John Oliver on Trump and Russia


The one thing that Donald Trump is doing right is that he does not want to escalate conflicts with Russia. Those who are ramping up the antagonism towards Russia may not remember how bad and dangerous the Cold War was, with mainly the arms manufacturers benefiting from it. But we should not confuse a good relationship between the two countries, which is a good thing, with a personal friendship between the two leaders, which may or may not be good depending on what common interests they share.

As with all things Trump, even when he may be doing the right thing it may be for the wrong reasons. There is something undoubtedly weird about his deferential attitude towards Russian president Vladimir Putin, so unlike his attitude towards anyone else. He does not play dominance games with him the way he does with others.

John Oliver gives us some background on Putin and there seems to a lot of similarities between the two such as Putin’s ego, desire for wealth and luxury, autocratic attitude, vindictiveness towards his perceived adversaries, and self-aggrandizement. So the most benign reason for Trump’s attitude maybe because he recognizes a kindred spirit. But maybe the reason is more sinister and we will have to wait for somebody to leak that information.

Comments

  1. siwuloki says

    I agree that the one thing this manchild has right is reducing tensions with Russia (see East-West Accord and Consortium News). Yet Trump’s statements that he’s not sure whether he and Putin “will get along” give me the heebie-jeebies. Even Putin isn’t declaring “l’etat c’est moi” so blatantly. Why Trump is blundering down this path is the question, one rife with a great many conspiracy theories, some of which may have grains of truth. But whatever his motivation, chances are he will find a way to blow it, perhaps taking down civilization with it.

  2. jrkrideau says

    I have yet to understand the American wild and seeminly irrational paranoia over Russia. It is almost as if the US foreign policy elite is unable to function without a designated enemy and they decided that Russia == USSR and let’s continue the hate storm.

    I am not saying that NATO or the EU or USA, etc should be particularly trusting of Russia but the USA seems to be going out of its way to threaten and demonize Russia. Hilary Clinton’s no-fly zone in Syria idea was utterly mad but she seemed to have support and now the USA seems to be moving a fair number of troops into Eastern Europe.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    The one thing that Donald Trump is doing right is that he does not want to escalate conflicts with Russia.

    I don’t think that is as obvious as you seem to think it is.

    “The one thing Neville Chamberlain is doing right is that he does not want to escalate conflicts with Germany.”

    From where are the conflicts with Russia arising, and is appeasing Russia going to make the situation better or worse in the future?

  4. jrkrideau says

    Well some of the conflicts with Russia are arising from legitimate concerns about Russian policy towards its neigbours, Georgia comes to mind, and a general nervousness of most of the rest of Europe which remembers the Warsaw Pact.

    However most of it seems to come from Washington foreign policy people who have not grasped that the Cold War has been over for 25 years or so and want to go on fighting it.

    American behaviour in expanding NATO to the east up to Russia’s borders after the US promised not to do so and support for a Ukrainian coup that replaced a bunch of more-or-less Russian-oriented crooks and grifters with a Western-oriented bunch of crooks and grifters were not viewed by Russia in a favourable light.

    The fairly heavy movement of weapons and troops into Eastern Europe by the US/NATO probably did not give Putin or the Russian people any warm, cuddly feelings.

  5. jrkrideau says

    Oops, missed the “appeasing Russia” point.

    It’s not so much ‘appeasing Russia’ as not keeping on threatening them. Both the US-sponsored Ukranian coup d’état and the new NATO troop movenents have to be seen by Moscow as direct threats. Plus the US has missile installations in Poland and Romania if not more countries.

    If I were Moscow I’d be feeling a sense of being surrounded by the USA whose rationality was not good under Bush (see Afghanistan and Iraq) and there were indications that Clinton was just as unhinged in terms of foreign adventures.

    At the moment Trump, while barking mad in other areas, does not seem to regard Russia as some kind of existential threat.

  6. Dunc says

    From where are the conflicts with Russia arising, and is appeasing Russia going to make the situation better or worse in the future?

    Primarily from NATO expansionism and US belligerence.

    Here in Europe, we have to figure out a way to get along with Russia, because their gas exports are essential for keeping the lights on and stopping people from freezing to death in their homes. Without those gas exports, we would see massive rolling blackouts across the whole of Western Europe within a week. Fortunately, Russia desperately needs the foreign currency they earn from those exports in order to keep their economy afloat and prevent mass starvation. It is therefore entirely rational for both Europe and Russia to come to some sort of reasonable accommodation. The US doesn’t want this to happen, because you’re still thinking of Europe as your chessboard and you’re obsessed with global domination. Sure, Putin’s a bad man, but he’s not exactly unique in that, and poking him with a stick doesn’t seem likely to help matters.

