You know that I am on record, in fact I am explicitly on record, forcefully and with emphasis, that US "Russia Study" field from the very political top, up to a level of POTUS, to the very bottom of a food chain populated with graduates of all kinds of useless programs and pseudo-sciences who do "research" on Russia by communicating with Russia's cultural, political and ideological rabidly pro-Western fringes because it is the only environment where these pseudo-scholars and allegedly "intelligence" people can get what they WANT to hear, not what is needed to be heard, is a wasteland. In general, American field on Russia is populated with people who literally have no clue. Such as Thomas Graham from Yale and from good ol' Henry Kissinger snake oil org dealing in BS in allegedly "geopolitics", business and other useless consulting.
I never hid the fact that US skills in foreign policy in general, and towards Russia in particular, are those of the third world nation and I know many third world nations whose diplomatic and analytical skills are still better. I pointed out not for once, and I am writing the third book on this issue, that US problem, far from being ignorant of the outside world, is, in fact rooted in a complete lack of self-awareness by US political class which exists primarily in an echo-chamber of shoddy "scholarship", mediocre thinkers, if that, and in an absence of a reliable understanding of real power. They simply have no method, period. The reason they don't have this method is because they place money at the center of any "analysis" without understanding of how real economies work and because of a rather weak grasp of the actual history. In general, as I stated not for once, it is next to impossible to explain humanities-"educated" (Graham has BA in "Russian Studies" and Ph.D in Political "Science", which means he wasted years studying BS) product of US Ivy League humanities madras how Russia really works, starting from economy to military, to political culture. Being a product of US "political culture", that is to say show-business, Graham wrote a piece two day ago which is very US political class, obsessed only with own appearances, symptomatic.
Projection of whatever sells as an illusion of competence, power and electability is, actually, a very American thing. In fact, it is the foundation of the election theater known as American "democracy". This is not to say that Putin doesn't "project", he surely does, but this projection is nowhere near in its falsity, superficiality and staging than it is the case with now running non-stop US election-campaigns. In this case Graham exhibits a very American political idiosyncrasy which puts forward appearances not the content. He surely confirms this immediately:
NEW YORK: Russian President Vladimir Putin refuses to yield under pressure. That is a matter of pride for Putin himself and a key aspect of his appeal to Russian elites and the public alike. The trick is preserving that reputation in the real world, where leaders routinely miscalculate and pivot while remaining loathe to admitting mistakes. The plunge in oil prices because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of the OPEC+ agreement on production cuts provide the most recent test.
Graham is butt-hurting and it shines through his traditional for US policy-making craft, and resorting to a traditional making shit up, which one would expect from a middle-level former bureaucrat in W. Administration well-known for fvcking it up majorly both for the world and the US. Graham lies, of course, because increase (and, most importantly, dynamics) of Russia's gold and currency reserves clearly indicated in Bank of Russia statistics, that Russia was in reserves' mobilization mode well before any actions at Vienna's OPEC meeting in March this year.
One can easily go to the site of Bank of Russia and apply filter say from April 2015 through April 2020 to see a dramatic growth of reserves, such as three fold growth of gold reserves alone. For Graham, obviously, it is not of any value since he doesn't understand the state of mind of majority of Russians who DO understand that they are in the existential struggle with the combined West led by the United States and the only thing Putin MUST project is a commitment to finish this fight. Russia was mobilizing for this fight since Munich Speech in 2007. Well, Graham, being a manager of Kissinger's org, should read his own boss' admission in 2015 where good ol' Henry stated (or accidentally dropped) the truth which majority of Russians (no, not the Russians Graham knows) are keenly aware of:
"Kissinger: If we treat Russia seriously as a great power, we need at an early stage to determine whether their concerns can be reconciled with our necessities. We should explore the possibilities of a status of nonmilitary grouping on the territory between Russia and the existing frontiers of NATO. The West hesitates to take on the economic recovery of Greece; it’s surely not going to take on Ukraine as a unilateral project. So one should at least examine the possibility of some cooperation between the West and Russia in a militarily nonaligned Ukraine. The Ukraine crisis is turning into a tragedy because it is confusing the long-range interests of global order with the immediate need of restoring Ukrainian identity. I favor an independent Ukraine in its existing borders. I have advocated it from the start of the post-Soviet period. When you read now that Muslim units are fighting on behalf of Ukraine, then the sense of proportion has been lost.
