US domestic policy sabotages détente with Russia

by Hannes Hofbauer*

Weakling, liar, traitor. The US press quoted a plethora of figures from the Washington establishment whose reaction to the meeting of the Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was excessively filled with hatred. Once again Vietnam veteran John McCain took the bun. For him, the joint press conference of the two personalities was “one of the most shameful performances of an American president in living memory”. McCain continued, that “never before had a US president humiliated himself before a tyrant in this way”.

Here a traitor, there a tyrant – this is how one of the most eloquent warmongers characterises those two men who have their index fingers poised over the nuclear buttons.

Even in the Helsinki run-up, extensive reports on the danger that Trump might not be able to withstand Putin were spread right up to the opinion-forming media on the other side of the Atlantic, i.e. in our latitudes. Would he perhaps act on his announcement and end the illegal US adventure in Syria; or worse, would he face reality and give his blessing to the incorporation of the Crimea into the Russian Federation?

We do not know what the two presidents discussed in over two hours. It is to be hoped that was about suchlike important questions concerning world peace.

Politics and media in the Western world were bothered by other things. They focused exclusively on a side show, on US domestic policy. There it has for the past 20 months all been about whether or how Russian authorities have influenced the US presidential election campaign of 2016.

The Trump-Putin meeting provided a welcome opportunity to rekindle the already lax interest in this show. So, from CNN and the “New York Times” down everybody leapt at the topic run by Special Investigator Robert Mueller.

Three days before the Helsinki Summit, Mueller had charged twelve Russian citizens with interference in the presidential election campaign, thus trying to force Trump’s hand.

The Helsinki summit – A step towards mutual understanding (picture keystone)

The fact that those accused of spying cannot be arrested in the US makes the process risk-free for Mueller. Without arrests, no statements, without statements, no scrutinising of the quite substanceless allegations.

After Trump had said in Helsinki, in front of the assembled world press, that Putin’s disclaimer concerning Russian interference had been “strong and powerful,” and had added in a manner typical of him that he trusted both sides – the US intelligence agencies and Putin – the Establishment ran amuck and called him weakling, liar, traitor.

The perfidy of media reactions to Trump’s behaviour in Helsinki are a hard act to follow. The US president was elected according to the rules, but is accused by his own elites in his own country of winning the presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton almost two years ago only with Russian help. Now this US president met with the Russian president, who had been elected according to the rules of his own country. Trump’s “own” ranks accuse him of adhering to his election having been legitimate.

What else should he have done? Should he have joined the chorus of those who interpret Clinton’s electoral defeat not as her weakness but as Russian manipulation? In this way, Trump would have

1.  disavowed his electoral victory and delegitimised himself as president of the US;

2.  conceded that the Kremlin had so much influence in the world that it could at will pull political strings beyond the borders of Russia, and even in the strongest military power in the world, the US; and

3.  made out that the US electorate was stupid because it would have voted according to Russian standards and not at its own discretion.

The truth is that in the eyes of the representatives of the US Deep State, which is showing its ugly face ever more visibly, a mistake happened at the elections of 8 November 2016. The wrong candidate won.

Although it had just been possible to checkmate the popular Bernie Sanders in favour of Hillary Clinton, the establishment failed in preventing Trump’s success. Now, in their opinion, a clueless real estate shark reigns in the White House, who is not a died-in-the-wool representative of the military-industrial complex and does not know the customs in Washington. And what makes matters worse, even after two years in office, he accepts these customs only with difficulties – and usually only in the follow-up.

So it was again this time. Back in the US, Trump backpedalled in his own way. When Putin said it was not Russia (interfering in the US election campaign), he (Trump) had made a slip of the tongue in his answer. “I see no reason why it should not have been Russia,” Trump tweeted 24 hours after saying the opposite at the Helsinki press conference: “I see no reason why it should have been Russia.” The truth is extremely flexible, also – and even especially – in grand politics.

