The U.S. Capitol is seen behind a fence with razor wire during sunrise on January 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. After last week’s riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, the FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation’s capital and in all 50 states. According to reports, as many as 25,000 National Guard soldiers will be guarding the city as preparations are made for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President.InternationalIndiaAfricaOver the past months, already-tense ties between the White House and Kremlin have been deteriorating over the Ukrainian crisis. However, during his speech earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia does not consider itself an enemy of the West – and never did, hinting at a possible reconciliation.Sputnik discussed the state of Moscow-Washington relations with Joe Siracusa, US politics expert and Professor of History and Diplomacy at Curtin University, Australia, who shared his view on the deeply-rooted anti-Russia sentiment among the American establishment and explained what the prospects are for a meaningful dialogue between the two nations.Sputnik: Why, in your view, does the West turn a blind eye to Russian statements calling for dialog?Joe Siracusa: It seems to me that the Biden administration is more ideological than practical. Even at the worst times of the Cold War and the Bolshevik era before that, the United States and Russia were able to engage in conversation. Keep in mind that it is 60 years tonight since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Even then, General Secretary Khrushchev and President Kennedy kept the phones open and they were able to have a dialog. Now, it seems to me that Joe Biden has not been interested in a dialog with Russia.I think the anti-communism that he pursued for 50 years has now been replaced by just an anti-Russian feeling. He’s surrounded by people who want to talk about human rights rather than national security interests. And they’re not really interested in the kind of diplomacy that I think is important. And so, I think they are pursuing an anti-Russian agenda. Why? Well, America is a business civilization, which has always pursued an open door world, that is, it wants to keep the world open on its own terms, in terms of industrial and trade capacity or reciprocity.
Therefore, I think they see Russia as a threat. Now, I have been arguing on the West Coast of Australia that I thought that before President Putin went into Ukraine, I thought the President of the United States should have been able to pick up the phone and tell President Putin, “NATO is not going into Ukraine and there’ll be no advanced weapons systems on their border on my watch.”This is the kind of thing that President Kennedy did with Nikita Khrushchev. That is the kind of thing that Donald Trump did with Chairman Kim Jong-un in North Korea. And I don’t know why he didn’t. He just seems to be blinded by his own ideological blinkers.© Photo : U. S. Department of StatePresident Kennedy meets with Chairman Khrushchev at the U. S. Embassy residence, Vienna. U. S. Dept. of State photograph in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston. President Kennedy meets with Chairman Khrushchev at the U. S. Embassy residence, Vienna. U. S. Dept. of State photograph in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston. Now, there are a number of Americans who do not agree with the president’s policy. But I think the anti-Russian view he’s taking right now, I think it’s ideological. And I think it’s irrational, actually, because the absence of diplomacy is what? It’s war. Nobody wants to go to war.And I’ve been arguing on your network and in Beijing and Istanbul that I think NATO’s inability to address Moscow’s concerns about creeping NATO doctrine, the NATO alliance, have probably goaded President Putin into doing some things he didn’t want to do. Or there was another way to do it. There’s always another way to do it, so long as diplomacy is open, okay?And why the United States has not pursued a more practical, open-minded policy is because I think it’s that the anti-communism of the Cold War, the Bolshevik era, has been replaced by an anti-Russian doctrine, or at least sort of a psychology or even psychopathy.Sputnik: Do you believe we will hear some substantial reaction from the West?Joe Siracusa: I thought the speech was very moderate. It was very interesting. Washington and NATO are jumping up and down about Moscow and China. And I’ve said this in Beijing. I think the best thing that Moscow could do and China could do is just talk in a moderate fashion. In other words, the speech was moderated and balanced. I would take from that speech an opportunity to reengage with Russia, I think it was an opening. It’s not often another nation says that after eight months of conflict. The United States and Russia are fighting a proxy war in Ukraine. There is no doubt about it. They are at war, as far as I am concerned. All right, that is what this is.I think Putin offered the olive branch, and I think Biden should have taken it. On the other hand, Biden is looking at a midterm election in about seven or eight days. I don’t think he wanted to give the pro-Ukrainian forces in his party any ammunition to criticize him. I think in a way, it might have been a political decision, as well as an ideological decision not to engage. I know the Western media is not going to spend much time on President Putin’s speech because they do not spend much time on anybody’s speeches.