19:00 GMT +324 March 2017
    Newly inaugurated U.S. President Donald Trump salutes as he presides over a military parade during Trump's swearing ceremony in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017

    Russia, Beware of Trump U-Turns

    © REUTERS/ Mike Segar
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    Finian Cunningham

    Russia has cautiously welcomed the US presidency of Donald Trump, but still Moscow is wisely keeping a wait-and-see position on whether it can work with the new White House occupant to improve international relations.

    Trump’s oft-stated desire to restore friendlier relations with Russia and his comment last week that he would trust Russian leader Vladimir Putin as much as he would Germany’s Angela Merkel are all to be welcomed as apparent steps toward a more sane US policy.

    However, there remain big questions about Trump’s reliability in following through.

    Trump’s apparent aspirations for normalizing relations with Russia are certainly more promising than the aggressive, Russophobia that has been the staple of Washington’s policy under his predecessors, Barack Obama and George W Bush. But can the former business mogul deliver?

    There’s more than a sneaking feeling that the billionaire property magnate turned politician says a lot of things which he subsequently flatly contradicts. It’s not clear if this trait is due to willful deception, or less maliciously, due to a feckless, short attention span. Either way, the upshot is a character of questionable integrity.

    Over the weekend, following Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, we got more of a flavor of his vacillating brand.

    On Saturday, the first full day as president, Trump’s first official duty was to visit the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, at Langley, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from his White House residence in Washington DC.

    There he lavished the agency with praise and gratitude, saying he was “1,000 per cent” in support of its intelligence work. Trump also scoffed at media reports that he was involved in a feud with the CIA. “No-one supports you as much as I do,” said Trump to cheering agency staffers.

    The day breaks behind the White House in Washington,DC
    © AFP 2017/ PAUL J. RICHARDS
    Now hold on a moment. Trump was indeed very publicly running a battle with the CIA and other US intelligence agencies before and after the election on November. He had initially denounced their claims that Russia had hacked the elections as “ridiculous”. Later, he sort of retracted that, agreeing with their allegations against Russia.

    Only weeks before his inauguration, Trump slammed the CIA for “Nazi” practices over leaks to media outlets that the agency had briefed him about allegations of Russian blackmail.

    Some observers have noted approvingly that this abrasive attitude from Trump towards the CIA indicated a bold independence from the shadowy unelected power centers of the US – the so-called Deep State.

    But instead what we saw over the weekend was President Trump making it a priority to coddle the spooks who act as the muscle behind the Deep State. Just remember the phrase: “I’m a 1,000 per cent behind you.” Rather different from John F Kennedy’s vow to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces”.

    The CIA is one of the most criminal, murderous secret agencies ever in the history of the world – which has been essential for the projection of American power. It is involved in everything from assassinating foreign leaders, to overthrowing democratic governments in place of murderous regimes, to covertly arming terrorist proxies.

    For Trump to rush over to Langley as his first order of business on his first day in office and to exalt an agency known informally but more accurately as “Murder Inc”, is a disturbing sign of where his priorities lie.

    The following instances are not meant as a comprehensive list of other Trump U-turns, but there’s enough contained here for serious doubts about his character.

    Straight after his presidential swearing-in on Capitol Hill, Trump was hosted at a Congressional luncheon on Friday. In after-dinner toasts, he singled out Hillary Clinton and her husband, ex-president Bill, as “fine people” and requested they both stand up to receive applause from the hundreds of guests.

    Say what? During the election campaign against Democrat rival Hillary Clinton, Trump had ferociously labelled her “Crooked Hillary” owing to Wall Street sleazy connections. Trump had also vowed to launch criminal investigations against Clinton and he encouraged his supporters at rallies to chant, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

    Another one of Trump’s rallying calls was a promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington of big business interests, lobbyists and political place men. But so far he has stuffed his incoming cabinet with nominees who are billionaire personifications of the Washington swamp, appointing Wall Street financiers to positions overseeing government finance and the economy.

    On a lighter note, but equally enlightening, was Trump’s twitter rage at Hollywood actress Meryl Streep. After blasting Trump at the Golden Globes awards ceremony earlier this month, he hit back by describing the screen star as “over-rated”. Though only a couple of years ago, Trump named Meryl Streep as one his favorite artists.