I will omit here Kissinger's complete lack of any foresight in regards to "integration", but Graham surely knows that there are no any altruistic intentions of the West towards Russia. Russians, being people well-conditioned by real wars, of which Graham has no real knowledge, exist in a different political and cultural reality to which US "methodology", fraudulent as it is, does not apply in principle. It is a complete different cultural and geopolitical thinking reality. The only people who do have at least some connection to this Russian reality are those from actual military and intelligence community who have to deal with tangibles, which, as it turned out, US political class ignores due to inability to understand them. As a result Graham arrives to this:
But Moscow did not anticipate the Saudi reaction to its refusal to agree to further cuts. The Saudis’ threat to open the spigot and offer steep discounts on their oil exports pushed oil prices down to lows not seen in decades. The price war had begun, even if only the Saudis were prosecuting it robustly: The Saudis had the capacity to add 2.5 million barrels a day, the Russians, 300,000. True to form, Moscow was defiant. Despite Russia’s dependence on oil for two-thirds of its export earnings and 40 percent of its budget revenue, the Ministry of Finance announced that Russia could withstand prices as low as $25 a barrel for up to ten years. It would draw on its $150 billion National Wealth Fund to cover gaps in the budget, currently based on an oil price of $42 a barrel. That was certainly an exaggeration, and the Russian oil industry itself would suffer significant damage in the short term if wells had to be capped. Still, the ministry sent the unequivocal message that Moscow would not back down.
Ah, no. It was anticipated, because unlike W. Administration of which Graham was a part of, such as "planning" some shit, I guess how to lose the war and bankrupt the United States in the process, Russia (Putin) operates on a completely different plane of a strategic planning and as the track record of the US and Russia in the last 10 years are compared, well let's speak in broadsides here, US "record" is that of a dysfunctional country incapable to even govern itself, let alone achieve any tangible political objectives abroad. Simple as that. What Russia may not have anticipated (and even that is a question) was an unfolding of Covid-19, but that is the whole other story altogether. Moreover, as latest data from bank of Russia shows in terms of drawing on Russia's gold-currency reserves, Russia, indeed, can sustain this oil war for many years. So, why Graham arrives to the conclusion that it is an "exaggeration" remains mystery known only to "analysts" such as him and, as I already stated above, their abilities are centered mostly around handling appearances, aka PR, and not operating with actual data and facts on the ground. If that would have been otherwise we would have had by now a stream of the American first-rate geopolitical and strategic thought. Instead what we have is a feeble exercise in chimeras, simulacra and demagoguery ranging from Fukuyama and Brzezinski to even late Huntington's attempts to make sense of the unfolding world which American self-proclaimed "intellectual" class largely is utterly unprepared. Graham is not an exception.
Here is a fact which Graham cannot face, that is why he continues to make shit up, when writing about oil wars:
US President Donald. Trump gave Putin the opening he sought. Trump initially greeted the price collapse as a “big tax cut,” but by the end of March, he changed his tune under pressure from the domestic oil sector. He set about trying to persuade the two strongmen he had cultivated since assuming office, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Putin, to agree to major production cuts.On March 31, Trump called Putin to discuss the novel coronavirus crisis and oil markets. Kremlin statements routinely note who initiates the call when Putin talks to foreign leaders, and the Kremlin readout makes it clear that Trump made the call – the inference was that Trump, not Putin, urgently needed relief from the price war and the pandemic.
This is a loaded (with utter butt-hurt) statement which reads like lament. For starters most countries, to the best of my knowledge, disclose on whose initiative phone calls are made between the heads of state. And, actually, if Mr. Graham would have followed events of the last couple of weeks he would have understood that it was and still is Trump who desperately needs anything, something which would save now wrecked US shale oil. There are NO inferences, there are only facts on the ground: Russia can ride this crisis out, the United States cannot and Texas Railroad Commission will meet on April 21 to discuss desperate cuts. Hey, don't look at me, just read the titles:
"If the Texas Railroad Commission does not regulate long term, we will disappear as an industry, like the coal industry," said Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, referring to the state agency that oversees oil and gas production. "The Commission really does not have any wiggle room to do nothing in the unprecedented, disastrous circumstances of today."
This was Russia's position from the get go and it was explicitly articulated by Putin on a number of occasions: Russia was ready to cut ONLY if the United States takes part in those cuts.
This was repeated so many times, on so many occasions, that I don't know how Graham has missed that. Moreover, Russia's main long term objective is to attach the United States to a newly emerging Cartel and to restrain US attempts to pull blanket on itself. Moreover, this whole event shows Russia's even bigger goal for setting up what was already dubbed as Yalta 2.0 where new world order would be formalized. Today, against the background of mounting empirical evidence of the American collapse and departure as self-proclaimed hegemon, new arrangements between superpowers are an utter necessity. United States may continue with its incessant propaganda and pretense that it is what it thinks it is, but the era of the American "dominance" across the board is over, it was over for some time now. United States still remains a superpower, but it is a superpower among few others and the better this fact is internalized and more humble attitudes are developed before getting to the negotiating table, the better it will be for all parties involved, including the United States herself which is in dire need of putting its own house in order for a long time. But don't expect "expertise" from such people as Graham to be of any use for that, not only spinning, a euphemism for lying, is the only skill they have but the fact of being sore losers only compounds their inability to face reality.