"We as a species have the choice to continue to develop our bodies and brains in a healthy upward trajectory, or we can follow the Western example of recent decades and intentionally poison our population with genetically altered food, pharmaceuticals, vaccinations, and fast food that should be classified as a dangerous, addictive drug."
Russian President Vladimir Putin
So many people sent versions of this story - i.e., the phone call initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin to President-elect Donald Trump - that it must be commented upon, particularly for what some of the story implies. Here's the U.K.'s Daily Mirror's version of the story, along with some interesting videos of the Russian State Duma's reaction to Mrs. Clinton's loss:
Trump and Putin vow to tackle ISIS together as they hold breakthrough talks after billionaire's election
While the centerpiece of this conversation appears to be the two leaders' mutual agreement on cooperation to tackle ISIS, there's much more, apparently, in the story. An article on Zero Hedge by "Tyler Durden" titled "Putin and and Trump hold Phone Conversation, Agree to Normalize Relations" datelined the 14th of this month, pulls a bit more of the veil off the conversation. The article, while short, is worth looking at for what it suggests about the nature of that conversation:
Moments ago the Kremlin released a statement
in which the Russian presidency reported that Putin and Trump held a conversation, in which the Russian leader congratulated his American counterpart again on his victory in the presidential election, wished him "success in the implementation of the pre-election program, and noted his willingness to build a partnership dialogue with the new administration on the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other."
In other words, the Kremlin statement is attributing the principles of "equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other" not simply to the Kremlin, but to Mr. Trump. The Kremlin statement then highlights what may be a complete reversal of the current US policy of economic sanctions, according to Zero Hedge:
During the conversation, Putin and Trump "not only agreed to assess the current unsatisfactory state of bilateral relations, but also spoke in favor of active joint work to normalize relations and aim for constructive cooperation on a wide range of issues. The call emphasized in particular the importance of creating a solid foundation of bilateral ties through the development of trade and economic relations.
Obviously, if trade development and economic relations are to be discussed, then the current sanctions regime is on the table. The Zero Hedge
article goes on to note that the two leaders apparently agreed on the number one problem: international terrorism, and ISIS. (For those interested in the original Kremlin statement, see Telephone Conversation with President-Elect of the United States, Donald Trump (In Russian)
). Indeed, in the second paragraph of the official Kremlin account of this conversation, we read:
During the conversation, Putin and D. Trump not only agreed to assess the current very poor state of Russo-American relations, but also spoke in favor of active joint work to their normalization, and removal in the direction of constructive cooperation on a wide range of issues. Underlined in particular was the importance of creating a solid foundation of bilateral ties through the development of their trade and economic component." (Emphasis added)
In other words, the conversation was much more than a simple "meet and greet" by telephone, it was a basic ground-clearing conversation, placing a wide range of issues on the agenda, and by default, development of trade would perforce spell an end to the sanctions regime.
Both leaders will drive hard bargains and both are tough negotiators, so what might one expect from such conversations? Of course, I am resorting to my usual high octane speculation here, but I rather suspect both leaders will use the issue of joint international and bi-lateral anti-terrorism efforts to leverage the rest of the conversation, especially regarding sanctions and the restoration of trade relationships. One should not look for an immediate lifting of all sanctions, but rather, a staged process in which the two countries mutually engage on economic issues on a step-by-step basis, including cyber warfare that has been apparently taking place from time to time. This may contain some "surprises," such as eventual Russian participation at some level in Mr. Trump's plans to build out American infrastructure , and a quid pro quo for American participation in some aspects of similar projects underway in Russia. This would be a way for America to get itself back into the game, so to speak, in Central Asia and into a "flanking" maneuver in the Silk Road project. Of course, this is very high octane speculation, but given both men's capacity for sudden moves and out of the box thinking, it shouldn't be set aside simply for its "go for broke" nature. By mentioning this high octane speculation, I'm suggesting that one may expect the unexpected from any prolonged conversation. There will of course be disagreements, and howls of protest from the now completely outflanked globaloneyists in Brussels, Berlin, and Paris (you know who you are! Think of Frau Merkel and her French poodle). Ultimately, Mr. Putin's targets will be the ever-eastward expansion of NATO and the troublesome American missiles in Romania and elsewhere. Here he has dealt himself a bargaining chip with the Russian presence in Syria. So watch for the possibility of joint efforts against ISIS in that country and elsewhere, and for the American side to respond with similar proposals regarding the various Shia-sponsored organizations in the region. If successful, the stage then moves to discussions on removing some of those offending American missiles in Romania, and some of those offending Russian missiles in Syria.
In other words, don't expect immediate breakthroughs. But consider that the two countries are even talking civilly to one another right now is already much farther along than they were just two weeks ago. One thing is clear from the Kremlin statement, which probably itself was a subject of conversation with Mr. Trump, and that is that its statement probably received a "go ahead and publish the summary" permission from Mr. Trump.
Crucial here will be Mr. Trump's selection for US Secretary of State. As of this writing (Nov 19), Mr. Trump has not yet made a selection, though the names Mitt Romney and John Bolton have been bandied about. But I have a better suggestion: try Professor Stephen Cohen, who almost alone in American academia has been voicing protest against the constant demonization of Russia in recent years.
In any case, if the Kremlin statement appears with the tacit approval of Mr. Trump, and I can see no reason why the Kremlin would make such a summary publicly available without it, then the signal it is sending is huge: everything is on the table for discussion. But this is also a case of "you tell me" for we're all reading tea leaves here, and your guess is probably as good as mine.
See you on the flip side...