Sunday, July 15, 2018

Mr. Trump Goes to Helsinki

As President Trump gets ready for his summit meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, two American groups are extremely anguished. Survivors of the Obama administration believe either that Trump should call the meeting off or that he will be manhandled by the Russian leader. As everyone has pointed out by now, Barack Obama was in way over his head dealing with Putin. In dealing with Russia Obama acted like Putin’s bitch.

Considering how weak Obama was, his flunkies should have the decency not to criticize the current president.

We must add that the #NeverTrump neoconservative right has lathered itself up into a frenzy over Donald Trump. Mindless rant follows mindless rant follows expression of extreme anguish… and the Trump-Putin summit provides yet another opportunity for them to caterwaul… to show off their superior mental acuity by acting as though they do not have minds.

We, on this blog seek to promote the exercise of our rational faculties. We seek a fair and balanced unemotional analysis of the stakes in the upcoming summit.

Where do we turn for such perspective? Why, to The Nation, and especially to Russia expert Stephen Cohen, whose conversations with one John Batchelor have been appearing regularly in that publication. We note, for the uninitiated, that no one has ever considered The Nation an arm of the vast right wing conspiracy.

The Nation reports Cohen’s analysis, clearly and succinctly. We note that Cohen has little appreciation for the anti-Trump leftist establishment.

To begin, the context of a Russo-American summit:

… US-Russian (Soviet and post-Soviet) summits are a long tradition going back to FDR’s wartime meeting with Stalin in Yalta in 1943. Every American president since FDR met with a Kremlin leader in a summit-style format at least once, several doing so multiple times. The purpose was always to resolve conflicts and enhance cooperation in relations between the two countries. Some summits succeeded, some did not, but all were thought to be an essential aspect of White House-Kremlin relations.

In previous summits, the American president had strong bipartisan support. Not so, Donald Trump.

The Nation continues:

And never before has a president’s departure—in Trump’s case, first for a NATO summit and then the one with Putin—been accompanied by allegations that he is disloyal to the United States and thus cannot be trusted, defamations once issued only by extremist fringe elements in American politics. Now, however, we are told this daily by mainstream publications, broadcasts, and “think tanks.” According to a representative of the Clintons’ Center for American Progress, “Trump is going to sell out America and its allies.” The New York Times and The Washington Postalso feature “experts”—they are chosen accordingly—who “worry” and “fear” that Trump and Putin “will get along.” The Times of London, a bastion of Russophobic Cold War advocacy, captures the mainstream perspective in a single headline: “Fears Grow Over Prospect of Trump ‘Peace Deal’ with Putin.”

Cohen is disturbed to see the American left preferring impeachment to peace:

An anti-“peace” Washington establishment is, of course, what still-unproven Russiagate allegations have wrought, as summed up by a New York magazine writer who advises us that the Trump-Putin summit may well be “less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.” The charge is hardly original, having been made for months at MSNBC by the questionably credentialed “intelligence expert” Malcolm Nance and the, it seems, selectively informed Rachel Maddow, among many other “experts.” Considering today’s perilous geopolitical situation, it is hard not to conclude that much of the American political establishment, particularly the Democratic Party, would prefer trying to impeach Trump to averting war with Russia, the other nuclear superpower. For this too, there is no precedent in American history.

And of course, Cohen has a few choice words for those who have been extolling NATO and the liberal world order… especially because they can make it appear that Trump is destroying it:

Not surprisingly, Trump’s dreaded visit to the NATO summit has only inflated the uncritical cult of that organization, which has been in search of a purpose and ever more funding since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. The New York Times declares that NATO is “the core of an American-led liberal world order,” an assertion that might startle many of the non-military institutions involved and even some liberals. No less puzzling is the ritualistic characterization of NATO as “the greatest military alliance in history.” It has never—thankfully—gone to war as an alliance, only a few “willing” member (and would-be member) states under US leadership. Even then, what counts as “great victories”? The police action in the Balkans in the 1990s? The disasters in the aftermath of Iraq and Libya? The longest, still-ongoing American war in history, in Afghanistan? NATO’s only real mission since the 1990s has been expanding to Russia’s borders, and that has resulted in less, not more, security for all concerned, as is evident today. The only “Russian threat” since the end of the Soviet Union is one provoked by the US-led NATO itself, from Georgia and Ukraine to the Baltic states. And only NATO’s vast corporate bureaucracy, its some 4,000 employees housed in its new $1.2 billion headquarters in Brussels, and US and other weapons manufacturers who gain from each new member state, have profited. But none of this can be discussed in the mainstream, because Trump uttered a few words questioning NATO’s role and funding, even though the subject has been on the agenda of several think tanks since the 1990s.

