‘Jacksonian’ Trump Doesn’t Need Your Civil War
The domestic context of the conversation is Trump’s musings on whether a strong President like Andrew Jackson, had he lived a few years later, could have prevented the American Civil War of 1861-65. While predictably triggering his progressive and neoconservative critics into spasms of mansplaining as to the 19th century slavery-fueled conflict’s inevitability on Twitter, the real subtext of Trump’s remarks could be interpreted by the Russians as sober reflection on the losses of America’s bloodiest war, which claimed nearly a million lives. Ever since the guns fell silent in 1865, honest historians have debated the same point Trump raised -- did war have to happen, given that the British Empire (which spawned Anglophone America)'s slaveholdings and the vast slave plantation of Brazil managed to be abolished without such bloodshed?
For that matter, contemporary Tsarist Russia also ended the peculiar (Polish-Lithuanian imported) institution in the Slavic lands of serfdom without the Americans’ innovation of mass fratricide via increasingly modern rifles, Gatling guns aka machine guns, the railroad and the telegraph. All technologies raising the body count into the millions decades later via European civilization’s suicide attempt in World War One. That the anti-insurrectionist Tsar also backed the Union rather than the Confederates, who enjoyed not so covert support from Imperial Russia’s old adversaries in the Crimean War the French and the British, is a point many of today’s ‘progressive’ historians let alone #TrumpRussia Twitter trolls have forgotten. British support for the South, in part driven by opposition to President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of purely fiat and soon to be severely devalued dollars for the repayment of Washington’s debts to City of London bankers, has also been forgotten by seemingly all but LaRouche movement influenced historians like Webster Griffin Tarpley.
The mass bloodletting of course, would come later for the Russians, Ukrainians and Byelorussians, after Russia’s participation in the First World War proved too costly to sustain by autumn 1917. Put another way, perhaps the most hated man to ever occupy the White House, exceeding the polarization of US politics reflected by his three predecessors Clinton, Dubya Bush and Obama, is hinting to the world via Twitter that, notwithstanding Trump's Tomahawk missile strike against Syria based on falsified intelligence, Trump does not want big wars either at home or abroad. When it comes to the new/alt media debate over whether Trump simply told millions of Americans what they wished to hear and consciously lied to them about ‘America First’, or was bullied and coerced into a more Obama-resembling foreign policy, Trump’s Civil War musings could be interpreted as the conscious or unconscious plea of a hostage in the Oval Office. This idea that Trump fired the missiles in part, to get elements of the 'Deep State' off his back, while making concessions to them regarding NATO and the EU, is supported by dissident Frenchman Thierry Meyssan.
The Deep State whose existence has been alternatively denied or discovered by many since Trump tweeted his allegations of illegal spying on himself and his associates during and after the campaign is said to rule unchallenged and unchecked. But is the Deep State’s death grip over foreign policy unshakeable short of nuclear war, as many despairingly in the new media like former Reagan Assistant Treasury Secretary Dr. Paul Craig Roberts have concluded? Or is chipping away at the bipartisan globalist edifice still possible and moreover, likely to open cracks into shards of what the Chinese and many others worldwide recognize is a rapidly declining U.S. empire?
Delicate U.S.-Russian Negotiations Over Northeastern Syria and Turkish Interference With the Anti-ISIS Campaign
One thing is for certain: neither Putin nor his advisers have any illusions that what Trump will discuss with him Tuesday can be readily delivered. All negotiations between the U.S. and Russia -- and they certainly continue behind the scenes, particularly military to military in Syria, remain on a strictly ‘trust but verify’ and transactional basis. That the Americans and Russians ARE cooperating, despite the hysterical atmosphere in Washington of Cold War 2.0, is evident this week in northern Syria.
Over the weekend, American troops, likely U.S. Army Rangers, prominently positioned their flag-waving Stryker armored vehicles between the Pentagon’s Kurdish SDF allies and the bombs and long-range artillery shells of Turkey. Around the same time, Russian soldiers were spotted headed for the Syrian Arab Army’s remaining garrison in what is de facto U.S.-occupied and autonomous from Damascus Kurdish territory inside Syria, at the town of Qamishli. That is, where the Russians for months have denied any intent to set up a permanent base from which to mediate between the Kurds and their allies in Damascus. Southfront reports the Russians also put up their flags along those of the Syrian Arab Republic at checkpoints controlled by the Kurds in the Afrin canton near the Turkish border. Russian servicemen also visited the Runbar refugee camp that has been recently shelled by Turkish troops.
As a result, Turkish aerial bombing against Kurds in sovereign Syrian territory after the neo-Ottoman Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan received his narrow plebiscite mandate for dictatorial powers diminished. For the Russians, the divide between the Pentagon’s generals who actually want to destroy Daesh while setting up quasi-permanent bases in Syria’s autonomous Kurdish homeland known as Rojava and the nearly all civilian neocons who see zero sum power competition in the Syrian conflict with Russia and Iran as the highest priority were exposed. Other ‘masks slipping’ moments for the soft-on-their-Frankenstein monster globalists came earlier, in former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon's admission that Islamic State terrorists had apologized to Israel for their rounds landing on the Israeli-held Golan Heights, and when the neocons’ discredited mouthpiece Tom Friedman published an April 12, 2017 column in The New York Times advocating the U.S. stop trying to take Raqqa and focus on greater support for the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ instead, supposedly leaving ISIS as Assad and Putin’s problem.
