Trump’s affinity for Putin infuriates proponents of US ‘bull in china shop’ foreign policy
Most Americans would agree with Trump that it makes good sense to generally get along with other countries, if possible, and avoid picking fights with Russia and its president, says political analyst and cartoonist Ted Rall.
US Vice President Joe Biden lashed out at Donald Trump for making positive statements about Vladimir Putin recently, saying that the Republican presidential nominee is putting the US in “a real difficult position in other parts of the world.”
RT: What do you make of Joe Biden’s remarks about Donald Trump? Does having a positive attitude towards Russia compromise US interests?
Ted Rall: I guess it depends how you define US interests. If US interests are about acting like a bull in a china shop – the kind of policies that got the US into a losing a disastrous war in Iraq – then yes, getting along with the head of state of any major power in the world would probably get in the way of that. But it seems contrary to common sense, regardless of where you stand politically in the American electorate.
I think most Americans would probably agree with Trump – that it makes sense to get along with every country that we can. Obviously Russia is a very important country, and Vladimir Putin is the president of that country, and it is foolish not have as positive diplomatic relations and cooperation as possible.
It is weird that Biden, who often does have a lot of common sense, seems to not get the fact that this particular fight was picked by Barack Obama. President Obama broke up American political tradition by going after Trump as uniquely unqualified for the presidency. He has attacked him relentlessly on the campaign trail – much more so than an incumbent president would normally be called upon to do, or would be expected to. So now Trump particularly doesn’t like him, and perhaps likes Putin more. I can’t say that I’m surprised.
RT: Trump’s statement on President Putin has been backed by his running mate and also several conservative political commentators. Does that surprise you?
TR: Things have definitely changed. This is a wild and crazy election year in many respects, and probably one of the biggest two or three takeaways that are going to come out of it, when historians are done analyzing it, is going to be that this is the first time that American foreign policy and its emphasis on interventionism has been questioned, not only within the Democratic Party where it traditionally happens, with the Bernie Sanders campaign, but with Trump and the Republicans.
It has always been assumed that Republicans are a belligerent, bellicose party. Here’s this man who’s achieved the Republican nomination and is now surging in the polls, and by some measures is neck and neck with Hillary Clinton. He has an anti-interventionist foreign policy, and that is not to say that he is a pacifist. Far from it – certainly related to what he said about ISIS (Islamic State, formerly ISIL) and so on. It is remarkable to see mainstream Republicans, and Trump is now a mainstream Republican, questioning the policies that George W. Bush and pretty much every Republican presidential candidate and president has backed for as long as anyone who is alive can remember.
RT: Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton hasn’t been silent on this either, saying that his comments are “reckless and dangerous.” However, she also made some headlines with a questionable statement. According to Mrs. Clinton, half of Trump’s supporters are “a basket of deplorables” – a remark she later said she “regrets.” Is that a way to win hearts and minds?
TR: I kind of want to know what kind of English class she took, or if she was actually born in the US. Is she a secret agent from another country? Because no American says phrases like that. It is very reminiscent of Mitt Romney in 2012 and his comment that 47 percent of Americans were “takers” and “not makers.” That didn’t work out terribly well for him.
I also happen to think that, probably, she is dead wrong about half of Trump supporters being a bunch of nativists, xenophobes, and racists. Those people are there, no doubt, but half of Trump supporters, a quarter of the electorate… no, I don’t really think so.
When you’re running for the president of the US, you’re running for president of all of the voters. This is really a boneheaded comment. If I were her advisor, I would tell her to walk it back.
RT: All of this comes after a media scandal over Trump’s appearance on a program that airs on the RT channel. Why do you think his speaking to Larry King has provoked so much outrage in the media?
TR: There has been a widespread propaganda campaign in the mainstream media this year, in particular against Russia and President Putin. Recently, we’ve seen it in the New York Times and other places against RT and other Russian media outlets. It just seems to be like a renewal of the Cold War. Now, what is interesting to me is that it doesn’t seem to gain any traction. I grew up during the Cold war, and people here were really terrified that “the communists are coming” and “the Russians are coming.” That is not a concern that you hear anyone on the left or on the right among ordinary voters talking about, if you talk to people who are driving a cab, or whatever. People don’t care about these things. They care about the economy and jobs – it is not catching on.
But the media just keeps trying. It is trying to portray RT as a state propaganda outlet. Therefore, appearing on RT somehow would make Trump a traitor to the US, or just like his positive comments about President Putin would. I think wanting to get along with other countries makes sense. These are the same people who wouldn’t say anything similar about someone appearing on the Voice of America or BBC.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.