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Gelb: U.S. Policy on Russia Is a ‘Losing Strategy’ Without Real Diplomacy

July 6. 2015 (EIRNS)—Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, former New York Times columnist, former State and Defense Department official, writing in an op-ed in the Daily Beast website, describes the U.S. policy of sanctions and military pressure against Russia as a "losing strategy" because it discounts diplomacy. "By themselves, upping military and economic pressure is both a dangerous and losing strategy," he writes. "The indisputable fact that hawks in the administration, Congress, and the think tanks simply won’t face is this: Russia has military superiority on its borders with the Baltic States and Ukraine." Moscow has the advantage, he argues, in both direct military power and in indirect methods that NATO has no idea how to respond to. "America’s hawks never want to discuss these realities. They simply wish the facts away with their chest thumping and absolute faith in the Zeusian power of toughness," Gelb writes. "Yet they forever disregard being tough in the context of what General Breedlove called the ‘diplomatic and political solution.’ To the hawks, diplomacy simply means capitulation (except if they do it)."

The way to deal with that reality is with something Gelb calls "Détente Plus." The aim of this new diplomatic strategy, Gelb continues, "is to explore seriously whether Russia is prepared to work with the U.S. in Europe and elsewhere to solve or mitigate genuine common problems based on genuine shared or overlapping interests." This "has to proceed from the commonsensical judgment that Russia does have legitimate interests that should not be ignored..." The Détente Plus strategy, Gelb says, is probably the only way to protect Western interests without dangerous confrontations.

Gelb leaves unsaid that this can’t be done while President Obama remains in office but it’s obvious, nonetheless (in January, Gelb had called for a total purge of the Obama White House team). "For all this to work, the overall Détente Plus relationship has to be established and blessed by the two presidents." When this process begins to show results then the U.S. and NATO can begin to take account of Russia’s legitimate interests in Ukraine and elsewhere. "Russia has no rights to any of these territories, but it does have legitimate interests in preventing their use against Russia," says Gelb. The first step is for the U.S. to develop a strategy and then to sit down with Russia to "fashion" a joint strategy with Putin. The alternative, Gelb warns, "is to leave NATO in a position of military inferiority on Russia’s borders where sparks could easily turn into explosions."