    American behaviour in expanding NATO to the east up to Russia’s borders after the US promised not to do so and support for a Ukrainian coup that replaced a bunch of more-or-less Russian-oriented crooks and grifters with a Western-oriented bunch of crooks and grifters were not viewed by Russia in a favourable light.

    Also worth noting: many of those “Western-oriented … crooks and grifters” are actual Nazis – not Richard-Spencer-type internet wannabe Nazis. mind you, but the genuine, heavily armed, explicitly racist and anti-Semitic paramilitary deal, with armbands and command structures and integration with regular military forces. Which way does the Chamberlain analogy really go in this scenario? Except the US is not just appeasing these people, they’re actively supporting and promoting them because they think they can be used to advance their strategic interests…

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    Dunc #7: Primarily from NATO expansionism and US belligerence.

    Let’s unpack that. “NATO expansionism” – NATO isn’t forcibly expanding its territory. Rather, eastern European states which used to be part of the USSR, such as Ukraine, are wishing to join NATO to seek protection from Russia, which has historically treated them badly and used them as pawn in seeking its own goals.

  8. Dunc says

    There are both pro-NATO and pro-Russian factions in Ukraine. You’re using the standard US trick of pretending that anybody who doesn’t agree with you either doesn’t exist or doesn’t count, whilst funnelling guns and money to the people who do agree with you (many of whom happen to be actual Nazis).

    And let’s not pretend that the US isn’t also using people as pawns to further its own goals.

  9. jrkrideau says

    NATO isn’t forcibly expanding its territory
    In terms of actual conquest no.

    Three problems from Russia’s point of view is
    a) they were betrayed by the USA which verbally assured Russia that NATO would not expand eastward and then renaged with the excuse that there was nothing in the text about it, and
    b) with NATO expansion Russia now has NATO troops literally at its borders (well probably a few kilometres from the border). It’s only about 150km from the Estonian border to St Petersburg and
    c) all the indications are that the Ukrainian coup was US sponsored or perhaps more accurately strongly supported and it was clearly an anti-Russian move, no one in Moscow or just about any other world capital believes it had anything to do with the USA’s putative love of democracy.

    The Obama/Clinton regime’s approach to Russia appeared unhinged to Moscow and a lot of other people

    All we can do is hope that Trump, for whatever reason, takes a better course. On the other hand talk from various Trump advisors, supporters or whatever about the need to attack Iran is not likely to make Russia feel a lot more secure, particularly as Iran is currently allied (formally or informally?) with Russia in the Syrian debacle. If I were Moscow, I’d see such talk as a threat to an ally as much as an independent threat against Iran. I suspect the Trump and Clinton idiots would not comprehend this.

  10. Reginald Selkirk says

    You’re using the standard US trick of pretending that anybody who doesn’t agree with you either doesn’t exist or doesn’t count, whilst funnelling guns and money to the people who do agree with you (many of whom happen to be actual Nazis).

    And you’re using the standard fallacy of the excluded middle (aka false dilemma). Because I point out that Russia has not been a good neighbor, I must be supporting U.S. imperialism.

    Bitter Harvest
    Based on one of the most overlooked tragedies of the 20th Century, BITTER HARVEST is a powerful story of love, honor, rebellion and survival as seen through the eyes of two young lovers caught in the ravages of Joseph Stalin’s genocidal policies against Ukraine in the 1930s. As Stalin advances the ambitions of the burgeoning Soviet Union, a young artist named Yuri (Max Irons) battles to survive famine, imprisonment and torture to save his childhood sweetheart Natalka (Samantha Barks) from the “Holodomor,” the death-by-starvation program which ultimately killed millions of Ukrainians…

  11. jrkrideau says

    12 Reginald Selkirk
    Bitter harvest?

    Uh, the Holodomor was perhaps 82/83 years ago and in literally another country. Oh, and Stalin was Georgian.

    Americans don’t seem to realize that the USSR no longer exists and the Ukraine is an independent country.

    You are doing something a bit akin to quoting Uncle Tom’s Cabin to illustrate current race relations in the USA.

  12. Reginald Selkirk says

    Sure, Stalin was from Georgia. So he had nothing to do with Russia. Just like Napolean was from Corsica, so we can’t blame his actions on France. And Hitler was born in Austria, so Germany bears no blame for his actions.

    And the USSR was not Russia. So we shouldn’t pretend that its interests were primarily Russian interests.

    You make yourself ridiculous.

  13. jrkrideau says

    Thank you for confirming my earlier statement “Americans don’t seem to realize that the USSR no longer exists“.

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