Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Ages of Our Unfolding Disaster (Josh Marshall)

Josh Marshall at TPM analyzes this photo from the G-7 meeting in Canada that just ended in chaotic disaster, in an article titled A Photo for the Ages of Our Unfolding Disaster.

Trump is at the right, facing Angela Merkel across the table. Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan faces us. To the right of Trump is John Bolton, National Security Advisor. To the left of Merkel, Theresa May is hidden by Larry Kudlow (head of the National Economic Council) and President Macron of France. To Trump's left, but out of this photo, is Justin Trudeau of Canada. If you click on the title of the article, above, you can see several other photos of the same scene that show that many other people were at this encounter. This photo was taken by Jesco Denzel, a German government photographer from Chancellor Merkel's office.

This disastrous meeting, which has just ended, is only the latest sign that President Trump is trying to destroy the foundations of the post-WWII order.

In another article, Marshall writes:
Over the course of 16+ months, President Trump has acted consistently and with some success to destabilize and break up the western alliance (both its formal manifestation in NATO) but also its less formal dimensions in trade and other partnerships. He has also worked consistently on really every front to advance the interests of Russia.
Less obviously to many Americans, he’s been doing something similar in East Asia. The U.S. alliance with Japan and South Korea, which in recent years we’ve taken steps to extend to other states on the periphery of the East Asian landmass (which is basically to say, China) is not simply to protect against North Korea. It is to build a series of security relationships with countries on that periphery to act as a counterweight to the regional (perhaps world) great power, China. Allies in the region are closely watching President Trump’s apparent desire to remove U.S. troops from South Korea for that reason, among others. [RL: In my opinion, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was trying to do the same thing in the economic realm - which is why I supported it (probably all of my friends would disagree with me on this point). Trump, of course, cancelled it once he came into office. TPP did come into existence among all of the other Asian trade partners, without our participation].
The last twenty four hours of attacks on our closest allies capped by President Trump’s seemingly out of the blue demand to bring Russia back into the G-7 (making it again the G-8 which it was for most of the post-Cold War era until Russia was expelled over the annexation of Crimea) simply brings the matter into a newly sharp relief. [RL: Russia is now trying to get Austria to organize a summit this summer between Putin and Trump].
Marshall then writes, "If candidate Trump and President Putin had made a corrupt bargain which obligated President Trump to destabilize all U.S. security and trade alliances (especially NATO, which has been Russia’s primary strategic goal for 70 years) and advance the strategic interests of Russia, there’s really nothing more remotely realistic he could have done to accomplish that than what he has in fact done."

I know people have been saying this for months and months, but it is still astonishing to me to see that an American president, sworn to uphold the American Constitution, sworn to defend the United States against our enemies, has sold our country to the Russian government - a dictatorship led by Vladimir Putin. It is still more astonishing to know that it is a Republican president who has done this, with very little protest or pushback from the Republican Party - the party that ran for many years on a virulently anti-Russia and anti-communist platform. 

Just remember Richard Nixon, who defeated his opponents in his races for Congress and the Senate by red-baiting them. Remember his support for Joseph McCarthy.

Just remember Ronald Reagan (who supported Nixon's opponent in his successful run for Senate), labeled the Soviet Union the "evil empire." (Of course, he ended up making landmark arms reductions agreements with the Soviets in his second term, but he was always an anti-communist).

Would either of these iconic Republican presidents ever have considered turning their backs on the Western alliance and showing deference to a Russian president who had once been part of the KGB? Of course not!

There are still Republicans in the House and Senate who remember the days of Ronald Reagan (at least) and the Cold War. Why do they not rise up and protest when an American president kowtows to the Russian president and turns his back on our allies? Were they suborned by Russian support in their most recent election campaigns? Or are they simply afraid and have decided to bow down to our mini-Putin wannabe in hopes that they can stay in office and escape the wrath of Trump's supposed base?

If someone had predicted the process of Trump's betrayal of the United States to Russia in a novel published in 2016, no publisher would have printed it - it would have been too incredible. But it's not.

I kind of feel like we're living through the first part of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America - the first part, when Charles Lindbergh is elected instead of Roosevelt in 1940, decides to support Germany instead of Britain, and implements a wide variety of anti-Jewish measures in the US. Of course, in the novel, a deus ex machina saves the US (and its Jews) from Lindbergh and the Nazis, and leads events back to the timeline that unfolded in our reality. What will be the deus ex machina that will save us from our current reality and lead us back to the timeline of sanity?