You would think that the mainstream media is comprised of hostile actors whose wish to bring down Trump overcomes, not only their reason, but their love of country… to say nothing of their concern for facts.

Cohen sees opportunity in the Helsinki meeting. He notes importantly that Russia and America have a great deal to discuss… and that diplomacy is far better than war. If the two leaders can forge an alliance, or a working understanding, surely that is a good thing:

Also not surprisingly, and unlike in the past, mainstream media have found little place for serious discussion of today’s dangerous conflicts between Washington and Moscow: regarding nuclear-weapons-imitation treaties, cyber-warfare, Syria, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, the Black Sea region, even Afghanistan. It’s easy to imagine how Trump and Putin could agree on conflict-reduction and cooperation in all of these realms. But considering the traducing by the PostTimes, and Maddow of a group of senators who visited Moscow around July 4, it’s much harder to see how the defamed Trump could implement such “peace deals.” (There is a long history of sabotaging or attempting to sabotage summits and other d├ętente-like initiatives. Indeed, a few such attempts have been evident in recent months and more may lie ahead.)

And yet, Cohen is arguing, the media and Congressional hostility to all things Trump will make it that much more difficult to make any deals.

Cohen believes at the least that the summit will restore diplomatic process… which is a step in the right direction. He reserves his most pointed criticism for the Democratic Party:

Even if nothing more specific is achieved, everyone who cares about American and international security should hope that the Trump-Putin summit results at least in a restoration of the diplomatic process, the longstanding “contacts,” between Washington and Moscow that have been greatly diminished, if not destroyed, by the new Cold War and by Russiagate allegations. Cold War without diplomacy is a recipe for actual war.

We should also hope that the Democratic Party’s reaction to the summit, in its pursuit of Trump, does not make it the party of unrelenting Cold War, as it may be already becoming.

Remember, you read it in The Nation.


trigger warning said...

"Only eight of the 28 allies engaged in combat, and most ran out of ammunition, having to buy, at cost, ammunition stockpiled by the United States."
--- NYT, 9/3/2011

Perhaps NATO should spend less on luxurious office space and more on materiel.

Or just expire.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

International events have no meaning to the American left, except as counters in the game of getting and keeping power in DC. If they think it will cement their power, they will be against NATO on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they may decide that being in favor of NATO will help them get elected and move to further take over government agencies. No principle is involved, and certainly the fate of anyone outside their tribe is of no import.

Anonymous said...

Cohen: "Not surprisingly, Trump’s dreaded visit to the NATO summit has only inflated the uncritical cult of that organization..."

Like Assistant Village Idiot says, and Trigger Warning's wit attests to, NATO is useless, and a newfound complaint by the Left.

The sentence could read:
"Not surprisingly, Trump’s dreaded visit to _______ has only inflated the uncritical cult of that organization [or group/institution]..."

Trump is going hard against the blind faith elites have in these expensive, irrelevant institutions.

Sam L. said...

"Considering how weak Obama was, his flunkies should have the decency not to criticize the current president." They won't, of course, have any decency whatsoever.

Our "mainstream media" is now bat-guano crazy nutso, having gotten off to a jet-propelled start last year in November.

"You would think that the mainstream media is comprised of hostile actors whose wish to bring down Trump overcomes, not only their reason, but their love of country… to say nothing of their concern for facts." They have certainly convinced ME of that.

The Nation will shortly be trashed by the Dema and their media minions.