More Geopolitics: Pay Attention To Manchin
This morning Andrea Widburg provided Joe Manchin’s entire statement, in which he torpedoed Zhou’s Great Reset BBB bill. What I found notable is that Manchin, in addition to the expected references to inflation and “staggering debt”, repeatedly referred to “geopolitical uncertainty” in the world. Read it all, but here are the relevant excerpts:
“For five and a half months, I have worked as diligently as possible meeting with President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and my colleagues on every end of the political spectrum to determine the best path forward despite my serious reservations. I have made my concerns clear through public statements, op-eds and private conversations. My concerns have only increased as the pandemic surges on, inflation rises and geopolitical uncertainty increases around the world.
“As the Omicron variant spreads throughout communities across the country, we are seeing COVID-19 cases rise at rates we have not seen since the height of this pandemic. We are also facing increasing geopolitical uncertainty as tensions rise with both Russia and China. Our ability to quickly and effectively respond to these pending threats would be drastically hindered by our rising debt.
“I will never forget the warning from then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, that he delivered during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing during my first year in the Senate. He testified that the greatest threat facing our nation was our national debt and since that time our debt has doubled.”
Don’t expect to find any sensible discussion of these geopolitical issues in the MSM. Manchin was, perhaps, too charitable to point out other major geopolitically related concerns. The first, of course, is the presence of a puppet "president” who seems barely functional on good days. This can only diminish our standing in the world. What world leader wants to go out on a limb along with a feckless country like we’ve become?
Another concern was noted by none other than Dmitry Medvedev, former president of the Russian Federation. Medvedev, in a TASS op-ed dated 1/15/21, raised concerns about the instability on full display in after the faux election of 2020 (h/t correspondent George):
It is commonly acknowledged that the biggest economies have a major influence on political and social development of other countries. Crises that they periodically go through affect the global economy and consequently have impact on regional and national economies, as well as on political systems of countries that are sensitive to such impact. Yet, it is often overlooked that certain political events, such as elections, can also provoke serious crises in other countries. That is especially so when countries that have a direct influence on the fundamental global processes are concerned.
In this context, it is worth taking a look at the recent US presidential election. It is not that this presidential campaign, likely the most scandal-ridden in history, proved that the flaws in the US electoral system have a comprehensive nature. That is no news.
In fact, the strengths and shortcomings of the US voting system could be regarded as a purely domestic issue. But there is one problem. Elections in this country, especially when there is a transfer of power from one political force to the other, can trigger significant changes in the global economic development, seriously affecting the existing institutions of international law and global security system.
Many US leaders have at various times admitted, including to me personally, "It is true that our system is not perfect, but we are used to it and it is convenient for us." The problem is that the rest of the world finds it increasingly "inconvenient" to work with such a country, as the US becomes an unpredictable partner. This unpredictability gives other States, regional associations and military political organizations cause for concern. It would be nice if the US political establishment realized this responsibility.
By Manchin’s account, these are precisely the concerns that he repeatedly raised with the Zhou regime as well as other major players in the US political establishment—Schumer and Pelosi, above all. Manchin made it abundantly clear that he was left with the impression that he was banging his head against a wall. Medvedev goes on to make some pointed observations:
All of this is hardly consistent with those norms of democracy that Washington arrogantly imposes on other countries. …
The enormous costs associated with such a voting system have by now practically erased the word "consensus" from the vocabulary of the American political elite.
Nor does Medvedev fail to note the destabilizing effect of the corporate media conglomerates on American politics—but also, ultimately, on the rest of the world:
… For America, just as for the rest of the world, this level of corporate censorship is a truly extraordinary phenomenon. A question arises: who are those supreme judges that decided that they, of their own volition and based on their own rules – but, in fact, guided by their political preferences, can deprive the country's president of the opportunity to communicate with an audience of many millions? Whether Trump is good or bad, he is his country's national, and, furthermore, an official who enjoys the trust of nearly half of the Americans. Thus, it turns out that several technological corporations located in California got an appetite for power and thought it possible to juggle with news and facts to suit their own political preferences. This is but a blatant censorship!
We do not want the US to have problems. And for practical reasons: such problems create waves of instability all-around that overflow us as well. The problems of the Unites States can only be solved by the Americans themselves along with the good governance of the country. One of the founding fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, rightly noted that "the whole art of government consists in the art of being honest". Any election is the most important test of such honesty. Of course, only Americans themselves can decide whether to put aside their national selfishness and launch the voting system reform, and, consequently, the reform of political life, or not. So far, there has been no real move towards this. Nor even the slightest hint of a desire to change anything. And the international community is already paying too high a price for the US reluctance to change.
You can agree or disagree with parts of Medvedev’s analysis, you can claim that at least some of it is America baiting, but it’s hard to deny that much of it strikes home. However, Medvedev’s op-ed provides useful background to an article today by Gilbert Doctorow: A Surprise Russian Ultimatum: New Draft Treaties To Roll Back NATO.
