Former US security officials: We did ‘everything possible’ to include Russia in international systems

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The former siloviki insist the US has done its best to integrate Russia, dismissing claims that America was “trying to humiliate” the former Soviet Union.

“I’ll take a chance and say that I think everyone from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration to the Obama administration to the Trump administration have done their best to try and integrate Russia into the international system,” former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday at the Aspen Security Forum.

“The idea that we were somehow trying to humiliate Russia, trying to impose something like Versailles is simply not true.”

Previous President Bill Clinton insisted in April he could do nothing to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and denied that his administration went out of its way to “isolate, humiliate or ignore” the Russian leader.

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“This is the biggest bunch of bulls you’ve ever heard,” he said.

And Rice echoed Clinton’s sentiment, although she acknowledged that America owes more attention to the international community, which could come at the cost of Russian cooperation on the world stage.

Director of the Global Center for Business and Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business Condoleezza Rice during a game against Wake Forest.  Stanford, California.

Director of the Global Center for Business and Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business Condoleezza Rice during a game against Wake Forest. Stanford, California.
(John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

“Are you going to say to the new democratic Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and then Romania, the Baltics: “Oh, sorry, you went through this democratic revolution, you broke away from the Soviet Union.” ..but you are still part of the Soviet empire, so just get used to it?” she asked.

“It turns out that the Poles, Hungarians and others reminded us when we were in NATO that in fact for them it was not about the role of NATO in Afghanistan – they were in NATO because Russia will one day become a revanchist” she added, referring to Russia’s possible desire to revive the Soviet Union. “So maybe they understood it better than we did.”

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Rice drew particular attention to Putin’s nationalist leanings, which she attributed to his isolation and “modern Rasputins” who filled the Russian leader’s head with notions of a “dynastic, messianic duty” to revive the “Russian nation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to silence the non-state media.  (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to silence the non-state media. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool photo via AP)
(Yuri Kochetkov/Pool photo via AP)

On the same forum before National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley stressed that Putin “changed a lot” during his decades in office and ultimately made it impossible for the US to engage with him and Russia’s integration into international institutions.

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“I would say that the problem was the color revolutions, which according to Putin were basically a CIA operation carried out through NGOs to overthrow governments and install – we would say democratic, he would say democratic governments that were anti-Russian, and that it was a dress rehearsal for what we were going to do with Russia,” he said. “And I think at that point we lost him.”