Voices from Russia

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Donald Trump’s America is Starting to Look Like Boris Yeltsin’s Russia

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While many attempt to debate who or what is in charge of the USA, the truth is that no single individual or even a single entity is in charge of the USA anymore. This was true under Barack Obama, but Obama’s middle-management style of governing helped to hide this fact. Donald Trump is a single-minded, straight-talking, and deeply-opinionated man… by contrast, he’s thrown a great deal of light onto the reality of just who governs the USA. The truth is that in 2017, the textbook balance of power between the President, Congress, and the judiciary no longer applies.

The reality is more of a combination of business oligarchs, foreign money, foreign lobbying groups tied to Israeli geopolitical interests in some cases and Gulf gold in others. Then, there’s the deep state including the intelligence agencies, the military-industrial complex, and its financial partners. Then, there are random corrupt and criminal mafioso interests in the Beltway and a renegade mainstream media that ought to be classed as a super-rich NGO. While this might sound unfamiliar to the “Schoolhouse Rock” generation where everything in America was functional, the story will be very familiar to those who can remember the horrors of Russia between 1991 and 1999.

During the dark Yeltsin years, Russia had no real leadership. Instead, it had competing factions of local, national, and supranational oligarchs and economic pirates, a governing class made up of both ageing traitors and young ambitious greedy individuals. Often, organised crime held more sway amongst the alleged governing classes than ordinary people did and foreign influence (including and especially from the USA) helped to sway the political process away from anything that could be remotely called democratic. It’s little wonder that at this time, Russia’s economic strength, military strength, international prestige, and living standards all plummeted.

While America isn’t yet in economic doldrums that one can compare to 1990s Russia, other similarities are already present. Nikki Haley, America’s Ambassador to the UN, increasingly looks like Boris Berezovsky, if he decided to dress up as a cocktail waitress. Like Berezovsky, Haley is conducting a kind of unilateral foreign policy interdependent of the official dictates of the State Department, which in theory she is answerable to. While she threatens what amounts to military attacks on Russian and Iranian interests, no one can find the actual Secretary of State. She’s clearly aiming to position herself as some new leader, perhaps a new President of the US. Will her hubris get the better of her as it did with Berezovsky? Only time will tell.

Within the White House, domestic policies seem to be a tug-of-war between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. This reminds one a great deal of the war of policy war and ideological power struggle between Gaidar and Yavlinsky. All the while, Paul Ryan is becoming something like Chubais, trying to cling onto his neocon Republican values in spite of a public that has clearly rejected them. Ryan may become a major thorn in the side of the Trump agenda, just as the public hatred of Chubais ended up tarring what little dignity left in the Yeltsin Presidency. With some statements coming out of the USA seemingly prepared for war against Syria and others, including from Defence Secretary Mattis saying the opposite, it’s clear that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Making things worse, while Russia in the 1990s did have a stalwart opposition movement led on the left by  Zyuganov and on the right by Zhirinovsky, it’s difficult to see if Tulsi Gabbard and Rand Paul will be able to weather the storm and remain prominent leaders of the real US opposition as Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky did. Indeed, Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky are among the only major political figures of the 1990s who are both still successful politicians. The internal chaos in the USA, matched by increasing social divisions, falling living standards, and an out-of-control media is a lot like the situation in 1990s Russia. The next time people hold a mirror up to Trump, they shouldn’t see Putin. In time, they might see Yeltsin, a man who came to power on a sea of vodka-soaked promises, all of which were broken and broken “big league”. Trump can still save his administration if he holds fast to his principles and is willing to fight for them with both strength and tact. While Yeltsin never meant well, I personally feel that Trump does mean well. However, if the oligarchic swamp of Washington DC consumes him, Trump may end up having a similarly failed legacy as Russia’s giant failure, Yeltsin.

28 June 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran

http://theduran.com/donald-trumps-america-is-starting-to-look-like-boris-yeltsins-russia/

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