From The Guardian. Why is Putin so happy and everyone else so glum?
On December 17, 2018, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov held an interview with Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda.
In this long (ca 10,000 word) interview, linked above, in an excellent Kremlin-made translation, Lavrov was asked some hard questions, mostly about why the foreign ministry did not get tougher on various western agencies and why the Russian delegations don’t just walk out of certain international organizations where they are ignored and have no voting rights. It was reminiscent of how the democrats and Neocons criticise Trump for not getting tougher on the Russians. Indeed a lot of Russians (as well as pro-Russian Westerners, like Paul Craig Roberts) level this kind of criticism at the RF government, targeting Putin, Lavrov and others. (Western critics who do this reveal more about their ignorance of the Russian mind-set than about the Russian government.)
The interview was revealing from 2 standpoints:
1) It gave Lavrov an opportunity to explain from a diplomat’s standpoint why Russian diplomats need to be patient with their boorish counterparts in the US and treat them with more respect than they deserve, and also to explain why Russia needs to retain its membership in international organizations that allow it little or no meaningful participation. Basically, this is because leaving the organization completely cuts off the Russians’ ability to have any influence at all on their adversaries.
2) It gave the lie to Western accusations that Russia lacks freedom of the press. In fact, a comparison of Russian press freedom with US press freedom reveals some surprising facts.
We checked out interviews with US news outlets and Mike Pompeo, for example, and found none of the hardball tactics of the kind on display in the Komsomolskaya Pravda-Lavrov interview. In an interview reported by Voice of America, for example, Greta van Susteren, focusing mostly on the caravan of immigrants from Honduras, was very gentle on Pompeo and did not ask him anything controversial.
In another interview on Fox and Friends, Pompeo was asked innocuous questions on China, illegal immigration and terror. On the other hand, Steve and friends really gave Pompeo a hard time over his tolerant posture on the murder of Jamal Kashoggi, presumably on orders from Saudi crown prince MBS.
Yes, this was a tough interview and Pompeo kept dodging the question. However, it was decades too late to question Saudi-US relations. The Kashoggi murder was the tip of the iceberg. The Saudis have been murdering Houthis in Yemen from the air for years, using US arms and even receiving refuelling thanks to the US Air Force (which kindly declined to bill SA for the service). The Saudis are also a major factor in the Wahhabist Sunni terror that has been ravaging the Middle East for decades. After all, Wahhabism originated in Saudi, where it is the dominant religious sect, and has provided the ideological foundation for ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other jihadist terror groups. Yet no major news purveyor dares to question why the US supports this infamous entity.
Thus, while Fox did manage to throw Pompeo a hard ball in this interview, it was the wrong hardball, addressing a very secondary issue in the grand scheme of geopolitics.
The big issue here is the fact that the US has always favoured the Saudis and ignored their barbarian behaviour, at least ever since President Nixon concluded what I call the petrodollar agreement with King Faisal in 1973, which essentially made the US military a mercenary force in the hire of the Saudis. I have posted both here at New Silk Strategies and at Quora a common sense explanation of the relationship between this petrodollar agreement and US military policy since the conclusion of the agreement in 1973. Naturally, no news outlets, including of course, Fox News, and no US politician has ever touched upon the relationship between the coddling of the Saudis and the US Wars waged against Saudi enemies who were, however, in no way enemies of the American people. And let’s face it: refusing to cover critical areas in news reporting is censorship and has no place in a republic claiming to be of the people, by the people and for the people.
Now you may recall that, when Putin met MBS at the G20 summit, he high-fived the prince, grinning from ear to ear. Western Neocons/Neoliberals predictably commented that the two leaders were kindred spirits because they were both murderers, and reminded the readers for the umpteenth time that Putin had supposedly ordered the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia. But this commentator needs reminding that no link between this poisoning and the Russian Federation was ever established and that the MI6 would have had all the motive in the world to perpetrate the murder – in order to frame Russia – while Russia certainly did not need another sanction slapped on it. The UK government said it was “highly likely” that Russia had ordered the poisoning, just as the West had declared it highly likely that the Russians had shot down Malaysian flight MH-17 over eastern Ukraine, although that was not at all likely since Russia had no motive for doing this, while Ukraine had every reason to do so and lay the blame on Russia. Further, the shoot-down was done with a Buk, with which Ukraine’s arsenal bristles. Lavrov likes to repeat this phrase “highly likely” derisively, even when speaking Russian.
But getting back to Putin’s overly friendly greeting for MBS, the big story regarding Saudi has always been its exclusive use of the US dollar in international oil trade and its keeping all reserves in Treasuries – whereas from the Russian and BRICS standpoint, the story is how to persuade Saudi to wean itself off the dollar and start using non-dollar currencies such as the rouble or the yuan, or even the euro, in its oil trade. This desire to bring Saudi over to its side would explain why Putin wants to be friends with MBS, and this critical juncture, with the US Senate condemning MBS for his suspected involvement in the Kashoggi murder and the shunning of MBS by most Western leaders at the G20, is the obvious time for Putin to turn on the charm to an isolated MBS, who would be emotionally vulnerable to any friendly gesture at this summit. Hence Putin’s big friendly grin and high five. Yet all msm commentaries remained on the superficial level, never mentioning the fact that Putin was trying to win MBS over to his (and China’s) side in the geopolitical chess match, and particularly the de-dollarization effort.
This issue is really key, even more so than the military issues in Syria. Once the dollar is unseated as the world reserve currency, the US is just a step away from losing its ability to lash out with sanctions at insubordinates. The world would be infinitely more economically and politically secure and the sovereignty of nations would be greatly enhanced in such a multipolar world. But the msm never even grazed this issue. CNN's political analyst for example, made it all about Trump, who, as Russia knows, is irrelevant in this and most other geopolitical contexts.
Newsweek also completely failed to see beneath the surface, making the Putin-MBS high-five about morality – as if US msm had ever condemned Saudi for its central role in ISIS and Al-Qaeda terror and in the slaughter of innocent civilians in Yemen. As if the US, including the Senate – which has always embraced Saudi wholeheartedly and even aided and abetted it throughout its long bloody history in the Middle East, and had in the decades since the 70s, been party to the slaughter of a half-million civilians in different countries without being able to articulate why – had been the moral standard bearer all along!