Thursday, September 12, 2019

Are Putin and Trump "Bro's"?

Ran across a familiar slogan, but in a very different frame of reference....

...Few Americans understood Vladimir Putin’s rise to power at the close of the 20th century as the reassertion of a bankrupt, humiliated, resentful people looking to make Russia great again....

As is always the case with a Codevilla essay, it's worth reading twice and we'll have more to say on the essay below.

That phrase brought to mind yesterday's Jed Babbin interview on McKenna's show.  Babbin (as you can see from the Spectator's brief bio) competes with The Moustache for War-Man of the Century, and he lambasted Donald Trump for speaking highly of Putin.  Babbin doesn't think that other world leaders have an IQ above room temperature, as Babbin believes that Trump's praise of Putin would "confuse" our allies.  That was the laugh-line of the interview.  Apparently Babbin never heard of "schmoozing."  And--by the way--I think Putin is smart enough to recognize Trump's methods, even if Babbin isn't.

Back to the essay.

Codevilla mentioned, but only briefly, the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church following the end of the Soviet Union.

...The Russian people rejected Communism in the only ways that powerless people can—by passivity, by turning to anything foreign to authority, and by cynicism. Nothing being more foreign to Communism than Christianity, Russians started wearing crosses, knowing that the regime frowned on this feature of the Russia that had pre-existed Communism, and would survive it....

...Moscow let countless priorities languish as it rebuilt in record time its massive Christ the Savior cathedral to original specifications. As the Russian Orthodox church resumed its place as a pillar of the Russia that had been Christianity’s bastion against the Mongol horde as well as against the Muslim Ottomans, golden domes soon shone throughout the land. Whatever anyone might think of the Russian Orthodox church, it anchors the country to its Christian roots....
The significant thing here?  The revival of the Church preceded the fall of the State, and Putin has put the Church on the front burner.  Whether he believes it or not, Putin has also made a show of 'churchiness', emphasizing some moral principles as well as spending a lot of State money on the Church.

Codevilla is just as brief--actually, parenthetical--with the two most important social features of Communism:

...Because they really believed in this utopian dream, the socialists gave absolute power to Lenin and Stalin’s Communist Party to wreck and reorganize—to break eggs in order to make a delicious omelette. But Communism, while retaining some of Marxism’s antinomian features (e.g., war on the family and on religion), became in practice almost exclusively a justification for the party’s absolute rule. For example, the economic system adopted by the Soviet Union and by other Communist regimes owed precisely zero to Marx, but was a finely tuned instrument for keeping the party in control of wealth....
"War on family and religion" is absolutely critical to the success of Statism.  Hillary let her Statist impulses slip with her "....takes a village to raise a child..." line, probably distilled from her education at the knee of Saul Alinsky, one of the US' most prominent atheistic Statists and someone who influenced Pp. Paul VI, the US Conference of Bishops, and at least one Catholic Cardinal of Chicago.

While Trump is also not burdened by religiosity, he, like Putin, voices and acts on clearly religious principles.  He is by far the most pro-life President in the last 60 years; he shunned the pervert Epstein; he fights for religious liberty so far as his office allows.  It's reasonable to think that Trump, like Putin, understands that religion is very damned important to society.

So maybe they are 'bros' , eh?

More, and more to the geo-political point:

 ...Russia loomed small in U.S. foreign policy from the time of the founding until the 1917 Bolshevik coup, because the interactions between America’s and Russia’s geopolitical and economic interests were few and mostly compatible. Given that these fundamentals have not changed, it would be best for both countries if their policies gradually returned to that long normal.

But for both countries, transcending the past century’s habits is not easy. The essential problem is that neither side’s desires, nor its calculus of ends and means, is clear to the other, or perhaps to itself. It seems that the main thing Putin or any other Russian leader might want from America is no interference as Russia tries to recreate the tsars’ empire. Thus Russia’s continuing relations with anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America can only be understood as Cold War inertia—the almost instinctive sense that what is bad for America must somehow be good for Russia. The U.S. government, for its part, while largely neglecting Russia’s involvement in the Western hemisphere, tries to limit its influence in Europe while at the same time reaching agreements concerning strategic weapons—a largely Cold War agenda. The soundness of these priorities on both sides is doubtful....

All of the above makes Babbin's 'war-war' babbling even less persuasive.  The Cold War is over, and has been over for about 25 years.  But the US foreign-policy Establishment, like its military cousin, wants to fight the last war.  Trump sees the world differently, to say the least.

The US' policy vis-a-vis Russia should be a lot less antagonistic, except where US interests are highest.  Let the Bros be Bros.  It would be a net win for both parties.

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