The “State Department’s Brain” Saves Russian Oligarchs: They Are the US’ Last Hope

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Some Russian media agencies and numerous western politicians expect that the February sanctions of the US aimed at pushing Russian oligarchs to overthrow “Putin’s regime” will become a strong blow to the Russian economic and political life. In my opinion, the situation should be assessed from a diametrically opposite position, because “anti-oligarchical measures” will become the reason for the activation of the repatriation to Russia of private capital and will actually provide the accelerated consolidation of the Russian elite. It is indicative that in the American media a similar position was sounded.

The high-ranking employee of the legendary think-tank “RAND Corporation” William Courtney desperately urges American politicians to come to their senses and to cease to harm themselves through the imposition of sanctions aimed at the Russian business community. The old-school export – one of those American analysts who played an important role in the victory of the US over the USSR in the cold war – clearly realises that the actions of the American leadership harm American interests and that group that he calls “the Russian civil society”. “RAND Corporation” is an expert organisation created to serve the analytical demands of the US army, but its services were often demanded by other government institutions, including the CIA. A paradoxical situation was created: the analytical service of American spies publicly urges the country’s leaders not to be engaged in self-sabotage, and in the process very interesting details of the expert view of the Russian reality become clear.

From the article published in the specialised political publication “The Hill” it is possible to draw the conclusion that RAND in general doesn’t believe in the theory that oligarchs frightened by sanctions will be able to provide some political changes in Russia. Based on his experience in the Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia, Mr. Courtney, who from 1972 to 1999 worked in high-ranking positions at the State Department and was in charge of the Russian and Ukrainian directions, patiently explains that the 1990’s ended long ago, that Berezovsky is no longer in Russia, and in general there are no oligarchs possessing even a little bit of significant political influence. The expert ascertains that because of Vladimir Putin’s actions all businessmen, irrespective of the size of their fortune, are obliged “to deal with officialdom, including by paying taxes, securing licenses and obtaining rights to natural resources”.

Moreover, from the point of view of Courtney, Putin is engaged in forcing business to participate in important State programs or projects, such as the Olympic Games in Sochi. In general, in front of senators and congressmen a picture is being drawn in which the Russian State is engaged in systematic institutional violence against business, which was so influential in the 90’s that it could actually appoint the President (there is a separate mention about this in Courtney’s article), but now in general it can’t do anything without the State’s consent, and is even compelled to finance “Putin projects”. In this paradigm it turns out that Russian business is a large collective victim of the Russian State, but it is impossible to punish the victim, and to force it to resist is also immoral and, by and large, unpromising. According to RAND Corporation, all “bad businessmen” were already punished in 2014-2015, and this is logical, after all, from the American point of view it is impossible to leave such a “crime” as constructing a bridge to Crimea unpunished. But all the rest of Russian business needs to be cared for and cherished, rather than trying to lash it with sanctions.

READ:  Stopping Gold Purchases: Mishustin vs. the Liberal Lobby in the Government

Fortunately for us, the US Treasury is unlikely to heed William Courtney’s admonition, it must compile a list of Russian businessmen who will be subjected to formal and informal sanctions by the US, and thus their access to the dollar financial system will be blocked.

The matter is that the current specifics of the American political life strongly complicate the adoption of any thought out decisions, and almost any strategic ideas are safely swept aside if they disturb good public relations, about which it is possible to report vividly on social networks and which will look good in the internal “news cycle”. It is very difficult to believe that someone in Trump administration or in the environment of Steven Mnuchin — the head of the American treasury — really believes that sanctions against Russian business will lead to some changes in the Russian political life that will be positive for the US. But it is precisely such sanctions that Congress and Senate demands from them, and in order to fend off new accusations of “playing for the Kremlin”, Trump’s administration, most likely, will opt for the drawing up of restrictive measures in accordance with the principle “the longer the list, the better”. If, for the sake of good PR and the opportunity to write on twitter something like “the ingenious President imposed brilliant sanctions against Putin’s bad businessmen”, there will be a need to rob apolitical or even pro-West Russian businessmen, then this will be done without the slightest regrets in strict accordance with a known joke about the sheriff and the problems of Indians.

READ:  ​CIA Archives: How the US was Preparing an Anti-Soviet Operation in Ukraine

In a certain sense the damage from sanctions that weren’t yet imposed on the apolitical (and in places even “liberal”) segment of the Russian business community was already caused, but it’s not Russian interests that were damaged, but American ones. The very fact that considerable sums and assets can be frozen or expropriated for the sake of a cheap political show already discredits the financial system of the US in the eyes of not only Russian business, but also from the point of view of the elites of all countries, who can found themselves falling under American restrictions, and, as practice shows, in general nobody is safe from American sanctions.

Irrespective of the fact of how the story with “oligarch sanctions” will end, the fact that the political system of the US definitively switched to a regime of show business and shows total deafness and immunity to boring expert calculations, even if behind them there is the knowledge of those who were able to destroy the USSR, can’t but please. Experience and cold blood now are not honoured. The media in all seriousness discusses the possible promotion of the TV host Oprah Winfrey as an opponent of Trump in the next presidential elections in 2020. America is tired of boring professional politicians, and the era of social networks demands new heroes and leaders of opinions.

The logic of the show is incompatible with the logic of big-time politics. A decision that will bring many likes and enthusiastic comments on social networks and also looks good on the TV screens more often turns out to be a terrible mistake in the long-term, which is well visible in how Trump’s administration breaks with its own hands the last instrument of American influence over Russian society and the economy. If this will continue, the showmen and politicians will perform a considerable part of the work on dismantling American hegemony, which can’t but please all the free world. Therefore – let the show go on. The season of 2018 promises to be very interesting.

READ:  Being a Daredevil Country Against a World Bandit Is Priceless

Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.