Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump on the international stage: The product of all fears

If Trump’s unfolding domestic agenda is the sum of all fears, his international agenda is the product, the multiplicative amplification, of all fears.

AZBlueMeanie provides lots of evidence that Donald Trump’s rhetoric embraces ‘Putin’s Real Long Game’. This very long post is less on the prospect of Trump in the international stage as one source put it, “Tinker, Tailor, Mogul, Spy” than on the details of Putin’s long game. Here are some teasers.

… Trump sat down with two European newspapers for an interview in which he dismissed NATO as “obsolete”; criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for assisting Syrian refugees (whom Trump referred to as “illegals”); said the United States “should be ready to trust” Russian President Vladimir Putin; and endorsed the further unraveling of the European Union.

The Post added that Trump’s attitudes “have raised alarm bells across Europe,” as America’s traditional allies come to the “painful realization” that Europeans may no longer have “the full backing of their oldest, strongest partner.”

… countries around the globe are anxious, if not terrified, because Americans elected an erratic amateur who says he intends to shuffle the diplomatic deck, partnering not with U.S. allies, but with a U.S. adversary – Russia – which apparently played a role in putting Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

To borrow Trump’s own rhetoric, America’s friends are beginning to think they can’t depend on us.

Here’s more evidence.

In a must-read (lengthy) deep-dive essay by Molly K. McKew, a former adviser to Georgian President Saakashvili’s government from 2009–2013, and to former Moldovan Prime Minister Filat in 2014–2015, she explains how Trump’s rhetoric embraces Putin’s Real Long Game at Politico.

Blue Meanie has excerpts.

… the new reality on the Russian frontier: the belief that, ultimately, everyone would be left to fend for themselves. …

What both administrations fail to realize is that the West is already at war, whether it wants to be or not. It may not be a war we recognize, but it is a war. This war seeks, at home and abroad, to erode our values, our democracy, and our institutional strength; to dilute our ability to sort fact from fiction, or moral right from wrong; and to convince us to make decisions against our own best interests.

… The question ahead of us is whether Trump will aid the Kremlin’s goals with his anti-globalist, anti-NATO rhetoric– or whether he’ll clearly see the end of the old order, grasp the nature of the war we are in, and have the vision and the confrontational spirit to win it.

We can only confront this by fully understanding how the Kremlin sees the world. Its worldview and objectives are made abundantly clear in speeches, op-eds, official policy and national strategy documents, journal articles, interviews, and, in some cases, fiction writing of Russian officials and ideologues. We should understand several things from this material.

I’ll provide just one example.

Third, information warfare is not about creating an alternate truth, but eroding our basic ability to distinguish truth at all. It is not “propaganda” as we’ve come to think of it, but the less obvious techniques known in Russia as “active measures” and “reflexive control”. Both are designed to make us, the targets, act against our own best interests.

… Putin has dictated the mood of the unfolding era — an era of upheaval. This past year marks the arrival of this mood in American politics, whether Americans deny it or not. The example of Eastern Europe suggests that without renewed vision and purpose, and without strong alliances to amplify our defense and preserve our legacy, America too will find itself unanchored, adrift in currents stirred and guided by the Kremlin.

The truth is that fighting a new Cold War would be in America’s interest. Russia teaches us a very important lesson: losing an ideological war without a fight will ruin you as a nation. The fight is the American way. When we stop fighting for our ideals abroad, we stop fighting for them at home. We won the last Cold War. We will win the next one too. When it’s us against them, they were, and are, never going to be the winner. But when it’s “all against all” — a “multipolar” world with “multi-vector” policy, a state of shifting alliances and permanent instability — Russia, with a centrally controlled, tiny command structure unaccountable for its actions in any way, still has a chance for a seat at the table. They pursue the multipolar world not because it is right or just, but because it is the only world in which they can continue to matter without pushing a nuclear launch sequence.

Today … Russia is little more than a ghastly hybrid of an overblown police state and a criminal network with an economy the size of Italy — and the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

But this ghastly hybrid seeks to matter by reducing us to a mirror of them.

… Russia does not aspire to be like us, or to make itself stronger than we are. Rather, its leaders want the West—and specifically NATO and America — to become weaker and more fractured until we are as broken as they perceive themselves to be. …

The attributions for the above quotes are in AZBlueMeanie’s post. It is a must-read to understand what Putin has in store for us and how Trump is a player in the same long game.

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