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Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
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The Flynn fiasco is not about national security advisor Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. It’s much deeper than that. It’s about Russia. It’s about Putin. It’s about the explosive rise of China and the world’s biggest free trade zone that will eventually stretch from Lisbon to Vladivostok. It’s about the one country in the world that is obstructing Washington’s plan for global domination. (Russia) And, it’s about the future; which country will be the key player in the world’s most prosperous and populous region, Asia.

That’s what’s at stake, and that’s what the Flynn controversy is really all about.

Many readers are familiar with the expression “pivot to Asia”, but do they know what it means?

It means the United States has embarked on an ambitious plan to extend its military grip and market power over the Eurasian landmass thus securing its position as the world’s only superpower into the next century. The pivot is Washington’s top strategic priority. As Hillary Clinton said in 2011:

“Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests… Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…

The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade…. we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.”(“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)

In other words, it’s pivot or bust. Those are the only two options. Naturally, ruling elites in the US have chosen the former over the latter, which means they are committed to a strategy that will inevitably pit the US against a nuclear-armed adversary, Russia.

Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, wanted to normalize relations with Russia. He rejected the flagrantly hostile approach of the US foreign policy establishment. That’s why he had to be removed. And, that’s why he’s been so viciously attacked in the media and why the threadbare story about his contacts with the Russian ambassador were used to force his resignation.

This isn’t about the law and it isn’t about the truth. It’s about bare-knuckle geopolitics and global hegemony. Flynn got in the way of the pivot, so Flynn had to be eliminated. End of story. Here’s a clip from an article by Robert Parry:

“Flynn’s real “offense” appears to be that he favors détente with Russia rather than escalation of a new and dangerous Cold War. Trump’s idea of a rapprochement with Moscow – and a search for areas of cooperation and compromise – has been driving Official Washington’s foreign policy establishment crazy for months and the neocons, in particular, have been determined to block it.

Though Flynn has pandered to elements of the neocon movement with his own hysterical denunciations of Iran and Islam in general, he emerged as a key architect for Trump’s plans to seek a constructive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Meanwhile, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks have invested heavily in making Putin the all-purpose bête noire to justify a major investment in new military hardware and in pricy propaganda operations.” (“Trump Caves on Flynn’s resignation“, Consortium News)

US foreign policy is not developed willy-nilly. It emerges as the consensus view of various competing factions within the permanent national security state. And, although there are notable differences between the rival factions (either hardline or dovish) there appears to be unanimity on the question of Russia. There is virtually no constituency within the political leadership of either of the two major parties (or their puppetmaster supporters in the deep state) for improving relations with Russia. None. Russia is blocking Washington’s eastward expansion, therefore, Russia must be defeated. Here’s more from the World Socialist Web Site:

“US imperialism seeks to counter its declining world economic position by exploiting its unchallenged global military dominance. It sees as the principal roadblocks to its hegemonic aims the growing economic and military power of China and the still-considerable strength of Russia, possessor of the world’s second-largest nuclear arsenal, the largest reserves of oil and gas, and a critical geographical position at the center of the Eurasian land mass.

Trump’s opponents within the ruling class insist that US foreign policy must target Russia with the aim of weakening the Putin regime or overthrowing it. This is deemed a prerequisite for taking on the challenge posed by China.

Numerous Washington think tanks have developed scenarios for military conflicts with Russian forces in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in the Baltic States and in cyberspace. The national security elite is not prepared to accept a shift in orientation away from the policy of direct confrontation with Russia along the lines proposed by Trump, who would like for the present to lower tensions with Russia in order to focus first on China.” (“Behind the Flynn resignation and Trump crisis: A bitter conflict over imperialist policy“, WSWS)

Foreign policy elites believe the US and its NATO allies can engage Russia in a shooting war without it expanding into a regional conflict and without an escalation into a nuclear conflagration. It’s a risky calculation but, nevertheless, it is the rationale behind the persistent build up of troops and weaponry on Russia’s western perimeter. Take a look at this from the Independent:

“Thousands of Nato troops have amassed close to the border with Russia as part of the largest build-up of Western troops neighbouring Moscow’s sphere of influence since the Cold War…Tanks and heavy armoured vehicles, plus Bradley fighting vehicles and Paladin howitzers, are also in situ and British Typhoon jets from RAF Conningsby will be deployed to Romania this summer to contribute to Nato’s Southern Air Policing mission…

Kremlin officials claim the build-up is the largest since the Second World War.” (“The map that shows how many Nato troops are deployed along Russia’s border“, The Independent)

Saber-rattling and belligerence have cleared the way for another world war. Washington thinks the conflict can be contained, but we’re nor so sure.

