With President Putin’s approval rating hitting a new high of 89.9 percent, despairing US media outlets are furiously digging up new ways to try and bring Russia down a peg or two; witness the new, frankly insulting, attempt by the American Interest magazine.
American media seems to be tired of waiting for Russia and President Putin to make mistakes in the international arena. Meanwhile, Russia’s success in Syria is seemingly stirring ill feeling in many media outlets.
Jeffrey Gedmin, a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has issued instructions on how to cope with Russia. However, intelligent dialogue is clearly not what the political analyst is calling for.
“If we’re lucky, Russian forces in Syria will meet a similar fate as the Soviets in Afghanistan. But it’s also urgent we regroup from the shambles that is the Obama Administration’s foreign policy,” he writes in his article in The American Interest magazine.
Having laid out America’s suggested “larger aims,” the author pitched upon “a key problem at hand,” which, unsurprisingly, tuned out to be President Putin.
“We must end the insidious cycle whereby Russian President Vladimir Putin acts and we scramble to react. Playing whack-a-mole siphons precious resources and chips away at our reputation as a world leader,” he declares.
Backing up his argument with the declared purpose of “a Europe whole and free, with a strong NATO and a stable, prosperous European Union. In the Middle East — current chaos notwithstanding — we want American primacy (not hegemony) in order to protect our economic and security interests and, where and when possible, to advance the cause of democracy and human rights,” the author blames President Putin for America’s failure to achieve these goals.
“In both cases, Putin — a cunning opportunist and master of playing a weak hand strongly — has become far more than a mere annoyance. Putin wants to build Russia up by cutting America down. He needs his comeuppance. We need a strategy to contain him, and to prepare for improved relations with Russia once Vlad (our impaler) is gone.”
The moves suggested by the author, however, still have President Putin in mind. And here is what the author is calling for.
First come arms, arms and more arms.
Additional troops and tanks to the Baltics and Poland. Arm Ukraine. “Find ways to embed the Scandinavians in all of this, including non-NATO members Finland and Sweden.”
In case arms are not enough, sanctions will help.
“They need to be expanded and sustained.”
“We should also target more members of the Kremlin’s inner circle, including preventing their spouses and children from vacationing or studying abroad. A step in this direction is much more likely to put pressure on Putin directly.”
But what if sanctions also fail? The author has yet another answer: information war.
“The way to deflate Russia’s malign nationalism is to end Putin’s string of perceived victories — Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, and other instances where he thumbs his nose at the West — and show Russians what it looks like when a petty tyrant goes on a losing streak.”
“And we must get Russians talking to Russians about all of this. Let’s nurture our ties not only to Russian liberals but also —more importantly —to Russian nationalists, who may well in due course turn against Putin and consider a more pragmatic approach in their relations with the West. “
“Let’s look for cleavages. Let’s drive wedges in Mr. Putin’s ruling class. It’s what a broad coalition of anti-Communist Russian broadcasters working for Radio Liberty did brilliantly during the Cold War.”
“In the information space, we need to work with our European allies. Our joint efforts require the use of multiple platforms — web, radio, television, social media — and creative and compelling programming.”
“And when we’re fully prohibited from working inside the country, as is sure to happen in due time, let’s get back to beaming into Russia from the outside.”
And not a single word about dialogue or cooperation, despite Russia’s repeated attempts to reach out to Washington. Is this really in America’s national interest?