As it turns out, Trump won, and he has already confirmed to Putin that he intends to follow-through with his campaign pledge to build better relations with Russia, and in particular to work together to defeat ISIS in Syria. I suggest that this commitment to Putin is a significant development, one that says much about what we can expect from the Trump presidency.
For one thing, it indicates that his campaign promises were more than just political rhetoric. I’m sure some of them were rhetoric, as with all politicians, but if he’s serious about a more cooperative foreign policy, then we may assume he’s serious about following through with some of his other big proposals as well – some of which we may like and some of which we may not. (I like the one about reversing globalization, but I hope he forgets about the wall.)
Second, he is indicating by this action that he intends to be a buck-stops-here, hands-on, decision-making President. We can tell this because he had his talk with Putin before he had even appointed his cabinet, and before he had time to work out some kind of relationship with the new Congress. He’s declaring that he will be in charge, that he has an agenda, and he’s moving ahead with it – essentially saying, “the rest of you can catch up with me later”.
Whereas Obama came in saying he wanted to build a consensus, and ended up going along with the neoliberal momentum, Trump is coming in like the new CEO of a failing company, hired because he claims he can turn things around. If a coherent change of direction is to be achieved, he is exhibiting some of the leadership qualities that will be required.
Third, reflecting again on the goals of the oligarchy, Trump’s outreach to Putin suggests that the path to a multi-polar new world order is likely to be a peaceful one, rather than one imposed in the aftermath of nuclear conflict.
At the same, we must recognize that Trump has been appointing people to his cabinet who are aligned with the neoliberal establishment, or even further to the right than that. How do we reconcile these choices with the signs above, that he intends a real shake-up? There is a two-part answer to that question.
The first part of the answer is that we can assume Trump has the covert backing of the oligarchy. As Woodrow Wilson said, having learned it the hard way: