The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Trump versus His Own Cabinet on Russia

Jul 23, 2018

Donald Trump cozying up to Vladimir Putin during the July summit appeared to completely contradict U.S. policy.

U.S. policy toward Russia over the last quarter century has been extremely aggressive. The U.S. has pushed to increase its domination in the region, often at the expense of Russia. As well, the U.S. has greatly reduced the Russian sphere of influence by integrating the countries of the former Eastern Bloc (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, etc.) into NATO. The U.S. brought many former Soviet states into the U.S. sphere of influence. In this last period, this aggressive U.S. policy helped to provoke the civil war that has been raging in Ukraine between two sides, one backed by the U.S. and the other backed by Russia, a murderous war that has already resulted in terrible casualties and destruction.

So, when Trump tried to play nice with Putin, his own administration, including the State Department, Pentagon and CIA, made clear that they disagreed. When Trump announced that he would have another summit with Putin, Trump’s own head of intelligence, Dan Coats, made a point in a news interview to let it be known that he was caught by surprise.

For quite a long time, Putin and Russian oligarchs have tried to counter-balance the aggressive U.S. policy by forming ties inside the U.S. extreme right-wing and among some religious fundamentalists. Way before their seeming friend, Donald Trump, got elected president, other prominent extreme right- wingers in the U.S. openly praised Putin and other Russian oligarchs. Many commentators on Fox News, including Rush Limbaugh and Rudy Giuliani, have treated Putin as a hero, a model of what a strong leader should be. So have lots of religious fundamentalist leaders in this country, such as Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, as well as some prominent extreme-right wing Republican politicians, such as Congressman Dana Rohrbacher of California. Obviously, these extreme-right wing leaders in this country find kindred spirits in Russia, openly fomenting the worst racism and prejudices, while hiding behind religious fundamentalist gibberish.

But so far, these ties linking the extreme- right wing to Russia have not changed U.S. policy. That policy is made by the U.S. state apparatus, that is the State Department, Pentagon, CIA. This apparatus, which is permanent, serves the general interests of the capitalist class, that is, the owners of the big U.S. banks, military contractors, oil companies, etc.

And, in the end, even Donald Trump has been forced to go along with this policy. That’s why last year he signed a harsher sanctions law against Russia enacted by the Republican-led Congress, sanctions that the law specified that the president could not change, that only Congress could change. So, despite all of Trump’s theatrics, U.S. policy against Russia is at least just as aggressive as it was before.

Of course, the U.S. is doing this not because Putin is a terrible dictator, since the U.S. imposes and maintains dictatorships all over the world. No, for U.S. policy, Putin is the head of a large country that the U.S. cannot completely control–it is capable of carrying out a slightly independent policy and therefore it is not totally trustworthy for U.S. imperial interests.