At President Putin’s press conference right after yesterday’s summit meeting with President Biden, Euronews journalist Galina Polonskaya asked Putin if he had reached "a new level of trust with the U.S. president."
In response, Putin quoted Leo Tolstoy:
"Tolstoy once said, there is no happiness in life, only lightening flashes (зарницы) of it – cherish them. I believe that in this situation some kind of family trust is not possible. However, it seems to me we have seen "lightening flashes" ("зарницы" промелькнули) of it.
In a speech in St. Petersburg two weeks ago, Putin identified the huge fly in the ointment. Acknowledging the political pressures any US president faces in trying to carve out a more sensible relationship with Russia, Putin asserted that “to a certain extent, Russian-American relations have become hostage to internal political processes in the United States itself.”
“I hope it ends someday. I mean the fundamental interests in the field of at least security, strategic stability and the reduction of weapons dangerous for the whole world are still more important than the current domestic political situation in the United States itself.”
Biden’s prickly defensiveness, including ranting at journalists, who intimate he might be too trusting of Putin and too confident that Putin "will change his behavior," is part and parcel of what Putin was alluding to.
Here, for example, is how Biden answered a journalist at his press conference who asked, "Do you believe you can trust him [Putin]?
Look, this is not about trust; this is about self-interest, and verification of self-interest. That’s what it’s about. … I don’t say, ‘Well, I trust you. No problem’. Let’s see what happens.
As I wrote Wednesday in "Trust Lacking at Blah Summit," this tends to turn the tried-and-tested "Trust, But Verify" approach on its head, and does not auger well for improvement in U.S.-Russia ties any time soon.
Putin is well aware that although Biden is president, he is not only "hostage to internal political processes" but is likely to be thwarted by the formidable Military-Industrial-CONGRESSIONAL-Intelligence-MEDIA-Academia-Think-Tank complex, should he try to bang heads together and force steps toward rapprochement with Russia.
All-caps are appropriate for MEDIA, since they constitute the linchpin. Sixty years ago, when President Eisenhower warned of the dangers in the accretion of power by the Military-Industrial complex, he stressed that the only thing that can prevent the MIC from endangering our democracy was "an alert and knowledgeable citizenry." That’s the rub.
Sadly, consumers of the corporate media today are in no way knowledgeable. In that case – as Ike predicted – it is virtually impossible to "compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
Many Western media outlets showed their hand even before the Biden-Putin summit, going on and on about how Biden is too soft on Russia – the crown jewel coming on summit evening, with Donald Trump telling Fox, "it was a good day for Russia. I don’t see what we got out if it."
All caps for CONGRESSIONAL, as well. In the following exchange, Putin called specific attention to the role of Members of Congress in thwarting improvement in relations with Russia:
Ivan Blagov, Channel One: Three years ago you met with President Donald Trump. After that meeting relations deteriorated even more. Is there anything that could prevent this from happening again? Have we hit rock-bottom with our relations with the US, so that the only way is up?
Putin: It is hard for me to say at this point, since all the actions linked to the deterioration of Russian-American relations were initiated by the United States; not by us, but by the American side. Members of Congress are quite inventive people (народ изобретательный), so I do not know what they are going to come up with next.
… As Integral Parts of the MICIMATT
In the past, the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex has amply demonstrated its determination, and its ability, to extinguish many a hopeful "lightening flash."
If – and it is a HUGE "IF" – President Biden does try to take on the MICIMATT, I reluctantly confess that the first thing that comes to mind are the following, somewhat famous, lines from the film "The Princess Bride."
Have fun storming the castle.
Think they’ll win?
It’ll take a miracle.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).