July 16th will be a big day – the leaders of two of among the most powerful states on earth, will meet. But what will they say? What should they say? Interestingly, both Warhawks and liberals in the US are of the same, quite ignorant and erroneous, opinion. Diplomacy, they agree, is about issuing ultimatums, demands, and ‘being tough’. That is, when Russia is involved. You see, Russia – as they explain to the world – only understands ‘force’.
This has been the common Russophobic, prejudiced, bigoted trope which emerged some time ago, but has been revived to soft-sell the dehumanization of a whole people and their elected political establishment. And so its no surprise that the Wall Street Journal recently ran a cover story ‘Russia turns to its Asian past’. It’s Asian past? Here is not the time to get into a lengthy discourse on Russia’s geographic position, nor the demographics of a good, sizable chunk, of its population.
To wit, Republican and war loving Senator Lindsey Graham has recommended that President Donald Trump “challenge” Russian President Vladimir Putin during the meeting between the two presidents in Helsinki. He suggests that the challenge be made about Russia’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election in 2016.
“When Putin denies that he was involved in our election in 2016, reject the denial – challenge him. Do not let him deny the obvious, they’re still trying to get in the way of the 2018 election cycle,” Graham told Fox News. The US intelligence community concluded in January that Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election to help then-candidate Trump win over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, despite not providing any evidence for this.
It is therefore obvious that these ‘conclusions’ were politically motivated. It also later emerged that among these ‘conclusions’ were not based on the investigations of various US intelligence and security agencies, but rather that the ‘conclusions’ made by the FBI were prudently made.
The US Congress and the Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller has investigated these allegations, which include the idea that Trump’s campaign team conspired with Russian officials to affect the outcome of the vote. Russia denies the accusations of interference, as well as allegations of collusion with the Trump campaign, saying they are unfounded.
Trump also rejected allegations of collusion with Moscow, and criticized Mueller’s investigation, calling it a witch-hunt.
Putin and Trump are due to meet on July 16 in Helsinki to discuss bilateral relations and various international issues. It will be their first full meeting since Trump took office in January 2017.
We are living in very interesting times, when both Lindsay Graham and everyone to the right of Marxism-Leninism can all agree to set aside their supposed ideological and visionary differences, and sing kumbaya around Russophobic politics. And yes, even some of the ‘Marxists’ – at least the western variety – have jumped on board this destined-to-sink ship. Russia is just a very problematic country, and there must be a reason why Western values just can’t seem to sink into their thick Asian skulls.
In short, this means that Vladimir Putin is the reincarnation of Ghengis Khan.
Indeed, Lindsay Graham has been a key official in pushing America to any possible war that it can be involved in, foolishly believing this will avert a multipolar world where the US, along with China and Russia, are Great Powers. The US are trying to hold onto its position as the sole global world power that it became after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. However, this is no longer a reality with the growth of China’s and Russia’s economy and military that now directly challenges Washington’s supremacy.
But what to make of Graham’s insistence that Trump must ‘deliver’ this or that ultimatum? Graham certainly knows better, knows what the purpose of diplomacy is. But playing to his audience – his financial backers, the banks and the military industrial complex – he pretends that he doesn’t.
Summits are not required to deliver ultimatums. These do not require understanding, or much in the way of conversations. Conversations – summits – are critical because both parties must communicate effectively, and reach a nuanced understanding of the relationships between the two states, within the context of the reality of the multipolar world. In short, it requires a lot of listening. Issuing ultimatums on the one hand, and listening to arrive at mutually agreeable solutions on a win-win basis, is how diplomacy works best. Graham’s insistence on a positional take on negotiations, more or less would render negotiations impossible.
Naturally, knowing each other’s positions are important. But it doesn’t require a summit to understand those positions. It requires a summit so that both positions can be reworked into something mutual, on the basis of win-win negotiations.