‘Russia as enemy is comfort zone for some in US intel community’
The confirmation hearings of top US officials held earlier this week showed that there might be a clash within in the future Trump administration over Washington’s policy on Russia.
General James Mattis, the president-elect's pick for Secretary of Defense, called Russia a top threat to American interests.
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, admitted Russia “poses a danger” but “defeating the Islamic State” is “our first priority.” He also said at times Washington should move from viewing Russia as a permanent adversary to a partner.
Former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT that President-elect Trump has already signaled he wants to work with Russia.
“He has also expressed concerns about other potential trouble spots. He’s also pointed out that he wants to work more closely with Russia on some very, very serious issues – from nuclear disarmament to working on counter-terrorism, which is a very, very serious thing,” Maloof added.
However, he argues that there are people, particularly within the intelligence community, who consider Russia to be an enemy.
“Russia for them has been an enemy; it is their comfort zone. They looked at the former Soviet Union for 50 years. They feel much more comfortable than looking at all the other threats that exist today that we’re very concerned about including China, including ISIS that has metastasized in some 32 countries,” Maloof told RT.
“They don’t have the sources. Having one focus on Russia, and you have a lot of the Democrats who have set up Russia for being the fall guy by trying to push NATO expansion and also helped to create the climate for the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government in Ukraine,” the former Pentagon official continued.
However, Maloof said, there will always be competitiveness between two superpowers.
According to him, there is an area where the countries have been working together, and they should be pursuing even greater cooperation – that is in space.
“Mr. Trump has a golden opportunity to lay this out as a possibility, where you have an exchange of technologies and cooperation, such as we have done on the space station.”
Also, there is the issue of strategic defense initiatives; he told RT.
“There is a call for that to come back by a lot of neocons, as well as liberals who are hostile toward Russia,” he said. “Of course we have to strengthen our missile defenses – that is going to be an important consideration – on the defensive end, not necessarily on the offensive. There is a lot more area for cooperation than confrontation, as far as I’m concerned.”
Speaking about the former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Maloof suggested he could be a right person to work with Russia.
“Mr. Tillerson has that kind of experience in working with Russia. He is probably the right man at the right time for this kind of activity. I think that this is what Trump has in mind. It is not a confrontation with Moscow, but to look for avenues of cooperation on some very, very serious issues that are coming down the pike,” he told RT.
“Notwithstanding the fact that you have General [James] Mattis, who looks upon Russia as a primary adversary. You’re going to get that from the military aspect. But General Mattis was also very clear that you not only operate from the position of strength, but he talked in terms as well during his testimony of cooperation,” he said.
Moreover, Maloof told RT that one has to consider as well that “these nominees are going to say what Congress wants to hear at this point in order to get in. But once they get in they are going to march to the president’s drum in this case, and if he sets a policy, then that is the way they all going to march.”
“Once they get their clearances, and they’re sworn in, then they can get down to work to figure out what path and what policy approach that they intend to take,” he concluded.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.