© Sputnik / Aleksei BabushkinRussian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States council of heads of security and special services. Wednesday, October 26, 2022.Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States council of heads of security and special services. Wednesday, October 26, 2022. / Go to the mediabankThey tend to, I do not know if you’ve noticed this, but in the last four or five years, a lot of the American media, a lot of the Western media, they don’t report the news anymore. They just engage in editorials. Everything is an opinion. I mean I have to read for maybe two hours to find out what is going on someplace because the reporter is giving you an opinion. This is not right. This is baseless, etc. I mean, I am having trouble sometimes getting the straight news, if you know what I mean.Sputnik: Who are the beneficiaries of the current dangerous state of affairs between Russia and the West?Joe Siracusa: I’ll tell you who the beneficiaries are. The beneficiaries are the anti-Russian leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties in Washington. This is the elite. I don’t think they represent the views of the ordinary American people. A beneficiary, of course, is the military industrial complex. Who can’t sell enough weaponry to the United States to combat Russia and China in this mythical world of eternal conflict.So the winners are the political leadership in Washington who have a great deal of credibility problems with ordinary Americans and the military industrial complex, who can’t get enough out of the anti-Chinese and anti-Russian attitudes of the government. I don’t think this would of happened so much with a Republican government. But the Biden government has been anti-Putin since day one of his administration. And I don’t think it’s been very open to diplomacy. It seems to me the alternative to diplomacy is war.I mean, engage in diplomacy. I told an audience yesterday that if somebody with 6,000 nuclear weapons says that he has or she has concerns about their borderlands or the territory next to it. What are we going to do about it? We don’t ignore it. I mean, President Biden simply ignored Putin’s request to review the problem. I think that was stupid. I get a little nervous when I see mature American politicians pursue policies for which they think there are no repercussions. You can only push Russia and China around so long before they hit back. When I saw the speech, I got the impression that Putin was offering an olive branch, saying to the West, “Look, we’ve got our differences and we have very different views about Ukraine, but we should have a discussion about other things, maybe about climate change, maybe about nuclear non-proliferation, a whole lot of other problems that have to be engaged by the great powers.”
During the Cold War, I think the Soviets and the Americans were able to compartmentalize some of these problems. When we were in Vietnam for ten years, the Russians bankrolled the North Vietnamese, but we weren’t at war with Russia, if you know what I mean. There was still room for negotiations.There was still room for arms control and political innovation and the like. But right now, it seems like Washington is closed for business and the reasons are ideological and security. I noticed that the other day, President Biden released his National Security Strategy. It was as obsessed with ideology and security as President Xi’s speech was obsessed with ideology and security. I pointed out to the press in this country that both of them have the same problems. They don’t trust anybody. And why should they? Because no one’s giving them any reason to trust them.© MANDEL NGANUS President Joe Biden meets with China’s President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 15, 2021. US President Joe Biden meets with China’s President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 15, 2021. Look, I’m a big fan of diplomacy, and I like to say to people that there’s no wall or power that has ever prevented a conflict without diplomacy, and there’s been no war that’s ever been concluded without diplomacy. And so my money is on diplomacy, but my money is not on the Biden administration or Secretary of State Blinken or his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.They don’t seem to get it. They’re pushing the human rights agenda, as if that’s more important than national security. I don’t think that’s true, as a matter of fact. I think we’ve got to leave every country to do what they have to do to get things in order. We can’t lecture people. And I think Putin is right about one thing and he says the same thing a lot of American intellectuals say, that the day of American hegemony is over. And the same thing with Western Europe as well. Their word is no longer dictat in the world. So they’re going to have to sit down at the table. So we’ve gone from these superpowers to great powers, who only have one chance to get on with each other, and that’s through negotiations and diplomacy. I think it is actually a good thing.Sputnik: There’s only one thing to do here and that is to engage.Joe Siracusa: If President Putin says that the dialog is open, the