It’s a lengthy article that reviews the history of US-Russian relations—mostly since about 2007, and very much from the Russian perspective. And rightly so. After all, we in America are familiar enough with Neocon anti-Russian ranting, but how many of us are familiar with the Russian view of things? Doctorow is concerned to demonstrate that we are now in the beginning stages of what looks like a fundamental shift in Russian policy:
In part, the problem with these media is that their journalist and editorial teams are tone deaf as regards things Russian. They are insensitive to nuance and incapable of seeing what is new here in content and still more in the presentation of the Russian texts. In part, the weakness is attributable to the common problem of journalists: their time horizon goes back to what happened last week. They lack perspective.
In what I present below, I will attempt to address these shortcomings. I will not invoke historical time, which would possibly take us back seventy years to the start of the first Cold War or even thirty years to the end of that Cold War, but will restrict my commentary to the time surrounding the last such Russian call for treaties to regulate the security environment on the European continent, 2008 – 2009 under then President Dmitry Medvedev. That is within the time horizon of political science.
I will pay particular attention to the tone of this Russian démarche and will try to explain why the Russians have drawn their “red lines” in the sand precisely now. All of this will lead to a conclusion that it is not only President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev who should be concerned about the condition of local bomb shelters, but also all of us in Brussels, Warsaw, Bucharest, etc. on this side of the Atlantic, and in Washington, D.C., New York and other major centers on the American continent. We are staring down what might be called Cuban Missile Crisis Redux.
All of this has to do with the Russian conviction that they have attained a strategic advantage, based on their new generation of nuclear capable hypersonic missiles. All This has taken place while the Dems basically threw America up for grabs since 2016, including our intel agencies and military. These are the concerns that Manchin is raising, and Manchin, as we have seen, is fully aware of the dangers of the Russian-Chinese partnership. What is on the mind of our military and intel agencies? Ah, well, TGP reports on that—they are contemplating a war on the American people:
Three retired woke US Generals warned there could be a civil war and ‘another coup attempt’ after the 2024 presidential election because of a ‘politically divided military.’
Former Army Major General Paul Eaton, former Brigadier General Steven Anderson and former Army Major General Antonio Taguba made the claim in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday.
“As we approach the first anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, we – all of us former senior military officials – are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk,” the generals wrote.
“We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time,” they added.
The Generals claimed a divided military would cripple US security which could prompt any one of our enemies to attack.
“In this context, with our military hobbled and divided, US security would be crippled. Any one of our enemies could take advantage by launching an all-out assault on our assets or our allies,” they said.
The woke generals demanded all leaders of January 6 – including Trump – be harshly prosecuted and ‘brought to justice’ to prevent another so-called insurrection.
I really strongly urge all readers to work their way through Doctorow’s long article, and contemplate what has been going on with Russia while the American political establishment has torn the country apart. It’s complicated, but existentially important. For now I’ll simply offer excerpts from the conclusion:
Finally, we may conclude that Vladimir Vladimirovich and his team have decided to act, and to act now on the strength of the strategic superiority they believe they enjoy. Given the very cautious way that Putin has always conducted government affairs over the past twenty years, anyone who thinks the Kremlin is bluffing or miscalculating had better think again.
Now there is also a second, supportive factor to explain the Russians’ decision to publicize what is essentially an ultimatum to the USA. That factor is China. It is not for nothing that Putin and Xi had a widely publicized video conference call this week during which the Chinese President gave his full backing to Russian demands for resolution of the security crisis in Europe and said explicitly that the Chinese–Russian relationship is higher than an alliance.
Should the political situation in Washington prevent such lucid thinking, I believe that the Russians will fall back on their own quite independent ability to put a pistol to the head of the American establishment, through the stationing of its missile forces just offshore, which has not yet been done.
How this plays out will depend on the nature of the US response to Russia’s next move, ... It would be foolhardy at this point to sketch all possible scenarios. But we are surely at the moment when the “the worm turns.”
In conclusion, I call the reader’s attention to one further detail on presentation: who has been the messenger on the Kremlin’s behalf.
For the past several years, people around Vladimir Putin have joked with respect to foreign powers, “if they cannot deal with Lavrov [RF Minister of Foreign Affairs], then they will have to deal with Shoigu [RF Minister of Defense].” Judging by the last two weeks, I would insert another personality into this equation: Sergei Alekseevich Ryabkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Ryabkov has been around for a good long time, but till now we did not hear much from him. He graduated from the prestigious MGIMO, the higher school that traditionally educated fast-track candidates of the Soviet-Russian diplomatic corps. He served several years at the Russian embassy in the Washington and is fluent in English. In the new millennium he has had responsibilities relating to non-proliferation and managing relations with Europe. His present title is Deputy Minister.
As relations with the United States and the EU have heated up in recent weeks over the buildup of Russian forces at the border with Ukraine, Ryabkov has been speaking to the press and has done so in an undiplomatic, in-your-face fashion. When one reporter asked him a week ago about how some of Russia’s “partners in the West” would react to something, he snapped back: “We have no partners in the West, only enemies. I stopped using the word “partner” some time ago.”
The Kremlin’s showcasing of the bulldog Ryabkov is part of the change in tone, the new assertiveness of Putin and his team to which I refer above.
These concerns are, quite clearly, Manchin’s concerns. They are very much part of his decision making process with regard to Zhou’s Great Reset plans. His effort to get answers from the Zhou regime have failed. What comes next remains to be seen.