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  • Fact and Fiction: what the US did and did not achieve by its attack on Syria, 14 April 2018

     

    by Gilbert Doctorow, Ph.D.

     

    The media reaction to the US-French-British strikes on Syria early in the morning of 14 April has been quite distinct in the USA versus Europe, and then still more differentiated from the reaction of Russian media. In this brief article, I will direct attention to the general contours marking each of these three areas of reporting, and also will share some of the particularly interesting observations that were presented on Russian television, which, as is self-evident, was the most interested party in making sense of the weekend to the general public, given that Russia was the central power in play over the weekend even if the geography said “Syria.”

     

    In its coverage of the attack, the US mainstream, for which I take The New York Times and The Washington Post as markers, has been an uncritical platform for the Pentagon view of what it achieved. Secondly, they have been a platform for the usual critics of Donald Trump who have praised the attack in principal but asked where is the long term strategy (none by general consensus)  while linking the timing to the President’s political travails following the FBI raid on his personal lawyer’s offices during the days preceding the attack.

    The Pentagon post mortem of the attacks corresponds totally with the President’s tweet of “Mission Accomplished!”  The generals claim that their missiles obliterated the core of Assad’s chemical weapon manufacturing capability and were thus on target and fully successful. They particularly praised the effectiveness of the newest “stealth” cruise missiles which, they say, eluded the Syrian air defenses, which launched their own interceptor missiles after the stealth attackers had already hit their targets.

    On Continental Europe, specifically in Germany, France and Belgium, for the print media this Sunday the Syria attacks were yesterday’s news and the papers largely have picked up other, mainly local issues to feature on their front pages. In Le Figaro, there is virtually no mention of the attacks. In Le Monde, they follow the American example and what coverage they give is the Pentagon’s story of what it achieved. Meanwhile, in Germany leading newspapers seem to show more initiative in trying to find their own interpretation of what was accomplished by the attacks.  The Die Welt online edition today discusses how the United States and Europe used the mission to test the battleground effectiveness of some of their latest weaponry.

    Frankfurter Allgemeine has two feature articles, neither of which follow the American media agenda and might be said to show some independence of thought.  One article presents and defends the notion that the weekend attacks showed the Pentagon is “the last bastion of Sense” in the Trump administration. What they think of the President is self evident.  Meanwhile the other article tells us that despite the attacks Syrian President Bashar Assad will not give in and is holding to his chosen course, while the Russians are said to be counting on opening a strategic dialogue with the USA over arms control.

    In the United Kingdom, coverage of Syria, the airstrikes, Russia receive much more coverage in the print media this weekend than on the Continent. From the perspective of Russian analysts, whom I will deal with in a moment, this surely reflects the great nervousness in the UK that their criminal role in the Skripal case and in stage directing the Douma chemical attack in Syria is going to be exposed and that there will be a political price for Theresa May and her government to pay.

    The Opposition Guardian newspaper online features a number of articles today, taking up the Syria story from different perspectives. A commentary article tells us that James Mattis, not Trump “is calling the shots.” Another article is devoted to Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a “check on military intervention” by insisting that Parliament vote on a War Powers act.  From Damascus, we hear about Bashar Assad’s praise for Moscow and about Vladimir Putin’s criticism of the strikes. 

    The Times of London offers a much more restricted number of articles having a Russian-Syrian connection but what it features is sure to capture the attention of Britain’s chattering classes today. It leads with an article predicting that to punish the United Kingdom for its role in the Skripal case and in Syria, Moscow will unleash a barrage of hacked damaging confidential materials relating to government ministers, members of Parliament and other elite British personalities.  In response, May’s cabinet is said to be considering a cyber-attack against Russia. 

     

    To be sure, the most remarkable departure from the US media track that I note in Europe yesterday and today is on the television, specifically on Euronews.  The company’s motto is “Euronews. All Views.”  Nice sounding and usually irrelevant, but not this weekend. To be sure, the US, UK, French government accounts of what they achieved are given full coverage in each hourly news bulletin.  But at the same time, the Russians are given what appears to be equal time to set out their diametrically opposed positions: on whether any chemical attacks at all occurred in Douma, Eastern Goutha, on the violation of international law and of the UN Charter that the Allied attack on Syria represented, on its being “aggression,” on its link to the Skripal case.