One final word on the obvious underlying cause of US domestic politics:

An experienced observer will permit himself to ask whether anyone in Washington really believes that Trump was elected by the Russian Kremlin rather than by the American voters.

The fact that foreign intelligence services operate abroad from their base corresponds to their job description. That is a fact which should have got about in the US especially, where senior security coordinator James Clapper admitted to a Senate hearing in early 2017 that according to his records, since World War II the US had intervened in foreign elections once a year on average.

The agitation about others acting in the same way can only be explained against the background that the (supposed) Russian intervention had actually hit a tender spot of the ruling interests.

However, excited the Washington establishment, to which Trump still does not seem to be admitted, was in its response to alleged election manipulations, Putin stayed calm. Asked by the moderator of Fox News for his opinion about the charges against the twelve Russian spies, the Kremlin head responded:

“That doesn’t interest me at all. These are internal US political games. Don’t take the relationship between Russia and the US hostage for internal political quarrels. […] It is not something American democracy can be proud of; using legal prosecution for political rivalry is unacceptable.”

A response of this kind would have become the political and media representatives of Washington well.            

• Hannes Hofbauer, born 1955 in Vienna, studied economic and social history and works as a Publicist and Editor. His latest publications were published by Promedia Verlag: Balkankrieg: Zehn Jahre Zerstörung Jugoslawiens (2001) (Balkan War: Ten years of destruction of Yugoslavia), EU-Osterweiterung. Historische Basis – ökonomische Triebkräfte – soziale Folgen (2008) (EU enlargement to the East. Historical basis – economic driving forces – social consequences), Die Diktatur des Kapitals. Souveränitätsverlust im postdemokratischen Zeitalter (2014) (The dictatorship of capital. Loss of sovereignty in the post-democratic era) and Feindbild Russland. Geschichte einer Dämonisierung (2016). (The Bogeyman Russia. History of demonisation).

First published: www.rubikon.news from 19 July 2018

(Translation Current Concerns)

Deskbound warriors greed for confrontation

„The two most powerful men in the world meet, talk privately about some of the most pressing issues of the present, agree on many points and may even herald a dew phase in the new Cold War. You would actually think that the comments are at least modestly positive. However, a review of the responses to the Helsinki summit of 16 July shows how naive the idea of constructive, perhaps even objective, journalists is today.The editorials on 17 July criticise the summit with a massive, almost unbelievable aggression. The deskbound warriors greed for confrontation and reject dialogue. The state of the media is just disgraceful. […] Please try to get a neutral impression of what Presidents Putin and Trump discussed the day before at their summit meeting in Helsinki via the large news portals. You will fail, just as I failed in my research on this article. Instead, you will come across comments with strong opinions, which at best differ gradually in their concentrated arrogance and ignorance. Anyone who has problems calling our large media ‚forced into line‘ should probably first flee into internal emigration for a few days - because after reading the ‚summit reports‘ this point of view can hardly be maintained […].”

Source: Jens Wernicke: Die „bizarre Putin-Trump Horrorshow“ (The “bizarre Putin-Trump horror show”) - the Helsinki summit shows in what disgraceful state our media are in, www.nachdenkseiten.de from 17 July 2018; Jens Wernicke regularly writes for www.nachdenkseiten.de and is part of its editorial team.

(Translation Current Concerns)

Hysterical attacks on the very prospect of detente

The entire “liberal” media and political establishment of the Western world reveals its militarist, authoritarian soul today with the screaming and hysterical attacks on the very prospect of detente with Russia. Peace apparently is a terrible thing; a renewed arms race, with quite literally trillions of dollars pumped into the military industrial complex and hundreds of thousands dying in proxy wars, is apparently the “liberal” stance. […] The war-hawks who were devastated by the loss of champion killer Hillary now see the prospect of their very worst fear coming true. Their very worst fear is the outbreak of peace and international treaties of arms control. Hence the media and political establishment today has reached peaks of hysteria never before seen. Pursuing peace is “treason” and the faux left now stand starkly exposed.

Source: www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/07/detente-bad-cold-war-good/; Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004.