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From Détente with the Soviet Union under Reagan and Gorbachev to Open Confrontation with Russia over Ukraine and Syria – Washington’s Russia Policy under Donald Trump is the same as it was under Barack Obama.

Posted by Scott Rohter on Monday, July 24, 2017


Wrecking Russian-American Relations becomes a Bipartisan Effort

Washington’s Russia Policy under Donald Trump is the same as  it was under Barack Obama.


By Scott Rohter, September 2015 Updated July 2017


Dateline: July 24, 2017 Congress has passed a new sanctions bill against Russia. What is even more troubling than this is that the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump has signed it.


Someone has coined a new word to describe Washington’s reckless foreign policy toward Russia under the last four American Presidents.  The word is “triumphalism”. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, American presidents have been treating Russia as if it was some kind of a“vanquished foe” rather than a strategic partner and ally. As a result most of America’s foreign policy initiatives in the world have proved to be dismal failures. Only when Ronald Reagan was President did we enjoy a good relationship with the Russians. His Administration reached out to Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and together they forged a new era of peaceful coexistence and cooperation between our two countries, but it didn’t last for long. It ended the day that Ronald Reagan left office, and since then we have been squandering most of the good will that existed between our two countries. Now we are placing sanctions on Russia  and mistreating Russia as if it was some kind of an enemy once again. We are placing sanctions on them in order to get them to do things our way. That isn’t likely to happen. Mutual respect has gone out the window. John McCain even had the nerve to call Russia, “a gas station masquerading as a country.”  That is one of the worst bits of American diplomacy and statesmanship that I have heard in my entire life.  With John McCain as the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee nothing good is ever going to come from Congress with respect to Russia.  They are way too busy investigating false allegations of Russian interference in our last election One thing is for sure. The kind of diplomacy exhibited by Senator McCain doesn’t make the Russians feel very warm and cozy toward us either. Thanks to John McCain and his ilk we are in a new Cold War with Russia.



ReaganandGorgachev2American foreign policy toward Russia is rapidly evolving… not for the better, but for the worse. It has gone from good, to bad, to beyond comprehension… Gone is the end of the policy of détente that  existed under Ronald Reagan. In its place Washington has re-instituted a foreign policy of open confrontation on just about every issue from Ukraine to Syria. We are squandering all of the good will that we enjoyed under Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. 

Barack Obama had thumbed his nose at all of Reagan and Gorbachev’s accomplishments while he actively worked to undermine their joint legacy of mutual respect and cooperation. In its place he reverted back to  using the Cold War rhetoric and tactics of the 1960’s. What is so distressing is that many Republicans are on board with this new Cold War diplomacy. They don’t mind the fact that they are undermining the legacy of one of their Party’s most beloved Presidents.

Just for the record Russia is not our enemy. It has been our staunch ally during two World Wars. The truth is that we couldn’t have defeated the Nazis without their help yet today we are friends with our former enemies, Germany and Japan, and we have chosen to be enemies with our former ally, Russia.  For their part Russians have never initiated an unprovoked attack upon any Western country, but Western nations have launched numerous attacks upon them. At least two of these assaults were without any provocation. France declared war upon Russia under Napoleon, and Germany waged war against Russia under Hitler. Each time the Russians were attacked they rallied to defend their country and defeated their assailants. So why are we provoking the Russians once again and without any cause? Why are we meddling in Russian Ukrainian affairs, and why is NATO positioning its troops along Russia’s western border and holding “war games”. War is not a game and this is something that President Reagan said America would never do? Why are we targeting NATO missiles at Moscow?  Why are we poking a proverbial stick at the Russian bear?

The United States has imposed new tough sanctions against Russia at the same time that we have removed sanctions from the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The Iranians are America’s real enemies. The Russians are not. Is Russia a greater threat to world peace than Iran?  We have installed NATO missiles along Russia’s western border. We are stationing American soldiers in former Soviet bloc countries and preparing them for a completely non existent Russian threat when no attack is even remotely forthcoming. It is very clear that the United States is trying to provoke Russia, but why?

We don’t like to admit it, but Russia is a great world power just like we are so it is not in our own best interests to keep antagonizing the Russian bear.  They can make life very difficult for us in many different parts of the world so why is our government trying to start a new Cold War? Make no mistake about it… Washington is the cause of this new Cold War with Russia.  What is so important about Ukraine or Syria that Barack Obama and now Donald Trump is waving a red flag right in front of the Russian bull?

Oil and Gas

Ukraine used to be known as the bread basket of Russia. Now it is flat broke thanks to the United States. Their biggest creditor is Russia which they keep blaming for all of their problems. Ukraine owes Russia over two billion dollars for natural gas which they purchased on credit to heat their homes and power their industries. Any country that tries to bail them out will be taking on a huge financial burden for many years to come. Europe barely had the funds to bail out Greece more less Ukraine which is many times bigger than Greece. So what is America’s fascination with Ukraine all about, and why are we doing meddling in their internal politics at the expense of our relationship with Russia? The answer to that question can be summed up in just two words… oil and gas.