    In fact, on Saturday Euronews exceptionally gave nearly complete live coverage to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as he spoke in Moscow to the 26th Assembly of the Council of Foreign and Defense Policy. During this talk, Lavrov divulged the findings of the Swiss laboratory which had examined samples of the chemicals gathered in Salisbury in relation to the Skripal poisonings, findings which he said pointed not to Novichok, as was reported by Boris Johnson, but to a nerve agent developed by the United States and produced also in Britain.  Lavrov likened the faked attack in Salisbury to the faked chemical attack in Douma.

    Letting the Russians deliver extensively their views on what happened in Syria without commentary by their own journalists might be considered extraordinary by Euronews or any other European broadcaster’s standards, for which the public can only be grateful.

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    In Western alternative media, there is a lively, one might say impassioned discussion of whether Vladimir Putin caved in to the USA by not striking back immediately and with force against the 14 April attack on Syria by US-FR-UK forces.  Such an issue seems to be absent from Russian television, including its talk shows, yesterday and today. In part, this question is surely absent because of censorship of the airwaves.  But I think in greater part it is absent because the information about what actually happened on the night – early morning of 14 April is both much greater and is skewed in a very different direction from what is being reported in Western media, so that the possibility that the boss may have flinched does not arise.

    This begins with the effectiveness of the US Tomahawks and other “smart” cruise missiles which the Allies launched.  As noted above, the Pentagon claims great success, and directs special attention to the latest “stealth” cruise missiles.  However, Russian news stresses that Washington used for the most part old generation, amortized rockets. They encountered counter measures from very old Syrian air defense installations, themselves a mixed patch quilt, with some dating back 30 years, and never fully integrated.  Nonetheless, the Russians report that the Syrian shot down 70 of the 103 or 105 missiles launched by the alliance.

    On Saturday evening, the Russian news channel Rossiya-1 broadcast a special edition of the country’s leading political talk show hosted by Vladimir Solovyov. His expert panelists explained that the Syrian kill rate was in fact variable.  In Damascus, where the most recent and effective air defense equipment is installed, including late date BUK series, the Syrians shot down 100% of the incoming missiles. Elsewhere in the country, the older the air defenses, the lower the hit rate.

    Those who ask what “grave consequences” the Russians will impose on the Western coalition following the air strikes of 14 April should consider the following: Moscow apparently has now decided to supply to the Syrian army their next to latest generation of air defense, the S300. We are told that due to the civil war, there was a great shortage of trained technicians on the Syrian side so that shipment of such equipment previously would have made no sense. However, now that the military situation of the Assad government has stabilized, the personnel problems are no longer so acute and the Russians can proceed with delivering materiel and training the Syrians to defend themselves. This will substantially change the equation with respect to Syrian defense capability should the US and its Allies think of coming back again a year hence.

    One other still more Important observation on the way the US carried out its attack which fully justifies the restrained response of the Russian leader also emerges from expert testimony given on the Solovyov show last night.  From the first moment the scope of the attack was so constrained as to be mission impossible.

    Normally the US and others beginning a military operation against Country X start their operation with a massive attack on its air defense systems and command and control centers. Only when they are neutralized does the attacker carry out air strikes on specific targets of military value.  The US had to forego all that when it decided it would not touch the Russians, whose officers are embedded with the Syrian command and control and air defense. Hence, the exclusive use of missiles as opposed to aircraft bombing raids, it being a given that all manned aircraft would be shot down even by the antiquated Syrian materiel.  In a word, the US-FR-UK attack on Syria was a charade, a political and not a military attack. Its description by the Americans and their Allies as a “precision attack” to remove chemical weapons facilities is a fig leaf of deception that the unquestioning Western media alone accept.  This, given the near certainty that Assad had no chemical weapons manufacturing or storage facilities following their complete removal and destruction four years ago in performance of an agreement negotiated between the United States and Russia under President Barack Obama and later certified by the US side.

    The overriding conclusion of this and other reporting on Russian television is that Russian lives, Russian interests and Russian military potential figured at every turn when the Pentagon devised its attack plan on Syria.  Under these circumstances, the Russians had no reason to respond emotionally and in irresponsible manner to the US provocation.

