Note of the RCIT’s Editorial Board:
Below we reprint two articles which originally appeared on the oaklandsocialist website. They contain an interesting, informative and thoughtful analysis of the Trump Administration, its connection with the Putin regime and the inner contradictions of the US bourgeoisie. Both articles contain a number of pictures which can be viewed under the original link (see below)
The RCIT has published its analysis of US imperialism under Trump in a number of documents. We refer, among others, to our pamphlet "The Meaning, Consequences and Lessons of Trump‘s Victory" and our book "World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings".
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Trump meets his handler in Helsinki
Not in the last 100 years and more have we seen such harsh mainstream attacks on a sitting president.
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. [!] Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican patriots: Where are you???” tweeted John Brennan, former CIA director under Obama. He was not alone. “Enemy of the people” commented lifelong Republican Max Boot. “The president essentially capitulated,” said James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence under Obama.
What is going on here?
Some might dismiss such attacks by saying that you can’t trust these types nor can you trust the FBI. Well, of course! But neither can we dismiss this uproar, this major division, which is a crisis at the top. We have to start with a few basic facts:
Make no mistake, Putin agents did involve themselves in the 2017 election. This blog site discussed some of these aspects, including how the Russian-controlled “Internet Research Agency” sent out fake news items mainly through Facebook that were ultimately seen by 126 million people in the US. But there is more, as an article in “Wired.com” reveals: It was, in fact, Russian hackers who got into the DNC computers and obtained information that they then passed on to Wikileaks. Another article, this time New York Magazine reveals that then CIA director Brennan knew about the hacking as early as 2015.
Trump’s Russia connection
And Trump’s Russia connection?
As early as 1986, the Russian secret service (of which Putin was the head) had made contact with Trump as the NY Magazine article reveals. A year following this contact, Trump visited Moscow, and when he returned he had suddenly developed an interest in politics, starting with a call for the US to… stop paying for NATO. (This is not saying we should support NATO, but it’s pretty clear why and when Trump suddenly developed this interest.) As NYmag writes (and as we had written about earlier): “From 2003 to 2017, people from the former USSR made 86 all-cash purchases — a red flag of potential money laundering — of Trump properties, totaling $109 million. In 2010, the private-wealth division of Deutsche Bank also loaned him hundreds of millions of dollars during the same period it was laundering billions in Russian money. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” said Donald Jr. in 2008. “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia,” boasted Eric Trump in 2014.”
NYMag also documents the connection between the Kremlin-connected Russian bank Alpha Bank and the Trump election campaign committee.
Miss Universe beauty pageant in Moscow
Mother Jones also describes in detail Trump’s visit to Moscow for his Miss Universe pageant in 2013. They detail his communications with Putin and one of Putin’s closest lieutenants. (Putting the lie to Putin’s claim that he didn’t know Trump was in Moscow in 2013 nor did he even know who Trump was at that time!) They describe his plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and his ingratiating himself with Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov in order to cut through the red tape in getting such a project okayed by the Putin government. They also describe his connections with another oligarch and mobster, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. They explain that the plans for this project were all good to go… until the Russian takeover of Ukraine and the resulting US economic sanctions on Russia. All of this is put in the context of the June, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower in New York between Trump’s son and a team put together by Agalarov. The purpose of that meeting, Trump and his son were led to believe, was to get derogatory information on Clinton.
As the role of former lobbyist and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort shows, that meeting was just the tip of the iceberg. Interestingly, as far as the Steele dossier, there were a series of suspicious deaths of Russian diplomats shortly after that dossier was revealed. Many of these diplomats were suspected of having leaked the information in the dossier to Steele. That may be the explanation of why Manafort was seemingly so stupid as to try to coach witnesses while he was out on bail. He, too, may fear for his life, partly because of what he knows and partly because of unpaid debts to Russian oligarchs.
So, yes there was Russian intervention in the US elections and, yes, there was collaboration between them and the Trump election committee.
Capitalist mainstream in a bind
This leaves the mainstream of the US capitalist class in a bind.
They have largely lost control over their presidency. It has been lost to a rival of theirs – the Russian capitalists. This is a rivalry based more on geo-politics than economics, but it is a rivalry nevertheless. This is what all the attacks on Trump’s “patriotism” and the concern for the “national interest” are all about. It is the equating of national interests with the interests of the main wings of the US capitalist class, and in normal times the great majority of people in any country accept that equation to some degree or another.
