Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Siberian Candidate?

A recent tweet by Gary Lachman, who writes about the history and philosophy of consciousness, has prompted some further reflection by me about the strange case of Trump's connection with Russia.

Let me start with where I'm coming from. Conspiracy theories abound in modern society (and their roots go deep into human history). I find that as soon as someone promotes a conspiracy theory, I immediately throw them into my mental looney bin (although once in a great while I have to dig one out). The list has always been long: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a supposed secret Jewish blueprint for world hegemony in the early 20th century; black helicopters landing blue-helmeted U.N. troops to take over the U.S.; the Trilateral Commission as a world-controlling cabal; the JFK assassination plots concocted by . . . take your pick. In short (and my list could go on and on), we humans would rather latch on to a dark fairy tale that reveals that someone is in control than admit that a lone actor or a complex confluence of conditions beyond our ken lead to outcomes that frighten and disturb us.

But even paranoids have enemies, right? There are conspiracies throughout history. The assassinations of Caesar and of Lincoln, to name just two of the better known proven conspiracies.  So when contemplating conspiracies, one finds that diamonds sometimes lie in the mud, revealed only after sifting through the mental muck that clouds our vision.

So what is the Trump-Putin connection? Is it merely a matter of autocrat envy? There are many displays this trait, such as Orban in Hungary and Erdogan in Turkey. This explanation is plausible. Or it could be a matter of shared ideology: the West (and Orthodox East) vs. Islam in a battle of the civilizations. Perhaps this belief set plays a role as well. Or it could be that Putin has some dirt on Trump that gives him sway over Trump. But how could Trump's reputation be further despoiled? Perhaps by showing he owes more than he's worth or some revelation that is the business equivalent of small hands.

At present, we just don't know. I agree that simply bashing Trump and his administration by way of association with Russia is a weak line of thought and attack. Being of a realist bent in the field of international relations, I don't go much for this. If Trump was trustworthy, working on specific deals and shared interests with the Putin regime could prove useful, so demonization of Russia as a whole is not a good avenue. On the other hand, Trump and his administration--except probably his Defense Secretary--seem naive and ill-informed about the Putin regime's intentions and the nefarious activities in which they certainly do engage (like disrupting U.S. and European elections). To put it bluntly, in the world of geopolitics, Putin comes across as a whole lot sharper than Trump.

So despite the great Hollywood potential that would make The Parallax View, JFK, or The Manchurian Candidate seem all too timid, I'm going to say that we have only what appears to be smoke. Maybe it's fog or maybe it's smoke. I don't see a fire, and we must prove that we have a fire in the house before we act. However, when we're not sure about what's happening, we'd damn well better call out the fire department just in case. And in this instance, the fire department needs to be a strong, truly independent investigatory commission. Congress has to take up its constitutional mantle and act.

In any event, the events of the Trump candidacy and administration will provide plenty of weird takes that will provide fodder for many a writer for decades to come (unless he messes us up even worse than I want to imagine).

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