As the “Russia-gate” farce continues to dominate the American “news” media, and President Trump’s foreign policy veers off in a direction many of his supporters find baffling, one wonders: what the heck happened? I thought Trump was supposed to be “Putin’s puppet,” as Hillary Clinton and her journalistic camarilla would have it. The Russian president, in his extended interview with filmmaker Oliver Stone, has an explanation:
“Stone: Donald Trump won. This is your fourth president, am I right? Clinton, Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama, and now your fourth one.
“Putin: Yes, that’s true.
“Stone: What changes?
“Putin: Well, almost nothing.”
Stone is surprised by this answer, and Putin elaborates:
“Well, life makes some changes for you. But on the whole, everywhere, especially in the United States, the bureaucracy is very strong. And bureaucracy is the one that rules the world.”
This is a reiteration of something the Russian president said earlier in the context of Stone’s questions about the US election. Stone asks what he thinks of the various candidates: Trump’s name doesn’t come up, but Stone does ask about Bernie Sanders. Putin replies:
“It’s not up to us to say. It’s not whether we are going to like it or not.
All I can say is as follows … the force of the United States bureaucracy is
very great. It’s immense. And there are many facts not visible about the candidates
until they become president. And the moment one gets to the real work, he or
she feels the burden.”
So it doesn’t matter who wins the presidential election, and inhabits the White House, because the national security bureaucracy is forever, and their power is – almost – unchallengeable. And so, given this, Putin’s answer to Stone’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek question, “Why did you hack the election?”, is anti-climactic. The answer is: why would they bother? Putin dismisses the question as “a very silly statement,” and then goes on to wonder why Western journalists find the prospect of getting along with Russia so problematic.
Trump and his campaign, says Putin, “understood where their voters were located” – a reference, I believe, to the surprising results in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Clinton’s supporters “should have drawn conclusions from what they did, from how they did their jobs, they shouldn’t have tried to shift the blame on to something outside.” This is what the more perceptive progressives are saying – but then again I suppose that they, too, are “Putin’s puppets.”
This section of the interviews occurred in February, and so it’s interesting how Putin predicted what would happen to the Trump presidency and the conduct of his foreign policy:
“And I think that Obama’s outgoing team has created a minefield for the incoming president and for his team. They have created an environment which makes it difficult for the new president to make good on the promises he gave to the people.”
To say the least.
There is much more in this series of interviews, including some real news that has been ignored by the “mainstream” media, including:
Joint US-Russian efforts to eliminate ISIS in Syria were on the agenda even before Trump took the White House, “But at the last moment,” says Putin, “I think due to some political reasons, our American partners abandoned this project.” (This is yet another vindication of my theory of “libertarian realism,” by the way.)
Putin tells Stone that the Ukraine snipers who shot at both the government forces and the anti-government crowds in Kiev – an event that signaled the end of the Yanukovych regime – were trained and financed in the West: “[W]e have information available to us that armed groups were trained in the Western parts of Ukraine itself, in Poland, and in a number of other places.”
Putin has evidence of Turkish support for ISIS: “During the G20 summit, when the journalists left the room, I took out photos … and from my place where I was sitting I showed those photos [of ISIS oil being transported to Turkey] to everyone. I showed it to my counterparts. I showed them the route I mentioned earlier. And we have shown these photos to our American counterparts…. Everyone knew about everything. So trying to open a door which is already open is simply senseless. It’s something that is absolutely evident. So it’s not about one single truck – there are thousands of trucks going through that route. It looks as if it were a living pipeline.”
At one point, Putin takes out his cell phone and shows Stone a video of a Russian attack on ISIS forces, remarking “By the way, they were coming from the Turkish side of the border.”
Putin reveals how US aid reaches jihadists: “According to the data we received, employees of the United States in Azerbaijan contacted militants from the Caucasus.” In a letter from the CIA to their Russian counterparts, the Americans reiterated their alleged right to funnel aid to their clients, and the missive “even named the employee of the US Special Services who worked in the US embassy in Baku.”
And then there’s one specific instance in which the news is anticipated: Stone brings up the Snowden revelation that the Americans have planted malware in Japanese infrastructure capable of shutting that country down, and he speculates that Washington has surely targeted Russia in the same way. Which brings to mind a recent Washington Post story reporting that this is indeed the case.
There’s a lot more in these interviews than I have space to write about: my favorites are the instances in which Stone’s leftism comes up against Putin’s paleoconservatism. At several points the issue of “anti-Americanism” comes up, and the debate between the two is illuminating in that it reveals the Russian leader’s instinctual pro-Americanism, despite his objections to the policies of our government. I had to laugh when Putin asked Stone: “Are you a communist?” Stone denies it: “I’m a capitalist!”