The inexperienced Trump– who naively believed that the president sets his own foreign policy–has now learned that that’s not the case. The Flynn slap-down, followed by blistering attacks in the media and threats of impeachment, have left Trump shaken to the core. As a result, he has done a speedy about-face and swung into damage control-mode. On Tuesday, he tried to extend the olive branch by tweeting that “Crimea was taken by Russia” and by offering to replace Flynn with a trusted insider who will not veer from the script prepared by the foreign policy establishment. Check out this blurb on the Foreign Policy magazine website on Wednesday:

“President Donald Trump offered the job of national security advisor to retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward on Monday night…If, as expected, Harward accepts the job today, he is likely to bring in his own team, from deputy on down, with a focus on national security types with some experience under their belts…

Harward also would work well with Defense Secretary James Mattis. When Mattis was chief of Central Command, Harward was his deputy. Mattis trusted him enough to put him in charge of planning for war with Iran. Mattis has urged Harward to take the NSA job.

If Harward becomes NSA, Mattis would emerge from the Flynn mess in a uniquely powerful position: He would have two of his former deputies at the table in some meetings. The other one is John Kelly, now secretary for Homeland Security, who was his number two when Mattis commanded a Marine division early in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.” (“A Mattis protégé poised to take the helm of Trump’s NSC,” Foreign Policy)

In other words, Trump is relinquishing control over foreign policy and returning it to trusted insiders who will comply with pre-set elitist guidelines. Trump’s sudden metamorphosis was apparent in another story that appeared in Wednesday’s news, this time related to Rex Tillerson and General Joseph Dunford. Here’s a clip from CNN:

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford meet face to face with their Russian counterparts Thursday, as the Trump administration evaluates the future direction of US-Russian relations….But even as Tillerson’s plane was taking off in Washington, the Pentagon announced the meeting between Dunford and his Russian counterpart Valeriy Gerasimov, which will take place Thursday in Baku, Azerbaijan….

“The military leaders will discuss a variety of issues including the current state of U.S.-Russian military relations …Trump’s envoys have been expressing positions more keeping with previous US policies. …

Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, indicated the US would maintain sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014. She condemned what she called the “Russian occupation” of the Ukrainian territory…

The US has deployed thousands of troops and tanks to Poland and Romania in recent weeks, while other NATO allies have sent troops to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

“There is a common message from the President, from his security team, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, that they stay strongly committed to NATO,” he added.

Let’s summarize: The sanctions will remain, the tanks are on the border, the commitment to NATO has been reinforced, and Dunford is going to explain Washington’s strategic objectives to his Russian counterpart in clear, unambiguous language. There will be no room for Tillerson, who is on friendly terms with Putin, to change the existing policy or to normalize relations; Dunford, Haley, and Defense Secretary James Mattis will make sure of that.

As for Trump, it’s clear by the Crimea tweet, the sacking of Flynn and the (prospective) appointment of Harward, that he’s running scared and is doing everything in his power to get out of the hole he’s dug for himself. There’s no way of knowing whether he’ll be allowed to carry on as before or if he’ll be forced to throw other allies, like Bannon or Conway, under the bus. I would expect the purge to continue and to eventually include Trump himself. But that’s just a guess.

The hope that Trump would bring an element of sanity to US foreign policy has now been extinguished. The so called “Trump Revolution” has fizzled out before it ever began.

In contrast, the military buildup along Russia’s western flank continues apace.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Michael Flynn, Russia 
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  1. I think the war-gamed scenario that was made into the novel Arc Light (Harry, 1994) is the hidden in plain sight wet dream of the deep state: conquering Russia via conventional warfare. The novel begins with a surprise limited nuclear strike by Russia, which acts as both a casus belli and as a argument for a winnable nuclear war, which is a deep state fantasy. President Walter Livingston in the novel gets hounded out of office for being insufficiently cynical. The novel ends with Moscow conquered by the US via conventional warfare, finally completing what Napoleon an Hitler were unable to accomplish. That’s an itch they’ve just got to scratch.

