Tag: Vladimir Putin (Page 1 of 2)

U.S. should fight against Russian incursions, not work with them

The Trump administration and the alt-right generally has been pushing for making good with Russia. The argument seems hinged as much on unfounded fears of Russia as on possible benefits that could come out of it (which are few).

Recently we saw two examples of this: one with Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20, another with revelations about Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, which Trump Jr said was about Russian adoptions.

At the G20, Trump had a meeting with Putin that stretched for over two hours. The Trump administration said Trump raised the issue of Russia’s hacking and dissemination of emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election at the meeting, as one would expect the U.S. president to do, but they were vague as to whether Trump accepted Putin’s denial of such hacking, as Russia’s foreign officials said he did, and as he himself has done in public multiple times, including the day before the meeting.

Still, Trump doesn’t want to be perceived as having done little or nothing, so he tweeted that he “discussed forming” some kind of “impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..” (No word on whether Baron Trump will be appointed as the first chief of the unit, since he’s “so good with computers.”)

Besides the fact that a “Cyber Security unit” is an extremely vague term that sounds more like a useless facade with less power than the UN Human Rights Council and the fact that, according to his tweet (even taking it at face value), they merely “discussed” it, and the fact that Trump’s statements are notoriously unreliable anyway, the whole idea that the U.S. should set something up with Russia to protect itself against hacks by Russia is delusional.

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Trump Warsaw speech confuses more than clarifies

Donald Trump came home from his first G20 meeting as president with U.S. policy towards Russia, Syria, and Europe in the same state of confusion as when he left. On issues from election interference, Syria’s ongoing civil war, and defense of its allies, the administration made contradictory statements and lacked credibility.

Start with his big Warsaw speech the day before the G20 started: He spoke of values threatened by terrorism, violence, and tyranny, but he didn’t define those values or the threats. Since his first foreign trip, he has been vague as to what he thinks constitutes terrorism. In Saudi Arabia, a country that is funding militants and spreading Wahhabism, he called for nations of the world to “drive out the terrorists and extremists.” As one might have expected, he took the opportunity in Warsaw to emphasize the fact that he made a speech in Saudi Arabia.

But who was he referring to when he said “drive out the terrorists?” Are the groups fighting to overthrow Assad terrorists? Clearly some of them are affiliated with terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, and even those that are not are engaging in anti-government violence to achieve political goals, which falls under the definition of terrorism. Yet Trump has appeared to have good chemistry with the Saudis, bragging (and vasty exaggerating) about the prospect of selling them millions of dollars of weapons. He even appeared to side with Saudi Arabia in its geopolitical conflict with Qatar, before he even knew what was happening. (Read Blatt and Maitra’s piece on the Qatar situation in The National Interest.)

It wasn’t but three paragraphs later that Trump’s call for states to stop supporting terrorism ran up against the reality of Syria. He said, “We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran.” By implication, this policy would help the militants and terrorists fighting in Syria; without Russia’s support, the Syrian regime would be much weaker.

The call for Russia to stop supporting Iran and the labeling of Iran as a “hostile regime” also plays into Saudi Arabia’s goal for domination of the Middle East. Rather than opposing terrorism, Trump is simply buying the Saudi framing of “terrorism” as an excuse to push Saudi self-interest—even at the expense of U.S. interests.

This follows months of confused policy from the Trump administration on Syria. As Bombs + Dollars has documented, the Trump administration has vacillated between withdrawing American opposition to Assad and calling for Assad’s overthrow. In the span of one week in April, the White House went from saying U.S. policy was not focused on getting Assad out to calling for Assad’s ouster and then bombing an airfield.

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Will Trump change US-Russia relation?

I was interviewed by Radio Sputnik, Moscow, yesterday. 

The audio clip is not very good, but I am attaching it here

The transcript is below.

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The madness of calling for a No Fly Zone in Syria

The Labour MPs in Britain and assorted bleeding heart Twitter liberals called again for a No Fly Zone in Syria. One might have wondered that this insanity is over, but no…like a Phoenix it comes up every time there’s a bombing raid in Aleppo.

Unfortunately, Labour’s plan had zero specifics on how the NFZ would be achieved. Nothing on how to do it. Nothing about security dilemma or escalatory spiral. Nothing on why should we do it anyway, other than to “save Syrians”. Or what British interest would it achieve. Nothing about if a Western plane gets shot down, should we counter escalate, or climb down.

Here’s a simple war gaming simulation for all the Twitter bleeding hearts. Let’s go on to impose a NFZ in Syria. We try and knock out C4ISR. The Syrians delegate their anti-air ops to the Rus. The Russians come with fighter escorts, or worse, the Russians shoot down a Western jet. The Russians then say it was rebels or ISIS that shot it down. Should the West escalate? Climb down? If they climb down, what about perception and resolve? What if there is asymmetric escalation? Proxies attacking Western interests in other places? What about mission creep? If you haven’t done these aforementioned threat assessments and are calling for NFZ or intervention, you’re insane. Leave it to the pros. If you still want to take risk of escalation with Russia over Syria where there’s no long term geo-strategic interest, you’re an idiot. 

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Weekly Reading List: All about foreign policy Realism.

Hi everyone, been long we had a Weekly Reading List! Not weekly anymore, unfortunately, as I am busy with my work and research, but as Easter break is approaching, and I will be immersed full time in my PhD thesis, here’re a few articles which I want to leave you guys with, which I wrote in the last one month.

