerned not only with our own democracy but with those in Europe and elsewhere where Russia is trying to undermine the process and create instability.

    1)  I disagree with you. Strength does not always need to be wielded to be influential. Russia has some determination as to our strengths. I believe that we are much stronger and that the Russians believe that we are much stronger. The stronger party has the greater duty as well as greater ability to handle a conflict in a way that is "better" if that is what they wish. 

    2)  ;The U.S. does not meddle in Russia's "internal affairs." I simply do not believe it to be true historically or presently that we do not meddle in Russian internal affairs.  Do you? Really? 

     Obama must have read McNamara [Not sure that Mac called his idea "escalation dominance] who also believed in incremental retaliation raising the stakes higher and higher until the "enemy" went to their knees. His mistake which hasn't been learned was to think that the other party to the conflict would give up easily. Escalation of force did not lead to dominance. Chances for diplomacy to win the day were ignored or perverted. It got ugly when it didn't have to. 

      My suggestion dealt only with internal affairs of the respective countries. You say, "The invasion of Ukraine hardly not an internal affair."    I believe we are far from honest actors in Ukraine but iif Ukraine has nothing to do with Russian internal affairs then it has nothing to do with what I suggested. If though Ukraine and the rest of the world noticed, during the time the coup that the U.S. supported was underway, that we announced who we intended to install as the next leader there then they might want to become party also to an agreement to stay out of each others internal political affairs. ,

    3) We should try to understand why Russia wants to build and maintain a zone of states around it which do not have military bases manned by American and European armed forces. Then, if we don't like what they are doing we can first stare hard at them with steely eyed determination and even a curled the lip if they don’t instantly melt. As a demonstration of restraint leavened with determination, shake our finger in their face while secretly continue to do what rightfully pisses tem off. Then, if necessary, poke them in the chest.  Be prepared to slap them in the face if they don’t get on their knees. At this point both doubled up fists should be plainly in view. They must “believe” that all options are on the table [ Kissinger] including the brass knuckles.

     Or, we could try honest diplomacy conducted with honestly formed motives and intentions and commitments. 



    Oh come on, surely you know about Georgia, Chechnya, Crimea, pressure on the Baltics, etc, and now Syria.

    You're pissed at the US I guess from your military days and that's where it lies.

    I assume you can read about Russian incursions in Angola and Afghanistan and Chechnya  and East Ukraine and of course occupation of East Europe for 40 fucking years. In short, what kind of idiocy are you trying to play? Man up  - these are sons of bitches,but you keep pussyfooting aroind the edges. Do I give a shit about Russian strategic interests when they involve keeping people under their thumb? Their only friend in the last 5 years is fucking Assad of Syria - take that as a mile wide hint.

    Oh come on, surely you know about Georgia, Chechnya, Crimea, pressure on the Baltics, etc, and now Syria.

    So what is your point? Yes, I know some things about those countries as well as some things about a lot of other countries. Again, do you have a point or just an uncontrollable reflex  to try to shout down, without any coherent connection to my blog, an idea you don’t like because it does not put 100% of the blame for international hostilities onto Russia and actually suggests diplomacy might be a better way to stop Russia from doing something that our country has also done since its creation.

    " Do I give a shit about Russian strategic interests when they involve keeping people under their thumb?"

     Your jingo bells are ringing loud and clear but they are playing a discordant song. Do you have any concept of irony?

    "You're pissed at the US I guess from your military days and that's where it lies."

    I had some experiences in the military which have caused me to pay attention to how wars get started, how they are carried out, and what story about them is presented back home. What I have learned and continue to see about that subject does piss me off. You got that part right.

    You suggest diplomacy while Russia plays Little Green Men and knocks down a whole city, even targeting civilians promised exit. Cute.

    For Ukraine you continue to ignore the people's protests and well-voiced wish to be closer to the EU. You've acted as if the EU were hell on earth, a step back from Russian ties and Russian sphere of influence. Despte speaking  Slavic language similar to Russian, Ukrainians have a right to move on. Do we analyze the situation and figure out who's got the power and gumption to succeed, and back the right horse? Like duh, does the bear shit on the pope?

    "You've acted as if the EU were hell on earth, ... ..."

