Can Russia Survive Washington’s Challenge in the Wake of Turkey’s Failed Coup?

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A critical opinion about the Turkish-Russian relations amid the ongoing gelopolitical standoff.

Can Russia Survive Washington’s Challenge in the Wake of Turkey’s Failed Coup?

Written by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts; Originally appeared at his website here

News services abroad ask me if President Erdogan of Turkey will, as a result of the coup attempt, realign Turkey with Russia. At this time, there is not enough information for me to answer. Speculation in advance of information is not my forte.

Moreover, I do not know if it is true that Moscow warned the President of Turkey of the coup, and I do not know if Washington was behind the coup. Therefore, I do not know how to weigh the scales.  As I see it, whether Turkey stays with Washington or realigns with Moscow depends first of all on whether or not Moscow warned Turkey and whether or not Washington was behind the coup.  If this is what Erdogan believes, whether true or false, Erdogan is likely to align with Russia.  However, other factors will also influence Erdogan’s decision.  For example, Erdogan’s belief about how resolute Putin is to standing up to Washington.

Erdogan will not want to align with Russia if he thinks Russia is not up to Washington’s challenge.  Erdogan sees Putin endlessly asking for Washington’s cooperation, and Erdogan understands that Washington sees this as a sign of Russian weakness.  Washington slaps Putin in the face, and Putin replies by asking for cooperation against ISIS.  I understand why Putin responds this way.  He wants to avoid a war between US/NATO and Russia that neither side can win.  Putin is a man of peace and accepts affronts in order to save life. This is admirable.  But that might not be the way Erdogan sees it.  Erdogan might see it like Washington sees it: weakness.

The second consideration is whether Washington or Moscow offers Erdogan the best deal. Washington most certainly does not want the breakup of NATO and will strive to keep Turkey in NATO at all costs. Washington, for example, might deliver Gulen to Erdogan, and Washington might put one billion dollars in a bank account for Erdogan.  This is easy for Washington to do, as Washington can print all of the world’s reserve currency it wishes to print.  It is impossible for Moscow to deliver Gulen, and because Yeltsin accepted US advice conveyed through the IMF, the Russian ruble is not a substitute for the US dollar.

The world is accustomed to seeing Washington prevail, because Washington relies on force. Except for Putin’s response to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia, the world is accustomed to seeing Putin rely on diplomacy.  As Mao said, power comes out of the barrel of a gun, and so the world believes.  Putin seemed to be decisive when he accepted the Crimean vote and reunited the Crimea with Russia,  But Putin turned down the requests of the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk to rejoin Russia, and this made Russia look weak. It also prolonged the conflict and the death and destruction continues.

In my opinion this strategic failure by Putin is the result of advice from the Russian “Atlanticist Integrationists”—the people who think that Russia does not count unless it is part of the West.  In every sense, these pro-Western members of the Russian government are de facto members of the Treason Party. Yet they serve as a constraint on Russian decisiveness. The absence of Russian decisiveness provokes more pressure from Washington. It is a losing game for the Russian government to invite pressure from the West.

Washington sees that Putin is unable to break away from the influence of the Atlanticist Integrationists, which includes the Russian economic establishment led by the independent central bank. Therefore, Washington continues to make Washington’s cooperation with Russia in Syria dependent on Putin’s agreement that “Assad must go.”  Putin wants to get rid of ISIS, because ISIS can infect Muslim areas of the Russian Federation. But if he agrees to get rid of Assad, chaos will prevail in Syria just as chaos prevails in Iraq and Libya, and Russia will have accepted Washington’s overlordship. Russia will become another vassal country added to Washington’s collection.

The real danger for Russia lies in Russia’s desire for Western acceptance.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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  • 0athkeeper

    no one ever posts on these stories. is anyone reading these articles?

  • Nexusfast123

    Increasingly getting the feeling that I’m going to go to sleep and wake up one morning and find out that a major conflict has broken out.

  • wwinsti

    Yeah and the guy is spot on. The starry eyed glow you hear in Russian commentary any time some westerner gives begrudging praise is a little embarrassing at times.

  • Doom Sternz

    “In my opinion this strategic failure by Putin” this just speaks volumes that the author has no understanding of the situation in Russia or Ukraine.

    Here is what the author does not understand……Without the DNR/LPR Ukrainians would be sent into a war against Russia by Obama. A war they cannot win, with millions of victims. Obama wants the Russian World to wage war against themselves. In the Donbass they are fighting for the Russian World which includes Ukraine.

    • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

      I understand that a full scale war between Russia and Banderist Ukraine has been a wet dream of the US/EU/NATO cabal ever since 1941 and what followed. What a turn of history!
      During 1941-1945 WW2 a united Russia/Ukraine/Belarus with other Soviet allies, saved Europe from the Nazis. Now, a US/EU/NATO instigated war between Russia and Banderist Ukraine could be prelude to WW3!