Weakening of US imperialism
This partial loss of control over their presidency is a symptom of the developing crisis of US capitalism. Overseas they no longer are the unchallenged world power. And domestically, they cannot continue to maintain the “American Dream” for any significant sector of US workers. The result has been a dramatic decline in confidence in major US capitalist institutions, the very institutions that the US capitalist class uses to influence “public opinion”. First and foremost of these is the mainstream capitalist media.
Wall St. Journal
Even the editors of the Wall St. Journal are concerned. Since Trump became president, they have been largely supportive. Aren’t stock prices and profits up? Aren’t perspectives for next month’s financial statements rosy? So, what’s not to like?
But even they have some concern. A WSJ editorial from some months ago, for example, worried about how Trump would be able to sell a US invasion of Iran if he’s so well known to be such a liar. And even they are concerned about Trump’s allegiance to the Russian oligarchs and their leader – Vladimir Putin. That is why they wrote about Trump’s recent trip that they were “navigat(ing) between the critics who predict the end of the world order and the cheerleaders who see only genius.” They preferred to give as they put it a “charitable explanation for [Trump’s] kowtow to the Kremlin”, saying that it was simply a matter of personal pique that he wasn’t given enough credit for his victory over Clinton. They must know the truth about his money-laundering past, but they preferred to be “charitable” for now. This is a warning that even they are willing to expose Trump if he continues down this road.
And how far down the road that he’s embarked on can Trump go? Can he go as far as Putin and crush bourgeois democracy, including the “free” capitalist press? How far can he go as far as unleashing one savagery after another? A column in the Irish Times discusses this. The article is entitled “Trial runs for fascism are in full flow.” While the article is a little one sided, it does make a point. Starting with his Muslim ban and continuing to his imprisoning of little children, Trump has unleashed one barbarity after another. What these represent is similar to “blooding of the hounds” – getting masses of people accustomed to one barbarity after another, making such actions acceptable. Trump’s Helsinki press conference should be seen in this light. Right now, even Republican supporters like Paul Ryan are critical of him, but “this, too, shall pass.”
Welcome to the new normal.
It does seem likely that the Helsinki press conference will cut deeply into Trump’s support among all but the true believers (who are about one third of the voters). It also seems likely that it will add to the motivation of the anti Trump population come November, 2018. What will Trump do then? Will he and his Republican cohorts in effect nullify several of those elections if necessary through outright fraud and voter repression? If so, what sort of outcry will result? Will this be a break in the situation?
Most important, will this lead to the rise of a new political force and the working class getting to its feet and starting to take its independence? We know that the “progressive/liberal Democrats will do everything in their power to short circuit that. Maybe this time they won’t succeed.
Helsinki: Was it “excellent”? Should we care?
Was the Putin-Trump meeting really “excellent” as left journalist Glenn Greenwald says? Should the working class, and socialists among them, support what the far right racist Senator Rand Paul said – that the meeting lessened the chances of war between these two nuclear superpowers. (Some socialists do!) And should we really “not care that (Putin and Trump) may have collaborated,” as one left commentator on Facebook said? Do we agree with another, who asked “What concern is it of mine if Trump is being directed by Russians?”
To answer that, we should consider the Helsinki press conference and the meeting of Putin-Trump itself.
Private Meeting: Why?
The fact that the two world leaders in reaction took the extremely unusual step of meeting without any of their aides should be understood in its context. That context is the fact that on the one side, Putin is in effect the capo-di-tutti-capo of a mafia kleptocracy run amok. This is not just some US imperialist propaganda; it is fact. The other context is that Trump has been acting as a money launderer for this kleptocracy for decades.
As Putin himself openly said, he did want Trump to win. And it is incontestable that his regime did involve itself in the US elections and in US politics in general. See, for example, their organizing of “Black Fist” to stir up greater racial tensions in the US. Or their use of Facebook to spread all sorts of rumors and propaganda. And given Trump’s long, long history of working with the Putin regime, why would anybody think he wasn’t in on it? Why would anybody think he didn’t collude? Especially considering the then secret and now publicly known meeting at Trump Tower between Trump’s son and emissaries of Putin.
So, what would they have to discuss in private? Why the secrecy?
Collusion among criminals
The answer is so obvious that even Stevie Wonder could see it: They were meeting to discuss how to hide the fact of Putin’s interference and the collusion between these two reactionaries!
After their private two-hour chat they held the press conference at which Putin put out the cover story (while his subordinate, Trump, stood meekly by). Among other things, Putin claimed they discussed cybersecurity and Syria. Even if that were true, what does it mean?
Take the issue of joint cyber security: That means cooperation in figuring out how to increase their spying on everybody in the world, including you and me. Or take their supposed discussion on Syria. Given that Russia has participated in absolutely massive crimes against humanity,
bombing everything in sight there, and that the US has done the same on a somewhat more limited scale (Raqqa), who in Syria would have the slightest reason to hope this is a good sign? In fact, given that they are both close to Netanyahu, who in the entire Middle East should be hopeful?
