The latest extraordinary roughshod violation of Russian diplomatic rights by the American authorities shows that the US doesn’t want to restore normal bilateral relations. Indeed, it has now resorted publicly to jackboot diplomacy.
The rapid ordering of Russia to vacate three of its diplomatic properties – in a matter of hours – amid reported threats from the American authorities that they would smash down entrance doors if the orders were not complied with, shows a reckless disregard for Russia’s sovereign rights. Not just Russia’s sovereign rights, but the rights of all nations, as far as America is concerned.
There were also reports that US secret service agents conducted inspections of the properties while Russian officials were deprived access to the building. Such conduct marks not only provocative contempt for Russian authorities, it also raises concerns that US agents were attempting to plant incriminating evidence which might be subsequently "uncovered" by the ongoing probes into alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election last year.
What’s more, the manhandling of Russian diplomatic rights came on the personal orders from President Donald Trump, according to press reports. Previously, Trump had stated his desire to restore normal bilateral relations with Russia. One has to conclude that the latest breach of Russian sovereignty is a blunt sign that American official policy is now fully aligned in an antagonistic agenda toward Moscow.
The collective American amnesia is astounding. The shuttering of the three Russian properties in San Francisco, New York and Washington was presented by the US State Department and US media as a "retaliation" for Russia’s expulsion of some 455 American diplomats in July.
Downplayed or omitted in the US media coverage was the fact that Russia expelled those diplomats in response to the Obama administration expropriating three Russian properties and ejecting 35 Russian diplomats back in December 2016. Russia had patiently waited seven months to see if the new Trump administration would do the decent thing and undo the Obama violations. The Trump administration not only did not undo the damage, it went further to impose new trade and political sanctions on Russia.
Thus, Russia had every right to reciprocate with its expulsions in July, which in any case brought the remaining 400 or so US diplomats down to the same number as Russian diplomats residing in the US. Moscow also gave the American side a month to vacate its premises. The Americans gave the Russians 12 hours.
Trump’s latest diplomatic infringement brings the total number of closed Russian properties to six, and marks a dramatic escalation in the dispute. Moscow has said it will respond appropriately.
Relations between the two nations are deteriorating rapidly beyond the already frayed level. But let’s be clear: it is the US side which is responsible for the downward spiral.
Obama’s unprecedented expulsions and expropriations were premised on lurid accusations that the Russian government ordered an interference campaign in the US presidential election. No evidence has yet been provided by the US intelligence agencies to support this sensational and nebulous claim. Yet we are in an extraordinary situation of tit-for-tat diplomatic blows based on unproven American allegations. This is a mockery of legal due process.
Russia has consistently dismissed those accusations, saying that they are motivated by anti-Russian prejudice and US political in-fighting and scapegoating. Ironically, Trump who has lambasted the "Russia collusion" claims as fake news put out by the pro-Democrat news media and intelligence community is now, in effect, jumping on the anti-Russia juggernaut with his latest order of diplomatic seizures. American folly knows no bounds.
The American amnesia is even more problematic. The sanctions against Russia began in 2014 over the Ukraine crisis. That crisis was instigated by American and European interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine and the eventual violent coup against an elected government in Kiev. The US-backed regime that seized power has been attacking the separatist ethnic Russian population of eastern Ukraine for the past three years. Meanwhile the people of Crimea voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation instead of recognizing the Neo-Nazi Banderite Kiev regime. Yet it is Russia which is sanctioned by the US and its European allies for "destabilizing Ukraine."
The US is showing itself with full inglorious nakedness to be a petulant bully that flaunts international law. In short, an utterly shameless rogue regime that is now completely out of control, and doesn’t even care what others think. The latest violation of Russian sovereignty epitomizes the general high-handed attitude of the Americans to international law and the sovereign rights of all nations.
Amazingly, US media made self-justifying speculative comments that the alleged burning of documents inside the Russian consulate in San Francisco was "evidence" of Russian subterfuge and espionage. It is every nation’s sovereign right under international law to be afforded privacy for its diplomats. Instead of insinuating Russian wrongdoing, the proper, more disturbing, perspective should be that America has so little respect for international law that other nations no longer trust the US to abide by diplomatic legal standards.
The violation of Russian rights is consistent with the US violation of Ukraine which is in turn consistent with American violation of Syria, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Venezuela, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, to mention just a few other recent cases.
On North Korea, what gives the US the legal and moral authority to declare that diplomacy does not work, or that negotiations might only be permitted if stringent preconditions are met by Pyongyang? How is that the US arrogates the "right" to threaten war on North Korea (as well as Iran and Venezuela and others) while glibly ruling out the obligation to hold equal dialogue and comply with diplomatic protocols? This is the behavior and mindset of a tyrant. A fascist state.
The latest manhandling of Russian sovereign rights is a stark milestone in the degeneration of the United States. It is abandoning any pretense at civil diplomacy.
Jackboot diplomacy is the corollary of US wars of aggression, mass murder, mass torture, and the systematic destruction of international law. All with the narcissistic smile of smug self-righteousness.
Reprinted with permission from the Strategic Culture Foundation.