  • Tom Johnson

    No, Russia will be bankrupt, because the Saudi’s will keep pumping cheap oil. Russia needs $88 per barrel to stay afloat and the Saudi’s will keep pumping. You had 540 billion in cash reserves when you went into Syria and you have spent 50% of that. I hear a great sucking sound and Russia is rowing it’s boat straight towards it.

    • Doom Sternz

      Nonsense, Russian GDP looks like it will increase this year.

      • Tom Johnson

        The sucking sound just got louder…lol. Russia has a GDP that is not petrol based?-answer is NO.

        • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

          The US should really be worried about that failed US/EU/NATO/GCC coup in Turkey. What do you think will happen if the Eurasian alliance dumps the dollar? Who are you going to call? Dollar-busters???
          Beware the alliance of Russia+China+India+Pakistan+Iran+Turkey and others who will NEVER be US minions.

      • George Evans

        the latest buzz in the USA is that the definition of GDP no longer portrays what is required,,,a comprehensive re working will provide a temporary fix, they feel….

        this means the Chinese GDP is poised to overtake that of the USA..and that is “unthinkable “…even if accurate…

    • XRGRSF

      Not certain where you get your figures, Tom, but Russia doesn’t need anywhere near $88 per bbl to stay afloat (yes, I’m in the oil business). With a production cost of $2 to $5 per bbl, and the largest oil reserves in the world (Russia’s reserves are real, Saudi’s aren’t) Russia can play the price game while their economy diversifies. Saudi has no industry or raw materials; only oil. Saudi has no long term future unless they can find a way to export camel dung, and sand.

      • Tom Johnson

        You may be in the oil business, but judging by your myopic response you are not financially literate. Go read up on their “Burnrate”, and then delete your post.

        • XRGRSF

          My goodness, Tom, you certainly do seem to have hostility issues. Russia has the largest oil reserves proven by both production, and pool delineation. The Saudi reserves are unproven, and based primarily on past production, and speculation. I don’t know what “Burnrate” is, but I do have access to ExxonMobil strategic projections, and I think I’ll stick with that.

      • Tom Johnson

        I knew you were lying in your post-Russia is not #1 in oil reserves. Liar liar pants on fire, oh wait you’re in your mom’s basement-boxers or breifs…GTFO.

        • Tomko Kubianca

          “Liar liar pants on fire”…REALLY??? Maybe SF should enforce an age restriction on the forums.

    • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

      Give up Tom on this line. This is the old fallacy from June 1941. Russia was supposed to have collapsed last year! Do you remember that fart from Obama that Russia was in “tatters”? What happened?
      As for your Saudi head-chopping friends, where do you think the ISIS murderers will go after being kicked out of Syria? That’s right! Back to head-chopper land to send their Saudi friends to 80 virgin land!
      Chop, chop!!!

  • Boris Kazlov

    Iam sick of Russian groveling to USrahell, the most counterproductive policy. I used to admire Putin, after his failure in Ukraine and Syria I see him as confused and erratic.

  • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

    Proud and independent Russia must end this hankering after US/EU/NATO approval or there will no hope of freedom for humanity. I can only hope and pray that Putin will bide his time and strike when the time is right. There is a sense of a gathering of Eurasian forces which goes in the order of Russia>China>Iran>Turkey>India and even Pakistan.
    Yes it would have been appropriate for Putin to have accepted the DPR and LPR vote to leave Ukraine and join RF. But what happens to the millions of Ukrainians marooned in what is left of Maidan Ukraine? They have to be given time to see just what kind of organisation the US/EU/NATO cabal are. Only though a painful eye-opening process can the Ukrainian people make an informed choice about which civilisation they belong to. They may well choose to be labourers and cleaners in the service of the EU as opposed to doctors, scientists, engineers and LEADERS in the “Russian world”. So be it!
    Crimea has rightfully returned to Russia. The rest of Ukraine can only be saved by the Ukrainians themselves. Their true friends in Russia, Donbass and the rest of the Slavic world can only help them when they are ready to help themselves.
    Ukraine had chosen to be part of the Russian Empire after the defeat of the Poles and Swedes. Now, given time and patience shown by Putin, it will again choose (apart from Banderist Galicia) to be part of a Russian Federation that will also include Belarus, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia etc.
    A nation can only flourish if it is in its civilisational home.
    That is why the UK had Brexit after decades of confusion.
    I predict a Continental European Federation lead by Germany, to go with an Anglosphere of USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
    And of course the “Russkiy Mir”.
    It will require time and very painful patience which Putin has shown.

  • Ronald

    Erdogan claims to be grateful to Russia and Iran, but conitnues to allow the resuply of the anti-Syrian forces . American forces are now in Syria, and suddenly there is a Kurdish-government conflict. Assad and Putin should be protesting loudly , in the UN . If Syria becomes divided by the Kurdish, that will be followed by Turkey and Iran. The US has promissed the Kurds their long awaited nation. Syria , Turkey , and Iran , need to come to grips with this, and offer something more attractive. Iraq showed what is possible. If the world ever needed Putin’s negotiating skills, this is it.