    Getting back to a more serious vein, last week Donald Trump gave a wide-ranging interview to British and German media in which he pilloried Russia for its military intervention in Syria and blamed Moscow for unleashing a “humanitarian crisis”.

    That marked quite a change from Trump’s earlier stated views on Russia’s actions in Syria, when he praised them for wiping out Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) and other terror groups.

    In his weekend fawning over the CIA, Trump was following on from the pathetic prostrations of his cabinet picks during Congressional confirmation hearings over the past two weeks. Nominee after nominee, including his pick for defense secretary General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, and his chosen new director for the CIA, Mike Pompeo, have cravenly adopted the establishment line that Russia represents a dire threat to US national security.

    All this, and more besides, raises the question: can Trump be trusted?

    When Trump says the US-led NATO military alliance is “obsolete”, what does that really mean? That the 28-nation war machine should be decommissioned? Or rather, does “obsolete” in Trump’s inscrutable thinking mean that the war machine needs to be revamped and reinvigorated?

    There seems little doubt that the election of Trump was to be preferred over Hillary Clinton. Her open hostility towards Russia and willingness for military confrontation would have been disastrous.

    By contrast, Trump’s stated willingness to engage positively with Russia is a welcome departure from the belligerent policy extant in Washington.

    Nevertheless, there are more than a few signs that Trump is just a maverick big-mouth who says things with gusto only to flatly contradict himself later.

    Perhaps Trump does personally want to restore relations with Russia. Perhaps he will go ahead and meet Vladimir Putin in person soon.

    So far, Moscow has cautiously welcomed Trump’s presidency. But Russian leaders know that the systematic causes of US belligerence run much deeper than one man can possibly contest.

    Moreover, given Trump’s erratic thinking there are grounds for suspicion that the deeper system of US power – the Deep State – will be able to manipulate him into adopting its agenda. With regard to Russia and other perceived global rivals that agenda is one of hostility and conflict – not partnership. That’s how US capitalist power operates.

    In which case, Russia is prudent to be wary of the Trump administration. Hope for the best, but expect a Trump U-turn at any time.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.


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    • Angus Gallagher
      We need to strengthen the idealogical understanding of Trump supporters. That's painstaking work but it's vital. As with Brexiteers and euroskeptics, the idealogical bonds between them and United Russia exist on a single vector. Mr. Trump is perhaps not personally initiated- but he can sense instinctively the vast potential inherent with the coalescing idealogical foment. A new security order in Europe and detente are business deals to him-perhaps. But these need to be underwritten by the relentless idealogical induction of grassroots Trump supporters.
      How much idealogical work is being done for Russia, our civilization, and world peace on Sputnik in this specifc theater? How much radio programming is aimed at Trump supporters- as opposed to say black men on death row, Nicaraguan immigrants facing deportation, or Bradley Manning fans?
      Of course it's self indulgent bourgeois crap that's going nowhere. Ultimately, unless people share Russia's civilizational values- which is the very cement of Eurasia as opposed to Chinese junk, rather instead a spiritual telos that reaches back to the dawn of time- how can they speak with any conviction? The essence of the Trump revolution is not materialistic- it is civic patriotism rooted in spirituality and tradition.
      Unless Comintern (or the Jesuits for that matter) are studied and their strategy operationalized- the idealogical pillar within the Trump movement will bend according to whatever wind blows. Is there a coherent strategy to prevent this?
      We are like medieval Irish monks- our job is to win souls- to convert those who are already believers, though they know it not. And we shall walk among the Trumpists the way St. Columba did among the Picts- as pilgrims in an unholy land.
    • avatar
      It is a disaster if anyone thinks that america has changed for the better just because the president has been changed.