    What further actions the Russians may take to exact a price from the Western coalition for its violation of international law over Syria remains to be seen. But it is a safe guess that Britain will take the first hit.

     

    © Gilbert Doctorow, 2018

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    Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book, Does the United States Have a Future? was published on 12 October 2017. Both paperback and e-book versions are available for purchase on www.amazon.com and all affiliated Amazon websites worldwide. See the recent professional review  http://theduran.com/does-the-united-states-have-a-future-a-new-book-by-gilbert-doctorow-review/    For a video of the book presentation made at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. on 7 December 2017 see  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciW4yod8upg

  • The Munich Security Conference, 2018: Mutually Assured Contempt

    The Munich Security Conference, 2018:  Mutually Assured Contempt

    by Gilbert Doctorow, Ph.D.

    The annual Munich Security Conference is to geopolitics what Davos is to global economics: a forum for public discussion of challenges and trends, as well as a venue for side meetings off the official schedule by Very Important People that are at times even more intriguing than the formal events. By the latter I have in mind, for example, the tête-à-tête behind closed doors between former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the Russian ambassador to Germany that set tongues wagging back in Kiev and Moscow, even if it was passed up in the Euronews coverage.

    The very biggest names in global politics make their appearances at Munich and occasionally catch the imagination of all with substantive as opposed to merely clever remarks.  No one familiar with the venue can forget Vladimir Putin’s speech there of February 2007. It set in motion the open challenge to US global mastery that has evolved into the deep cracks in the world order which were the main theme of Munich a year ago, and which presented themselves  again for consideration in the latest, 2018 edition.

    Last year the biggest name in Munich was Chinese President Xi, who did not disappoint and stole the show by his robust defense of free trade, global cooperation to combat climate change and other leading issues of the day from which Donald Trump’s America seemed to be retreating. This year there was no one leader who commanded the attention of the audience and media. What special meaning the gathering had could be found in the Report of the organizers, which highlights the issues and guided the discussion in the various sessions over three days.

    Parsing an 88-page text like the Report might be a step too far. But a word about its style is in order since that takes us directly to analysis of its content. 

    The Munich Security Conference takes place in Germany. Its website and promotional literature are bilingual, German-English.  However, the Report is in English, and in very special English at that. No British spelling or turns of speech here, unlike so many documents of think tanks generated on the Continent. No this is the American English of the U.S establishment in the self-satisfied and coy style of Foreign Affairs magazine. Where else would you find section headings entitled “Russia: Bearly Strong?” or “United States: Home Alone?”

    And while the texts in the Report allude to interviews in the press by former German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier, and a side column quotes from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s speech to the Conference last year, there is more than a sprinkling of references to leading personalities in America’s Council on Foreign Relations, starting with its president, Richard Haass. And what is surely the most remarkable quote in the Report (see below) comes from Council member and long-time book reviewer for Foreign Affairs, Princeton University professor G. John Ikenberry. 

    To cut to the quick, the American input to the agenda and posture of the Munich Security Conference is of decisive weight when you look at the recommended reading (“Food for Thought”) and special reports sections at the back. In the Acknowledgements section at the very end, we find the heavyweights RAND Corporation, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence listed together with the lightweight but very voluble Freedom House.

     

    This Establishment is Atlanticist, a promoter of the liberal institutional order that it helped to create over the past 60 plus years in the knowledge that the biggest financial and political beneficiary of an order based on rules written in Washington has been the United States.  To a man, they are anti-Trump.

    Indeed, the text of the Munich Report reeks of anti-Trump venom and a good dose of despair over the ongoing triumph of the anti-Christ who is now the U.S. President.

    The introductory chapter of the Report bears the ominous title: “Present at the Erosion: International Order on the Brink?” The most striking remark on its first page is by G. John Ikenberry: “the world’s most powerful state has begun to sabotage the order it created. A hostile revisionist power has indeed arrived on the scene, but it sits in the Oval Office, the beating heart of the free world.”

