Success Is Confrontation

Yes, you read the title correctly, “Success is confrontation.” So says one-time US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker in an article for the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), one of the more reliably Russophobic think tanks in Washington. “Success is confrontation.” Think about the implications for a while.

The subject of Mr Volker’s article is the forthcoming meeting between America’s president Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Volker wants you to know how should measure the meeting’s “success”. The basic answer is that the meeting will be a success from the American point of view if it fails utterly, miserably, and totally. The worse the outcome, the better it will be.

Now, with relations between two heavily armed nuclear powers about as bad as anyone can remember, one might imagine that success would be if the leaders of the two powers found some way of patching up their difficulties, or at least reaching agreement on some minor matters of mutual interest while leaving major differences between them unresolved. But Mr Volker views things rather differently.

For you see, if the meeting between Biden and Putin ends without a major bust-up, or worse produces some minor agreements that overall contribute to “predictability and stability”, that will be a victory for Putin. And what is good for Putin must by necessity be bad for America. As Volker puts it,

It is surely not in the interests of the US, the EU, NATO, and other allies to see a summit in which Putin leaves convinced that he has blunted the United States and faces no consequences for his behavior. It would send a signal that authoritarians can get away with aggressive acts at home and abroad, and that the US and the West will not take any meaningful action to stop them. … any outcome that seems reassuring and benign on the surface actually works in Putin’s faor.

Consequently, Volker concludes that:

For the US, therefore, the best possible outcome is not one of modest agreements and a commitment to “predictability,” but one of a lack of agreement altogether. Success is confrontation.

Volker points out that Biden and Putin might discuss issues such as climate change, Iran, and Afghanistan. Is it really better that they fail to reach agreement on those issues? Whose interests would that actually serve? I damned if I have an answer. And Volker doesn’t provide one either. His view seems to be that the world can go to hell in a handcart as far as he’s concerned, if the alternative is failure to confront the evil dictator Putin. Frankly, it’s nuts.

In fact, it’s obvious that Volker doesn’t want the meeting to go ahead at all. He writes that, “an ideal scenario would have the US Administration announce tough, new sanctions against Russia and its enablers in Western Europe in advance of the Geneva summit.” Of course, were that to happen, Putin would cancel the meeting there and then. But I guess that’s the point. Volker thinks it’s wrong not only to come to agreement with the Russians but even to talk to them. To reverse-quote Churchill: In the eyes of Volker, “War, war is always better than jaw jaw.”

One can argue that one should prepare for the possibility of conflict. But the idea that one should actively prefer it to agreement on the international stage, especially when dealing with the largest country in the world, a nation endowed with some 1,500 nuclear warheads, is, in my opinion, quite staggeringly irresponsible.

Now, you might say that this is just one guy’s opinion. We can ignore it. It doesn’t mean anything. But Volker isn’t just some guy. From 2017 to 2019, he was the US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations – so in effect America’s point guy for its relationship with Ukraine and for negotiations concerning a peace settlement for that country’s civil war. On the basis of this article, one shudders to think what advice he was giving the Ukrainian government. Certainly not advice conducive to peace, I imagine. It’s more than a little scary.

So, this is more than just one man. This article is a window into the way that an influential part of the American foreign policy establishment thinks. It rejects negotiation. It regards compromise as dangerous. It openly prefers conflict. “Success is confrontation” – the worse the better. Wow!

33 thoughts on “Success Is Confrontation”

  1. Success=confrontation makes perfect sense if you believe cooperation is impossible and that US victory (At an acceptable cost) is certain to emerge from confrontation. Unfortunately for Mr. Volker, I don’t believe that either is necessarily true in the context of the Geneva talks.

    However, I don’t think they’re really envisioning a deliberate shooting war, the problem is far worse – Volker and company, I fear, genuinely believe they can intimidate the RF, and should they get to try, it is by no means impossible that they’ll only find out they’re wrong when they stumble into a really and for true war.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The Volker guy strikes me more as a cynical opportunist than sincere Dr. Strangelove. Unlike (for example) the late Senator McCain, his former boss.

    Well, and the fact that a cynical opportunist feels that publishing Strangelove-style shit is profitable, that’s a bad sign. As if we needed more of those, with realism out of the window and liberal sanctimony back in full force.


  3. Volker is a soulless grifter who makes the bulk of his money from Wall Street and is strongly tied to the Military-Industrial Complex. These sociopathic war criminals make their money from war and war-mongering.

