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29 March 2018


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William Taylor, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, gives an example of this, saying that the West can somehow “force Russia to rethink its strategy. It [Russia], faces a growing economic morass, troubling demographic trends, the cost of foreign military interventions in Crimea and Syria, and diminished international standing. Putin literally can’t afford another Cold War”.

Mr. William Taylor is a case a point of a complete lack of professionalism and of awareness of the subject matter he writes about. I will reiterate--most American elites, apart from not knowing Russia, have no background whatsoever in proper geopolitical and military analysis--they simply have no reference points and do not grasp the natura and application of a military force (power). The quote of Taylor above is a concentrated demonstration of a strategic delusion. It is impossible to explain to American "diplomat" what are actual forces and economies (real ones) relations which makes Taylor's "assessment" even more bizarre, granted that he does have some military background. But then again, US so called "Russian Studies" field is mostly a joke.


Two thoughts. First, Trump has repeatedly shown that he doesn't hold firm positions. If what he's saying now doesn't work or becomes inconvenient, he'll change without concern for being consistent or trustworthy. You also have no idea what he really thinks. Second, he favors short-term wins over long-term relationships.

International relationships usually work the other way: you articulate a position, try to convince people that you will stick to it indefinitely, and give guidelines about how to guess what will happen in situations not explicitly stated. Trump has upset a lot of people by saying he won't play by those rules. We'll see whether he can do it differently.

Eric Newhill

This article lays out the downside of Trump's approach quite clearly. It all makes sense to me.

However, what is the alternative? Roll over and play dead? The USA becomes a door mat?

If putting down the big stick and playing nice/diplomacy is the answer, then all of the international issues should have been worked out during the eight years of Obama.

I know The Left would be happy if the USA just surrendered to some global One World Utopia. Problem is, I don't see Russia or China joining the glorious oneness of all humanity. So the One Worlders would have us at war with major powers too.

China and Russia can deal with Trump or they can face his wrath because sans Trump they will face the One Worlders' wrath.

All of the countries in question are going to have to deal with Trump or it's just going to be war. At least with Trump there is a chance of peace.


Clear article. Well thought through. And, like it or not, accurate.

The quote from The Global Times of China is to the point.


Like tectonic stresses, the imbalances in the world's financial, economic, and political order has been building for a very long time. Even if this particular contrived trigger does not set off an earthquake, some other event in the near future eventually will. I would suggest that those pushing this confrontation know this and are trying to make this climax happen sooner rather than later on their own terms since "CRIN" get stronger with every passing day and the US and its camp get weaker.

PS: Thucydides' "The History of the Peloponnesian War" was a most appropriate suggestion (from a few post back) for this weekend's reading...


should have been worked out during the eight years of Obama.

Obama and his so called "national security" apparatus is primarily responsible for destroying Russian-American relations. Obama also allowed, in fact helped, Al Qaeda and ISIS to unleash a mayhem in Syria. Libya also happened on his watch. Trump, for all his major faults, from the go was sabotaged by Obama (and HRC) establishment especially on the account of relations with Russia. I will reiterate--we literally, be it Obama or Trump Admin, have people who have no clue of Russia nor of US situation vis-a-vis Russia. Take out few sober and professional US military people out of Trump Admin and there is a chance it all goes kaboom because people literally have no clue. In fact, track record and overwhelming empirical evidence support my simple thesis.

Russia can deal with Trump or they can face his wrath because sans Trump they will face the One Worlders' wrath.

This is precisely an example of what I am talking about. And what this wrath could be against Russia? Another Hollywood movie? You evidently have no idea what happened culturally in Russia over the last four years. I will omit purely economically and militarily. Nobody is afraid of NATO or US be it economically let alone militarily. It seems this simple fact goes constantly missing on anyone in US political top. It is no surprising--the only sources in Russia which they have is a narrow strata of Russian so called "liberals" who, apart from being totally incompetent in any serious military-political or economic matter, tell only what their Western benefactors want them to say thus echo-chamber for non-stop delusion. But that is also why it is so dangerous.