    Let us remember that over the course of his career Ikenberry has been a penetrating and at times courageous analyst. Back in 1992, he co-authored with Daniel Deudney a splendid article entitled “Who Won the Cold War” (Foreign Policy) explaining why it was a draw, ended by mutual agreement. He thereby went directly against the rising tide of Neoconservatism and American hubris built on falsification of modern history.

    American Establishment biases, willful ignorance of realities and fake news are given free rein in the page of the 2018 Report devoted to Russia.  Here we read about the Kremlin’s “disinformation campaign” during the French presidential election of 2017 and about the “efforts to influence the US presidential election in 2016” that have “paid dividends.”  Unproven allegations of meddling and illogical conclusions about dividends, considering the track record of the Trump administration in its first year in office:  the dispatch of lethal military equipment to Ukraine that even Obama hesitated to approve, the extension of sanctions and a number of other measures raising the tensions with Russia in the Baltics and in Syria.

    Here we find the stubborn refusal to accept the true scale and breadth of Russia’s might. We are reminded that the country’s GDP is the size of Spain, a proposition that is distorted and misleading depending as it does on exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity At last report, Spain was not supplying one-third of all the natural gas consumed in Europe; Russia was.  At last report, Spain did not have a military industrial complex that is second only to the United States; Russia has.

    Yet, the Munich Security Conference differs in an important way from the American establishment, which is today not very welcoming of “adversaries” or “competitors” who may conceptualize the world order in their own way. Whatever its home grounds philosophically, the Munich Security Conference does try to be inclusive and brings even troublemaker countries and personalities into the tent. Moreover, the Security Conference, like Davos, has substantial continuity in the attendees. You heard from the Iranian Foreign Minister last year, and you will hear from him again this year, and probably next year as well.  This does not smooth out all the rough edges in these encounters, but it keeps them somewhat in check.

    One of the “regulars,” and perhaps the most remarkable performer at the 2018 Munich Security Conference was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. I call him remarkable because of his ability to rise above his detractors in the hall through superior command of the facts, wit and daring. 

    At last year’s Munich Conference, a number of Lavrov’s pronouncements were met by derisive laughter from the Americans in the front rows, picked up by other Western diplomats and politicians.  Yet, Lavrov took it in stride, remarking acidly that he had also found some statements by representatives of other countries to be laughable but had shown greater restraint than members of his audience.

    Heckling also took place during Lavrov’s speech this year, though on a markedly lower scale. And once again, Lavrov took the upper hand, chided his detractors for their incivility and joked that it did not matter:  “after all, they say laughter helps us live longer.”

    Lavrov’s speech itself was a masterpiece of argumentation against the exclusion of Russia from the common European home, the descent of a divisive “we/they” thinking in Western Europe to justify the New Cold War. He specifically called out for condemnation the ongoing rewriting of history in the Baltic States, in Poland, in Ukraine that airbrushes Russia out of the victory over Hitlerite Germany, encourages destruction of monuments to Soviet liberators and makes heroes of home-grown fascist movements as in Ukraine.

    It bears mention that back home in Moscow, there are voices of strident nationalists like Vladimir Zhirinovsky who explain on national television day after day why it is time for Lavrov to go, because he is too soft, too easy going with the nation’s enemies in the West.

    However, the skill at debate, nerves of steel and icy reserve that Lavrov displayed in Munich show yet again that he is the right man in the right place to defend Putin’s Russia.

    The problem that comes out of the Report and the body language we saw in the conference proceedings is the following: whether the opposing sides of East and West were more or less restrained in their gestures and words, there lies on each side a poisonous contempt for the other that could lead to miscalculations and rash actions in the event of some incident, some mishap between our respective armed forces in any of the theaters where they are now operating in close proximity in support of opposing sides.

    © Gilbert Doctorow, 2018

          * * * *

     Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book, Does the United States Have a Future? was published on 12 October 2017. Both paperback and e-book versions are available for purchase on www.amazon.com and all affiliated Amazon websites worldwide. See the recent professional review  http://theduran.com/does-the-united-states-have-a-future-a-new-book-by-gilbert-doctorow-review/    For a video of the book presentation made at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. on 7 December 2017 see  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciW4yod8upg

  • Putin – Trump meeting in Hamburg: what paradigm for development of US-Russian relations should we look for?

