America’s leaders have been deaf to Vladimir Putin’s calls for a united front against Islamic fascism because they want to protect the neo-liberal variety, such as the one we installed in Ukraine. And although much of Trumps “grass roots” carry guns, they would likely be used to defend a rough individualism than a regime organized around the military.
But these are subtleties that require ideological literacy to appreciate, and as the Clinton/Trump battle gets into full swing, never has America’s lack of ideological literacy been so apparent. The media drumbeat about Vladimir Putin’s preference for a Trump presidency shows that not even the pundits know the difference between an autocrat and a dictator. While the average voter still imagines Russia as a place where an armed soldier stands behind each worker/slave, eve more sophisticated Americans are unaware that a handful of parties compete in elections, while we have only two, our political class doing its best to keep it that way.
Since even Democratic-leaning anchors admit that Trump could very well be the next President, let’s survey the similarities and differences between him and the leader of a country Democrats are determined to treat as an enemy.
It’s clear that both Putin and Trump like to get things done - and expect their subordinates to do likewise, but this makes neither of them a dictator, while the United States supports many such across the globe. Some of my friends wonder how Putin, who can be considered a social-democrat, can support a billionaire who stands accused of stiffing employees. The answer is that Putin is playing the complicated game of chess, while most American politicians play checkers.
Some US pundits have noticed that Putin supports the right-wing parties that have flourished in Europe thanks to the immigration crisis, from Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France to Viktor Orban’s Jobbik Party in Hungary, however, either they ignore the reasons or don’t think their viewers care about them.
The fact is that Vladimir Putin supports the right-wing because its foundation is nationalism. He believes globalization — forced acceptance of American supremacy via or the financialization of economies that render large segments of the population redundant should give way to independent countries living according to their individual heritage, resist a global culture built on consumption and competition and known as ‘keeping up with the Jonses’. Challenging American claims that its principles are universal, Putin believes that only God is universal, while peoples are distinct.
When Donald Trump announces that he would prefer the US to be allied with Russia and China against ISIS, he is showing that he knows the difference between real and imaginary enemies, that accusations of Russian belligerence are false, while ISIS’s crimes are real..
As I wrote in a July 9, 2013 blog on my website otherjones.com titled The US chooses Capitalist Muslims:
Given the need for oil from an area long ruled by religion, it is not hard to believe that the United States took the practical decision to work with ‘moderate’ Muslims, that is pro-capitalist Muslims, instead of trying to secularize them.
Though Sunnis occasionally lean left, as was the case with Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party, leftist Muslims are usually found among Shi’as, such as the Iranian and Syrian governments. The Western media avoids identifying the 1979 Iranian revolution with its predecessors, the French, Russian Chinese or Cuban revolutions, all of which are associated with idea of equity. In the case of Syria, it never mentions that Assad’s is the only secular Arab regime, that its eduction system is modeled on the French (Syria having been a French protectorate before independence), and that women enjoy Western-style equality, from divorce to education to careers.
Military might cannot ensure a coherent American Middle East policy, given the region’s fundamental rivalries: secular vs. religious, Sunni vs. Shi’a, left vs. right, traditionalists vs. moderns, ‘democratizing’ Sunni’s represented by the Brotherhood vs. socializing Shi’a Alawites.”
Today I would add that Russia, on the other hand, has co-existed for centuries with the Muslim nations along its southern rim and Putin’s policies toward war-torn Chechnya show that he prefers to back modernization in Islamic lands rather than convert Muslims to Orthodox Christianity - which would be similar to US efforts to ‘bring democracy’ to benighted populations.
When Donald Trump says he will build a wall to keep Latins out, and interrupt Muslim immigration ‘until we can figure things out’, he’s taking the opposite tack to Angela Merkel, who believes that Muslims can be good German citizens
Is Donald Trump aware of these subtleties? Probably not, however one thing he does appear to know is that ‘deals’ will be derisory in a nuclear winter.