      The time for more acute alertness is at the time that things happen that should ORDINARILY cause one to lower ones guard. For Russia and humanity, this is one of those times. One more reason the Iranian approach to handling america at the current time is the correct one.
    • avatar
      At last a very sensible assessment. "Maverick big-mouth who says things with gusto only to flatly contradict himself later" - this has been evident for a while. Trump might turn out to be worse for Russia than predictable Hillary would have been.
    • 2007harleydavidsonsg
      Your interpretation of Trump U turns are not the caving to a neo deep state, no one ties his hands. President Trump is taking command and control as he is obligated to do. As president he must now heal the pain of those he defeated and reunify the country. American politics can be most confusing to outsiders, but rest assured there are no hidden agendas nor conspiracy directed towards Russia. President Trump has an extremely talented power base most interested in making partnerships with key nations such as Russia. BTW. Thank you Sputnik for your daunting task of educating the western mindset.
    • 2007harleydavidsonsg
      I do have one
      suggestion. Sputnik international should purchase CNN or possibly CBS or maybe the Washington Post so we here in the States can get reliable and relevant news. I for one am not interested in reading all the soap opera tabloid hoop- la and mindless reporting we have here. The American mass media such as the Washington Post best describes the notion of DeepState. DeepState resides in the American popular media. The fact they are even today actively attacking President Trump makes that clear.
    • 2007harleydavidsonsg
      Russias best weapon for combating Western neo illusions of Russian conquest is through informational exchanges like Sputnik. The new global theater will be won not by might but one of informational domination.
    • 2007harleydavidsonsg
      One more point. Henry Kissinger is correct in his description of the Russian hemisphere being perfectly situated as the global nerve center between nations and will play a key role in establishing international cooperation.
    • avatar
      Randall Lee Hilburnin reply tovates99(Show commentHide comment)
      vates99, Being unpredictable makes war more not less likely.
    • avatar
      Randall Lee Hilburnin reply togbiyanju(Show commentHide comment)
      gbiyanju, Trump is trying to separate Russia, China, and Iran from each other in a program of divide and conquer.
    • Robert
      I think Russia should not only beware of Prez Trump’s U-turns. Has anyone given thought to what might happen after his prezidency? You know, those neos didn't really die off.
    • avatar
      It's in the New Testament. If we are only loving to our friends and family, how are we different than our enemies?

    • choticastile
      Perhaps-- just perhaps, Trump is outwitting those he cannot abide.... so he pretends to play into their hands make them feel all is forgotten....Whether he's not the most erudite person in the world-- I don't think he is a fool--- Only time will tell, but agree with Finian that Russia should go slowly.... Has Trump's mop got a shot of red in it.... maybe and perhaps this makes him rather inflammable at times-- However, while he may not bear grudges, he has repeated over and over, that nobody-- no matter who they are, is above the law and I believe Trey Gowdy has a lot of work in front of him..... and for a change I also believe he's going enjoy it!
    • choticastilein reply tovates99(Show commentHide comment)
      vates99, No-- can't see him being worse than K pizza K ... give the man a chance... please read my comment I made above this one... thanks!
    • Drain the swamp
      medvedev has mentioned sanctions will not be removed, is this a starting gambit for a deal with the West? Russia to help down Iran in return, kissinger already in Moscow? And adelson behind Trump? But will Putin trust the zios after what they done at Maidan? So long as he is in power it will be no deal, but medvedev (S300 blocker) will make the deal.
    • avatar
      Obama projected humanity first which was a sham to get into power then back tracked on the lot and became the nastiest President ever elected favouring every bent activist over any child or mother in the middle east.

      Its early days 4 or 5 to be exact but the signs are markedly visible Trump lied his backside off to get into power and now is smartly turning into a red neck Napoleon or perhaps a Eisenhower.

      If this is the case that seems pretty certain evading WW3 will be near impossible but this time the war will be fought globally not in Europe alone.
      The US will not prosper like it did after WW2 that isolation is not going to be far enough away as it will be a inherent policy to ensure the US is damaged every bit as much as Russia or China.
    • avatar
      To trust is good: not to trust is better.
    • avatar
      Does the author expect Trump to destroy the CIA? Impossible and impractical. Trump has shown not to be afraid to comment on certain CIA "policies". That has not much to do with the average CIA person, but was a mere warning to CIA management/deep state. Trump's visit to the CIA headquarters (accompanied by high military generals = CIA competition) showed his respect for the organization. Clever positive move avoiding an insider war...
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