Trump’s ‘Treason’: Challenging the Empire

The utter malevolence of our political class was dramatized in all its darkness by their reaction to the Helsinki summit: the “Treason summit” they dubbed it, with the Twitter hashtag going viral. That’s what they think of a meeting between the heads of two countries which have thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at each other.

The extinction of humankind – who cares? What really matters is appeasing Hillary Clinton’s sense of entitlement. Anything else is pure sedition.

I must be so out of touch, so distant from current cultural cues and memes, that I failed to pick up the ostensible reason for the outcry that greeted Trump’s performance in Helsinki. What specifically did he say that got them breathing so heavily? What the heck did he do?

As far as I can tell, Trump’s big sin was apparently engaging in the following exchange with some grandstanding “reporter”:

“Thank you. Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it’s U.S. foolishness, stupidity, and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in US relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable or anything in particular? And if so, what would you what would you consider them that they are responsible for?

“TRUMP: Yes I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame.”

The pundits are screeching about “moral equivalence” – how dare the President put Russia on the same moral plane as the pure-as-the-driven-snow United States of America! This is an argument we hear mostly from reflexive defenders of Israel, who claim that the Jewish state’s right to shoot unarmed Palestinian children in the back is derived from this “no moral equivalency” premise. It’s a nonsensical contention, one that sanctifies double standards and obviates the need for any sort of moral compass whatsoever – in short, it’s a perfect ethical framework for our amoral elites.

Ordinary people don’t think like that: this doctrine of exceptionalism is upheld by the political class, who are used to getting away with murder – literally. Trump, for his part doesn’t think that way: for all his rather obvious faults, he’s as close to a real human being as any President in modern times, and is therefore properly contemptuous of ruling class hubris that somehow exempts Washington from any and all blame. Remember “You think we’re so innocent?” That’s why he’s not afraid to say that both countries have indeed been responsible for the deterioration of relations — although I would say the US has been the really guilty party.

It started in 2003, when Richard Perle and the neocons close to the Bush II administration demanded that Russia be kicked out of the G-8 for arresting oligarch Mikheil Khodorkovsky, who was accused of crimes ranging from tax evasion to murder. Things escalated when Putin opposed the Iraq war and warned that it would be a disaster for the United States and the world.

Asked by reporters to repeat the Russia-gate mantra that Russia was responsible for “hacking” the 2016 presidential election, the President demurred but was later – in what Tucker Carlson called the “hostage video” – persuaded to reiterate the official US government line, backing up DNI Dan Coates’ contention that the Russians were behind it all. And yet Trump still demurred, ad libbing from a prepared statement that “it could be other people also.”

No wonder they want him out of there! They can’t control Trump, and they know it – which is precisely why he’s been targeted by the Deep State.

This summit really showed us who is an Establishment shill and who is speaking truth to power. The latter includes the heroic Tucker Carlson, Senator Rand Paul, and Trump’s hardcore supporters like Ann Coulter – in short, all the very best people. The former includes all the worst people imaginable, i.e., practically the entire political class, both the left and the right, who are still tirelessly denouncing this latest peace initiative by our ambitious and idealistic President.

Most modern American Presidents, starting with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, have met with their Russian counterparts: and certainly this has been an absolute necessity since the dawn of the nuclear era. It’s simply a safety feature of the world order. To not engage with Moscow is to abandon the chief (and I would argue the only) legitimate function of our federal government: protecting the physical safety of US citizens.

We are facing the prospect of another arms race with Russia and the growing possibility of a nuclear confrontation. With Democrats demanding that we declare a “state of war” exists between Washington and Moscow, and the neocon contingent in the GOP joining in, the President must appeal to the people who elected him to support his foreign policy of peaceful engagement with Russia. And there are many indications that this is just what’s happening: recent polls show a pluralilty of Republicans don’t consider Russia an enemy. While the anti-Russian demonization campaign has been going on for years, and is well advanced, given the intensity of the propaganda it’s had surprisingly little effect on ordinary Americans. The alleged “threat” from Russia is maybe number 100 on the list of threats real people think about.

They are still screaming about the “Treason summit” on Twitter nearly a week after it’s been over. But what do they mean? Treason to whom, or to what?

To begin with, in order to understand what they mean you have to know where they’re coming from: what are their real allegiances? The Davos crowd doesn’t live in a country that in any way resembles the United States of America: it is populated by crony capitalists, military contractors, corporate oligarchs, foreign lobbyists, dubious NGOs, agenda-driven “journalists,” corrupted academics, and the paid Myrmidons of the War Party. The rest of us exist merely to pay the bills.

Every country has its official mythology, its sacred canons that define its character and its very existence, and in the case of Elite America it’s the idea of the US as the guardian of the “liberal international order,” a role inherited by us from the British and solemnly passed down in the annals of foreign policy wonkery. This is the dogma that must never be challenged – and certainly not by the high priest of this ersatz religion, none other than the President of these United States!

Yet that’s exactly what’s happening. The Emperor is telling us that the burden of empire cannot be borne much longer. This is Trump’s “treason.”

If truth is treason, then let the President’s enemies make the most of it.

As I’ve written on several occasions, Trump’s foreign policy mission (whether he knows it or not) is to eviscerate the outmoded structures — and prejudices – of the cold war era, and inaugurate a new era in our relations with the rest of the planet. That this is going to be painful and even traumatic for our political class is inevitable: they’ve been weaned on a mythology that is now outmoded and utterly useless for understanding the world we live in. And yet since their power and prestige depends on its unchallenged veracity, they have to keep pretending that it continues to be meaningful. How long they can keep this up is a matter of some conjecture: probably about the same amount of time after Bastille Day  it took the Bourbons to figure out that they were in some trouble.


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.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].