The British Empire's geopolitical escalation against Russia, using the charge that Russian President Putin and his intelligence services were behind the alleged poisoning in London of a former Russian intelligence agent, was dealt a stunning setback on March 21, when Putin and U.S. President Trump spoke via phone. Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his overwhelming election victory. The two then engaged in a broad discussion of how to expand their collaboration on a series of crucial issues. The friendly tone of the conversation, as well as its content, set off an explosion of anti-Putin, anti-Trump diatribes, as the latest effort to prevent such collaboration, with Britain's Prime Minister May and her Foreign Minister Johnson insisting that the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter be used as a causus belli against Russia, was outflanked by the dialogue between the two.
According to reports from both sides, Trump followed his offer of congratulations with a discussion of strategic and economic concerns which the two nations share. Trump told reporters, "We had a very good call, and I suspect that we'll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control," and "also to discuss Ukraine and Syria and North Korea," among other issues.
While his announcement of an upcoming summit meeting was news in itself, his reference to the dangers of a new "arms race" is extremely important. It comes after the surprise announcement by Putin, on March 1, that Russia has developed a new class of hypersonic missiles and weapons systems based on the application of new physical principles, to counter the threat to Russia which began under Presidents Bush and Obama, including the deployment of anti-missile defense systems in eastern Europe, the eastward expansion of NATO up to Russia's borders, and the Obama-backed coup in Ukraine, which brought anti-Russian neo-Nazis into power in Kiev.
The neocons in both political parties in the U.S., and their anti-Putin allies in the mainstream media in the U.S. and Europe, used Putin's announcement of the new weapons to assert that this is proof of an aggressive Russian buildup, with the intent of challenging U.S. authority worldwide. This baseless charge was instrumental in convincing the U.S. Congress to vote for a record $700-plus billion in defense expenditures for the 2019 fiscal year budget, in conjunction with the claims from the likes of former Obama era intelligence agency leaders Clapper and Brennan, that Russia is a permanent enemy of the U.S. This narrative fit in with the fraudulent charge that originated with British intelligence, and was peddled by Clapper and Brennan, among others, that Putin "meddled" in the U.S. election.
Putin addressed the danger of an arms race directly in comments he made at an extraordinary gathering of his electoral opponents after his victory. Calling for post-election unity, Putin spoke of his commitment to lift all the Russian people above the poverty line, especially those currently working at low-wage jobs. He told them he intends to do this while bolstering Russia's security, but then added,
"Let me tell you outright that no one is going to start some arms race. On the contrary, we are going to pursue constructive relations with all countries of the world. We will aim for a constructive dialogue...and encourage this among our partners....We will not allow a new arms race."
In his comments on their phone conversation, Trump responded positively to Putin's challenge for a "constructive dialogue," saying "we can discuss the arms race. As you know, he [Putin] made a statement that being in an arms race is not a great thing...right after the election—one of the first statements he made." In its report on the call, the Kremlin also commented on this part of the discussion, reporting that the leaders spoke of "developing practical cooperation in various areas, including efforts to ensure strategic stability and combat international terrorism, with particular emphasis on the importance of coordinated efforts to curb an arms race" (emphasis added).
WAR FACTION RESPONDS
Instead of responding sanely, to inquire about the shared commitment of the leaders of the nuclear superpowers to discuss mutual concerns about security, the anti-Trumpers predictably went nuts. White House press secretary Sanders was barraged with questions by reporters after the announcement of the call: Did the President confront Putin on Russian aggression? Does he really believe the Russian elections were fair, when the U.K. and [U.S. Senator] John McCain don't believe that? He didn't confront Putin on meddling in our election? Or on the poisoning in the U.K.?
Sanders calmly reiterated that the President believes dialogue with Russia is in the best interest of the U.S. "We want to continue to talk about some of the shared interests we have," she said, "particularly as the President noted today, slowing the tensions when it comes to the arms race, something that is clearly important to both leaders."
In response to repeated questions about whether the White House believes the Russian election was "free and fair," she lambasted the "regime change" mentality implicit in the question: "We don't get to dictate how other countries operate. What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country, and that's not something we can dictate to them how they operate."
The media responded by publishing a leak that Trump advisers had written in a briefing memo to prepare him for the upcoming call to Putin, "DO NOT CONGRATULATE." Media outrage over this was typified by the Washington Post, which headlined its story on the Trump-Putin call, "Trump's national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Putin. He did it anyway." Instead of expressing concern over how the content of a presidential briefing memo was leaked, the story repeats the line that Trump's unwillingness to be "handled" remains a threat to security.
Trump responded with a characteristic tweet: "I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in the past, Obama called him also). The Fake News media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing...."
He reiterated, in a second tweet, why he wishes to establish cooperative relations. "They can help solve problems, with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming arms race....PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!" The last words of the tweet are a reference to what Ronald Reagan often said was his approach to relations with the Soviet Union. While today's neocons say that Reagan's believed in a military build-up as an end in itself, one former adviser to Reagan, who also worked closely with Trump during the campaign, said that for both of them, the purpose of "strength" is to be able to secure peaceful agreements, as in Reagan's support for Lyndon LaRouche's conception of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).
THE UNDERLYING ISSUE
The latest episode of collective insanity on the part of the anti-Trump, anti-Putin gaggle of imperial neoconservative war mongers explains what is behind the phony charges of Russiagate. From the outset, as we have documented, the charges of "Putin meddling/Trump collusion" in the U.S. presidential election was a made-in-London fraud. Those in the intelligence community, the Obama administration, both political parties and the media pushing it in the U.S. and in Europe are acting on a script written in London. The intent of this was to prevent Trump from following through on his campaign pledge to end the wars the U.S. has started since the attacks on September 11.
"No regime change wars", he said, throughout the campaign. It is not worth a single drop of American blood, or a single dollar, for the U.S. to go around the world, overthrowing governments which don't agree with us, he repeated at large campaign rallies. There is "no American interest" served by such wars, he added, blasting Bush for lying to get the U.S. into war with Iraq, and the Obama-Hillary Clinton team for its destruction of Libya, overthrow of an elected government in Ukraine, and threats to establish a no-fly zone over Syria, which he correctly charged could lead to war with Russia.
Instead, he repeatedly asked, "What's wrong with having good relations with Russia?" This simple question posed an existential threat to those who preferred war, hoping it would sustain its collapsing empire, to forming alliances with an ascending China and Russia.
The ongoing collapse of the Robert Mueller-led witch hunt against Trump has emboldened the President, at least in his handling of the key issue of big power relations with Russia and China. In fact, the latest turns in Russiagate now put the networks responsible for it, including Obama administration officials like Clapper, Brennan, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and even Obama himself, on a possible path toward indictment. And with the Theresa May blunder, of openly associating her government and its intelligence agencies with the war drive against Russia—and against Trump's desire for cooperation with Putin—it is possible that the world is witnessing the overdue collapse of the British Empire.
That is the significance of the March 21 phone call between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.