by Tom Luongo, Tom Luongo:
It’s important for bullies to always win. Because once their weakness is exposed they can no longer be bullies.
Empires don’t start out as bullies. They start out as the reaction to the last Empire which became a bully after embracing hubris over humility.
Empires have to resort to bullying near the end because they are fundamentally weak. They all over-extend themselves through currency debasement which, in turn, degrades the cultural advantage the society had over the previous Empire.
Donald Trump knows how to bully with the best of them. I go back and forth about his status as a bully, however. He is a mercurial figure whose unpredictability is predictable.
I see him more as Loki than the typical bully. In other words, it’s probably fair to say that to Trump bullying is just another tactic.
So, as the head of the U.S., an Empire in the early stages of collapse, fundamentally weakened by two generations of empire building after the failure of Bretton Woods, Trump will bully his opposition because he knows that an Empire that is not feared is one that will soon be laughed at.
And when that happens, it’s game over.
Trump understands that the U.S. can no longer afford to pay for the post-WWII institutional order. Europe’s been rebuilt but the EU is in the process of tearing it down for the sake of globalism.
And Germany is the one benefiting on our dime.
So, if you are opposed to the Empire, regardless of your politics, seeing Trump take it to the G-7 and, in particular, Germany should be welcomed.
Where you should be worried however, is how that same bullying is being turned on Russia and Iran. In my latest article for Strategic Culture Foundation I remind everyone that none other than Mr. Realpolitik, Henry Kissinger, was advising Trump on Ukraine and Crimea in early 2017.
And after looking at the way Trump is prosecuting our relationship with Russia it’s clear to me now Kissinger had a stronger influence on Trump than anyone thought.
As the Kremlin Turns
The Left still screaming about Russia collusion are themselves delusional. Trump hasn’t been secretly doing nice things for Putin behind everyone’s back. There’s no coordination of policy between them.
I spent most of 2017 arguing with MAGA folks convinced that Trump and Putin were waging a secret war on the Deep State and the Neocons. 4-D chess arguments abounded.
When the reality was that while Trump and Putin keep in touch to ensure little direct conflict between the U.S. and Russian forces in Syria takes place, that is not evidence that Trump is soft on Russia in any way.
Not provoking a nuclear-armed country is not evidence of collusion, just functional brain cells. A statement I can’t make about most of Trump’s critics this week.
This is an operating principle which governed this week’s summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as well. Trump was smart to meet with Kim, who did outmaneuver the U.S. over the past five years, by achieving nuclear-armed status.
It forced the U.S. to the table and Trump, smartly, took the opportunity to save face and choose peace.
The same thing is not on the horizon with Russia today.
The Kremlin has moved on. It would like a better relationship with Washington but it has no illusions about it happening. To Putin’s credit he has not ruled out speaking with Trump, but as Alistair Crooke points out today, there’s little good reason for him doing so.
Trump has crossed so many lines with his Kissinger-inspired policy to force Russia to abandon its relationship with China through economic and political aggression that there’s little to be gained by chatting about anything other than the weather.
Beware the Cauldron
To beat a bully you have to let him over-extend himself. He has to feel confident of your passivity in the face of his aggression. That means if you slap him in the face, he turns the other cheek.
If you attack his friends, he doesn’t attack you.
For more than a year we’ve seen these things play out around the world vis a vis Russia in Syria and in Europe. The attacks are both military, Syria and Ukraine, and financial, the Nordstream 2 pipeline.
I’ve detailed all of this at length over the past year. Putin has taken so many shots to the chin that U.S. / Russian relations bear a great resemblance to the “Rumble in the Jungle” where Mohammed Ali let George Foreman punish him for round after round, expending himself in a futile attempt to knock Ali out.