When American soldiers attended the funeral of YPG fighters killed in air strikes by their nominal NATO allies the Turks, the Saudi and Qatari-funded activists posing as experts on Syria’s ‘moderate rebels’ like Charles Lister erupted with tweeted indignation, expressing sympathy for Ankara’s point of view that there is no distinction between the U.S. armed YPG fighting ISIS and the 'PKK terrorists' fighting the Turks just across a porous border.
No American Wedge Can Possibly Pry the Sino-Russian Nexus Apart
With Russian and American soldiers now operating within a few miles if not shouting distance of each other in Kurdish controlled northeastern Syria, ‘deconfliction’ aka quiet cooperation will be high on the agenda of Putin and Trump’s conversation. So too, will the issue of North Korea, with whom Russia shares a narrow border while Moscow’s ally China has a pivotal role to play in the fate of the Kim Jong Un regime.
In recent weeks, even as Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster boasted of creating diplomatic daylight between Moscow and Beijing, Russia and China have made military maneuvers such as sending air defense systems to their borders with North Korea and intelligence gathering ships to follow a U.S. aircraft carrier to emphasize their opposition to an American strike on nuclear-armed Pyongyang. The Eurasian giants have also proceeded as planned, or perhaps even accelerated the linkage of their central banks to the Shanghai gold market for bilateral and One Belt/One Road Eurasian trade settlement, of which a future unified Korea would be a critical component.
Incredibly enough, McMaster virtually went on to boast in a TV interview with ABC on Sunday that Trump has succeeded in creating distance between China and Russia over the Syrian question. McMaster claimed that Russia has been badly isolated in the UN Security Council. (It is a nonsensical claim, as is apparent from the BRICS Joint Communique of April 12 adopted at Visakhapatnam on Syria, which virtually backs the Russian position.) Conceivably, McMaster is a novice in international diplomacy and his inexperience showed in the ABC interview. But then, he happens to be Trump’s NSA and even if he is a bumbling Lt. General and a babe in the woods of world politics, his voice carries authority. McMaster said:
“What we do know is that, in the midst of responding to the mass murder of the Syrian regime, the president (Trump) and the first lady hosted an extraordinarily successful conference, summit, with President Xi and his team. And not only did they establish a very warm relationship, but… they worked together as well in connection with the response to the mass murder on the part of the Assad regime in connection with the U.N. vote. I think President Xi was courageous in distancing himself from the Russians, isolating really the Russians and the Bolivians… And I think the world saw that, and they (Xi) saw, well, what club do you want to be in? The Russian-Bolivian club? Or the — in the club with the United States, working together on our mutual interests and the interests of peace, security.”
McMaster probably thought, out of sheer naivete, that with these harsh words, he’d deal a knockout punch to the Russians. No matter Trump’s game plan to drive a wedge between China and Russia by exploiting Xi’s interest in a ‘new type of major country relations’ with US, it is preposterous that Beijing will allow any erosion to the Sino-Russian entente. The point is, for both China and Russia, their number one priority in world politics will be to push back at US hegemony and there is no daylight possible here between them for a foreseeable future. Simply put, the relationship has created ‘strategic depth’ for both countries to safeguard their core interests, while also navigating specific concerns at any given point vis-a-vis the United States.
We will never know whether Li’s is a routine visit or has been conceived against the backdrop of the Trump administration’s mischief to create misunderstandings in the Russian-Chinese ties. At any rate, Beijing seems to be going the extra league to underscore the highest priority that it attaches to the preservation of China’s mutual trust with Russia. Li’s trip to Moscow and his consultations at the Kremlin can only make Trump and McMaster look somewhat like two country bumpkins who lost their way in the metropolis.
So, what can be expected from the second Trump-Putin phone call of The Donald’s Administration? Both sides will likely issue readouts of the call emphasizing their respective priorities and fruitful discussion of the same. But the fruits of these talks will depend in large part on Trump’s willingness to buck his advisers and official Washington, as he has shown with his invitation to Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte to visit the White House. After perhaps assessing the demoralizing impact the Al-Shayrat strike had on some of his new right and libertarian supporters, and seeing the #TrumpRussians! Establishment conspiracy theory falter, it is possible the long awaited Trump-Putin face to face meeting could be finally moved forward this summer. Given the ongoing Cold War 2 exacerbated by acute crises from the Donbass to Syria to the Far East, the leaders of the world’s top two nuclear powers will not be meeting a moment too soon.
UPDATE 05/03/2017 Trump and Putin have agreed to meet face to face prior to the G20 summit scheduled to be held in Hamburg, Germany this July. The Kremlin readout of the call is below:
A wide range of current issues regarding the two countries’ cooperation in the international arena was discussed, with an emphasis on future coordination of Russian and US actions to fight international terrorism in the context of the Syrian crisis.
It was agreed to bolster the dialogue between the heads of the two nations’ foreign policy agencies in an effort to find ways to stabilise the ceasefire and make it durable and manageable.
The aim is to create preconditions for launching a real settlement process in Syria. To that end, the Russian Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State shall promptly brief the countries’ leaders on any progress achieved.
The dangerous situation on the Korean Peninsula was thoroughly discussed. The President of Russia called for restraint and an easing of tensions. It was agreed to organise joint work aimed at achieving diplomatic solutions and a comprehensive settlement of the problem.
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump agreed to continue their telephone contacts and spoke in favour of arranging a personal meeting during the G20 Summit in Hamburg on July 7–8.
The conversation was businesslike and constructive.
For the general outlines of Russia's peace proposal for Syria, which some may speculate could resemble Trump's proposed 'safe zones', see this article from RogueMoney's friend and frequent contributor Harley Schlanger.