    Have you completely lost it? I don't recall ever even speaking here at Dag about what the E.U is like. Show a link or stfu with bs such as that. 

     In other interest of note, I am surprised you didn't link to this posting at Emptywheel. OK, that was bs on my part. Anyone reading it can see why you didn't/wouldn't. The title, "16 WORDS: “THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT HAS LEARNED THAT VLADIMIR PUTIN RECENTLY SOUGHT SIGNIFICANT QUANTITIES OF VOTES FOR TRUMP”  gives a hint to its point of view but I recommend that anyone interested read the whole thing. Here is a teaser quote.

    Rather, it is to ask why the CIA is so invested in the narrative that Putin specifically intervened to get Trump elected, rather than the more obvious explanation, which is that he intervened to retaliate for real and imagined CIA-led covert operations targeted at Russian interests?

    There is actually a good conversation in the comments that follow. 

    It's not either/or - I figured he was more pissed about sanctions than elections, but in any case he appears to have backed Trump and opposed Hillary, and the steady drip of leaks damaged her. Still need that smoking gun? Where I live there's crooked Russian money all over the place buying politicians et al. What's Trump's business in Russia? How much does he owe Russians, what dirt do they have on him, what was up with Manacort, etc? You don't do business in Russia without playing the game - Putin eats billionaires for breakfast - what's Trump in for?

    As for the EU, I figured with your criticism of Nuland's interference and every move of the Kiev "Nazi junta" and iys impending collapse and sending us Moscow Times links that you shared that view of EU's imperialism.

    Putin just signed a cooperation pact with a Far Right party in Austria. This is an open attempt to "meddle" in European affairs.

    Trump's national security adviser met with the leader of the Far Right Austrian party before the pact was signed with Putin.

    Nothing to see here. Nothing of concern.

    A credible threat can serve as a deterrent, but Putin obviously isn't afraid of us, and he gambled on a weak US response to Russia's provocation. If we respond weakly, as you would have us do, then Putin's gamble will pay off, and our credibility will be further diminished.

    I have no illusions about America's saintliness, but I don't understand why you seem to want to beautify Russia. Or, more precisely, why you're pushing this false equivalence theme.

    Putin is described as a bully and he probably is when being one can serve his purpose and when he can get away with it. Obama said he told Putin to cut it out and he did. If that is the truth then Putin can be influenced and so it is right now, before either side does more of the same and pushes tensions higher, that is the time when he might possibly go back to Putin and say, "OK, this shit is either going to get better or it is going to get worse. Lets not be bound by the past which we cannot change but rather lets look to the future and to doing the work of making things better."  Then he could suggest an agreement. He could say that he promises in the name of the U.S.A not to try to influence Russia's choice of leaders with any actions internal to Russia if they promise to have the same respect for us and not to try to influence our choice of leaders. The same conversation could include any threat he felt like using as to what Russia could expect if they meddled in our elections again. Putin may be a rat but pushing him against a wall is probably not the smartest way to deal with him.  

     If you don't have illusions about America's saintliness, and I don't think you do, why do you call it false equivalence when it is pointed out correctly that both countries do the same thing. That equivalence is real regarding both countries meddling or maybe you are still holding to your assertion that we don't meddle in Russia's internal affairs or maybe I confused the issue by using the phrase "internal affairs" which is a broad enough area to find exceptions to argue about and/or reasons to justify some things we have done. I should have referred only to meddling in each other's elections as that is actually the narrower but closely related subject.  

     I do not try to beautify Russia so as to raise it above the U.S. but I do not see the value of only smearing them with tar and never letting up which has the effect, intended or not, to squelch any conversation that might suggest cooperating with them where we can and trying to build on that cooperation instead of continuing on the historical arc of confrontation that has led every "most-powerful nation on earth", which always meant they had the baddest ass military ever in history up until the time they didn't, to start one too many wars until they finally lost one. There is a sense in which we have not lost any war yet, but when is the last time we won one. 


    The alliance we're backing in Mosul is taking months to clear the city in avoiding civilian deaths. The Syrian/Russian attack on Aleppo has reveled in destroying civilian infrastructure. We don't "do the same thing", even if we do make mistakes.

