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Paul Craig Roberts: “Guile Replaces The Stick: Washington’s New Approach To Russia”

Yesterday we were speculating about the real meaning of the apparent volte-face by France in its approach to Russia following the Paris attacks. On the face of it it seems implausible that Hollande (of all people) is really finding the spine to stand up to the US, or that NATO might respond to the attacks by abandoning its central policy in the Middle East and allowing Russia to establish itself as a presence there. Is something else brewing? Here Paul Craig Roberts suggests one possible interpretation.

Washington has learned that threats and coercion do not work against Russia. All the threats have done is to build Putin’s public support to astronomical levels and to unify Russia against the West’s assault. This is a failed policy that Washington is abandoning as Washington sees a new opportunity in Russia’s desire for Western cooperation, not only against ISIL but also on a wide range of other issues.

Realizing that guile can be more effective than the stick, the West is moving toward drawing Russia into the Western system by offering a coalition against ISIL. Once Russia is in a coalition against ISIL, Russia will lose control. This is Washington’s strategy for counteracting the initiative that Russia seized in Syria.

Once Russia is in a coalition against ISIL, Russia will have to make compromises. Putin will be told that Russia can have ISIL, but Russia has to turn Assad’s fate over to the West. If Putin balks, the Western media will blame Putin for topedoing the war against ISIL.

Getting rid of ISIL is more important to the Russian government than saving Assad. If a jihadist Islamic State is established, there will be a base for exporting turmoil into the Muslim regions of the Russian Federation.

Once Russia accepts “cooperation” with the West against ISIL, more “cooperation” will be used to gradually erode bit by bit Russia’s independence and to bring Russian policy in alignment with Washington’s.

Many in Russia believe that the Paris attack proves that Putin was right and that the West now realizes this and will accept Russian leadership in the fight against ISIL. This belief is delusional. Washington will take advantage of Russian desire for Western cooperation and will use this desire in order to bring Russia under Western influence, thus reestablishing Washington’s hegemony.


  1. Marc Krizack says

    It is certainly true that France and other US European allies have not experience a great epiphany that Russia was right all along. But whatever their motives, Assad’s fate will now be determined by Russia. If Russia finds it expedient to replace him, then he will be replaced. If not, then he won’t. I would be very surprised if Putin gave away the advantage he now has by subordinating his freedom of action to an international coalition. No, the Russian position is clear and it is firm. Norms of international state-to-state relations must be maintained, or in this case, restored. Only the Syrian people can remove Assad. That will not happen until the ISIS threat is removed and only those who support maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty can have a say in the future of Syria.

  2. Guest says

    The U.S. are not offering to be in a coalition with Russia.
    If you read the media at the G20 this was rejected.
    The U.S. want to carry on with there policy which has resulted in ISIL getting stronger.
    NATO are not going to get involved they are too busy in the balyic a preparing for a Russian invasion.
    Russia has increaed it’s planes in Syria increased its bombing they have the superior power in Syria with the Syrian Air Force.
    France are in Mali and other places in Africa they will not send much force to Syria yet.

  3. rehmat1 says

    “Once Russia is in a coalition against ISIL, Russia will lose control. This is Washington’s strategy for counteracting the initiative that Russia seized in Syria.”

    I agree with Dr. Roberts on that. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei rejected Obama-Kerry’s suggestion that Iran joins the US-lead “coalition of absurd” to fight ISIS/ISIL, which is a US-Israel creation to destabilize the region to maintain US-Israel hegemony in the region.

    On September 10, 2015, Ayatullah Khamenei said that he authorized Iranian government to hold talks only on nuclear issue and nothing else. He elaborated that even after America’s signing nuclear agreement and lifting sanctions against Iranian nations, the relations between Iran and US would not normalize, because Iranian nation can’t trust American leaders.

    Khamenei noted that United states doesn’t conceal its animosity toward Iran, adding; “one US official smiles, while another draws up a bill against Iran.”


  4. I think Putin is as usual 2 or even 3 steps ahead of the Americans so this hypothesis is questionable as the real defeat for the West is not the loss of “its” ISIS tool but if Assad is democratically re-elected by an overwhelming majority of the real Syrian people – This will destroy US Hegemony for the next century!

    • While I partially agree, I’m afraid I can’t share your optimism. IF there is a Syrian election and IF Assad is permitted to stand and IF he wins a large majority….the US et al will simply claim it was rigged. Then they’ll claim Assad broke whatever agreements have been made by being “corrupt” and we’ll be right back here.

  5. Well seeing as Putin has run rings around Washington on Syria for the last three years despite them instigating a fascist coup on his doorstep, their skill at guile seem somewhat lacking. And it goes back to the age old problem of the American delusion which is “we must be the smartest because we have more money to spend on lethal weapons”

    Wherever one finds arrogance about intelligence or skill sets one finds incompetence and failing.

    Guile isn’t in American military nature that’s why Vietcong and the talaban beat them, and that’s why Russia is making it hard for them.

    • bill says

      Its certainly arguable that the US elite really expected or wanted to win in Vietnam-war is profits-( most Americans who fought there complain that they fought the war with one hand tied) and made up the domino theory as a clever facade against the “red peril”.Nor has the US truly lost in Afghanistan but war profiteers have made $billions and has secured there what it wants in terms of bases……Paul Roberts seems to have forgotten that Russia has already severely dented IS and is increasing operational capacity and doesnt mention al Nusra at all.Putin may persuade Assad to retire to a warm dacha somewhere and return to medecine…..

      • I think PCR’s point is that if Putin is pushed, both by internal and external forces, to “compromise” too much over Syria in return for easing of sanctions, it might well prove to be a tar pit for him. The west has almost limitless resources on hand for manipulation in the form of NGOs, covert operatives etc, and having them allegedly on side might be more dangerous for Russian independence than having them as declared enemies.

        Putin also needs to watch his back if he too obviously resists blandishments from the west, as there are many in the Russian political class who would willingly embrace western colonisation (as Eltsin did), and if Putin can be portrayed as resisting “co-operation” and thereby being responsible for continued sanctions this might bring him difficulties domestically.

        • The Russians still remember what the 90s were like when the Oligarchy raped and brutalized Russia Putin came to power jailed the worst and put the rest in boxes ,he was in town and they knew it

          I get the feeling Something big is brewing in the Syrian theatre of war .Whatever it is Turkey and Israel have been notified ,or so it seems

        • It’s certainly true that the west has a “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render all that is god’s as well or we’ll ruin you”

          Sharing isn’t in the philosophy really, I use the term west because, although driven by American might I’m still not sure that the US ever stayed out of the British Empire for that long. They seem to have dismissed the constitution and certainly spend a lot of time fawning around the queen these days.

    • misericordia says

      “Wherever one finds arrogance about intelligence or skill sets one finds incompetence and failing.”

      It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

      • That’s great! That’s going to be my next band doing badly executed Jimi Hendrix Experience covers – our first album will be called “Are you Effected?”

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