Trump: Russia's junior partner in the White House

Trump: Russia's junior partner in the White House
Comment: With Trump and Putin closer than ever, things can only get worse for Syrians, writes Sam Hamad.
7 min read
17 Jul, 2018
Trump declared that every US intelligence apparatus was wrong about Russian interference [Getty]
To those who have been watching closely, it's of little surprise that the first official face-to-face meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, culminated in one of the most astounding declarations by a US president in the history of that nation.

After the meeting, which lasted approximately 90 minutes and included no aides or intermediaries, Trump and Putin faced the world's press. It was here that the president of the United States of America declared that the FBI, the CIA, the NSA and every US intelligence apparatus was wrong about the reality of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

To put it as plainly as possible: The President of the USA sided with an enemy, which is responsible for launching an attack on the US democratic process, against his own state - against his own country.

This was the day that Trump chose the side of Putin against US democracy. Without providing a shred of solid evidence, Trump's
exact words were "I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."

Though it's folly to fetishise US democracy, it's clear that many within the US political class immediately recognised what Trump was doing. Former director of the CIA John Brennan reacted to it by tweeting that Trump's actions "[rise] to and exceed the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanours… it was nothing short of treasonous".

Brennan went on to say, "Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin."  And for the world beyond the US, this is the key point. Whether it's by subterfuge or by ideological alignment, and the exact nature of the Trump-Putin relationship is being vigorously investigated, the fact is that Russia has an occupant of the White House that is not so much an ally as he is a junior partner.

Which brings us back to the omens that the Helsinki summit would yield something extraordinary. Whatever lies behind Trump's siding with Putin against his own state, the summit itself was yet another indication that Russian imperialism is on the ascendency, with the full connivance of the Trump administration.

Take, for example, the current assault on the liberated province of Daraa by Assad, Iran and Russia in Syria.  

The area was part of a 'de-escalation zone' agreed to a year ago by the US and Russia, while the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army, the main fighting force in Daraa, was a material ally of the US. In normal circumstances, Russia's violation of this agreement, which Putin reiterated at his last informal meeting with Trump in November, and an attack on alleged allies of the US would've meant a serious escalation.

But not with the Trump administration.  

It has essentially endorsed the assault, telling its former allies that they should expect no more support from the US. Iranian-led pro-Assad forces swept the ground under the cover of devastating Russian airstrikes on civilian areas and civil infrastructure, cleansing hundreds of thousands of people. With Trump and Putin drawing closer together, things can only get worse for Syrians.

The summit itself was yet another indication that Russian imperialism is on the ascendency

Under these circumstances of mass terror from Assad, Iran and Russia, most of the rebels in Daraa have surrendered. This is the reality of the Trump-Putin alliance. The blood on its hands belongs primarily to Syrians, while the dark realities of the Syrian genocide on the rest of the world - such as millions of refugees looking for shelter - are ever-present.

Desperate refugees drowning as they attempt to reach Europe informs the racist agenda of pro-Putin alt-right and fascist forces rising in Europe. These groups, allied with toothless and often depressingly pliable centrists, have instituted a host of anti-refugee policies, such as cutting rescue operations for those who make the treacherous crossing.

One can only shudder to think of the consequences of the inevitable assault on Idlib, the last remaining liberated area of Syria and a sanctuary for almost 3 million Syrians. It has been noted before that Putin has seized upon the deliberate, genocidal policy of the vast cleansing of Syrians from liberated areas and weaponised refugees to destabilise and weaken his enemies, namely Europe.

And this gets to another of Trump's portentous stances that reveal his alignment with Putin and Russian imperialism.

Last week, the president stormed into the UK for a working visit, preceded by an
interview in which he took aim at the British government's planned Brexit deal and negotiations, attempting to throw a spanner in the works by saying May's now defunct planned 'soft Brexit' deal would mean no special trade deal with the US.

Trump proceeded to say that the elected prime minister should be 'replaced' with someone who would be more bellicose to the EU, while also Islamophobically abusing Saqid Khan, the elected mayor of London.  

Trump didn't stop there. Asked during an interview with CBS, given on the eve of his meeting with Putin, whom he considered to be his greatest foe, the president named the EU, citing its trade relations with the US. This had come after he attacked his fellow NATO allies at a summit in Brussels, a move which former Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said was "play[ing] Russia's game of trying to weaken NATO".  

This was the day that Trump chose the side of Putin against US democracy

Putin evidently considers the dissolution of NATO to be a priority, while he uses it - or the 'NATO encirclement myth' - as an excuse for expansionism and belligerence towards neighbours. Moreover, we've seen vividly how Putin has sponsored several Eurosceptic political forces, including elements of the Leave campaign during the UK's referendum on EU membership.  

All these forces have a point of continuity in being simultaneously pro-Trump and pro-Putin. In fact, it stretches beyond the political Right, with forces from the Left also espousing the propaganda narratives of Russian imperialism on Syria and Ukraine. At the same time, they have colluded with the US Right in fostering a 'deep state' mythos, which posits that a veritable shadow government is attempting to undermine Trump.  

According to this myth, endorsed by the likes of Glenn Greenwald, Trump's support for Russian imperialism and domination of other countries is rebranded as being 'anti-war', in contrast to the 'warmongering' 'deep state' and the political forces it represents.  

It's quite clear that Putin and Trump have the same enemies, namely the EU and NATO, but now you can also add US democracy and the US state to that list.

Some have speculated that Trump might recognise Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, at a time when Russia continues to wage a proxy war on the country for the crime of exercising its national self-determination and its growing pro-European and pro-western political mood.   

To those who might continue to spread the lie that Trump's words of reconciliation with Putin are words of world harmony, they ought to look at the realities of the world order that is being made in the image of both these leaders.

And, while Trump might not quite be a Manchurian Candidate, given it's him siding with Russia against his own country, it's clear he's the junior partner. Russia has made no concessions towards the US.

Perhaps Russia has incriminating information about Trump, but I tend to think the Trump-Putin lash-up represents a genuine shift in world order; the rise of a new global age of authoritarianism.  

It's quite clear that Putin and Trump have the same enemies, namely the EU and NATO, but now you can also add US democracy and the US state to that list

But, regardless, it seems that Vladimir Putin might have fulfilled the once unthinkable desire of previous Russian and Soviet leaders – to have an asset, whether ideological or material, in the highest office of their main enemy.  

Senator John McCain, who despite his own ideological problems has become a rare voice of reason on many issues in this dark era, summed up the meaning of Trump's Helsinki betrayal best.  

McCain grimly surmised that Trump's actions were the "deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realise his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin without any regard for the true nature of his rule… his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbours, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world."

Only those who seek to apologise for the new tyrannical world order could possibly disagree.  

Sam Hamad is an independent Scottish-Egyptian activist and writer

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.