    Volker might be right about one thing, though: This Putin-Biden summit is probably a big mistake. Biden is senile and demented, he is likely to drop dead at any moment, and if he does so at the summit, then pindosi will claim he was poisoned by Putin. That could trigger a shooting war, so it’s a big risk.


    1. I wonder too considering that Biden is as a marionette only permitted to talk – promising basically hot air, sling some arrows against and try to keep his train of thought together to prevent a derailment – but not to sign or say anything of importance, and the complete adversary stance of the DC swamp.

      I think Putin would be better off to go fishing or visit his retreat. Time spent much better.


  4. We often hear that Western media and think tanks are independent. But looking at CEPA, one must wonder if they have a list of talking points to peddle at given time. Here is a similar opinion piece from the 11th of June by the CEO of CEPA, Alina Polyakova, “Why Biden Must Make Putin Uncomfortable in Geneva”

    “By now, the United States knows that Putin isn’t interested in resets, stable relations, or long walks on the beach with his U.S. counterpart. Indeed, the Kremlin aims — as a matter of foreign policy — to be a destabilizing force and an unreliable counterpart. Russia’s malign moves in the days leading up to the meeting only signal that this posture is unlikely to change any time soon.”


    1. “Why Biden Must Make Putin Uncomfortable in Geneva”
      That would be easy enough to achieve. All Biden has to do is go off script for even a minute, and he is bound to say something creepy, that makes everyone feel uncomfortable. Here is just one example from last week:

      Liked by 1 person

    2. He challenged a lot of Western givens, don’t forget. Which to some extent must trigger even elite solidarity. 😉

      I do feel orry for my American friends that this time around there won’t be a true American alpha male challenging artifically self-styled alpha male Putin. I should add irony alert?


      1. “artifically self-styled alpha male Putin.”

        No idea what you are talking about. Having observed Putin for now 20 years, he is one who has grown into the position he represents. More than any idiot president from Clinton to Bush to Obama to Trump to the decrepit Biden spouting nonsense as soon as he starts speaking forgetting to engage brain.

        Putin does not threaten but sets boundaries and states clearly what will happen if the Russian Nation State will be attacked, and different from the USA he has the weapons to protect the country. He has a clear vision to engage fully with China and will abandon the West except where Russia can make business. I guess his dream for a united

        Eurasia got finally kicked to the curb by the nutcases in Europe who still think the USA is THE game in town and not a fast waning would be Empire. Good riddance.
        None of this means I as a socialist like his politics, but he got after Yeltsin catastrophe Russia back to a viable nation state. And that the EU and US will never forgive – they got robbed of the Russian candy store.


      2. Peter, I am not sure I am a fan of elements of Putin’s image campaign.
        But yes, it is mirrored in US comment sections.

        I would like to differentiate between Putin the politician and Putin’s marketing/PR images.

        Should have added: babbling alert. A multitude of comments were on my mind.


  5. totally off topic, sports and/as politics? News from Eurochampionship 2021.

    Bad start for Team Russia into the Euro Championship, maybe? …
    Considering what is happening right now in the game Danmark/Finland. Interrupted.

    Danmark and Belgium, I would assume, are the strongest teams within the Russian group. Or Russia’s strongest opponents.

    Curious, but yes the very, very best to Eriksen


      1. Why are they calling it 2020 championship, when it’s already 2021? I don’t get that. moon, I thought you had typo there initially, but just checked Russian newspapers, they are also calling it 2020. What’s up?


    1. Russia hating scumbag Slava Malamud ranted about the Russian team not taking the knee.

      He doesn’t take into consideration that:

      – UEFA doesn’t require teams to take a knee before a match
      – not every team or every player on a given team chooses to take a knee.

      Malamud grossly distorts the reasoning behind not taking a knee. If I’m no offhand mistaken, this act was initially in response to a racist act in the US – not Russia. He cherry picks some Russian bigots giving their explanation for not taking a knee, while ignoring a prevailing view in support of not taking a knee. Are people automatically not racist by taking a knee? Conversely, is everyone choosing to not conform with a perceived PC trend a bigot for refusing to take a knee?

      Malamud’s ethically flawed Twitter rants are noteworthy. Of Moldovan Jewish background, he says nothing against Kiev regime controlled Ukraine designing a jersey with a slogan that was popularized by Ukrainian fascists during WW II. These particular Ukrainians committed violent acts against Poles and Jews. Following WW II, the same pro-Stepan Bandera Ukrainians have been at the forefront in expressing bigoted anti-Russian views.