JIR2016_1First, the big one.

My research paper got published, titled “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?”: An Expository Study of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In Light of the Theories of Realism. (Journal of International Relations, Faculty of International Relations, University of Economics in Bratislava 2016, Volume XIV, Issue 1, Pages 58-92. ISSN 1336-1562 (print), ISSN 1339-2751 (online) Published 15. 3. 2016)

You can download the full paper here.

Aurangzeb_in_old_age_2Secondly, most of you would remember I wrote a comparative piece on how modern Russia is like seventeenth century India under the Mughals? I went a bit further and compared Putin and the medieval Indian emperor Aurangzeb. (Which, incidentally got a nice review here!)

I wrote two articles on Russia-Direct, the first one on how unlikely it is for Russia to actually invade the Baltics, and the second one on the fact that Russia and US is not in any New Cold war, but just a usual Great power rivalry with competition and cooperation happening simultaneously.

I also wrote one long essay for The Interpreter Magazine, on how contrary to popular belief, Obama is not a Realist…infact he doesn’t seem to understand what Realism in foreign policy means.

With regards to my weekly columns, here are they. 

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So, is this considered “Impact” enough for a budding academic?

As promised, here’s something…to mention in an otherwise crappy start to a year thus far!

So, how’s this for an Impact Factor?

I started writing columns for Russia-Direct, which is a subsidiary of Foreign Policy Magazine and Washington Post. This is my first column, on how 17th century India and Mughal empire is strikingly similar to modern Russia and Russia’s foreign policy.

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As you can guess, it is a bit controversial topic…but with immense policy relevance. Let me know what you think, in the comments!

 

 

Few blog posts for your holiday weekend reading!

Well, I apologise for not being regular, hectic week. But here’re a few publications by me. It’s that time of the year. When we celebrate the birth of our Lord of Scientific Reasoning, Sir Isaac Newton. 12436640_10203967247220283_1423912340_o

On the ongoing battle of Ramadi. Just remember, this Christmas, there are men and women fighting and dying so that others can live for free.

On what IR theory tells us about what’s happening in South China Sea. (Psstt…it’s called Buckpassing)

On why Turkey and Saudi Arabia are a major threat to Western credibility when it comes to Human Rights.

On the top four takeaways from Putin’s annual Presser. Where he answered some “tough” questions by Russian journalists on about what perfumes he like and how men look up to him on villages. It was surreal to watch, like anything on Russia.

And finally, what according to me, are the top geo-political changes of 2015 and the top challenges of 2016.

That’s pretty much it from me to end this year…Merry Christmas from all of us! Have a wonderful time, with your loved ones! God Bless.

 

Was Putin ever a friend of the West? — New working paper published at SSRN

Realism and the Rise and Decline of Putin’s Rapprochement with the Bush Administration after 9/11

Sumantra Maitra takes on conventional wisdom with his Working Paper Series for SSRN. Here’s the abstract:

It is a common notion among a lot of analysts, including but not limited to Dmitri Trenin of Carnegie Moscow, that Vladimir Putin was a “friend of the West,” and that due to causal and structural reasons, like Iraq War, NATO expansion, Eastern Europe missile defenses and oil price index, he turned into a revanchist ruler that he is today.

I argue, that was not the case, and this essay highlights that he was always a shrewd Realist, on a tactical alignment with the West, looking to chart his own course at his earliest convenience. The study of this time period, of Putin’s first two terms, highlights the importance and suggests future policy course in dealing with him.

This paper is expository and tests the theory of Realism with Russian actions under the first two terms of Vladimir Putin, which broadly coincides with the George W Bush Administration.

Download the full paper here.

Suggested CitationMaitra, Sumantra. Working Paper Series : “Was Putin Ever a Friend of the West? Realism and the Rise and Decline of Putin’s Rapprochement with the Bush Administration after 9/11” (Dec 16, 2015). Available at SSRN – http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2704623 

Predictions about Paris, Russia, Syria and ISIS

Right, so if you don’t interact with me on Twitter, you might have missed that I predicted a few significant rapid changes in European Geopolitics. Now, young early career Political Scientists like me, don’t like predicting…it can make or break our careers. But academics also constantly want to test their predictive or analytical prowess, nerdy gamblers that we are.

So, when the attacks were still going on, I tweeted these. 

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Russia’s favorability ratings tank under Putin’s aggression

So much Putin envy exists in conservative circles, you’d think Russia was the world’s leading superpower and that its economy was expanding rather than contracting.

We are told that Putin kicks Obama, Putin told Obama to kiss his ass, Putin clocked Obama, and that Obama is afraid of Putin. The bloggers really like sharing memes about how tough Putin looks without his shirt on. It brings to mind kind of an exaggerated version of Bush’s so-called “Texas cowboy” image that was much maligned in Europe but which conservatives liked.

Whatever one thinks of the “tough guy” swagger, though, it doesn’t help lift one’s economy out of the dumps. Russians can’t eat shirtless Putin pictures. And Putin is expanding a lot of military and political capital to get his foreign policy goals accomplished–goals which don’t directly pose large threats to America.

The rest of the world doesn’t like Putin any more than they liked Bush, either, for whatever international approval ratings are worth:

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