Trump & Putin defy the tyranny of Russophobia

Finian Cunningham
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
Trump & Putin defy the tyranny of Russophobia
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump were scheduled to hold a 30-minute meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit this weekend. Turned out the Russian and American presidents busted the clock and held face-to-face discussions for two hours. That’s a welcome sign.

It was an especially welcome development from Trump’s side. Defying a tyrannical mindset of Russophobia in his home country, the American president greeted his Russian counterpart with grace and respect.

“It’s an honor,” said Trump. While Putin said he was “delighted” by the meeting, their first since Trump was inaugurated nearly seven months ago.

Given that Trump has already hosted dozens of world leaders at the White House, an observer might say the encounter with Putin was long overdue. Both men showed a cordial ease in each other’s company, sharing light-hearted banter as the cameras reeled and whirred, and with Trump in particular extending an amicable double-armed handshake in their earlier preliminary greeting. And why shouldn’t they talk at length?

The leaders of the world’s two foremost nuclear armed powers – holding nearly 95 percent of the globe’s total nuclear arsenal – have much to discuss and resolve. The rock-bottom nadir in US-Russian relations, for a start; and the danger of World War III erupting from misunderstanding and multiplying tensions in potential flash-points, from Syria to the Baltic. Given the catastrophic stakes, Putin and Trump have an onerous responsibility to the rest of humanity to get down to earnest dialogue for the sake of world peace. Yet it is amazing how the two leaders have been “boxed in” by the Russophobia that has come to dominate Washington mainstream politicians and media. It is ridiculous that the world’s two superpowers have up to now effectively been kept incommunicado; prevented from holding thorough dialogue to work through allegations and grievances, or consolidate areas of cooperation. A week before the G20 summit in Hamburg this weekend, it wasn’t even clear if Trump would meet with his Russian counterpart. Then, the White House confirmed that the two leaders would indeed have a one-on-one encounter, not just a glancing chat on the sidelines of the summit.

But still, their meeting was originally scheduled for 30 minutes. Is that not crass? How are they meant to address urgent world problems in half an hour? No wonder, in the end, the two presidents extended the discussion by four-fold the allotted time.  

Days before the much-anticipated Hamburg confab – their first such meeting – the Washington Post headlined a story: “Months of Russia controversy [sic] leaves Trump ‘boxed in’ ahead of Putin meeting”. Media outlets like the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN have been running a non-stop campaign of Russophobia, euphemistically called “controversy,” in which Trump has been accused of being a Russian stooge, agent, puppet and of being treasonous. This is all because he promised to restore normal US-Russia relations as part of his pitch for the presidency last November.  

Trump has called the media allegations a hoax and a witch-hunt orchestrated by powerful, secretive elements within the US political establishment. No evidence has ever been presented to support the claims made against Trump of colluding with alleged Russian interference in the US election. But that has not stopped the corporate media and their political masters from persisting in their narrative of Russophobia.  

Of course, despite his bravado, Trump is not immune to the political impact of such a media smear campaign. If the president is seen to move towards normalizing relations with Moscow, then there will be howls that this proves he is a Russian stooge. This is why Trump deserves a measure of credit for the manner of his meeting with Putin at the G20. Considering the media pressure bearing down on him “to get tough” with Putin, Trump did not capitulate to these demands. He evidently greeted his Russian counterpart with respect and friendly politeness.  

From media reports, the two presidents held constructive discussions during their two hours on working towards peace in Syria, Ukraine and in Korea. Trump reportedly raised the issue of allegations against Russia interfering in the US election. Putin assured him that such claims were baseless. Importantly, but more generally, both sides put emphasis on working together and moving beyond present disputes.

Rather than being lauded, Trump’s mutual engagement with Putin caused bitter recriminations among the US media. Before the meeting, editorials and pundits had been urging him to aggressively confront Putin about alleged Russian interference in the US elections, Ukraine and Syria – as if these claims were proven facts. That Trump took a much more consensual approach sparked furor in the US media, accusing him of “being soft” and “being played” by Putin, the “former KGB operative.”

However, any sane person would endorse the way Trump and Putin conducted themselves. The whole Russophobia mania in Washington has gotten out of control. It is not only an insane waste of time and political energy, it is an incredibly dangerous escalation of tensions between nuclear-armed states. And most damningly, there is not a scintilla of evidence to justify this Russophobia except for dubious self-serving political and intelligence reasons.

It is the height of insanity that the two most powerful leaders in the world have up to now been effectively prevented from meeting each other and talking at length. It is amazingly crass that the leaders of the two nuclear superpowers are “boxed in” and held hostage by idiots in the American political and media establishment, to the extent, where, these leaders are only allotted 30 minutes to address paramount world concerns about humanity being obliterated by catastrophic miscommunication.  

In the end, Trump and Putin defied the tyranny of idiotic Russophobia by holding a constructive, genuine dialogue, rather than a contrived showdown about nothing. Trump deserves credit. Nevertheless, unfortunately, what the encounter shows more than ever is that the US president has limited power, if he chooses to go against the Deep State’s permanent ruling class and its media and intelligence machine.  

Trump’s embrace of Putin was no doubt heartfelt and natural. With freedom and real executive power, the two leaders might come up with viable cooperation for more peaceful relations.  But here’s the odious thing. Trump doesn’t have freedom or real power. It is doubtful that the consensus agreed in Hamburg with Putin will result in deconfliction in Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, or elsewhere.  

The real power brokers in the US will ensure that the Russophobia campaign continues, with more spurious allegations of Moscow interfering to subvert Western democracies. Trump will continue to live under a cloud of media-driven suspicions. And thus the agenda of regime change against Syria and confrontation with Russia will also continue.

Trump’s personal opinions on these matters and towards Vladimir Putin are negligible – indeed dispensable by the deep powers-that-be. We only have to look at the media sniping over Trump’s meeting with Putin, a meeting that should be lauded as a reasonable start to restore normalcy. The odious American show will go on. 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.