‘US coercive diplomacy: dialogue through dictate’
President Barack Obama signed a bill that would impose further economic sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. However, the Administration said that they wouldn’t be introduced immediately.
RT:President Obama recently cautioned that the policy of sanctions might not be as effective as first projected. And yet we see him signing a bill that authorizes more restrictions against Moscow. How do you interpret the move?
Daniel McAdams: I think it’s interesting. Just yesterday when the President announced a major change in policy towards Cuba he said that 50 years of sanctions hasn’t worked, it doesn’t work. Doing the same over and over again and expecting a different result is counter-productive. So he recognizes that it doesn’t work. The most important thing about this bill, I think, there are two things… First of all, what is essentially is a placeholder authorization for an enormous amount of money not just for military aid, but money to increase US propaganda broadcasts into the region. What it is similar to is the 2002 authorization for war against Iraq when Congress said, “Here is the authorization, use it if you need to, whenever you need to. No need to contact us, here you go.” And that is essentially what Congress is doing – it is giving the President this authorization. The second part that is most important is the way this bill was passed. It was brought up at night after all the other members went home; it was three members of Congress who colluded to bring this effort after everyone was gone. That was Ed Royce, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel who was also on the Committee and Marcy Kaptur, a democrat from Ohio, who was a co-Chair of the House Ukrainian Caucus. The bill was brought up and passed within a minute; there was nobody there to object. The first and only statement that Marcy Kaptur made was that Russia had invaded Ukraine and this is a response. Well, the bills like this are generally written by special interests. So my guess is there was some Ukrainian special interest group that passed it through the Ukraine Caucus to Marcy Kaptur and it went up the flag to Ed Royce, the Chairman of the Committee. So this is all very underhanded in a nefarious way of passing a very significant escalation bill.
RT:The Russian ruble has been making small gains in recent days. Do you think this bill could turn the tide again?
DM: I think that’s a pincer movement that the US and its allies are using against Russia. The US, it is well-known from many news reports, has been colluding with Saudi Arabia to reduce the price of oil significantly, which certainly has hurt the Russian bottom line. When you combine that with sanctions that restrict the ability of Russia to raise currency on international markets, you have a pincer move. I would call it a nuclear first strike option against the Russian economy. The US is turning a blind eye to the repercussions, a retaliatory strike, will you call it unintended consequences against its own economy. It seems that they are going to try to take down the Russian economy. Who knows what kind of resources they will apply to this, I believe, a full-hearted attempt.
RT:The bill also authorizes lethal aid for Ukraine. If supplied, what effect could US arms have on the ongoing crisis in the east of the country?
DM: This bill doesn’t only authorize US$350 million for arms, which is by the way a huge Christmas gift to the US defense contractors. But it also sets forth the US policy, which is that Kiev should attempt to get back the territories in eastern Ukraine, essentially giving them a green light for an attack. That is an enormously significant development on that front.
RT:Washington made it clear on several occasions that it's open for dialogue. How does that correspond with its actions?
DM: This is called coercive diplomacy. Dialogue presupposes that you accept the dictate of the other partner. This is what the US has been doing with Iran for the past year or so. It has the appearance of diplomatic talks but in reality the other partner has to concede major points, has to give up its position before the US will engage in a dialogue. Coercive diplomacy doesn’t have a very good track record.
RT:How do you see events unfolding from here? Do you think that the US will pursue its policy of sanctions even further?
DM: People should understand how limited the information inputs are to members of Congress. I served as a member of Congress for 12 years and I know other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and I know what the information inputs they have. That’s exclusively newspapers like The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal who are absolutely one-sided in their propaganda. These papers are more lock stepped than Pravda would have been in a height of the Soviet Union. So their inputs are only one sort, and these people absolutely dominate the discussion in Washington right now. The handful of members of Congress who are somewhat uneasy can easily be ignored, and that’s what is happening. So it’s very dangerous and it reminds us of what happened a hundred years ago when there was arrogance and ignorance combining to lead to a horrible conflagration. And I fear something radical doesn’t change quickly, that’s exactly where we are heading.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.