Is Trump Implementing the ‘Bannon Strategy’ by Courting Russia?
Prof. Gerald Horne examines the Trump-Bannon objectives of forming an alliance with Russia to isolate China and Iran, while Democrats spin out of control in their attacks against Trump
SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network, and I’m Sharmini Pyrrhus coming to you from Baltimore.
Following the now-infamous Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki on Monday and its fallout here in Washington, D.C. on President Trump’s return, President Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington this fall. Now, on to talk about the geopolitics of the week in crisis, joining me is Gerald Horne. He holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African-American Studies at the University of Houston. He is the author of over 30 books, including “The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America.” Thanks for joining us, Gerald.
GERALD HORNE: Thank you for inviting me.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Gerald, let’s start off with your take on this crazy week we’ve had. A week in crisis in Washington.
GERALD HORNE: Well, first of all I think that the corporate media have missed the boat. It’s obvious, it’s in plain sight what the Trump team and that faction of the ruling class is trying to execute. His former adviser Steve Bannon let the cat out of the bag when he suggested that the United States is at war with China. Tucker Carlson of Fox News just recently had a banner behind him during his nationally syndicated program shouting “China Threat.” In other words, what Mr. Trump tried to do in Helsinki was what he’s been trying to do since he took office in January 2017. That is to say, to effectuate some sort of entente with Moscow. Soften up Moscow by supporting neofascists in Ukraine. And then try to neutralize Moscow as Washington turns to the big enchilada, which is China.
Moscow is also key to Mr. Trump’s plans with regard to the smaller enchilada, which is Iran. That is to say that there is no accident that Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, has been spending a lot of quality time in Moscow, including on May 9, 2018, the holiest of holy days in Moscow, the day marking the victory over fascism in 1945. And likewise, Mr. Netanyahu is trying to win over Moscow to an anti-Iran sanction and/or conflict. This will involve some sorts of concessions to Moscow with regard to Syria. It’s unclear to me whether that latter initiative will pan out. But certainly it’s rather obvious what Mr. Trump is trying to accomplish.
And I think that the corporate media has been engaged in a kind of journalistic malpractice by not pointing this out. They did the same thing when Mr. Trump went to Western Europe. That is to say, when Mr. Trump called for NATO members to spend more on defense, he’s actually asking them to send more money to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon in the Unites States of America. When he says, Mr. Trump, that is, that Germany is a captive of Russia because it gets so much energy from Russia, supposedly, Mr. Trump is actually carrying water for liquefied natural gas interests in Texas, and in Louisiana, and for oil interests in West Texas in particular. So I think what Mr. Trump is trying to do is rather obvious, but somehow this obvious point has been missed by the corporate media.
SHARMINI PERIES: Now, Gerald, you are here in your analysis instilling a great deal of thinking, strategy, policies that Trump must implement to make this geopolitical strategy happen. But the corporate media presents him as a buffoon who doesn’t know what foot comes next, or misspeaking, and, and all the mistakes he’s made, and the notes he must make on his transcript to backpedal on a position he has taken. I mean, if you see the coverage in the mainstream press this week, you know, as you say, no serious attention was given to this strategic plan of President Trump. Why do you think that takes place?
GERALD HORNE: Well, I think it takes place for a number of reasons. Trump is a vulgarian, but he’s a dangerous vulgarian. Trump is a buffoon, but he’s a dangerous buffoon. Trump is a con man, but he’s a dangerous con men. Keep in mind that the faction of the ruling elite that Mr. Trump represents tends to like those kinds of seeming buffoons in high office. Recall Ronald Wilson Reagan, who may have had senility during the last months of his 1980-1988 administration. But that did not keep him from executing a thought-out U.S. ruling elite for policy, even though he was doddering along all the time. I think that too much has been made of this buffoonery.
