NEW YORK — (Analysis) Donald Trump’s presidential campaign rhetoric was a cocktail of ostensibly nationalist economics and isolationist foreign policy that was viewed by much of the punditocracy as a sharp break from traditional U.S. policy. But while his words seemed to be filled with promise, his actual policies have, rather predictably, shown themselves to be hollow.
While the corporate media and Democratic Party apparatchiks have been foaming at the mouth about Russia’s role in torpedoing Hillary Clinton, few have bothered to examine the deeper political and economic motivations and policies underlying the Trump doctrine. In doing so, it should become apparent that rather than significantly breaking from the hegemonic worldview of previous administrations, Trump and his coterie of generals and strategists intend to use the same sorts of coercion and force that have formed the bedrock of U.S. foreign policy for the better part of the last several decades.
Russia, China and Iran each pose unique challenges to the new administration. When seen as a bloc, they represent a significant obstacle to continued U.S. hegemony. However, a sober analysis must deal with existing political forces and their agendas, rather than the fanciful ideas that are the stuff of speeches and politically biased punditry.
Russia and the Slippery Politics of Oil
The corporate media has been all agog with every new revelation about President Trump and his administration’s ties to Russia: the alleged hacking of the election, the purported sex tape and clandestine meetings, to name a few. But while such stories are good for ratings, they invariably obscure the far more critical aspect of the story – economic, political and geopolitical imperatives.
Examined from these perspectives, it becomes clear that while Trump, Steve Bannon and others in the administration may have sympathetic feelings for Putin and the Russian government, their actions are dictated by interests, not friendship.
And what are those interests? First and foremost is the tens (or hundreds) of billions of dollars at stake for ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the U.S. and longtime employer of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. With such vast profits at stake, it’s no surprise that Trump’s administration supports the idea of easing or even lifting sanctions on Russia, having gone so far as to float a plan to lift the sanctions that would’ve used former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as an intermediary.
But even if Trump doesn’t end the sanctions, it’s clear that he and Putin are on the same page when it comes to mutually beneficial economic arrangements in the energy sector. This raises questions about China and Iran, both of whom are major parts of the energy equation.