  2. “In contrast, the military buildup along Russia’s western flank continues apace.”

    Really? When and what was the last deployment and when and what is the next?

    • Replies: @El Dato
  3. I was concerned by the Flynn situation too, but I’ve been much reassured by Trump’s masterful press conference. Clearly the reports that he has been “shaken to the core” are greatly exaggerated.

    Trump’s explanation was that although Flynn did nothing at all wrong in his contacts with Russia, he (Trump) was unhappy with how forthcoming he has been within the administration. I had heard buzz previously that Flynn was not working out as well as had been hoped.

  4. El Dato says:

    The last one was moving stuff into Poland to “near the Russian border” back in July I think.

    I was nonplussed and thought we were back in 1937 as there is Belarus in between Russia and Poland nowadays.

    Then it occurred to me they are talking about Kaliningrad Oblast.

    Currently we are looking at some bizarre build-up in the Black Sea.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  5. TheJester says:


    You’re missing an important point about the NATO troops in Eastern Europe. They are operationally useless for two reasons:

    1. Paired off against the Russians, they are too few in numbers to either attack Russia or stop a Russian assault. A couple of battalions of NATO troops and a few jet fighters are “cannon fodder” that the Russians would mop up in a couple of hours — suicide for the NATO troops.

    2. With the exception of the U.S. battalion in Poland, the three NATO battalions in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are grab bags from multiple countries. For example, the German-led battalion in Lithuania includes troops and airmen from seven countries — Germany, Belgium, Croatia, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and, Norway. Differences in language, operational doctrine, and training work against cooperative military operations — effectively useless.

    I was on similar NATO exercises in Europe during Cold War I. They were “Keystone Cop” comedies at best and dangerous at worst, i.e. finding a German soldier who spoke French and English to translate so that the American command and control system could communicate with French fighters.

    It’s a show of force and nothing more. “All show … no blow” as the saying goes. Pure theater: If I were the Russians, I would not even feel threatened by their presence.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:


    Great piece by Mike Whitney. Those who do not understand Mackinder will fail to understand why we are so dead set against reconsiliation with Russia.

    People wonder why some of our elites do not want to focus on China and pick on Russia instead. The reason is because Russia controlls the Heartland and literally sits in Europe and Asia. So Russia is obviously the bigger threat here since they are the only country that can unite east and west. Not China.

    Trump has been a major dissapointment. How could he be so unprepared to take on the deepstate? He has shown no spine whatsoever.

    He could have gone down as a legend, instead he will be laughed at.

  7. wow says:

    Love watching the guys making $50K a year trying to intimidate the multi-billionaire playboy real estate tycoon.

  8. @El Dato

    “Currently we are looking at some bizarre build-up in the Black Sea.”

    Given that we had no cruisers available to go say hello to an E-Lint ship from Russia thirty miles off our coast, I suspect going into Putin’s Oceanic playground is to be a losing proposition, except as a tripwire to a bigger thing. Sorta like Tonkin Gulf, except the water is colder. Cheap cruise missiles and the S400 Sam sites sprinkled about will teach us a lesson about the real world. We’ll see no carrier groups up there. No sense to it..

    Since politics and war are global and my own government’s concern for my interest nil, I reserve the right to root against the bad guys here, which is the U.S.. Sorry about that.

    • Replies: @Diversity Heretic
  9. @TheJester

    I was on similar NATO exercises in Europe during Cold War I. They were “Keystone Cop” comedies at best and dangerous at worst, i.e. finding a German soldier who spoke French and English to translate so that the American command and control system could communicate with French fighters.

    If you think your NATO follies ashore were funny, you should have seen Nimitz in the North Sea November-March during Cold War1.Half the days, 25′ seas, icy flight decks, you couldn’t operate like that. Carrier groups are a laughing stock anymore anyway.