    Both counties have done bad things, but to say that they are equally bad is false equivalence--like comparing Hillary's equivocations to Trump's flagrant lies.

    As for "smearing them with tar and never letting up," I don't know what you're talking about. Dagbloggers generally don't write much about Russia, and I only piped up because of your post. My wife is Russian, and she and her Russian friends criticize Putin far more than anyone at dag. And frankly, Putin is pretty bad dude, so calling him out is hardly "smearing."

    When I've seen you write about Putin's regime, it's generally been in a sort of apologist mode--either minimizing their crimes or saying that other countries are just as bad. And frankly, I've only noticed you doing that with Russia, not other autocratic regimes. Given your skepticism about the behavior of various nation states including the U.S., your willingness to come to Russia's defense seems like a blind spot.

    Both counties have done bad things, but to say that they are equally bad is false equivalence--like comparing Hillary's equivocations to Trump's flagrant lies.

     Staying with the foreign entanglement angle I'll try to make an example of my thinking on false equivalence. I am fine with stipulating that Assad is as evil as you may like to say and then I'll point out that Syria under his regime is one of the places that our country sent people to be tortured. I do not have a clue how to divvy up in proper proportions the evil that should be credited to one side or the other in such an instance. Equivalence is irrelevant. It's not like a substance that can be weighed or measured for length and depth. Can we count the numbers of his own people he tortured and call that evil but count the number that we sent to him to be tortured and if the math is in our favor call that action by us less evil? I don't say their is no equivalence just because the equivalence I see doesn't weigh the same.   

    As for "smearing them with tar and never letting up …   My bad for being unclear. I was criticizing the MSM as a whole, not Dag as a whole.  

    “ … … it's generally been in a sort of apologist mode--either minimizing their crimes or saying that other countries are just as bad.

    I don’t feel like it is apologist mode but maybe empathetic and certainly an effort to see through propaganda that I think is poured on heavy by both sides. And as to blaming every regime that has earned blame, yes, I guess I could spend a lot of time talking about Saudi Arabia, for instance, or other disgusting regimes that we should be embarrassed to be supporting or even being friendly with.

     I just read what I found to be a particularly interesting article about the Syrian conflict and some ways that were suggested early on as to the best ways of dealing with it. I'll post it in the news section.  

    I'm not a big defender of Bush's torture program, but at the same time you're talking about 10 or 20 people in Syria (Open Society rendition summary) vs. literally millions caught up in Assad's fight against the opposition.

    You don't have to be a statistician to measure evil. As PP points out, we're talking about hundreds of thousands killed in Syria with millions displaced. Bush's renditions were evil, but they were not on the same chart.

    So if I were to criticize Assad for the slaughter in Syria, and you were to say, well Bush sent some people to Syria to be tortured, that comes off as apologetic for Assad--as if you're suggesting that he's no worse than Bush. But he is very much worse than Bush. He is directly responsible for more misery and killing than an almost anyone else alive today--all to continue his hold on power. That's about as evil as it gets before you get into Hitler/Stalin/Mao territory.

    I'm coming back to this to suggest to anyone interested in listening to a good talk on the subject of 'empathy' and what it means to different people as well as 'evil' and whether there is even such a thing. I personally do not believe it is a thing which can be quantified based on results.  

    Ever heard of the Soviet Union? What's the feigned ignorance?

    When considering the idea of making a deal, I wonder what binds the parties to honor it once made.

    In the Cold War, when the US and USSR made agreements regarding nuclear armament reductions, the deals were made between two hegemonies whose incentive to honor their side of the deal was part and parcel of the desire to be able to make other deals in the future. In the present environment, neither country is in much of a position to make arrangements beyond the sphere of influence of the deal makers at the time they negotiated with others.

    On the Russian side, the Soviet state has been replaced with an oligarchy managed by the most ruthless survivors of its demise. On the U.S. side, foreign policy is not something that can be projected beyond any administration. Even that may be a stretch. For example, we have a situation where our President works out an agreement to lift sanctions on Iran while members of the GOP tell Iran that the deal has the half life of a gold fish.

    If this is hegemony, we suck at it.

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