President Donald Trump’s cancellation of his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Buenos Aires G20 is another sign of the now almost certain demise of his declared “America First” agenda – and perhaps of his presidency. Supposedly decided in response to a Ukraine-Russia naval incident in the Kerch Strait, dumping the meeting is universally and correctly seen as a response to the guilty plea of his former lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, to lying to Congress (notice that James Clapper isn’t forced to plead to his perjury before the Senate) and Cohen’s disclosure of Trump’s fruitless business dealings in Russia.
Keep in mind that this comes at a time when grand inquisitor Robert Mueller is on thin ice – or would be, if Trump and his team had a clue. Consider: in just the past few days Jerome Corsi, Roger Stone, and belatedly perhaps even Paul Manafort have delivered what amounts to a case against Mueller’s underlings, including subornation of testimony they knew to be false – a felony punishable by five years in the slammer (18 US Code § 1622 – Subornation of perjury). Is Trump or any of his lawyers thinking of having the victims swear out a complaint and instructing the Justice Department actually to prosecute these miscreants? No, of course not, even though at least Corsi appears to be willing.
Likewise Trump threatens to declassify “a wide swath of ‘devastating’ documents related to the Mueller probe, which he had initially planned to do in September before changing his mind” on the beseeching of British Prime Minister Theresa May. Britain’s worst prime minister ever is desperate to hide the fact that at its root there’s nothing Russian about “Russiagate” but there’s lots and lots of British MI6, GCHQ, and other Five Eyes skullduggery aimed at subverting the 2016 US election and preventing any possible rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. With respect to both goals this massive PSYOP and political warfare campaign by the US-UK Deep State has been a smashing success.
Trump has the goods on them but just sits on his hands and threatens. (He should heed that great philosopher Tuco from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: “When you have to shoot, shoot – don’t talk.”) For those patiently waiting for Trump’s “4D chess” game to unleash QAon’s “Storm,” here’s a news flash: the cavalry is not coming to the rescue. The following are just a few names that will never be brought to justice: Rod Rosenstein, Peter Strzok, Bruce Ohr, Andrew McCabe, James Comey, Lisa Page, Andrew Weissmann, Stefan Halper, Christopher Steele, Joseph Mifsud, Richard Dearlove, Andrew Wood, Susan Rice, Loretta Lynch, Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Samantha Power, Sally Yates, Jeannie Rhee, Eric Holder, James Clapper, John Brennan, and Barack Hussein Obama. Oh, and Hillary Clinton of course (while the whistleblower on her corrupt activities gets raided by the FBI).
These august personages are not subject to the laws binding on ordinary mortals like thee and me. These scoundrels will skate. All of them. That’s why a smug, world-class criminal like Brennan can mock Trump’s complaints as similar to how “corrupt authoritarian leaders abroad behaved before they were deposed.” He already anticipates dancing on Trump’s (probably figurative) grave.
Back to the Cohen plea, it’s entirely likely it was timed to have precisely the result of scuttling the Trump-Putin meeting. There can be no better illustration of the weakness of Trump's position than his inability to engage in even a semblance of statesmanship with respect to the leader of the one power on the planet with which the US absolutely must have some minimal working relationship.
With the Democrats set to take over in the House of Representatives in just over a month, we'll soon see intensified investigations coordinated with Mueller to find any possible pretext for impeachment in Trump’s business or private life. It’s conventional wisdom that even if the Democrat-controlled House can find something to support articles of impeachment the GOP-held Senate will be Trump’s firewall. Bunk. Democrats rallied around their president Bill Clinton but it was Republicans who threw Richard Nixon to the wolves. Are there a dozen or so Republican Senators who would be ready to dump Trump and install Mike Pence in the Oval Office? You betcha. Start with Mitt Romney.
As the noose around Trump’s neck continues to tighten, his response will be to keep on carping about how unfair it all is, that there was no collusion with Russia, that it’s a “total witch hunt” that should be ended. All true, all meaningless. He has the weapons to fight back but lacks the knowledge or personnel to use them. So he complains. He tweets. Meanwhile, on substance he's jumping up and down like a monkey on a string.
Which leaves us asking: Why?
One of the burdens carried by those of us Deplorables who early in 2016 declared our support for the then-improbable candidacy of Donald Trump has been the taunts of those who “knew better.” Trump was a fraud, they said, “just a BS-ing con man who would say anything to get elected.” He was a stalking horse to help usher in President Hillary (what other Republican could she possibly beat?). He was crude, impulsive, irritable, egotistical, dyslexic, and incapable of and uninterested in learning anything he doesn’t already know. He was a flimflam artist who had cheated everyone he’d ever done business with or been married to and would abuse his lumpen Murican political supporters in Flyover Country accordingly. He was just another globalist neocon flunky of the Israelis, the Saudis, and the Deep State who was only mouthing populist rhetoric to get elected. He was a shyster on the make whose only goal was to enhance his “brand” to get even richer. He was a huckster with big assets in Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, and other nasty, nasty places, who just wanted to make a killing on his investments. And so on …
Those of us who supported Trump (and who still struggle to support him) point to his repeated use of America First and national interest language even when it was politically counterproductive and only served to subject him to vilification by Democrats and establishment Republicans alike. Ditto his repeated appeals for better relations with Russia, even at the cost of being accused of treason by the same antagonists and their media shills. Ditto the claim from a hostile source like Bob Woodward that behind doors Trump repeatedly tries to do the right thing, like get the US out of Afghanistan and Syria, but then is overruled by “experts” who are his nominal subordinates. Ditto his seeming “art of the deal” transformation of his bluster and threat competition with “Little Rocket Man” into the best chance for peace on the Korean peninsula in seven decades. From his unscripted comments and tweets, there always seems to be a little 2016 Candidate Trump fighting to get out of President Trump but never quite succeeding . . .