"a former Russian intelligence defector "

Skripal never defected - he was caught spying for Britain in Russia in 2004, judged and sentenced and then exchanged in 2010. He is a traitor who got caught. Not a defector.

English Outsider

Eric Newhill - hate to disagree with you but the Drone King really wasn't "putting down the big stick and playing nice/diplomacy" during his eight years. Some of the most dangerous extensions of neocon foreign policy occurred during that time and unless Obama just wasn't told what was being done, there was precious little playing nice to be seen.


How the Petro-Yuan figure in this? Can China and Russia pushback against American hegemony?


I agree with Mr. Crooke. And especially with Pickering when he says there must be an off ramp. But I guess it needs further thought. It hinges around the characterization that this resembles a game of chicken. Is that really so?

Peter VE

"If putting down the big stick and playing nice/diplomacy is the answer, then all of the international issues should have been worked out during the eight years of Obama."
Perhaps you could check with the people of Ukraine, of Libya, or Yemen about how Obama put down the big stick. Or maybe the thousands whose relatives were assassinated by drones throughout the world. The foreign policy of the current resident is the same as the policy of the Obama administration, which was a continuation of the policy of the lesser Bush Administration. Mr. Trump promised a different policy on the campaign trail, but has chosen / been maneuvered into continuity.



In the intelligence trade in the West he would be called a "defector in place." pl



"Obama also allowed, in fact helped, Al Qaeda and ISIS to unleash a mayhem in Syria" I have been a close observer of this process throughout and I would say that the "help" was an unintended consequence of ineptitude and an inability to understand the situation. pl

Account Deleted

Thank you Mr Crooke for this excellent description of the dangerous current state of affairs.

I have thought for some time that the increasingly belligerent actions of the US and those of its coerced European and other allies, are in the end likely to bring about an outcome the opposite of that desired - i.e. a swifter change to a multi polar World. Either that, or if the PNAC crazies hold sway, America may indeed prove itself exceptional when it destroys us all, rather than cede to an otherwise inevitable new World order.

If we do somehow keep finding the off ramps, it surely cannot be long before China, Russia and other Asian powers do indeed call America's bluff. Throw Russia out of SWIFT? Well that will just hasten the advent of an Asian alternative. Likewise with the ever increasing use of sanctions. Russia & Iran are learning to live with them and in the end may be obliged to immunize themselves thru trade within a bloc that no longer includes the US and its diminishing set of friends. That bloc will certainly include China and many other nations who recognize where the future of Eurasia lies.

Bullying only works if the other kids are obliged to share the same playground. If pushed around enough, one fine day we may find they have up and formed their own gang, moved elsewhere and learned to play exclusively among themselves (and to paraphrase Mr Trump; their playground is bigger). The Global Times editorial is astonishing in its honesty. To me it reinforces the fact that the bullied are getting closer to just such a breaking point.


One of the most interesting phenomena in the west are these coming together vigils after major incidents with candles, hand holding and speeches about how we are all together and can't be bullied. Of course at the first loud noise, firecracker, backfire etc they all stampede and couldn't care less who they run over to save their own skins. I think we are seeing this on an international level, watching the west and NATO try to convince themselves they aren't intimidated by the Russians. Of course we haven't seen that loud noise coming from the Russian military yet, I will be interested to see the result when it finally happens.

Eric Newhill

Just to be clear, I'm not saying any of these games that are being played are necessarily good for the US or anyone else. I'm just saying that with Trump there is a chance for a peaceful arrangement if the other players are willing to concede to the US what it needs (albeit perhaps not everything it wants). With regards to China and NoKo, something has to be done. With regards to Russia, I don't get it at all and apparently neither does Trump. He's just being cajoled into antagonizing Russia by the Borg - and I hope he and Putin have reached an understanding, privately, on how to handle that situation.

