Nearly two dozen countries have joined the UK in expelling Russian diplomats over the poisoning of ex--spy Sergei Skripal in southern England. Speaking to Sputnik, Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity, shared his thoughts on the broader implications of the case, and what Russia's approach should be.
Sputnik: What are your thoughts on what’s going on with this expulsion of the Russian diplomats?
Daniel McAdams: I think it's something that's very well coordinated. I don't think anybody would claim that this is some sort of a spontaneous act that arose out of an alleged poisoning.
We haven't seen the alleged victims of the poisoning. We haven't seen any evidence whatsoever. In fact the High Court in the UK contradicted what Prime Minister Theresa May said when she said she was certain that [Skripal and his daughter] were poisoned with a military grade nerve gas and certain that it was of the Novichok variety. The Court itself in their investigation of the blood contradicted that. So this is a well-coordinated attack, probably by the US and the UK.
Sputnik: What do you think is the pretext for this move, if you're saying that this was some sort of a coordinated move?
Daniel McAdams: I have a theory. It's just a theory, but if you look at what is going to happen in May, I think it becomes very plausible and worth considering.
A couple of factors. First of all, the neocons are on the ascent in the Trump administration. We absolutely know that with rise of Mike Pompeo, Gina Haspel, and now the arrival of John Bolton as national security advisor – these are people who are dedicated to having a war with Iran. It is in May that President Trump is expected to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.
The huge question is — what will the EU do? Will the EU go along with the United States and pull out of a deal that's proven a) very successful and b) rather lucrative, especially to countries like Germany, which are enjoying quite a bit of trade with Iran now. Will they fall in line on an issue that will hurt them, hurt their economies with no real gain, only because Washington says so? Or will there be a huge break with the US, and will they refrain?
I think this a test run for this. I think you're seeing now what will happen in May when President Trump as expected pulls the US out of the Iran deal. In short this is all about Iran.
Sputnik: Who had reasons to harm Skripal? Because there are a lot of theories floating around on why Russia, the US, the UK would want to get rid of him. What theories are you familiar with, and which do you think actually makes sense?
Daniel McAdams: The whole thing is that it doesn't make sense and it's not supposed to make sense. What reason would Putin have for poisoning a has-been, washed up former double agent who was living out his retirement in the UK, having not only served his time in a Russian jail, but been sent to the UK by Russia?
There's no logic in it; it doesn't make sense, and I don't think it needs to make sense, because essentially what the media is doing is propagandizing the population in favor of the madman theory. That's critical to do when you're trying to start aggression against a country. We had it with Gaddafi, we had it with Saddam Hussein, with Assad, with Kim Jong-un. 'These are madmen who are irrational. We cannot do business with them. We cannot make a deal with them. They do crazy things that make no sense.'
This is exactly what the propaganda is doing; I'm just surprised that more people aren't questioning it, [since it's been] done over and over and over.
Sputnik: A lot of people who are questioning this whole action are just wondering why there was no official investigation. Why was such a symbolic measure taken? Shouldn't there be more serious consequences if Russia is in fact in violation of international law by manufacturing, stockpiling or storing these weapons, and why has nothing been shown to support this?
Daniel McAdams: I think this here is a real weakness on the Russian side and the Russian position, because they continue to pursue the assumption that this has something to do with truth and with science, when in fact it does not at all. These are not partners acting in a responsible geopolitical manner. This is all about politics.
It's about isolating Russia, it's about Syria and what's going to happen next in Syria. How [else] do you justify the US to continue to occupy 30% of the country when ISIS* is defeated? It has nothing to do with science. If there ever is a scientific panel, it will be staffed with people who will do what they're told. I think it would probably be a better idea for Russia to wake up and realize that they're not dealing with honest brokers, with honest players. This is a rigged game.