The Presidential Joint Statement on Strategic Stability, signed by US President Joseph Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the close of the summit, though only three paragraphs long, was perhaps all that we who are concerned with the risk of nuclear war could ask: confirmation of the Reagan-Gorbachev declaration that a nuclear war could not be won and should never be fought; coupled with the call for robust “bilateral” dialogue between the US and Russia and the initiation of negotiations toward new treaties to control current weapons systems.An excellent analysis is Dmitry Stefanovich, “While the media focused on theatrics, Putin & Biden quietly launched a new diplomatic effort to avert an apocalyptic nuclear war,” June 21, 2021, https://www.rt.com/russia/527130-atomic-warfare-gene...ting/.
The atmosphere was respectful and calm. In the press conference that followed, President Biden avoided making threatening statements. However, he spoke repeatedly of vague “consequences” if Russian “behavior” doesn’t change. This was written up in The Wall Street Journal as a cascade of threatened “consequences.” So there was no meeting of minds on all the charges that have been made demonizing Russia and Mr. Putin, and the media took little note of the Presidential Joint Statement.
Against this background, all those who prefer a continuation and expansion of the New Cold War need to do to poison the negotiations and head off improvement in US-Russia relations is to keep making unfounded accusations that will be reported as facts by the major media (NYT, WaPo, et al.), triggering calls for “consequences” and continuing the demonization(s).
A great deal of the impetus to do so comes from the Masters of War, weapons manufacturers who profit from arms sales and need enemies, real or imagined, to make Americans feel threatened in order to justify the enormous government expenditures on war-making and weapons. Andrei Martyanov argues that this dynamic is part of what has caused the development of weapons systems that make money without being effective at making war. See Martyanov’s impressive trilogy: Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning (2018), The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs (2019), and Disintegration: Indicators of the Coming American Collapse (2021) (all Clarity Press, Inc.).
A second dynamic may be psychological, if one credits a recent rather striking statement from international economist Michael Hudson. Professor Hudson, a former Wall Street economist and now a Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), has authored many books on international economics, counsels governments on finance and tax policy, and maintains a website at https://michael-hudson.com/ .
In a discussion with Pepe Escobar (In Quest of a Multipolar Economic World Order, March 26, 2021), Hudson declared:
“The Americans want war. The people that Biden has appointed have an emotional hatred of Russia. I’ve spoken to government people who are close to the Democratic Party, and they’ve told me that there’s a pathological emotional desire for war with Russia, largely stemming from the fact that the Tzars were anti-Semitic and there’s still the hatred about their ancestors: “Look what they did to my great-grandfather.” And so they’re willing to back the Nazis, back the anti-Semites in Ukraine. They’re willing to back today’s anti-Semites all over the world as long as they’re getting back at this emotional focus on a kind of post 19th-century economy. I’ve met these people. Their emotion is one of hatred and anger. You can look at their face and see what they’ve become. This is really dangerous. They are crazy.”
Russophobia may thus be both a reality in the minds of those Hudson describes and a tool to control the population which would otherwise vastly prefer that its tax monies be spent on housing, health care, and other social goods. In any case, we have plenty of evidence of Russophobia among key figures in the government and media in the ongoing campaign to demonize both Russia and Mr. Putin. And the first instance since the summit has come in the charges of ransomware attacks attributed to actors located in Russia, and the pressure on President Biden to respond forcefully. The implications are discussed by Ray McGovern, co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). McGovern’s 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and as preparer of the President’s Daily Brief. He notes that various cyber crimes having been blamed on Russia, President Biden is being challenged by the likes of the New York Times’s David Sanger to show by his response that he has cojones (free translation from Spanish – manliness)”. (See: Biden Weighs a Response to Ransomware Attacks).
Apart from the inadvisability of basing relations with a nuclear-armed superpower on cojones, the reasons for avoiding precipitous action here are compelling. First, using US cybercapability offensively runs serious risk. The US is more vulnerable to cyberattacks than most nations because it is so digitized, and most of its critical infrastructure is owned by businesses that have not adequately invested in their digital defense. So the risk of blowback is considerable.
Moreover, there are many key uncertainties regarding the perpetrators of the cyber crimes. As McGovern further points out: “It is not widely known that the CIA has an array of versatile offensive cybertools called Vault 7, one of which, “Marble Framework” enables the CIA to hack into computers and servers, disguise who hacked in, and attribute the hack to others. Vault 7, including “Marble Framework” was leaked to WikiLeaks, which revealed and described in 2017 several of the offensive cyber tools. The developers, it turned out, worked with five languages to enable eventual attribution: Chinese, Korean, Persian, Arabic, and – you guessed it – Russian. And Marble was used at least once during 2016.
“The capabilities shown in the Vault 7 trove of CIA documents required the creation of 700 million lines of source code. At $25 per line of code, that amounts to about $2.5 billion for each 100 million code lines (which is what Marble may have required). But the Deep State has that kind of money and would probably consider the expenditure a good return on investment for ‘proving’ the Russians are cybercriminals.” (A Cyber-Culprit Other than Russia? posted July 9, 2021)
“Who Knows About This? … Perhaps not even President Biden – or even CIA Director William Burns. They might well have been kept off what is called the ‘bigot list’ (of people involved in the operation) on grounds that they have ‘no need to know’.
“Ironically, President Putin seems to know chapter and verse. During an interview with Megyn Kelly on June 2, 2017, two months after Vault 7 was disclosed, Putin pointed out that ‘today’s technology’ enables hacking to be ‘masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one can understand the origin’ of the hack. ‘And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack. Modern technology is very sophisticated and subtle and allows this to be done. … Hackers may be anywhere. There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? … I can.'”
Checking with colleagues in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and a VIPS advisor who managed cyber security for IBM for decades, McGovern reports this terse response:
No way can we rule out the potential use of the “Marble Framework” tool. Marble was specifically developed for this purpose. Cyber false flags are known fact. Someone tell Biden.
By the way, Mr. Putin has offered many times in recent months to discuss with the United States a cooperative effort to rein in cybercrime. He recently noted that despite Russia’s willingness to curb criminal manifestations in the information space through a concerted effort, Russia has received no inquiries on these issues from US agencies in the last month.
Robert Roth prosecuted false advertising and consumer fraud as an assistant attorney general for New York (1981-1991) and Oregon (1993-2007).
 An excellent analysis is Dmitry Stefanovich, “While the media focused on theatrics, Putin & Biden quietly launched a new diplomatic effort to avert an apocalyptic nuclear war,” June 21, 2021, https://www.rt.com/russia/527130-atomic-warfare-geneva-meeting/.