      1. good pick, basically good argument: Not sure concerning the focus on him as Moldavan Jew. But yes, have been occasionally wondering about the nexus of the US and Israel too. Liberal (???) except on that issue?

        But I wish I could wrap my head around Moldavia-Russia relations, let alone a Moldavian Jews response to no doubt US triggered events. Lots of black players on the field. And quite a bit of racism against those occasionally. On our ground too.

        Are people automatically not racist by taking a knee? Conversely, is everyone choosing to not conform with a perceived PC trend a bigot for refusing to take a knee?

        As someone moderately on the side of the ‘old left’, maybe? Naively so?

        But how comes you know this twitterer is Jewish?


      2. “good pick, basically good argument: Not sure concerning the focus on him as Moldavan Jew. But yes, have been occasionally wondering about the nexus of the US and Israel too. Liberal (???) except on that issue?”


        On account of him constantly harping on bigotry in Russia, while ignoring what goes on in Kiev regime controlled Ukraine.

        Him being of Jewish background highlights his hypocritical approach given what the OUN/UPA and Galician SS did during WW II, relative to some current trends in Kiev regime controlled Ukraine.

        FYI, I’ve cautioned in the past against those believing Jews are collectively anti-Russian, which included the examples of Moldovan Jews Malamud, Julie Roginsky and Bianna Golodryga.

        Their being anti-Russian concerns what kind of mass media views on Russia are preferred. The ones running counter to them aren’t as likely to get mass media time – Jewish non-Jewish or otherwise.


      3. are collectively anti-Russian, which included the examples of Moldovan Jews Malamud, Julie Roginsky and Bianna Golodryga.

        Ok, got it, all of them are Russian expats. Not a lot on the web about Slava Malamud, but yes bits and pieces on his twitter feed may suggest it.

        Were the majority of Russian emigrees to the US in 1991 Jewish? Are there stastics over the decades? Not sure what matters would look like in Germany percentage wise e.g. under Kohl 1982-1998. … No doubt different. He used/misused the occasion?

        Reminds me, I may have to subscribe to Yasha Levine. The topic, or as he calls his series: “Operation: Save the Jews” has been on my mind too vaguely somewhat. Long before I had much interest in politics, I surely got bits and pieces about Russian antisemitism in that timeframe, that I recall.

        How many Russians vs Beligians (or Europeans) were present in the larger audience?


  6. Meanwhile, still on topic of football, I just saw this piece about Russian team not taking the knee before first game.
    Normally I regard Senator Pushkov as a windbag, but I think he is right about this one, when he says Russia has nothing to apologize for, neither to African-Americans, nor to Africans in general; since Russia did not colonize them, not steal slaves from them.

    Americans and English, on the other hand, they should not only kneel before each match, but they should go crawling around in the grass to show their repentance for rampant imperialism! Oh, and Belgians as well, they were fairly brutal in their dealings with African nations.

    On the other hand, highly ironic that Pushkov cites “Soviet times” as when Russia super-helped African peoples, and that’s very true. But Pushkov and the others rejected Soviet policies and don’t really do nearly as much nowadays to help Africans; but whatever…


    1. Belgium was in the news today all right. Due to the COVID situation, it couldn’t yet return Patrice Lumumba’s tooth to the Congo. The European Union is headquartered in a country that still keeps Lumumba’s tooth, which was yanked by a Belgian soldier from his skull after his body was dissolved in acid but before his bones were ground. I find that incredible.

      We have also just learned of the Canadian mass graves holding the remains of First Nation children kidnapped from their families. Nice.

      And these clowns parading in Cornwall think the rest of the planet needs their ‘leadership’.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. As I note further up this thread, the Russian team isn’t alone:

      On the flip side, it could be noted that Russia has seen some bigoted instances during football matches. At the same time, UEFA hasn’t mandated that teams take a knee. Some choose to not engage in that act for that act for non-bigoted reasons.

      A balanced overview that gets censored in favor of the bigoted rants from the likes of Slava Malamud.


      1. The Hungarian team isn’t going to take the knee either. Orban said that Hungarians only kneel before God and when proposing, or giving head, that’s my addition. Not that I care much about Orban.

        The act of kneeling has been hijacked anyway. It was meaningful when Colin Kaepernick did it in an American context; his career was of course destroyed. But when senators and politicians all over the world, including that phony Keir Starmer, started to kneel it became devoid of any meaning. It’s a completely useless woke act, stupid virtue signaling.


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