Russia Survive Washington’s Challenge?
By Paul Craig Roberts
August 22, 2013 "Information
- News services abroad ask me if President Erdogan
of Turkey will, as a result of the coup attempt,
realign Turkey with Russia. At this time, there is
not enough information for me to answer. Speculation
in advance of information is not my forte.
Moreover, I do not know if it is true that Moscow
warned the President of Turkey of the coup, and I do
not know if Washington was behind the coup.
Therefore, I do not know how to weigh the scales. As
I see it, whether Turkey stays with Washington or
realigns with Moscow depends first of all on whether
or not Moscow warned Turkey and whether or not
Washington was behind the coup. If this is what
Erdogan believes, whether true or false, Erdogan is
likely to align with Russia. However, other factors
will also influence Erdogan’s decision. For example,
Erdogan’s belief about how resolute Putin is to
standing up to Washington.
Erdogan will not want to align with Russia if he
thinks Russia is not up to Washington’s challenge.
Erdogan sees Putin endlessly asking for Washington’s
cooperation, and Erdogan understands that Washington
sees this as a sign of Russian weakness. Washington
slaps Putin in the face, and Putin replies by asking
for cooperation against ISIS. I understand why Putin
responds this way. He wants to avoid a war between
US/NATO and Russia that neither side can win. Putin
is a man of peace and accepts affronts in order to
save life. This is admirable. But that might not be
the way Erdogan sees it. Erdogan might see it like
Washington sees it: weakness.
The second consideration is whether Washington or
Moscow offers Erdogan the best deal. Washington most
certainly does not want the breakup of NATO and will
strive to keep Turkey in NATO at all costs.
Washington, for example, might deliver Gulen to
Erdogan, and Washington might put one billion
dollars in a bank account for Erdogan. This is easy
for Washington to do, as Washington can print all of
the world’s reserve currency it wishes to print. It
is impossible for Moscow to deliver Gulen, and
because Yeltsin accepted US advice conveyed through
the IMF, the Russian ruble is not a substitute for
the US dollar.
The world is accustomed to seeing Washington
prevail, because Washington relies on force. Except
for Putin’s response to the Georgian attack on South
Ossetia, the world is accustomed to seeing Putin
rely on diplomacy. As Mao said, power comes out of
the barrel of a gun, and so the world believes.
Putin seemed to be decisive when he accepted the
Crimean vote and reunited the Crimea with Russia,
But Putin turned down the requests of the breakaway
republics of Donetsk and Luhansk to rejoin Russia,
and this made Russia look weak. It also prolonged
the conflict and the death and destruction
In my opinion this strategic failure by Putin is the
result of advice from the Russian “Atlanticist
Integrationists”—the people who think that Russia
does not count unless it is part of the West. In
every sense, these pro-Western members of the
Russian government are de facto members of the
Treason Party. Yet they serve as a constraint on
Russian decisiveness. The absence of Russian
decisiveness provokes more pressure from Washington.
It is a losing game for the Russian government to
invite pressure from the West.
Washington sees that Putin is unable to break away
from the influence of the Atlanticist
Integrationists, which includes the Russian economic
establishment led by the independent central bank.
Therefore, Washington continues to make Washington’s
cooperation with Russia in Syria dependent on
Putin’s agreement that “Assad must go.” Putin wants
to get rid of ISIS, because ISIS can infect Muslim
areas of the Russian Federation. But if he agrees to
get rid of Assad, chaos will prevail in Syria just
as chaos prevails in Iraq and Libya, and Russia will
have accepted Washington’s overlordship. Russia will
become another vassal country added to Washington’s
The real danger for Russia lies in Russia’s desire
for Western acceptance. As long as Russians have
this desire, they are a doomed people.
Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the
Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of
the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for
Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and
Creators Syndicate. He has had many university
appointments. His internet columns have attracted a
worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are
of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution
of the West,
Neoconservative Threat to World Order.