The mainstream Russian view of a hypocritically arrogant and ignorant and ignorant Western establishment attitude towards Russia continues to be underrepresented in Western mass media and body politic. A recent case in point is former US National security Adviser Stephen Hadley’s Johnson’s Russia List promoted three step approach at improving US-Russian relations, which initially appeared on the CBS Radio affiliated Intelligence Matters podcast of September 18. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell, hosted Hadley for that segment. Morrell’s primitively stated stance towards Russia, Syria and Iran is a matter of record.

Hadley’s three highlighted points to improve US-Russian relations concern the US election process, the FBI led John Mueller investigation on Russia’s alleged activity in that matter and Ukraine. As has been true elsewhere (like a recently flawed and lengthy New York Times piece), Hadley and Morrell fail to provide conclusive evidence of a concerted Russian government effort to effect the outcome of the 2016 US presidential vote as has been claimed. The FBI hasn’t taken up Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to have FBI officials interview the indicted (by Mueller) 12 Russians in Russia – individuals who were supposedly involved in adversely effecting the election at issue – once again noting as claimed and without irrefutably stated proof.

On Ukraine, Hadley offers no substantive alternative. As is Hadley’s preference, the US can choose to not recognize the obvious about Crimea’s reunification with Russia, as Washington recognizes Kosovo’s separation of Serbia, in contradiction to the desire of Belgrade and UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Rather surprisingly, an article in the not so Russia friendly website of the Atlantic Council, acknowledges that Kiev regime controlled Ukraine has violence among nationalist anti-Russian elements. Ignoring this matter omits a fundamental problem.

Rather interestingly, Hadley had nothing to say about Syria. An unnamed Trump administration official is on record for wanting the US to support quagmires for Russia in Syria. The neocon/neolib leaning foreign policy preferences of Hadley and Morrell include a clearly stated notion that the US is the best power block to lead the international stage. When faced with a relatively objective discussion, this view flops when referencing the US government regime change actions in Iraq and Libya. It’s that very track record which serves as a basis for Russia to militarily engage in Syria, in accordance with international law.

Foreign policy recommendations are influenced by a given mindset – something quite evident when listening to Hadley and Morrell. On Russia related matters, their views unfortunately dominate the US political establishment – as evident by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent comments on NBC’s Meet the Press. A noticeably different alternative is possible, which better serves the interests of the US, Russia and the rest of the world at large.

Get off the high horse of moral superiority and recognize that “US leadership” isn’t necessarily the best option. Ideally, the otherwise noble cause of human rights shouldn’t be propagandistically used in a hypocritical manner. Play more of a role reversal. A related point concerns the American elites’ belief that they’re part of a free press. Sorry, but Morrell-Hadley exchanges are limited, in terms of what can be reasonably said. That point leads to the advocacy for a greater diversity at the leading US venues (academic and media) dealing with US-Russian relations.

It’s somewhat bemusing to see Columbia University Assistant Professor of Journalism Keith Gessen lauded, for suggesting in The New York Times, that a more understanding perspective of Russia is lacking within US establishment circles. Coming from him in the so-called paper of record, one senses a kabuki element. Overall much of Gessen’s published views on Russia are in sync with the negatively inaccurate perceptions of that country dominating US mass media. Hence, putting him on a pedestal for improving the coverage of Russia has the aura of a managed (censored) alternative.

It’s no small wonder why The New York Times carries his commentary. After Gessen’s overrated article on the US assessments of Russia, he wrote another New York Times piece, which starts off with several negative tabloid inaccuracies concerning that nation – the kind of innuendo which has been refuted in detail at the Strategic Culture Foundation and some other venues – something that Gessen chose not to do in his aforementioned article. Comparing Gessen to (as an example) Amy Knight is (put mildly) quite relative and not indicative of the range of valid views regarding Russia.

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. This article initially appeared at the Strategic Culture Foundation’s website on September 28.

Michael Averko

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