By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed publicly in Geneva on Friday, January 21, that he will not negotiate a no-war agreement with the Russians because he cannot. This is already understood by the Russians; by the French and Germans; and by several senior officials of the Biden Administration.
The evidence of Blinken’s incapacity is in the words he says.
It was during the last world war, when US policymakers had next to no intelligence on how their German counterparts were thinking and what they were intending, that a group of American sociologists were engaged by the War Department, as the Pentagon was called then, to do what was called content analysis of German propaganda. One of the sociologists, a Russian émigré Nathan Leites, went on to apply the same method to Soviet publications in order to uncover what Leites called the operational code of the Politburo. That was in 1951. It was immediately used by US negotiators during the Korean War armistice negotiations which began in July of that year and ran for two years. By then Leites had produced a sequel, A Study of Bolshevism. Both were paid for and published by RAND, the think-tank created in 1945 by the US Air Force, the Douglas Aircraft Company, and the War Department.
Since then the method has not been used on US Government officials, at least not by RAND nor publicly by any American sociologist.
When the RAND method is used to analyze what Blinken told the US press, following his meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, it is revealed that Blinken has no intention whatever of negotiating a non-aggression pact with the Russians on any terms. According to the scientific method devised by the best and brightest Americans for dealing with their enemies, it’s now clear from Blinken’s own words that he is unable to understand what Russians tell him. In the mind behind the words there is only one compulsive idea – attack, punish, destroy Russia.
The State Department has published the transcript of Blinken’s statement and answers to questions at his press conference.
No posting time has been indicated by the State Department. Watch Blinken read from a written script for the first six and a half minutes of his 29 and a half-minute briefing.
Blinken’s meeting with Lavrov lasted for just 90 minutes. The session on January 10 between their deputies, Wendy Sherman and Sergei Ryabkov, had run for almost eight hours. That has been analysed here.
At his parallel press conference in Geneva, Lavrov explained: “Punctuality, in principle, cannot be a bad sign. We planned the meeting for an hour and a half. It was pretty clear what we were going to discuss. There was no need to reproduce everything that was said at the Russian-American talks in Geneva on January 10 this year and at the meeting of the Russia-NATO Council on January 12 this year.”
“We heard the first reaction of the United States (so far verbally) to what was discussed in those two formats at the level of our deputies. As the American side requested when it proposed to hold this meeting, the reaction was preliminary. We were warned about this. It was accompanied by clarifying questions addressed to us, the answers to which will help Washington (A. Blinken told me this on the phone) to prepare a written response to our written drafts of the treaty with the United States and the agreement with NATO. That’s what happened today.” Read Lavrov’s remarks in full.
The Russian Foreign Ministry transcript was posted at 19:36 Moscow time on January 21. Source: https://mid.ru/
Lavrov spoke extemporaneously; unlike Blinken, he did not read from prepared script or notes.Lavrov said it was premature for him to “chew over” what Blinken’s intentions, or US government plans – Lavrov distinguishes between them – are for war in Europe. “I cannot say that we are on the right or wrong path. We will understand this when we get the American reaction ‘on paper’ to all the points of our proposals.”
“This was not a negotiation,” Blinken declared, “but a candid exchange of concerns and ideas.” For content analysis, the reporters’ questions and extraneous editing materials have been removed; Blinken’s text runs for 3,359 words. These have been transferred to a document file where conventional text search analyses have been performed.
In Blinken’s text, the word “exchange” appeared only once. When Blinken used the word “idea”, he meant his own. This word appeared five times – four of them refer to Blinken’s ideas, none to Lavrov’s. The word “concern” appeared 23 times, and is one of Blinken’s most frequently used substantive terms. He used it 7 times for Russia; 8 times for the US, and 8 times referring neutrally to the mutual or reciprocal concerns on the two sides.
Defining what he meant by “concern”, Blinken used the term “security” 15 times – 8 times to refer to what he called US security or that of its allies; 5 times neutrally; just twice to Russian security. “Actions” Blinken used as often – 15 mentions. Just twice did Blinken mean US actions, and only once was the term used neutrally. The overwhelming majority of “actions”, 12 altogether, are Russian in Blinken’s vocabulary: they are either “military”, or “destabilizing”, “escalatory”, “aggressive”, “threatening”, or “challenge or undermine peace and security not only in Ukraine but throughout Europe and, indeed, in the world”.
“Defense” was used 8 times, but only in relation to the US or its allies, principally the Ukraine. Blinken does not acknowledge that Russia has any “concern” or is taking any “action” to safeguard its own “security”, or is engaged in defence of itself. “Interests” was a term that Blinken applied four times, but exclusively to Russia.
“Aggression” appeared 15 times in Blinken’s briefing of almost 30 minutes; subtracting the time it took the journalists to ask their questions, Blinken used “aggression” every 1.5 minutes, and applied it only to Russia. In Blinken’s mind, there has been no Ukrainian attack on the Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the east of the country; no civil war; no legitimate Ukrainian opposition to the Kiev regime. Beyond the Ukraine, Blinken added, “Russia has an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyber attacks, paramilitary tactics, and other means of advancing their interests aggressively without overtly using military action.”
“Military” (x7) is principally what Blinken attributes to Russia. “Invade” (x6) and “attack ” (x2), are exclusively Russian. “Response” (x5) is solely what the US does, and almost always “united” (x4).
In Russia’s draft non-aggression treaty with the US, presented on December 17, the “core security interest” of Russia is the halt, then pullback of the deployment of US nuclear weapons under NATO cover towards Russia’s sea and land frontiers. Blinken did not mention the term “missile”, and the only reference he made to nuclear weapons was to Iran’s nuclear programme. Even that, Blinken turned into a Russian responsibility. “We hope that Russia will use the influence that it has and relationship that it has with Iran to impress upon Iran that sense of urgency, and equally, that if we’re unable to do that because Iran refuses to undertake the obligations that are necessary, that we will pursue a different path in dealing with the danger posed by Iran’s renewed nuclear program.” This was Blinken’s reference to the Israeli plan of attack on Iran; he appears to endorse it.
Blinken has ignored the fundamental point of the Russian proposals in the draft pacts for the US and NATO. He has dismissed Sherman’s talks with Ryabkov on reducing the threats of nuclear war in Europe and between Russia and the US.
Instead, the words Blinken has chosen mean more war on the Ukraine front. The only “terms” (x8) he referred to are not those he is ready to “negotiate” (x1) with Russia, but the “terms of the assistance we’re providing to Ukraine for its defense, in terms of the work we’re doing at NATO to prepare as necessary to further reinforce the Alliance, and continuing to define and refine massive consequences for Russia with our allies and partners when it comes to financial, economic and other sanctions.”
Tested in two hot wars, and during the Cold War, the RAND method for gauging the intention of the adversary predicts this about Blinken – he wants war with Russia; he has no mind for any alternative.