  10. I don’t expect one man, Donald Trump, to prevail against all of Imperial Washington. I expect him to be driven from office. But the Trump Revolution is just getting started. When I was a kid my father told me repeatedly “a job well started is a job half done”.

  11. S says:

    20% ceiling part N.

  12. Sean says:

    The hysterical demands for military pressure on the border are from, not America, but come from countries like Estonia and Poland, which know from experience what Russia is like. Russia is far les of a threat threat when it had lots of tanks and artillery, which wars can be fought with. Wars cannot be fought with nuclear weapons. If you go nuclear against a nuclear power, you are going to destroy yourself.

    In contrast, the military buildup along Russia’s western flank continues apace.

    They should have thought about that before crossing the internationally recognized borders of a country which they had given security guarantees to. Russia let Ukraine go, and whatever was said in diplomatic discourse there was nothing in any treaty about Ukraine having to take account of Russian sensibilities forever after. The fact is that Russia solemnly made a binding agreement Ukraine’s security and them invaded. Since the begining of the Ukraine war, Merkel has been speaking to Putin (in his native tongue, which she is fluent in) advising him to withdraw. Germany wants good relations with Russia and has said the US is not being added to the group brokering the supposed cease fire starting on Monday. It is not the US which is demanding that Russia get out, it’s Germany, but Russia is not going to get out of Ukraine and Germany cannot let them stay. The US is demanding that Europe make more of a contribution towards its defense, and that will mean under NATO’s nuclear umbrella German is gong to start building an offensive military capacity. No one is to blame for any of this, Russia is the natural enemy of Germany, not the US. The US needs Russia for a Euriasian alliance against China but first Russia will have to be humbled. If they think the US is frightened by weapons that could never be used, Russia has another thing coming. They are going to be faced with German tanks, and be evacuating Moscow like last time if they push it.

  13. In view of what has come out about the Obama regime’s lame duck era order expanding NSA surveillance disclosure and the fact that as incoming security director, Flynn had the right to be talking to the Russians, especially in light of Obama’s efforts to queer Trump’s pitch by redoubling sanctions and insulting the Russian diplomats on the way out, Trump should rescind the resignation, and return Flynn to his position. His cave-in on this issue appears to have been a mistake, and his reactions afterwards seem to indicate his consciousness of this fact. He should face the fascist deep state directly like he is attacking the corrupt media and call “bull-shit” to the anti-Flynn anti-Russian pro-war initiative by the deep state yankee imperium.

  14. @Jim Christian

    It’s strange isn’t it, to be hoping for the defeat of one’s own armed forces? I suffer from the same cognitive dissonance. But maybe those armed forces aren’t “ours” any more. It even affects my perspective towards history. When I visited the Cold War section of the Central Military Museum of the Russian Federation in Moscow, I no longer saw evil Communists, but patriotic Russians. And sometimes I was struck by the heretical thought: “Wait a minute! Maybe Nikita Kruschev was the good guy!”

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  15. @Diversity Heretic

    It’s strange isn’t it, to be hoping for the defeat of one’s own armed forces?

    Yeah, it’s strange, but not so much I don’t sleep nights. I spent five years aboard Nimitz in an A-6 squadron 1976-1982 after all. The U.S. was a different country then. Mom, apple pie, BBQs, good girls, muscle cars, all that. Worth defending. But I came back to an increasingly hostile atmosphere of affirmative action, political correctness and the advance of feminism, media, and the abject perversion of all the institutions I was taught to revere and observe. The enemy? Male Heterosexual Gentiles, especially Veterans.

    So I’m the enemy within to them. Hated. And now hated still more, because look who’s in the White House, one of my own. The military isn’t Mom and apple pie anymore, it’s a profit center for insiders that has destroyed half the world to no good end. Their trillions banked, they want more billions to bounce the rubble of our previous destruction. It’s un-fucking-beleiveable to me looking at it from the perspective of a cold warrior. There is civil war going on in officialdom and society right now, and I’m simply not rooting for the establishment as it stands today. I can’t abide nor be loyal politically or in a nationalistic sense to entities who, if they can’t stop Trump through process or media, will surely put a bullet in his brain. And so how do I cheer such a country, such a government?

    No can do, not anymore. This doesn’t end well.

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