The Trump era was one of unrelenting malaise for the political class. Democratic politicians roiled in resentment and righteous indignation at every word and deed of the 45th President. The beltway media became, more nakedly than ever before, a propaganda arm of the DNC, and central command for the #resistance.
And while both the party itself and its media mouthpieces did pay some attention to Trump’s policies on immigration, climate, and economics, these were hardly their main grievances. Why would they be? After all, now that Trump’s out of office, Biden has caged more children at the border than his predecessor, licensed more drilling permits, and has essentially made permanent Trump’s massive corporate tax cuts (he proposed raising corporate taxes from 21 to 28%, still 7 points down from the pre-Trump rate of 35%).
Mostly, the establishment signaled grave concern about Trump’s violation of “norms” and degradation of our cherished “institutions.” Nothing exemplified this more than the Russiagate narrative which consumed liberal media outlets for more than two years after his inauguration.
Those outside this corporate media bubble could fairly easily assess Russiagate as a pathetic exercise in collective self delusion fueled by sour grapes over an unlikely election defeat. And surely, to the humiliated Clinton campaign staffers who feared they’d never get a job in Washington again after losing perhaps the most winnable race in modern political history, this is exactly what it was.
But to the real power players in American politics, it was much more than that. Branding Trump a “Russian asset” wasn’t just expensive psychotherapy for Hillaryworld. Rather, it was an expression of what Trump actually represented to these people: a wrench in the imperial war machine that needed to be removed as soon as possible. This makes especially good sense considering the timeline of events leading up the Russia-Ukraine war.
In 2014 the United States supported the ousting of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President via the Maidan Revolution. When audio surfaced of a State Department official and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine discussing political strategy for the incoming Ukrainian government, an embarrassed Obama administration accused the Russian government of leaking the tape. Of course, they did not deny the authenticity of its contents, because they couldn’t - the recording did in fact prove U.S. meddling in the rebellion and its aftermath.
In the Summer of 2016, when Wikileaks dropped a trove of emails confirming DNC bias against Bernie Sanders during the primaries, the Democratic Party’s response was copied from the same playbook: they accused the Russians of perpetrating the hack and subsequent leak, while failing to dispute the validity of the disclosed materials themselves.
During the general election, the Clinton campaign and its media allies repeatedly hammered Trump as a puppet of the Kremlin, and insisted that Russia was pulling for his success. When Trump won an upset victory that Fall, a development Putin himself would later publicly admit he was happy about, Clinton campaign insiders immediately convened and decided to blame Russian interference for their defeat.
In the interim weeks between Trump’s election and inauguration, New Year’s Eve 2016, Senators Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and Amy Klobuchar traveled to a Ukrainian combat outpost to express their support for Ukraine against Russian aggression, and pledged that 2017 would be a “year of offense” (video below).
The first two years of Trump’s presidency were then overshadowed by the Mueller investigation, which liberals insisted would establish “collusion” (a deliberately vague term with no actual legal meaning) between the Trump campaign and Russia that would render their victory illegitimate. After two years of non-stop hype, the published findings produced no such result, though it did provide evidence that Russians promoted Trump’s candidacy and damaged Clinton’s.
With the Mueller Report having been mostly a dud, Democrats then impeached Trump for allegedly extorting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Hunter Biden in exchange for $400 million of defense aid Congress had approved for his country. Trump’s actions were seen as politically motivated given that Joe Biden was his likely 2020 opponent, but they were also viewed as part of a series of actions to weaken Ukraine in its years-long standoff against Russia. Months prior to the phone call in question, Trump had ousted his Ukrainian ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, after hearing rumors that she was badmouthing him and predicting his eventual impeachment.
While impeachment didn’t result in Trump’s removal from office, the 2020 election did. And sure enough, just over a year into Biden’s first term, here we are.
In the days and weeks before the invasion, Biden both threatened harsh sanctions against Russia if they invaded, and simultaneously predicted that Putin would be undeterred and invade anyway. This was not a serious attempt at diplomacy; this was going through the motions of a performative negotiation sure to fail and result in war.
From 30,000 feet, we can see pretty well what’s been going on this past decade in Eastern Europe. The United States was stirring the pot, provoking Russia into conflict, and then Donald Trump came along and, for a short while, ruined their plans. With him out of the way, it’s now full steam ahead.
By the liberal media’s own admission, Russia likely would not have invaded under a second Trump term. As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explained:
“When Republican politicians say that Putin would not have invaded Ukraine under Trump, they are probably right, but for the wrong reasons. Putin likely would not have invaded because he did not need to. Because Trump was his ultimate gift doing everything Putin himself wanted to do: elevating Russia, denigrating NATO, delegitimizing Ukraine. Without him in the White House, Putin took matters into his own hands.”
Given liberals’ satisfaction that Biden is now President and their admission that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine likely would not have happened under Trump, we can safely assume what the aforementioned timeline suggests: that the political establishment has been wanting a violent confrontation with Russia for quite some time, and that they’re happy to have finally gotten it.
That Trump was the “ultimate gift” to Putin is the line of attack still being used against him by Biden loyalists spells out very clearly that they’d rather Russia be dealt with by force than through diplomatic exchange.
In addition to the $6.4 billion in military and economic aid immediately following Russia’s invasion, Biden responded to Zelensky’s speech to Congress by pledging an additional $800 million for Javelins, anti-aircraft systems, and AT-4 anti-tank weapons - a hefty and perhaps overdue payday for the Military Industrial Complex.
Perhaps this explains the upbeat mood in the room as a beaming Nancy Pelosi introduced sketch comic-turned-freedom fighter Volydymyr Zelensky to make an impassioned case for prolonged combat in Ukraine, and more U.S. intervention.
The Trump presidency was hardly a picnic for anyone, but it was especially miserable for the masters of war who were denied a new arena for four long years of stagnation. With him gone, their time-out is over, and they’re obviously very excited to be back in business.
We discuss Zelensky’s speech and related topics in episode 136 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to our podcast on any major podcast player.