The clown show election seems to never end. And so many of us are puzzled that the Republicans, who always sought to outdo everyone in anti-Russian vitriol, seem to be going all soft and fuzzy over Vladimir Putin. We see very little analysis or nuance in the US media – surprise! – but it might help to give a little context.
We need to remember that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party establishment adhere to Henry Kissinger worldviews. Kissinger, a fan of Clausewitz, believed ideology was not so important but power, spheres of influence, is everything. Thus a Clintonian worldview suggests the US should be constantly countering, hemming in, and besting the other great powers – today that means Russia and China.
For Trumpistas, however, ideology is paramount. When Russia led the Soviet Union then of course they were a supreme danger, threatening the spread of socialism around the world. But since the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia has become a capitalist wild west, they suit Trump just fine. He sees a fellow spirit in the authoritarian Putin and imagines developing an alliance of white-nationalist, xenophobic regimes right from Russia through Eastern and Western Europe, and into the United States. Trump’s new world order would direct its attention to combating China and holding down Third World bids for control of their resources.
Given this scenario, what’s a lefty-progressive to do? The Kissinger nightmare is nothing to welcome and the Putin-Trump axis is no walk in the park.
For myself, as a socialist, I was previously sympathetic to the Soviet Union even as they committed clumsy and cruel mistakes. Still, they pioneered an economy of socialist development and, most importantly, they provided material support to national liberation struggles all over the world. The US hostility to the Soviets – which included surrounding them with nuclear missiles on their borders – was coming from a place of reaction, seeking to roll back a threat to US hegemony.
Even more recently, when the US supported a right-wing uprising in Ukraine and sought to bring them into the NATO nuclear-armed camp right against Russia, I sympathized with Russian resistance and their annexation of Crimea.
But today any kind of left analysis, left position, on Russia cannot find much to support in the Putin government. We can laugh at the establishment attempt to revive the Cold War and anti-Russian prejudice. But Putin? I’m afraid he is pretty much in the Trump mold (or perhaps Trump is in the Putin mold).
If we are interested in social justice, economic equity, and anti-colonialism, we would do well to keep our eye on the bigger issue, the rise of fascism, which lurks behind the election hacking scandal.