Chinese say the same thing. I’m very angry that President Biden hasn’t spoken a word to President Putin in 86 or 87 days. They haven’t had a single communication with each other. And this is not a good idea. Because it sends ignorance and it sends mistakes.I know Russia and America don’t go to war. But I worry about unauthorized attacks. I worry about inadvertent attacks and accidental attacks. A lot of things happen when people at the top aren’t talking. And I think it’s in the interests of both parties to engage in a dialog. And this dialog is called diplomacy. And when one side doesn’t want to talk with the other… I think the Americans right now should be engaging the Russians about the ultimate solution of the Ukrainian problem.At the end of the day, Ukraine is not going to be entering NATO and there will be no advanced weapons systems on Ukraine’s border, which is what Zelensky could have had on day one. He could have had this on day one instead of going to war with Russia for eight months. It doesn’t make any sense to me.Sputnik: Washington continues to blame Russia for every sin – what makes modern America unable to negotiate? What goals is it pursuing?Joe Siracusa: I think the problem is that the Democrats, led by President Biden, are sort of paralyzed by their anti-Russian mental attitude; before that, it was anti-communism. In the West, during the Cold War, American presidents played tough because they didn’t want to be seen to be weak on communism. So Biden thinks that by being tough on Russia, he is burnishing or polishing his credentials. I think that’s stupid because when a nuclear power wants to engage in dialog so that there are no mistakes in other places, I’m all for that. I would do that instantly.So I think the American decision and the inability to engage with Putin right now, I think it’s ideological and it’s mainly coming from the Democratic Party. If you ask the rank and file Americans what’s going on, I think they’d have more open view. We tend to have a military view in Washington that sees the world through a rising China and a revanchist Russia.© ALEXEI DRUZHININRussian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on February 4, 2022.Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on February 4, 2022.Russia is not trying to claw back the Cold War Empire, it is not interested in that. It’s interested in security on its borderlands, the way the United States is interested in the security in Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. I keep saying to people that this is a security problem. What we have in the world today between Russia and the United States is an imbalance of signals; neither side wants to go to war, but the American side will not engage. And the fact that the Americans have shut out the Russians now for eight months. Well, there’s a war going on over there.I was involved in the Vietnam War, my generation. And we killed over two million Vietnamese with air power. And we never apologized to anybody. And war is an ugly business. And you can’t blame everybody for everything. That’s a separate issue. But there are so many more issues. I mean, I’d like to see Moscow and Washington get together and resurrect some of this nuclear non-proliferation architecture. Like the INF treaty or to get back to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. There are important things they can do in this realm, but unless they’re talking to each other, it can’t happen. And I think it’s indefensible.
Sputnik: Is there anything that could change the situation?Joe Siracusa: I would like to see a change of government in Washington. I think a Republican president, not necessarily Trump, could reset the button with Moscow. I’d like to see Zelensky agree to some kind of ceasefire and we start again.The United States and Russia have had great periods of conflict and great periods of cooperation. There’s a reason why this era of peaceful coexistence has to be returned, because the alternative is war. We can’t afford a war. I mean, a war can be fought and it can be won. But there’s going to be a lot of losers when it ends. It’s not going to be the end of the world. So I think that’s important.© Sputnik / Arkady ShaikhetMeeting of American and Soviet soldiers on April 25, 1945 near the city of Torgau.Meeting of American and Soviet soldiers on April 25, 1945 near the city of Torgau.I’m looking forward to Biden being defeated. I think he will be defeated. I think part of his reasons for not dealing with Russia right now are political, more than military. I don’t think Russia poses a military threat to America. It poses a political threat to the reputation of the Biden administration. I think Biden is all wrong about this. I don’t like his advisers. They’ve got an anti-Russian and anti-Chinese twist on their foreign policy. The military industrial complex can’t believe their luck, if you know what I mean.So, everybody is arming for the war that nobody wants. And I hear this story all the time: “If you don’t want war, if you want peace, you have to prepare for war.” Well, I’m the other way, if you want peace, you prepare for peace. You didn’t have to prepare for a war, if you want peace. There are other ways to do this. But I have to say, I have very strong views on this. And if Putin wants to put out the olive branch, I’ll buy that. It makes sense to me, and three cheers for him.