     

    by Gilbert Doctorow, Ph.D,

     

    The much-anticipated first face-to-face meeting of Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin finally took place on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg on July 7. The attention of the world and even of the other participants of Summit was so riveted to the Trump-Putin meeting, and the Summit schedule was so interrupted by that meeting, that clever tongues are speaking of the G-20 having taken place at the sidelines of the Trump-Putin talks.

    The two big news items to emerge in U.S. media concerned a) the length of the meeting and b) Trump’s having raised the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, thus addressing the demands for confronting the Kremlin on the issue that came out of the hysterical “Russiagate” campaign of Trump’s detractors and political enemies.

    Indeed, the meeting went on for two hours and fifteen minutes, as opposed to the 25 minutes advised in advance by the White House. There were a total of six participants:  the two presidents, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his counterpart Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and the interpreters.This is important, because Trump dispensed with the large delegation of "advisers" and Russophobes, like Fiona Hill, whom he was urged to take along to the meeting to keep him on the straight and narrow.

    As for Russian hacking and other alleged interference in the U.S. elections, we are told that the subject took up 40 minutes, nearly a third of the meeting time. The New York Times  confides that the discussion was tense and heated.   In answer to journalists’ questions following the meeting, Sergei Lavrov and then later Vladimir Putin himself expressed confidence that the Russian’s vehement denials of any involvement were persuasive and were accepted. So far, the Trump camp has been quiet on the persuasiveness.

    Regrettably, this very tightly focused attention of U.S. media has left unreported what was actually achieved during the meeting.  To be sure, that was not much of substance, because substance requires detailed advance preparation by teams from both sides, something which could not and did not occur due to the intense pressure of Trump’s political opponents and even of several of his own advisers, who wanted no meeting at all or a confrontational meeting as opposed to constructive meeting if any. 

    That being said, there was one concrete piece of business which Lavrov mentioned in his press briefing immediately afterwards: the creation of a joint U.S.-Russian center for deconfliction in Jordan, where the U.S. military coordination of the Syrian theater is located, to look after the implementation of a local pacification and return to civilian life in the southwest region of Syria. Moreover, the supervision on the ground of this deconfliction will be performed by Russian military police.  That all appears to be a very positive development, adding to the 6 deconfliction areas in Syria that were agreed in Astana at meetings of all warring parties and are under the guaranty of Turkey, Iran and Russia.

     It would be still better if there had been some progress on the more dangerous zone of eastern and southeastern Syria along the Euphrates, where U.S. backed forces of the Free Syrian Army have clashed with Assad’s forces and where the U.S. shot down a Syrian bomber a couple of weeks ago, causing the Russians to cut military hot lines and to threaten to target all U.S. and Allied planes flying West of the Euphrates.

    We also are informed that the United States will now be taking an active role in pressing for the implementation of the Minsk Accords for the sake of a properly observed cease-fire and a political solution. A point man for relations with Ukraine has been named.  In practice, this will likely mean applying pressure on Kiev to live up to its commitments – on voting in the Donbass, on decentralization….

    There was also an agreement to set up a joint body to deal with cyber security so as to ensure there will be no possible attacks on electoral processes in either country.  The Russians, in particular, seek such cooperation in the knowledge that cyber attacks are considered a causus belli by the Americans.

    More generally, what seems to have been achieved at the Putin-Trump meeting was agreement on procedures to begin a normalization of bilateral relations, including the early appointment of new ambassadors in both capitals.  No agreements on anything specific as yet, but the identification of outstanding issues and the start of assignment of responsibility on both sides to enter into detailed discussion to find solutions.   If followed up, that could turn out to be a turning point in relations.

    Before the meeting took place, journalists and pundits were looking for scenarios from the past which might characterize the emerging relationship of the two presidents.  Optimists, in particular, spoke of the enormously important example set by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, which led to very significant agreements on arms limitation and to the resolution of the underlying cause of the Cold War: Europe’s division into Russian and Allied spheres of control. Donald Trump’s repeated indications on the campaign trail that he believed Putin was someone with whom he could do business was redolent of Reagan’s and Margaret Thatcher’s views of Gorbachev.

