The Unsung Summit of Putin and Trump

This week marks the 72nd anniversary of the criminal US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And as is the case each year, there is much discussion and lamenting over this atrocity, as there well should be. For the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not necessary for victory; Japan was ready for peace. It was the opening salvo, a brutal one, in the first Cold War in which the world was nearly incinerated during the Cuban missile crisis.

This week is also the one month anniversary of the first in-person meeting of Presidents Trump and Putin at Hamburg on July 7 in the shadow of the G20 meetings. This comes at a time when we find ourselves years into a New Cold War. Given the tensions between Russia and the US, the leading nuclear powers, one would think that there would be rejoicing over the prospect of relieving the tensions between the nuclear superpowers. For that was the agenda of the Trump-Putin summit, as such meetings were called during the first Cold War. Unfortunately, such rejoicing was not to be heard, quite the opposite – with a few rare exceptions

This is lamentable, to say the least, because as tensions grow between the superpowers, the chance for nuclear war increases. During his lengthy interviews with Vladimir Putin, Oliver Stone showed him the movie Dr. Strangelove which Putin had never before seen. Putin commented that the movie captured, among other things, a technical truth with its depiction of the Doomsday Machine. That is, said Putin, nuclear weapons grow increasingly harder to control with every passing day. Given this, the failure to applaud the Trump-Putin on the part of those who were full of praise for the UN vote on denuclearization made me wonder whether there was any thought behind their chatter. Hatred of Trump and Putin seemed to blot out a rational concern for human survival. Are we living in a mad house? Did we not learn our lesson when we narrowly escaped Armageddon in Cold War 1?

In the face of such madness, let us take the time to offer full-throated, unmistakable praise for the Trump-Putin summit meeting. The parley was a long time coming because of the relentless attack on Trump over Russiagate, a Big Lie told blared out relentlessly lo these many months and only now collapsing for want of so much as a smidgen of evidence. Although Trump had promised to hold this summit with Putin even before he was inaugurated, he could not do so because of the intense Russia-gate related pressure against it – from the Elite of both Parties but with the Democrats far in the lead. But Trump pushed ahead with the meeting anyway; as we learned during the 2016 campaign, this is not a guy who gives up despite the odds.

To begin, the summit was undeniably a success with solid achievements and follow-ups. Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, and one of the few to offer praise for the meeting, summed up the meeting’s four main accomplishments thus:

Formalizing and symbolizing the new détente partnership between the American and Russian presidents (The symbolism of the two Presidents meeting, shaking hands and "getting along," to use a phrase often invoked by Trump in the 2016 campaign, should not be underestimated. It can have a great effect on public opinion and show people that to feel friendly toward Russia and Putin is legit. After all the President feels that way. jw);

Agreement to cooperate in Syria against terrorist forces there, not only in the limited ways announced, but in more expansive ways, which meant agreeing with Moscow that Syrian President Assad must remain at least until ISIS is fully defeated;

Creating a bilateral US-Russian channel for negotiating a settlement of the Ukrainian civil and proxy war, thereby bypassing, or reducing, the role played thus far by Germany and France, which has largely failed; and

Agreeing to discuss ways to limit the dangers of cyber technology in international affairs. (Though Trump was forced to talk back this agenda item, no doubt it remains on the US-Russian agenda, a subject of negotiation, as it should be, considering the ways in which cyber attacks could undermine nuclear security on both sides.)

To these I would add the ceasefire in southwest Syria which was arranged in the run-up to the meeting and announced there. This cease-fire is still holding, and Russian FM Lavrov has announced that more ceasefire zones are in the works in Syria. Any time that the guns fall silent, the killing stops and people can return to their homes, there should be jubilation – especially in the outlets devoted to peace. Sadly that has been far from the case in the progressive press or the MSM.

The cooperation on Syria continued with a thunderbolt in the form of a Trumpian tweet on Monday night, July 24:

"The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad….."

A superb assessment of this tweet marking Trump’s order to end the CIA’s regime change op and its de facto support for jihadis in Syria comes from David Stockman here:

Occasionally one of Trump’s tweets slices through Imperial Washington’s sanctimonious cant. Indeed, Monday evening’s 140 characters cut right to the bone. Needless to say, we are referencing not the dig at the empire of Bezos, but the characterization of Washington’s anti-Assad policy as “massive, dangerous and wasteful”.

No stouter blow to the neocon/Deep State “regime change” folly has ever been issued by an elected public official. Yet there it is – the self-composed words of the man in the Oval Office.

Stockman follows with a brief history of the U.S.’s covert war on Syria and Syria’s historical mistreatment at the hands of earlier Western Empires. Stockman’s piece is in contrast to the far more widely published feverish denunciation by John McCain: "If these reports are true, the administration is playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin." Thus, is any initiative for peace greeted from the two wings of the War Party.

On top of this there is Secretary Tillerson’s statement that cooperation on Syria is continuing and developing, mirroring the statement of FM Lavrov.

I fully expect that this evaluation will bring a storm of condemnation. Some will accuse the author of parroting the "Kremlin line," or being a Putin puppet, dead giveaways for the old Cold War mindset. But I would offer one word of advice to such naysayers. Support the good in what Trump does and oppose the bad. Very simple. And certainly, the good includes New Détente with Russia since it may well mean the survival of humanity. We might not get another shot at it. No other major national political figure, other than Rand Paul, is calling for it, which means we are in very deep trouble, perhaps mortal trouble.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com.

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Author: John V. Walsh

John Walsh is a scientist who lives in Cambridge, Mass. He is a frequent contributor to CounterPunch.org.