Russia has a virtual monopoly on the export of natural gas to Europe and the pipeline that supplies natural gas runs right through Ukraine. As a result of recent innovations in the oil and gas industry in America, the United States is experiencing a huge surplus of natural gas due to fracking. American oil companies would like to have a piece of the lucrative European natural gas market… They want to export American natural gas to Europe, thus removing the Russian’s monopoly. For their part the Europeans would love to see increased competition in the energy market. It should help to lower  prices… That is why we are meddling in the internal affairs of Ukraine. That is why we are starting a new Cold War with Russia… to enrich the pockets of American corporations and investors. The one important lesson we have not learned from World War II is that competition among nations should not be allowed to lead to war.

ReaganGorbachev3The first Cold War began shortly after World War II ended. The victorious Allies divided Germany into two parts, East and West. Berlin, the German capitol was located in the East, but it was also divided into East Berlin and West Berlin. Almost immediately the United States began airlifting supplies into West Berlin.  

That Cold War lasted for more than forty years. It started because Russia and America could not agree to cooperate in the post war reconstruction of Germany.  The Russians wanted a sphere of influence in Germany and we wanted our own separate sphere of influence there… That began to change in 1985 when Ronald Reagan reached out to the Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev in the first of five summit meetings they held.  Russia and America agreed to begin cooperating with each other.  We agreed to mutual respect instead of mutually assured destruction.

As a result of this the hands of the nuclear clock were dialed back and the whole world breathed a collective sigh of relief. By the time of the fifth summit meeting was held in 1988 the practice of détente had proven to be very good for for business too. The Cold War officially ended in 1991 with the breaking up of the old Soviet Union and in its place the creation of the new Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) of which the Russian Federation is the single largest member. Mikhail Gorbachev resigned his post on Christmas Day, December 25th, 1991 and he was succeeded in office by Boris Yeltsin who presided over the transition period…

In retrospect, one of the chief reasons for World War II was competition… competition among nations… competition for land, competition for resources and raw materials, and competition for markets to sell goods and services. In addition, the Treaty of Versailles which ended WWI was patently unfair to Germany. It placed a heavy financial burden on Germany for its roll in starting World War I.  The lesson that should be learned from all of the carnage and devastation of World War I and II is that competition among nations should not be allowed to lead to war. Nations need to learn how to compete with each other peacefully.  Then  peace can be managed just as economically as war. That is what détente proved. Peace can be good for business too, but right now we are in the grips of another Cold War that could lead to actual combat if we are not careful. The cause of this freeze in relations with Russia is the current competition between the East and the West interest in and over Ukraine and Syria.

Ukraine is  a contradiction. It is a country that really isn’t a country. On the one hand it stands at the gates of Europe, but it is not part of Europe.. On the other hand it lies on the border with Russia and it shares a long history and cultural ties with Russia.  It stands at the crossroads of both East and West… at the crossroads between two different cultural and political models and two different spheres of influence.  Europe has never been completely comfortable with Russia because of a deep seated fear that if Russia was ever welcomed into the European Union that it would come to dominate the much smaller nations of Europe. 

Europeans have always regarded Russia with suspicion and therefore they have always kept Russia at arm’s length, but the same thing isn’t true for Ukraine. Although Ukraine has strong Russian ties most Europeans do not believe that Ukraine poses the same kind of threat that Russia does because of its smaller size, but they forget that it is the place where Russian history and Russian civilization actually began. Ukraine has a special significance to Russians so Ukraine has one foot firmly planted in the future of Europe and the other foot firmly planted in the Russian past.

Ukraine has been an independent country for only fifty years. The ties that hold it together are tenuous and weak. Before it became independent  it was a part of several different empires.. the Russian, the Austro-Hungarian, the Lithuanian, and the Polish… That is why there is so much disagreement between different Ukrainians. There is no common thread that binds all of its people together into one cohesive unit. Ukrainians are not united about virtually anything.  The only solution to the Ukrainian problem is to implement the Minsk Peace Accords which were agreed to by Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine, but the government in Kiev does not want to do that because it calls for the federalization of Ukraine which would mean more local control for the various regions of Ukraine including the Donbas where a separatist movement thrives…  In the absence of enforcing the Minsk Accords  the only other solution would be to divide the country into two parts, but it is none of America’s business how the Europeans and the Russians settle this peculiar problem… We should learn to mind our own damn business for a change…  It is a distinctly European and Russian problem, and competition for oil and gas markets is not worth the price of another World War.

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