The situation on the Russian front is far more dangerous than is realized. The reason is that the US-Russian conflict resurrected in the 21st century by the neoconservatives and the US military/security complex is far more dangerous than the 20th century Cold War.
I was a part of the Cold War as a member of the Committee on the Present Danger. The present danger was the Soviet Union, and the committee members were concerned that the situation did not get out of hand. There were two aspects to the situation. One was that the Soviets must not acquire military supremacy. The other was that tensions between the nuclear powers had to be kept from boiling over.
In Cold War days there was debate in the foreign policy community. There were knowledgeable people, such as Stephen Cohen, to remind us of the Soviet point of view, which served the purpose of corralling a one-sided patriotic view that, if it got loose, could set off nukes. Even in our committee, which was anti-Soviet, there were people who saw both sides of the issue and kept at bay extreme positions such as the neoconservative one.
Today there is no debate. Indeed, there is no foreign policy community. There is only a collection of Russophobes, who see nothing but evil intent in the Kremlin and nothing but good in Washington’s hegemony. Stephen Cohen and the others who helped to keep things in balance are dead.
Consequently, Washington is unable to comprehend Russian concerns. As Scott Ritter recently wrote, “It is as if both Biden and Blinken are deaf, dumb, and blind when it comes to reading Russia.”
You can see how deaf, dumb, and blind Washington is by looking at who Biden’s national security advisor turned to for advice on how to approach the current meetings with Russia over her security concerns. Remember, the talks are happening because Russia feels threatened by a growing ring of US bases on her borders that are potentially sites for US nuclear missiles. It is Russia that feels insecure, not the US. So what did Biden’s advisor do? He turned to Michael McFaul, Obama’s Russophobic ambassador to Russia who has specialized in worsening the tensions with Russia. McFaul’s advice was to up the ante by rushing more weapons to Ukraine. In other words, make the Kremlin feel more threatened.
None of us would be here if this had been President John F. Kennedy’s response to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Kremlin has been trying for years to get Washington to listen. The current talks, I believe, are the Kremlin’s last effort. Personally, I do not believe that the Kremlin gives the talks any chance of success, and is just testing the conclusion that Washington will not even acknowledge, must less accommodate, Russia’s security concerns.
In other words, when one side does not listen, the other side has no one to talk with. This frustration has been building for years within the Kremlin. All the Kremlin ever hears from Washington is “you are wrong, we are right.”
In the United States the situation is so bad that anyone who explains the Russian point of view is dismissed as a “Russian agent.” President Trump was investigated as a Russian agent for wanting to normalize relations with Russia. By the time of Trump’s presidency all of the arms control agreements reached over previous decades had been discarded by Washington, and it was no longer possible for an American president to work to reduce tensions with Russia. To want good relations with Russia was a betrayal of America. The CIA director actually called President Trump a traitor to America, and the FBI director investigated him as if he were.
It is a tribute to the patience and hopefulness of the Russians that they continued to work for a peaceful coexistence despite the evidence that it could not happen.
As I explained yesterday, the crux of the matter is that Washington does not want Russia to be secure: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2022/01/11/washington-gives-cold-shoulder-to-russias-security-concerns/
This leaves Russia with two choices. She can accept American hegemony, or she can roll back NATO from her borders with force and intimidation.
The situation is dangerous, because the Kremlin has concluded that the chance of nuclear war is higher from allowing US nuclear missiles on Russia’s borders than from action to roll back NATO to the pre-1997 membership.