    But I think that this conceptualization of what may lie ahead is deceptive and a cul de sac.   Today there is no Soviet Union, no Russian empire in Europe and nothing of the kind to resolve. Moreover, with all of the negative associations for today’s Kremlin coming from the naïve and unjustified trust of Gorbachev in the good intentions and fair play of his interlocutors, references to that political duo is a nonstarter for the Russian side. 

     

     

    Instead, I see the frame of reference for what lies ahead in the Nixon-Brezhnev detente.  One of the great implementers of that détente was Henry Kissinger, whose Realpolitik underlies Trump’s America First thinking.  And Kissinger himself has been very visible in the Trump foreign policy circle.  He was with Trump when he received Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak in the Oval Office a couple of months ago.  He was Trump’s messenger to Putin a week ago when he arrived in Moscow and was taken to a tête-à-tête with the Russian President that Russian state television considered newsworthy.  

     

    Nixon-era détente was all about peaceful coexistence between two world super-powers pursuing their own national interest, not about cozy friendship.

     

    We do not have today an ideological divide driving the competition of these two powers, but we do have heightened and currently malicious or malignant competitiveness that can run amok. The objective is to agree on national interests of the sides, a polite way of saying the unspeakable in American politics, "spheres of influence."  At the highest level of abstraction, we are talking about an agreement on world governance.

     

    In the heyday of detente, and even as late as 1978 or so, Brezhnev offered Nixon a condominium:  if we and you agree, said Leonid Il’ich, no one else in the world will dare raise a finger.    The Americans did not buy it.  Nixon could not have accepted that even if he wished to because Congress would never agree.   Putin is not offering such a condominium, but instead is offering mutual responsibility for governance through the UN and other fora like the G20.  Maybe, just maybe Trump will go for it.

     

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     In trying to understand how the Russians have assessed the Putin-Trump meeting, as usual I have found the country's highest level political talk show, Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, to be an invaluable aid.

    Opinion is divided between politicians and think tank intellectuals who are openly optimistic and those who are guardedly optimistic.

    The openly optimistic believe that Trump and Putin got off to a good start, with good "personal chemistry" which promises an improvement of bilateral relations. And in general they believe that Russia did well from the encounter, with the eyes of the world directed respectfully at their President. The world had returned to the good old days when everyone looked to Washington and Moscow as the arbiters of global stresses.

    The guardedly optimistic believe that the meeting does not hold the promise of good relations, but marks the end of deterioration and so averts war, which otherwise was quite possibly on the horizon.  The meeting and its duration highlight the understanding in the United States that maintaining working relations and open dialogue with Russia is essential for world peace. But the sanctions will remain, and the major power blocs of the United States and Europe, Russia and China will vie for influence and keep their distance from one another for many years to come.

    It also bears mention that the Russians were bemused by the insistent implicit and sometimes explicit criticism of Trump from American journalists and other attendees of the Summit for being incompetent, something of a deranged fool.  No one in living memory had witnessed such contempt for the Commander in Chief from his own fellow citizens.  This fact curbed Russian expectations that anything promised by Trump could be realized.

     

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    Apart from the meeting of the Russian and American presidents and from the obvious isolation of the US delegation at the conclusion of the summit when the other 19 members joined in a common statement reaffirming their countries’ commitment to the Paris Climate Change treaty from which Trump has withdrawn the United States, the other main aspect of the G-20 in Hamburg that captured the headlines of U.S. and European press was the violence of the demonstrators who, as is now customary at such events, came to curse globalization and the free trade pacts that G-20 members have traditionally subscribed to.  More than 100 German police fell victim to the demonstrators actions.

    The very curious thing is that no one from the opponents of globalization took notice of an extraordinary fact:  that Donald Trump is the first American President ever to have taken a policy stand AGAINST globalization. If logic had any place in these political struggles, the demonstrators should have been lined up to shake Trump’s hand, wish him well in deconstructing the trade pacts, and asked for autographs. 

     

    But logic and politics often part company, and the demonstrators ‘did their thing’ without a nod of any kind to their American ally in the White House.

     

     

     

    © Gilbert Doctorow, 2017

     

     

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    Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015. His forthcoming book Does the United States Have a Future? will be published on 1 September 2017.