The kookification of the “mainstream” continues, with none other than Jonathan Chait – the most conventional sort of boring corporate liberal – producing an unhinged diatribe purporting to prove that Donald Trump has been a Russian agent since 1987 – and that his path to the presidency was paved by his Russian handlers, who were planning it all along. And not to be outdone, formerly rational person Marcy Wheeler, whose investigations as “emptywheel” won her some renown, is now claiming that she not only has definitive proof of Trump’s collusion with the Kremlin, but that, as a result, she was forced to turn one of her sources into the FBI for some vague cloak-and-dagger-ish reason.
I looked in on the Chait production, and came upon his reiteration of the Alfa Bank computer link – this was a story, you’ll recall, that claimed there was a stream of communications between this “Kremlin-connected” bank and the Trump organization. This, we were told, was almost certainly Vladimir Putin sending instructions to his zombie-agents in the Trump White House. Yes, this was actually the story, backed up by several computer “experts” – except it turned out to be advertising spam. Chait repeats this story, adding it on top of the several dozen other conspiracy factoids he throws in the mix – but without mentioning that the computer signals were simply ad-bots. On the basis of this, and a string of other “interactions” with Russians, we are supposed to believe that the omnipotent Russian intelligence agencies hatched a plot 30 years ago to put Trump into the White House. This is a conspiracy theory that’s so shoddy and far-fetched that not even Alex Jones would touch it with a ten-foot pole.
Which brings us to an interesting question: do these people really believe their own craziness?
In some instances, it’s pure psychopathology. That’s the case, I believe, for Marcy Wheeler, Louise Mensch, and the more active online Twitter-paranoids. These people have been so shocked by the unexpected – the election of Trump – that they have been forced into a dubious mental state bordering on insanity.
However, in the case of Jonathan Chait, it’s pure viciousness and cynicism. He even says of his own theory that it’s “unlikely but possible.” It’s just a show for the suckers. The same is true for most of the other journalists who have enlisted in #TheResistance and given up any pretense at objectivity: they are simply doing what they do best, and that is taking dictation from their spookish sources. The treatment of Russia-gate in the media parallels precisely what occurred with Iraq’s storied “weapons of mass destruction” – reporters are taking it all on faith, and they don’t even necessarily believe it. Thus the biggest hoax since Piltdown Man is reported as “fact.” And of course all this is coming to the fore as Trump takes on NATO and our European “allies.”
For anti-interventionists, Trump’s trip to Europe could not be more timely or enlightening. He went to the NATO meeting with a few admonitory tweets up front, complaining that America pays far more than a fair share of the alliance’s monetary costs, and no sooner does he get off the plane than he notes that for all the anti-Russian rhetoric coming out of our allies, the Germans are cuddling up to the Russians on the energy front with the Nord Stream II pipeline. Merkel shot back that Germany is, after all, an independent country and can do what it likes. True, but then why the weird contradiction between claiming that Russia is a military threat and also setting up the mechanism of energy dependence?
Before getting on the plane for his European sojourn, the President reiterated his longstanding position:
"We pay far too much and they pay far too little. The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable."
And the cost is not just measured in monetary terms: there’s also the incalculable cost of risking war, under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which obligates us to come to the aid of a NATO ally that’s under attack, or at least that claims to be under attack. In which case, the government of tiny Montenegro, with a population of a bit over half a million, could declare that the Russians are trying to pull off a coup, and US troops would be in country “defending” it against an incursion that may not even exist.
Take a look at the Euro-weenies squirming in their seats at that “bilateral breakfast,” which was turned into a lecture by the President about why the burden of empire should not fall only on our shoulders. Pompeo and Kay Bailey Hutchinson don’t look happy, either, but that’s just too bad, now isn’t it? The President is speaking truth to the once high-and-mighty – and more power to him!
Meanwhile, the main event is going to be in Helsinki: NATO is just a sideshow. After all, militarily the alliance is really nothing but the United States and a few Brits: the Europeans carry little actual weight. The really serious business will take place with Putin, although there is a relentless propaganda campaign in progress to prevent Trump from making the Helsinki summit a success.
What must be addressed in Helsinki is the backsliding of both countries when it comes to preventing a nuclear catastrophe. The program to find and secure loose nukes, which became a problem after the breakup of the Soviet Union, needs to be renewed, in addition to the mutual disarmament agreements that have fallen by the wayside, with the US and the Russians re-arming. As tensions between Washington and Moscow rise, the possibility of a nuclear conflict increases, along with the chances of an accidental nuclear exchange. The nuclear death machine is on automatic, with all kinds of scenarios where it could be set off by something other than an enemy attack: a terrorist strike in Washington, D.C., or anywhere, involving nuclear material, or simply a computer software glitch. Americans would be horrified to learn just how close we are to an extinction event.
The Trump-haters would rather the President fail than give him credit for securing the peace. They would much prefer to wage a new cold war with Russia than put an end to the horrific threat of utter annihilation that’s cast a dark shadow over the world for all this time. In preferring universal ruin to the vindication of their enemies, they fit the very definition of what it means to be evil.
Trump is out to transform US foreign policy by – finally! – recognizing the reality that’s been in place since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The old structures that served us when Communism was thought to be a threat to Europe are no longer functional, and haven’t been for quite some time. NATO today is nothing but a gigantic subsidy to two major beneficiaries: our European “allies” and the big arms manufacturers such as Boeing, Raytheon, etc. The current arrangements allow the European welfare states to huddle under the US nuclear shield while dispensing all kinds of goodies to their citizens. It’s quite a racket for all concerned: as NATO countries must continually update their military equipment to meet rising standards, American taxpayers are footing most of the bill.
Whether Trump succeeds in getting the incubus of NATO off our backs, or not, this outmoded institution is bound to wither away no matter who is in the White House, for the simple reason that it no longer serves any useful purpose. Those howls of outrage you’re hearing are all coming from self-interested parties being cut off from the gravy train – and, as such, all that noise should be music to our ears.
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.