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Interested in perspectives about this article from NY Mag. On Reddit
someone argued that Trump was following a manual for isolating US
influence. When I clicked on this "manual" I was led to the wikipedia page
for Aleksander Dugin, the Russian fascist whose influence some of the
anarchist voices argue is behind the alleged Red-Brown alliance.

As others know, I think the evidence of the red-brown alliance is very weak
and being used to unfairly target anti-war voices in lieu of other
(legitimate) criticisms. But at the same time, I admit I do not know much
about Dugin or his philosophy because I assumed it was just Russian ethnic
chauvinism and there wasn't much to see.

I wonder if others on the list might weigh in on the implications in this
article that Trump, by stupidity or by design, is a player in this
allegedly Duginist, pro-Russian plot.


By Jonathan Chait

One of Russia’s principal foreign-policy goals for decades has been to
split the United States from is allies. Whether by accident or by design,
President Trump appears intent on bringing that dream to fruition.

The most immediate theater of Western disarray is today’s G7 meeting in
Canada. Trump has been fomenting a trade war, hurling wild and largely
groundless accusations at America’s allies. “Why isn’t the European Union
and Canada informing the public that for years they have used massive Trade
Tariffs and non-monetary Trade Barriers against the U.S. Totally unfair to
our farmers, workers & companies,” he demands. “Take down your tariffs &
barriers or we will more than match you!”

Western trade partners have attempted to reason with Trump’s demands, but
the problem is that the basis for his beliefs and actions is entirely
fantastical. If your neighbor is irate that you let your dog run loose in
his yard, you can pacify him. If he’s irate that you are reading his
thoughts through his tinfoil hat, there’s nothing you can do except
disengage. And that is what they are doing. French president Emmanuel
Macron threatened to sign a six-country agreement omitting the U.S.
altogether. Canadian prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed “to defend our
industries and our workers” and “show the U.S. president that his
unacceptable actions are hurting his own citizens.”

But trade is merely a symptom of a larger rearrangement of American
alienation from its partners. The West has attempted to prevail upon Trump
to retain, in some form, a series of agreements he inherited: the
Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate agreement, and the Iran
nuclear deal. In every instance the negotiations foundered on Trump’s
allergy to compromise and immunity to reason. You can’t negotiate a climate
plan with a person who considers climate science a Chinese hoax any more
than you can negotiate a trade deal with somebody who believes Canada must
be punished for the War of 1812.

The mutual loathing contains both a personality component and a structural
component. One by one, Trump’s personal relationship with the leader of
each major U.S. ally has been fatally poisoned. Angela Merkel, whom Trump
had repeatedly taunted and likened to Hillary Clinton during his campaign,
was the first major leader to give up on Trump. “It’s difficult to
overstate just how enraged Germany is about Trump,” reports Matthew
Karnitschnig. Trump’s allies tell one British newspaper he “has grown
frustrated with Theresa May’s ‘school mistress’ tone.” (May publicly
corrected Trump’s circulation of fake videos blaming Muslims for violence.)
Trump “has griped periodically both about German Chancellor Angela Merkel —
largely because they disagree on many issues and have had an uneasy rapport
— as well as British Prime Minister Theresa May, whom he sees as too
politically correct,” his advisers tell the Washington Post.

Macron, who has bent over backwards to flatter and placate Trump, has found
his efforts unrewarded. A recent phone call between the two was “terrible,”
a source tells CNN. “Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind,
based on the relationship. But Trump can’t handle being criticized like

It’s not as if Trump is unable to get along with anybody. He has drawn our
country closer to a variety of despots: in the Gulf states, North Korea,
China, and of course Russia. There is an element of personality involved
here. Trump admires strongmen. “Who are the three guys in the world he most
admires?” a Trump adviser told the Post last year. “President Xi [Jinping]
of China, [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and Putin. They’re all
the same guy.”

Relatedly, strongmen have the ability to deal with Trump in what is
euphemistically described as “transactional” terms. China spent hundreds of
millions of dollars enhancing the value of a Trump property, and in turn
was quickly granted a reprieve for a telecommunications firm that had
broken American law. “Those regimes take a transactional approach. Many
American allies have relied on appeals to reason, data and shared values,”
reports Politico, which also quotes a former Trump official helpfully
explaining, “If you’re not a despot, you can’t really be transactional.”
This clarifies the euphemism, because of course a democratic leader can be
transactional. Democratic countries negotiate transactions all the time.
What they can’t do is hand out bribes.

No country has taken a more “transactional” approach toward Trump than
Russia, and no country has seen its investment rewarded so richly. As he
boarded his plane to the G7 meeting he was about to tear up, Trump told
reporters he believed Russia should be readmitted into the group: “It may
not be politically correct, but we have a world to run … They should let
Russia back in.”

Russia was expelled after invading and seizing territory from its neighbor,
among other aggressive actions — including murdering people overseas,
menacing other neighbors and, not incidentally, committing cybertheft
against the Democratic Party as part of its operation to help elect Trump.
Last night, The Wall Street Journal reported Russia has asked Austria —
another friendly country with a far-right leader — to organize a meeting
between Putin and Trump this summer. The Trump administration “is pondering
the offer.”

The rise of Donald Trump has been met with a persistent strain of denial.
First domestically, and then abroad, his would-be partners greeted the
unfathomable election of an uneducable demagogue by convincing themselves
he didn’t really mean ravings that passed for his official policies, and
that they could reason with, co-opt, or otherwise negotiate with him.
Trump’s domestic counterparts grasped reality more quickly than his
international partners.

“Senior government officials in Washington, London, Berlin, and other
European capitals” tell Susan Glasser “they now worry that Trump may be a
greater immediate threat to the alliance than even authoritarian
great-power rivals, such as Russia and China.” Trump might be a greater
threat to the West than Putin. Worse, he might be, in a sense, the very
same threat.

Amith R. Gupta
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