If I may use the vernacular of American baseball, my article entitled “A Reductionist Approach to the forthcoming Biden-Putin Summit in Geneva” published on 9 June scored a “home run.” The number of visitors to my website rose dramatically just after its publication and in the next several days the article was republished on a good many alternative news websites that have their own very broad readership, including opednews.com
“Reductionist Approach” ran counter to what was being published not only in Western mainstream media but also in many of the “dissident” websites like antiwar.com, where the editorial tone was skeptical first that the Military Industrial Complex and related malefactors would allow the summit to take place at all (by setting out yet some new false flag scandal around Russia in advance of the scheduled date for the summit) and second, that the Summit, if it proceeded as planned, could amount to anything meaningful given the Russophobe, Cold War mentality of the handlers who supposedly are writing Joe Biden’s debating points for him, and not just reminding him in his crib sheets to address Putin as “Vova,” the easy to pronounce familiar form of Vladimir.
Meanwhile, on the Russian side, state television’s interviews of home team international affairs experts, including the preeminent Fyodor Lukyanov, produced, like their American counterparts, only shopping lists of the difficult issues which the two presidents were expected to discuss, without any particular prioritization among these different issues or any prediction of which ones, if any, might find success during the face to face meeting.
As we now know, the Geneva Summit both did take place on 16 June and did result in a couple of noteworthy agreements that even Russia haters in the West could not ignore: the decision to return the respective American and Russian ambassadors to their work posts and to begin restoration of normal functioning of the consular and ambassadorial offices in both countries; and the decision to enter into arms control negotiations with the objective of establishing strategic stability.
Some American media outlets did pick up other lesser signs from the Geneva talks that suggested something big was under way. One such broad hint from Biden was his remark at the opening of their session that it was appropriate for “two great powers” to meet and find points in common for cooperation amidst all their political differences. That remark was, of course, intended to break with the past denigration of Russia that Biden’s former boss, Barack Obama, laid down as Washington’s overriding policy line when he called Russia “just a regional power.” It was a declaration of respect for the country and for the man whom Biden had described publicly the day before as a “worthy adversary.” It thereby met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s minimal requirement for successful negotiations.
In the past few days, Russian state media have moved out from what I would call their protective screen of downplaying the Summit before it took place to celebration of the Summit and open explanation of its logic from start to finish now that it is past. In this move, they surely were following signals from Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ryabkov in his evaluation of the results of the Summit that came on the next day.
That explanation conforms totally to my own “Reductionist Approach,” namely identifying as the driver for the Summit America’s need to put a cap on an arms race that it was losing .
This interpretation was driven home by the top manager of the Russian news establishment Dmitry Kiselyov in his very widely watched News of the Week program last night. Kiselyov put on the screen images of the various new cutting edge weapons systems that the Russians have developed and now deployed in their armed forces, including hypersonic cruise missiles that can evade all known Anti-Ballistic Missile systems and ensure a devastating counter-blow should the USA be tempted into making a first nuclear strike.
Nineteen years after the United States began the process of cancelling the treaties that ensured Mutually Assured Destruction and so made nuclear war unthinkable, at the 16 June Summit in Geneva, President Biden took a step back and agreed to negotiate a new stability that will be enshrined in an expanded version of the present New START treaty.
Kiselyov also directed attention to the declaration of the two presidents in Geneva which reconfirmed the statement in 1985 by then presidents Reagan and Gorbachev that no one can win a nuclear war. That conclusion should be self-evident but it was tacitly denied by the Americans for the past 19 years in their failed quest to overwhelm Russian defenses with deployment of new short range missiles all around the perimeter of the Russian Federation in order to establish global strategic superiority.
Finally, in his coverage of the Summit, Kiselyov did not fail to mention that other motivation of the Americans to find some working relationship with Russia at this time– namely to draw Russia away from any possible alliance with China, which is a nightmare scenario for Washington. This is an issue which Vladimir Putin dealt with extensively in his interview with NBC that preceded the Summit by several days. Here, the ambitions of policy makers in Washington are overblown, just like their fears. Neither Russia nor China has any desire to lose its geopolitical independence by entering into alliances. That has been and will remain only a fallback position in the face of unrelenting pressures from Washington to “contain” their economic, social and, yes, military growth.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2021