I'm guessing as much as anyone else, but I think that Trump is willing to drive reasonable deals with sovereign countries. The Neocons/Borg/One Worlders appear to not be reasonable because they do not respect other countries' nationalistic urges.

What are they or we going to do about it? That's the $20trillion question; isn't it? A rational actor like Putin has to see that The Neocons/Borg/One Worlders will accept nothing short of "regime change" in his country as well as a change of his nation's character and they will push renlentlessly and stupidly beyond reasonable limits. He must also see that Trump just wants a good deal for the US and is willing to live and let live beyond that (I think). So it's either a) sell out his country b) WW3 at some point or c)negotiate with Trump.

Some people have called me out for suggesting that Obama wasn't a big stick kinda guy (no double entendre intended). Fair enough, but I'd say he personally had a big stick lite approach. IMO, he moderated the will of the true big stick types; including Clinton.


"In the intelligence trade in the West he would be called a "defector in place." pl"

If true - this is wrong, because broadens the possible definition of term, basically annihilating any sense in it.



the haughty Russian nationalist scorn ill becomes you. "Defector in place" is a term of art. What do you think we should call him or others recruited by us or you, "our traitor?" pl

Sasha S

I was told once by a senior strategist that at intelligence work one has to be "precise", and to be precise, Skripal was a "double agent" caught red-handed...
Thus, "defector in place" is all but precise...


President Hopey-Changey Obama as a peacenik?!

This would be a novel interpretation of aspirations of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who managed to attack 7 countries, expanded JSOC operations through out the globe as well as pursued a widening use of “droning” as a death nail into the coffin of Westphalian sovereignty principal as outgrowth of Treaty of Westphalia.

Please do not call him a lefty, it is an insult to the militancy and radicalism of the left. Obomba should be judged by his actions not his sweat talk & jive.

Babak Makkinejad

pre-American & novo-Russ, respectively.


"the haughty Russian nationalist scorn ill becomes you"

"Nationalist"? What is "nationalist" in what I'm saying?

Defector - a person who abandons a cause or organization usually without right

The defector requested political asylum.

Synonyms of defector:

apostate, deserter, recreant, renegade

The corect term for Skripal is therefore "double agent" (absolutely valid term that's already in use), because he conducted his betrayal while still being a member of the GRU. Or you can call him and the people like him "Susan", for all I care.


the "help" was an unintended consequence of ineptitude and an inability to understand the situation.

Agree, the incompetence factor was a major one in all that mess.



A true "double agent" is run by opponents at the same time with both thinking they have control. the process is delicate since enough information must be given to the other side through the "double" for the game tp be convincing. The aim of such an operation is to make the other side believe really destructive information when it is passed. either your mentor did not understand the trade or you did not understand what you were told. Skripal seems to have been a British penetration of the GRU. pl

Eric Newhill

And yet President Hopey-Changey Obama made a deal with Iran and retreated from the "red line" he drew in Syria.

A lot of people here are comparing Obama to some ideal peacenik they have in their heads - the wet behind the ears guy that was awarded a Nobel Peace prize, I guess. If, OTOH, he is compared to the Bush Jr administration, he looks like he's all love and rainbows.

Again, the choice presented, in reality, is deal with Trump and perhaps avoid war for the next eight years, or face the wrath of the Borgists. The Borgists are truly crazy and are capable of deluding themselves into anything; including that they can push and push and still avoid WW3, or they could win WW3 if it happens.

These are the same people that believed there would be flowers and candy and happy happy democracy following the invasion of Iraq and that there would be more of the same in the subsequent invasions of Syria and Iran. Ok? These same people also preach that a man who puts on a dress is actually a woman. And so on and so forth. And if you don't accept it you will be thrown in prison. They think the Muslim invasion of Europe is a good thing and hope for something similar in the US. What more evidence is required to prove that they are out of control delusionally insane? I'm sure Putin, et al recognize the madness and its terrible potential.

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