There is also a lot of humor here: Stone insists on showing Putin a scene from “Dr. Strangelove,” the part where the mad scientist rides a nuke, laughing maniacally. The sardonic expression on Putin’s face speaks volumes. Early on, Stone asks “What is the US [foreign] policy? What is its strategy in the world as a whole?” To which Putin replies: “Certainly, I am going to reply to this question very candidly, in great detail – but only once I retire.” In speaking about Washington’s unilateral abrogation of the ABM Treaty, Stone remarks:
“You know, the American Indians made treaties with the US government and they were the first to experience the treachery of the US government. You’re not the first.”
To which Putin replies: “We wouldn’t like to be the last.” And he laughs.
Putin’s sense of humor is a bit dark, and things get darker still as he predicts what the consequences for Stone will be when “The Putin Interviews” is released:
“You’ve never been beaten before in your life?,” says Putin. “Oh yes, many times,” says Stone. I think Putin was talking about being physically beaten, but, anyway, the Russian leader goes on to say: “Then it’s not going to be anything new, because you’re going to suffer for what you’re about to do.” “No, I know,” says Stone, “but it’s worth it. It’s worth it to try to bring some more peace and consciousness to the world.”
Stone has been pilloried in the US media, by all usual suspects, but what’s very telling is that none of his critics delve into the content of the interviews: they simply accuse Stone of being a “useful idiot,” a phrase from the lexicon of the cold war that’s being revived by the liberals who used to be labeled as such.
And yet when you get down in the weeds, as I have tried to do in this series, one begins to realize the enormity of the hoax that’s been perpetrated on the American people. Putin is routinely described in our media as the principal enemy of the United States: our military brass has been pushing this line, for budgetary reasons, and the Clinton wing of the Democratic party has been pushing it for political reasons. And yet the lasting impression left by “The Putin Interviews” is of a man who greatly admires the United States, and sees the vast potential of détente between Moscow and Washington, a potential he would like very much to bring to realization.
What we have witnessed in the past few months, however, is that this potential benefit to both countries is being denied by some very powerful forces. The entire “Deep State” apparatus, which Putin is very much aware of, is implacably opposed to peaceful cooperation, and will do anything to stop it. But why?
There are many factors, including money – the military-industrial complex is dependent on hostility between the US and Russia, as are our parasitic “allies’ in Europe – as well as cultural issues. Russia is essentially a conservative society, and our “progressive” elites hate it for that reason. Which brings us to the real reason for the Russophobia that infects the American political class, and that is Putin’s commitment to the concept of national sovereignty.
Nationalism in all its forms is bitterly opposed by our elites, and this is what sets them against not only Putin but also against President Trump. Their allegiance isn’t to the United States as a separate entity, but to the “Free World,” whatever that may be. And their foreign allies are even more explicit about their radical internationalism, bitterly clinging to transnational institutions such as the European Union even as populist movements upend them.
This is the central issue confronting the parties and politicians of all countries, the conflict that separates the elites from the peoples they would like to rule: it is globalism versus national sovereignty. And this is not just a foreign policy question. It is a line of demarcation that puts the parties of all countries on one side of the barricades or the other.
In his famous essay, “The End of History,” neoconservative theorist Francis Fukuyama outlined the globalist project, which he saw as the inevitable outcome of human experience: a “universal homogenous State” that would extend its power across every civilized country and beyond. But of course nothing is inevitable, at least in that sense and on that scale, a fact the elites who hold this vision recognize all too well. So they are working day and night to make it a reality, moving their armies and their agents into this country and that country, encircling their enemies, and waiting for the moment to strike. And Putin, the ideologue of national sovereignty, is rightly perceived as their implacable enemy, the chief obstacle to the globalist project.
That’s why they hate him. It has nothing to do with the annexation of Crimea, or the alleged “authoritarianism” of a country that now has a multi-party system a few short decades after coming out of real totalitarianism. Even if Russia were a Jeffersonian republic, and Putin the second coming of Gandhi, still they would demonize him and his country for this very reason.
As to who will win this struggle between globalism and national particularism, I would not venture a guess. What I will do, however, is to remind my readers that if ever this worldwide “homogenous State” comes into being, there will be nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, no way to escape its power.
Editorial note: This is the third and last part of a three-part series on Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews.” The first part is here, and the second part is here. You can get the book version – which contains some material not included in the film – here.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.