Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trump's Watergate



strategic-culture |  Ironically, the connection to Watergate is more than it might appear to be. That scandal is commonly thought of as a «high point» of American journalism, in which intrepid reporters from the Washington Post dared to help bring down a Republican president for involvement in «dirty tricks» against Democrats hatched in 1972. A more nuanced account is given by author Russ Baker, in his book Family of Secrets about the Bush dynasty and the CIA. Baker provides evidence that the Washington Post was actually led by intelligence agencies to stitch up Richard Nixon whom they had come to oppose over his shady self-serving politics. Watergate and the demise of Nixon was thus less a triumph of democracy and media righteousness and more a coup by the Deep State against Nixon in which the Washington Post served as the conduit.

The nature of today’s shenanigans with Trump may be different in the precise details. But the modus operandi appears to be the same. A sitting president is out of favor with the Deep State and the latter is orchestrating a media campaign of leaks to dislodge him. Appropriately, the Washington Post is again at the forefront of the Deep State operation to thwart the president, this time Trump, as with Nixon before.

The story of Trump being a potentially treasonous pawn being manipulated by Russia is impossibly far-fetched to be credible. Trump denies it, and Moscow denies it. Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appears indeed to have had contact with the Russian ambassador during Trump’s transition to the White House. But the content of the conversation has been blown out of all proportion by US intelligence and media to contrive the narrative that Trump is in cahoots with Moscow.

The upshot is that Trump’s avowed policy of restoring friendlier relations with Russia is being hampered at every turn. The president is being goaded into having to deny he is a Russian stooge and to prove that he is not soft on Moscow – by, for example, stating this week through his White House spokesman Sean Spicer that «Russian must hand back Crimea to Ukraine».

Evidently, the big purpose here is to direct Trump to adopt a harder line on Russia and to abandon any notion of developing cordial relations. Either he must tow the line, or he will be hounded by leaks, media speculation and Congressional probes until he is impeached. This is because the Deep State – primarily the military-industrial complex that is the permanent government of the US – is predicated on a strategic policy of adversity towards Russia and any other designated geopolitical rival.

Meanwhile, amid the raging war between the Trump White House and the US intelligence network, which includes sections of the media, Russia said this week that relations between the two countries were suffering.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, lamented that the turmoil in Washington was turning into a lost opportunity for the US and Russia to normalize relations and get on with bigger, far more urgent tasks of cooperation in world affairs.

And that impasse between the US and Russia, it would seem, is the whole object lesson from Trump’s war with powerful elements within his own state. Trump may have been elected president. But other darker forces in America’s power structure are intent on over-ruling him when it comes to policy on Russia. Trump’s Watergate is all about drowning out a genuine reset with Russia.