“Peace” and pacifism
As far as the issue of “peace” between the US and Russia:
In the first place, imperialist powers don’t go to war on a whim; the personal relations between their national leaders has absolutely nothing to do with whether they go to war or not. They go to war when the objective conditions demand a major shake-up in relations between these super powers – how to redivide the world, in other words. And the personal relations between the leaders are determined by these objective developments, not the other way around.
The idea that “war” is some evil abstracted from the objective developments of capitalism – and that it can be opposed as such – is what is called pacifism.
The working class – and socialists within it – should not fall for this. It is idealism. Tensions between different imperialist powers are inevitable, and the role of the working class is not to help those imperialist powers find a way to collaborate, meaning figure out how to loot, plunder, pillage and rape the rest of the world “peacefully”. How to “peacefully” decide which parts of the world which of them gets to destroy.
If that were our role, then we should have supported the Sykes-Picot Treaty. That was the treaty between British and French imperialists after WW I which maintained peace between these two imperialist plunderers in deciding which of them got which part of the Middle East.
In fact, the meeting had nothing to do with war; it was about trying to figure out how these two arch-reactionary racists could collaborate in further repressing and exploiting the rest of the world.
Nature of Putin Regime
Some people still have a lingering affection for Russia, associating it with the old Soviet regime. The more accurate model is something like apartheid South Africa or Argentina under Galtieri. Or Tsarist Russia. It is one of the most reactionary regimes in all of Europe. Putin and his cronies – especially the fascist Aleksander Dugin – are working to gather together and boost almost all the far right, racist and chauvinist forces throughout Europe and beyond.
Putin rules in part through the Russian Orthodox Church. (See this pamphlet for a more in-depth analysis.) This church hierarchy openly stokes the flames of islamophobia, sexism, anti-gay bigotry and Great Russian chauvinism. Politically, they are no different from the worst of the far right Christian evangelicals here in the United States. There is a reason why that woman who is accused of espionage in the US, Maria Butina, went to the Evangelicals here. They and the Russian regime have a real affinity for each other.
And workers “shouldn’t care” if they are involved in the US elections? US elections are bad enough as it is. It’s like a house is on fire and you want to bring in a major arsonist to help out. “Not caring” is hardly any better. US elections are rigged enough as it is, as are all elections in capitalist countries. Why shouldn’t we care that one of the leaders of reaction world wide is directly involving himself in further rigging them?
What does future hold?
The walls are closing in on Trump. His collusion with Putin stands at risk of being proven at every turn in events. With this stands the risk of his being exposed for his criminal, money-laundering past. He has avoided this exposure so far through his one-man control over the Republican Party and, through that, his control over the Republican majority Congress, plus his increasing control over the federal judiciary. (See this article for a commentary over his recent Supreme Court nominee.)
The liberals have helped in this cover-up by pretending, for example, that his refusal to accept Putin’s intervention was all a matter of his ego, and by refusing to openly reveal his money-laundering past. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that Trump and the Party he controls from top to bottom would allow the Democrats to take a majority in November. So, the electoral fraud they committed in 2000 in Florida in Bush v. Gore would likely to be replayed on a national scale. In that event, the Democrats and their representatives (including the union leadership) did everything they could to prevent a movement on the streets from breaking out. They succeeded although they might not this time.
Would they try again? A glance at their present role helps give us the answer.
They are covering up for the seriousness of the situation because their backers – the financiers and the real estate developers – are also in this money-laundering up to their necks. They don’t want a mass movement in the streets any more than Trump does.
NY Times: “Martial Law coming”?
This is an extremely serious situation. Even a column in the New York Times, that staid old “Grey Lady”, predicts “martial law”. Such a danger cannot be fought successfully while the working class – or socialists within the working class – remain linked to representatives of the “progressive”/liberal wing of the big business Democratic Party. What’s needed is to start by reaching deep down into the working class – going to the job sites and working class communities, to the workers as individual – and explaining what’s at stake. Explain how we need to mobilize to resist Trump/Putin. Explain that we must have no confidence in either of the parties of the enemy – the owners of capital, meaning the capitalist class – and how we need to organize completely independent from and opposed to both of them.
Even today, the union leadership is more alienated from its ranks than ever in the last 75 years. More than ever, they are just the mouth pieces of the employers and of big business in general. The carpenters in Seattle who voted down a sell-out contract twice (and possibly a third time) show that this is understood. Now is the time to start helping workers draw the political conclusions.