In some ways, Trump is also like a magician. The trick of the magician is to distract you to the left as they pull off the trick to the right. And that’s what Trump does. Actually, one of the things that has surprised me thus far this week is that he has not distracted the attention of the audience further by launching another attack on black American pro football players, for example, to distract their attention to that particular issue. That’s oftentimes called “boob bait for the bubbas,” and Mr. Trump is a master at that kind of nonsense.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Gerald, let’s go back to the earlier point you were making, that this new alliance with Moscow is about isolating China economically, and also isolating Iran for their interests, obviously of Netanyahu and Israel. But there’s much more to that strategy. Give us a sense of the indicators that lead you to believe that.
GERALD HORNE: Well, first of all, as they do a tour of the horizon, the U.S. ruling elite realizes that unless something drastic happens sooner rather than later, U.S. imperialism will be surpassed by China. Look at the Made in China 2025 plan that has caused so many sleepless nights in Washington. That is to say, by 2025, a scant few years from now, China is slated to become the global leader in artificial intelligence, green energy, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and all of the rest. Washington feels that it has to do something drastic to shake up the game, and that leads us straight to Moscow and Helsinki.
Now, with regard to the Saudis. Well, keep in mind that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also has been spending quality time in Moscow with Vladimir Putin. His aim is congruent with the aim of US imperialism and Israeli Zionism; that is to say, to neutralize Iran, if not oust Iran altogether from Syria, if not overthrow the current regime in Tehran. And likewise to continue pounding those they see as proxies of Iran in Yemen. I’m speaking of those they refer to as the Houthis. And as you know, they’re receiving ample support from U.S. imperialism with regard to that diabolical plan, as well. Sadly and unfortunately, this kind of analysis, this kind of factual presentation, is sorely and conspicuously missing from the corporate media.
SHARMINI PERIES: Gerald, for this plan, the Bannon-Trump strategy now we are talking about, how why does the U.S. need Russia for this plan when they can actually easily go to Canada and the EU and they UK, which are their traditional allies on these kinds of efforts?
GERALD HORNE: Well, that’s what distinguishes the Trump team from the Democrats. The Democratic strategy as articulated by Hillary Rodham Clinton was quite routine and traditional, not unlike that of Obama. That is to say, to unite with the European Union and Canada, to confront Russia and China. Now, in some ways Mr. Trump’s strategy is less dangerous, since he is seeking to convert Canada into a kind of vassal state. And from what I can see, Ottawa seemingly is unaware of this fact, this reality. To weaken and split the European Union. Keep in mind that he has already told President Macron of France that there is a large bribe at the end of the rainbow if France withdraws from the European Union. Obviously he’s trying to undermine and destabilise Chancellor Merkel in Berlin.
Recall that just a few days ago he undermined Theresa May in London by giving a shout of approval to her main rival, who was to her right, the defrocked Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Once those particular maneuvers are taking place, then it becomes apparent that Russia, from his point of view, could be a stumbling block, which necessitates Russia being neutralized, if not softened up, by supporting neofascists in Ukraine to drain Moscow.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Gerald. So much more to talk about; it was a crazy week. Any final thoughts before we go for the weekend?
GERALD HORNE: Well, the only final thought is that the contradictions, I’m afraid, are catching up with U.S. imperialism. One of these salient facts of what’s going on this week is that the Trump base is not crumbling or cracking at all. He still has 80 to 90 percent approval ratings within the Republican Party, the party of whiteness. The contradiction is that the Democratic Party is much more heterogeneous; but that, as they say in corporate United States, is a plus of diversity, on the one hand.
On the other hand it leads to the spectacle that you saw a few days ago of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi savaging Congressional Black Caucus member Congresswoman Maxine Waters of Los Angeles because she had the temerity to suggest that folks get in the face of the Trump team when they see them out and about in the streets because of the facilities that they’re committing against children on the Texas-Mexico border as we speak. How can the Democrats mount an effective strategy if they’re attacking their base as represented by Congresswoman Waters? This tends to suggest that the Democrats, I’m afraid to say, need to adjust their strategy.
SHARMINI PERIES: Indeed. All right, Gerald, I thank you so much for joining us today, and have a great weekend.
GERALD HORNE: Thank you.
SHARMINI PERIES: Of course, under these circumstances, I thank you all for joining us today here on The Real News Network.