Many suspect Putin is blackmailing Trump. But could there be a different culprit? A plausible theory of mind-boggling confusion.
Bulletinis a chronicle of socialist comment and analysis from Jacobin’s Seth Ackerman.
In the most recent Bulletin, I pointed to a surprising recent article by Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations, who reported that top Chinese officials, far from viewing Donald Trump as the dunce he seems to be, appear to regard him as some sort of strategic genius (though not necessarily a very stable one).
There’s a method to Trump’s madness, the Chinese believe, one geared mainly toward containing China’s geopolitical ascent. In their view, this logic even extends to the most apparently inexplicable aspect of his foreign policy: his coziness with Putin.
And now, in the scoop of the week, a team of reporters at the Daily Beast have revealed that after the election, Trump was aggressively pitched on this Russian rapprochement strategy by none other than … Henry Kissinger himself.
Here are the nut grafs:
There are so many delicious nooks and crannies to this story. From a purely realpolitik perspective, the idea of a rapprochement with Moscow makes obvious sense, assuming one could be worked out. Unlike Russia, China actually has the potential to act as a “peer competitor” to the United States at a global level. Russia itself is weak.
Barack Obama was quite lucid on this point in his 2016 “exit interview” with Jeffrey Goldberg:
The reasoning Obama laid out helps explain why — in a further revelation from the Daily Beast piece — Kissinger’s logic apparently still appeals to a number of foreign policy professionals in the government:
Please stop and savor the irony here. According to this Daily Beast piece, high-ranking members of the foreign policy establishment would like to work out a rapprochement with Putin but have in practice been thwarted by — of all people — Donald Trump.
Then there’s the matter of the Resistor-in Chief. Hillary Clinton made no secret of her admiration for Kissinger during the 2016 campaign. Not long before the primary debate where she famously humblebragged about how “flattered” she was by the war criminal’s praise of her, she had written a glowing review of Kissinger’s book in the Washington Post in which she disclosed that “Kissinger is a friend,” that she “relied on his counsel,” and that she viewed his foreign policy vision as “just and liberal.”
A few months later, Kissinger was whispering in Trump’s ear to get closer to Putin.
If you follow the worldview of, say, the Committee to Investigate Russia, Trump’s sycophancy toward Putin could only be explained by blackmail. But why assume it’s Putin doing the blackmailing? We may one day find ourselves forced to confront a horrifying reality with staggering implications: Kissinger has the pee tape and he’s kompromat’ing the president.