After several tit-for-tats with Russia in 2001, relations were at a low ebb like during the cold war. That was when a Russian initiative led to a meeting between the newly-elected George W. Bush and the Russian president. There was no major breakthrough but the two men got to know each other and the temperature cooled. The man heading the Russian government then, as now, was Vladimir Putin.
In one job or another, Mr. Putin has faced many U.S. presidents, endured the disastrous neocon influence — disastrous for Iraq, for Libya, for the Ukraine, not forgetting Afghanistan, and above all for the U.S. itself.
Quite beyond dispute is the plain fact that the Israeli lobby is ascendant in its neocon and other forms in the U.S., and, as the Conservative Friends of Israel controls Prime Minister Theresa May’s party in the UK. Why, is another question. Why are the Israeli left, the peace bloc, and voices like Gideon Levy and Amira Haas of the Ha’aretz out of the loop? Perhaps because the major parties, those that rotate in power, are consistent in their disenfranchisement of Palestinians and share a world view of chronic paranoia.
Here Donald J. Trump deserves credit for, despite his odious immigration policies, his economic windfalls for the rich, and his constant tweeting blather, he has silenced the Israeli right-wing by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and can proceed now with his Russia policy of inclusion and lowering tensions. The major media is against him but he neutralized them in the eyes of his supporters a long time ago.
What can we expect? Well, Syria and Ukraine come to mind and a less confrontational politics. Russia wants an end to sanctions. Nuclear weapons? Both sides have far too many. But all in good time; the ball has just started rolling.
With all the attendant chaos, one can sometimes start to wonder if democracy is really the best form of government. Think of all the lobbying groups: the bankers getting rich gambling, knowing the public purse will rescue them if they lose their shirts; the Israeli lobby and its wars like the tail wagging the dog; and the fossil fuel lobby and its effect on the environment — why can’t every new house built have solar cells on the roof to produce electricity? Rising temperatures and a mass-extinction underway make the last particularly galling.
But then there is the image of the chubby, jolly, smiling Kim Jong Un looking for all the world like a cherub. Last week he executed Lt. Gen. Hyon Ju Song who erred fatally in his remark that we no longer needed “to suffer and tighten our belts to make rockets and nuclear weapons.” A man who had been “on the track to success,” according to the Daily NK until he jumped the gun on the peace initiative and distributed an extra 1278 pounds of rice and 1653 pounds of corn to fellow officers and their families. It brings to eight the number of top officials and family members killed by Kim Jong Un.
Perhaps democracy is not so bad after all.