But how then to explain his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad national security team? His beeline to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and NATO headquarters in his maiden foreign policy trip to reaffirm mindless hostility to Iran and America’s suicide pact with useless so-called “allies” in Europe? His authorization of lethal weapons to Ukraine? His two cruise missile strikes on Syria on transparently bogus claims of chemical weapons use? His ever-tightening of sanctions on Russia and nonstop expansion of NATO? His continued naval provocations against China?
To characterize as “low” expectations of any Trump-Putin sidebar meeting that might have happened at the G20 is putting it extremely mildly. (Who knows, maybe they’ll still manage to steal a few sweet moments for a quick tête-à-tête, like a secret tryst of illicit lovers. Maybe Strzok and Page can provide some pointers.) Even laying aside the endless navel-gazing about what President Trump really wants, and why his administration’s foreign policy bears almost no resemblance to his 2016 America First platform, it’s pretty clear that in practice the US course will remain essentially a continuation of the failed policies of the past three decades: a futile attempt to maintain US global hegemony indefinitely at any cost. That can have only one hideous outcome.
With regard to Russia, the Kerch Strait incident will serve as another pretext for sanctions that will soon be added with the predictability that night follows day. The ongoing trade war with China (on purely economic grounds not wrong in itself) serves as a backdrop for continued dragon-baiting in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and Xinjiang, all places where the US has no actual interests. Even Trump’s minimal potential as a wrecking ball to disrupt the dysfunctional commitments he inherited doesn’t seem to be working out. The Swamp-critters to whom he’s entrusted his administration dance along their merry way as though Mitt Romney or ¡Jeb! Bush were president, with little or no interference from their nominal boss.
On top of hastening the bankruptcy of the US, the danger of war with Russia, or China, or both will continue to increase. Neither Russian President Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping can still have any illusions about that and are planning accordingly. No one knows exactly when or where we will reach the point of no return.
Russian and Chinese officials have warned the US about their preparedness for war in so many words. No one in Washington is listening, except to the extent that the new report of a Congressionally mandated commission has concluded that despite spending on our military ten times what Russia does and three times China’s outlays, we still might lose a war to either of those powers.
So what do the Swamp-critters draw from that? We need to spend even more! And Trump will accommodate them.
The one bright spot so far has been on the Korean peninsula – for which Trump deserves great credit, though his minions are working overtime to avert the horrid prospect that peace might break out and we’d no longer have an excuse to keep troops in South Korea. On everything else, even where developments favor disengagement from involvements not conducive to American interests, Trump’s administration insists on digging back in.
For example, France’s “Little Macro” wants a European army. It’s a ridiculous pipe dream, especially since Europe faces no external threat except migration, against which a conventional force is mostly useless. But Trump should be thrilled to take him up on the offer and turn European security over to Europeans. Instead he’s trying to sink the idea.
Likewise, in the Syrian conflict it’s clear that with Russian and Iranian help President Bashar al-Assad’s government has beaten the jihadists sicced on that unfortunate land by the US and our so-called allies, but Washington won’t admit it and still hopes to leverage Assad’s departure. Why, because of ISIS, which Trump said was the sole reason we have thousands of US troops (illegally) in that country? No, but because of the need to oppose Iran and impose regime change in Tehran, as well as denying Moscow a “win.”
Iran (an Israeli obsession having no bearing on US security) is also the reason Trump declined to take the exit ramp the Khashoggi murder offered from our unnecessary commitment to the despicable Wahhabist regime in Riyadh. Instead he has doubled down on US support for Mohammed bin Salman while absurd plans for an “Arab NATO” proceed, as though one NATO weren’t already bad enough.
None of this is America First. In a sane policymaking world, Trump should be looking to cut a spheres of influence deal with Putin (and with Xi and maybe with India’s Narendra Modi). Maybe that’s what Trump really wants, maybe it isn’t. Or maybe someone just gave him The Talk: “Do what you’re told, Mr. President, or you and maybe your kid will end up like Jack Kennedy.”
In the final analysis, it doesn’t seem to matter much what Trump wants. It would be only a small exaggeration to say that with respect to foreign and security policy Trump is now a mere figurehead of the permanent state. Even if Trump and Putin do happen to meet again, what can the latter expect the former to say that would make any difference?
As a signal of the approaching end of the short-lived hope of America First, cancellation of Trump-Putin is the penultimate act but not yet the final one. The fat lady’s aria will be when Julian Assange is dragged to Washington in chains, like some barbarian chieftain paraded in a Roman triumph.
Ultimately, as Ann Coulter writes (with respect to the Mexican border crisis, where Trump is at least doing slightly better than in foreign affairs but not by much), Trump might “only be remembered as a small cartoon figure who briefly inflamed and amused the rabble.” If so, his failure will have frittered away the only peaceful chance to avert the looming death of our nation at the hands of the Cultural Marxist duopoly as well as to turn aside from the real prospect of a world war – one from which America cannot emerge undamaged as we did from the first two.
P.S. I would be genuinely thrilled to be wrong about all of the foregoing.
Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.