[Marxism] The Mueller Report: Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston on Trump-Russia Ties, Obstruction & More

mkaradjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Mon Apr 22 20:41:13 MDT 2019


Actually I think the Mueller report shows that Trump was up to his eyeballs
in collaboration with the Russian Tsars, and I’m not sure why there has
been a rush to exonerate him on the left, when the report clearly does not
do that at all. Just to make clear, I don’t think Trump’s election victory
had much to do with the obvious attempts by Russia to interfere in the US
elections, the obvious and proven collusion by Trump and his entire team
with the Russians, and wikileaks blatant collaboration with Trump-Putin – I
agree entirely with all the points that Trump won because of Clinton and
the failures of US capitalism under Obama, but that’s a different matter.

Was this collaboration due to Trump being an agent of the Russian oligarchy
as John claims? Trump may well have more special links with the Russian
oligarchs than others have, but I just don’t think that is necessary to
explain US policy. The position of the Trump team that China rather than
Russia was the major rival to US imperialist interests was entirely
logical; as any study of the massive export of Chinese capital, compared to
the pathetic level of Russian capital export (Michael Probsting’s book
‘Anti-Imperialism in the age of great power rivalry, and Louis’ review of
it here on marxmail for reference) would suggest. Russian imperialism also
rivals US imperialism (as do EU and Japanese imperialisms), but I’ve always
thought it a mistake to view economically weak Russian imperialism as the
major rival of US imperialism.

Certainly there is the fact that Russia has greater military power than any
of the other rivals to US imperialism, so it can throw its weight around
more, and there is its diplomatic weight and the ideological echoes of
history that weigh on US and Russian ruling class attitudes to each other
in terms of “credibility” and such, but while these are important factors
they should not be confused with more fundamental rivalry.

Actually on the question of “sub-imperialism” which Patrick Bond hammers on
about, I’ve always found it very useful, except when it comes to drawing
the line questions. While the BRICS are a good metaphor for
sub-imperialism, I think we could very usefully add states such as Saudi
Arabia, Iran and Turkey, while I think China has clearly emerged as an
imperialist power more so than Russia. Russia if anything has more
characteristics of sub-imperialism than China does, and I think it is
useful to see US-Russia relations in that light. The fact that neither the
Obama nor Trump administrations has had any problem with the 4-year Russian
terror-bombing of Russia and effective occupation of parts of that country,
and of parts of Syria’s state apparatus, is not some coincidence or
something unique about both leaders, it is US imperialism looking after its
interests. The fact that more anti-Russian voices under both
administrations have tended to be oppositional, and thus rhetorical, is
also the opposite of coincidence. It corresponds completely to the attitude
of major US ally in the region, Israel, with its very close relations with
Moscow, and increasingly with US allies in the Gulf, especially under Trump
as the US-Saudi-UAE alliance has strengthened while these same states are
developing excellent relations with Moscow and recognising Assad’s regime.

>From the onset of Russian intervention to bolster Assad – about a year
after US intervention against ISIS began – the two superpowers have
cooperated closely in Syria. Sure there have been bumps in the road, but
overwhelmingly their agreement to share the Syrian sky as both bomb Syria –
in many cases, bombing the same targets even at the same time - has been
almost a model of cooperation. Is this due to US weakness, or to Trump
being a money-launderer for Russian oligarchs? I my opinion, no, it is due
to US imperialism looking after its interests. Just to be clear, John may
well be right that Trump is also a money-launderer for Russian oligarchs,
but I think that is of minor significance to the rest of the US ruling
class.

Who has the upper hand in Syria in this cooperation? Many would say Russia
does, with the US showing its “weakness” or “retreat” etc. This is
extraordinary nonsense. The US war against ISIS (and often against
Nusra/HTS and sometimes other Islamist or even mainstream rebels) has cost
countless billions of dollars, has destroyed entire cities, has killed
thousands of people, all with full intelligence collaboration with Russia
and the Assad regime. It is not a small war. Russia is waging a much bigger
and far more murderous war in Syria on behalf of the tyrant, because the US
(and even more, Israel) is fine with that happening, in fact, I would
argue, Russia is doing the dirty work for imperialism, like a
sub-imperialist power, happy to cop all the bad name for doing so, while
western imperialists can pretend to be upset about “excesses” and the like.

Look what happens when Russia does try to push things a little – when
Assad’s forces, who the US never bombs, attacked the US’ SDF allies in
eastern Deir Ezzor a year ago, backed by Russian mercenaries, the US
counter-attacked and killed around 200 Russian mercenaries. Putin’s
response? Who? What? Like, what was Russia going to do? Issue a statement?
Russian “power” in Syria compared to US power is zip. If the US had wanted
Assad and Russia to stop bombing every Syrian city into oblivion, it would
have happened overnight, with no “World War III” laughable nonsense.

John is correct that Trump’s withdrawal tweet was aimed at aiding the
Russian position in Syria. Chris says this is wrong because it was aimed at
aiding Turkey. But as Chris himself notes, Turkey is now allied to Russia,
so there is no necessary contradiction. There would be to the extent that
Assad objected to Turkey doing his job of crushing the SDF. But Russia very
much holds the cards regarding both Erdogan and Assad; if Russia only
agrees to Turkey doing some minor cross-border thing near the border, and
for Assad to gobble up the rest, then that’s what will happen. The US will
be fine with both, but I think the popular idea that Trump, in a simple
tweet, really thought he was giving a green-light to Turkey invading the
whole SDF-controlled east of Syria, not just Manbij but also Raqqa and even
way down to Deir-Ezzor, is entirely fanciful. If he was thinking anything
at all, it was probably just to pull Erdogan’s leg. Trump’s Saudi, UAE and
Egyptian allies are very anti-Erdogan and they have been dangling the idea
of an “Arab contingent” (from them) entering the region as a peace-keeping
force.

Of course saner heads in the US administration prevailed, because immediate
withdrawal would indeed by destabilising, and the US would lose all
credibility if its (inevitable) abandonment of the SDF occurred so
precipitously, based on a momentary tweet. But imperialist policy is not
made by tweets and not carried out “immediately”; nevertheless, US policy
does aim towards withdrawal from Syria and leaving it safely within the
Russian zone, more likely with Assad in greater control over the east than
some wild Turkish invasion idea; I think the deal to be done is to pressure
Assad (as Israel, Saudis, UAE are doing) to remove the Iranian forces and
rely entirely on Russia, and for the moment, the US sees the SDF as a
useful bargaining chip towards such a “Kurds for Iran” deal.

On Tue, Apr 23, 2019 at 11:08 AM Chris Slee via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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