Among the signs that the largest and most powerful empire ever to exist has entered its end phase, is the fact that legal arguments have replaced moral reasoning.
President Donald Trump was accused of achieving his 2016 win thanks to help from the Russian President. A few days ago the news broke that a government whistle-blower listening to a conversation that Donald Trump had with ‘a foreign leader’ heard him ‘promise something’. In his testimony to the Congressional Intelligence Committee charged with clearing the way for Donald Trump’s impeachment. Democratic leaders claim that Trump’s request for ‘interference’ in an up-coming election constitutes treason, for which the punishment is death, yet the high-level government officer whose duty it was to bring the information to Congress evoked a Byzantine set of administrative rules to justify a delay of more than two months.
Although the United States has been wheeling and dealing across the globe for the last 75 years, in the current American political climate, the announcement of an unreported presidential commitment to a foreign leader suffices to set off a media storm. It turned out that the leader in question is the new, young president of Ukraine, a former comedian who is trying to bring his country out of economic hardship and corruption, a long-term situation that US meddling in 2014 only worsened. The conversation that is suddenly the object of so much attention actually took place on July 25th, after which, President Trump held up arms deliveries to Ukraine until September 13th. He is being accused of blackmailing the leader of a US ally in order to curry favor with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(In 2014, the US fomented a ‘revolution’ in Ukraine in the hopes of detaching this large country from its neighbor, eventually using it as a springboard for a direct assault on the largest geographic entity in the world. Little known outside the region, but crucial to the ‘revolution’s’ success was the participation of Ukrainian militias who keep alive the memory of their grandfathers fighting alongside Hitler against Russia in World War II. The incorporation of these militias into the new Kiev government more than justified Moscow’s support for Eastern Ukrainians, whose ancestors bore the brunt of that collaboration, and who refuse to recognize the coup government. (As for the much criticized Crimea referendum, it was indispensable to protecting Moscow’s sole warm water naval base, founded there by Catherine the Great.)
President Putin’s conservative actions were evoked to justify American economic sanctions against Russia, which in reality are also intended to delay the more equitable global order that Russia and China are fashioning, known as a ‘multi-polar world’.
This background is necessary to understand why such a kerfuffle is being made over the Zelinsky-Trump conversation, which was followed by an in-person visit from Trump’s friend and lawyer Rudy Giuliani. These events so disturbed Zelensky, who was elected by 73% of voters in April, that he approached Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, to find out what was going on. Had he not exchanged prisoners with his Russian counterpart, working with him on effective ways to overcome the conflict in the East, something his predecessors had not done?
Nothing required Zelensky to know that the activities of the son of a former American Vice-President were suddenly of concern to the current occupant of the White House, as the 2020 election nears — nor that Biden has been the Democratic Party’s preferred candidate to challenge Trump. Just weeks after the February 2014 coup, as the US was trying to wean Europe off Russian gas that transited through Ukraine, Biden’s son Hunter joined the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company named Burisma. President Obama had been reluctant to arm Ukraine against Russia, but apparently it was OK for his Vice-President’s son to offer US companies’ technical expertise to help develop Ukrainian shale gas, thereby giving them access to these vast reserves. (During the writing of my 2018 book Russia’s Americans, I was troubled by this news item, and easily discovered via the internet that Hunter Biden had joined the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which had vast shale gas holdings in the Black Sea.)
The generally democratic-leaning press never commented on Hunter Biden’s lucrative job until, with the opening of the 2020 campaign, Donald Trump delayed arms deliveries to Ukraine until its newly elected President provided information about the business dealings of the Democratic front-runner’s son. When the whistle-blower acted, the press immediately evoked the allegation that Donald Trump had openly solicited Russian help in the 2016 election, failing to consider that by providing military aid to Ukraine he may have wanted to prove that he is not Putin’s puppet. (Not surprisingly, the press failed to pick up on the fact that during the meeting between Trump and Zelenski on the sidelines of the General Assembly, as shown on the news, Trump said, regarding Crimea, that ‘it is what it is’ or something equivalent, adding: ‘I hope you and President Putin can work that out’, signaling that he holds a different attitude on the Ukraine question from that of his advisors — and the media, presented as official policy.)
Most importantly, by attacking Trump over Biden, whose performance on the campaign trail is less and less convincing, the media is clearing the way for the Democratic Party to stop presenting the former Vice President as the front runner, and get behind Elizabeth Warren, who is beating the former VP in the latest polls, and has a much better chance of defeating Trump. I believe that barring the unexpected, the former Massachusetts Senator and law professor will be the Democratic candidate, with the young, gay, former Rhodes scholar Pete Buttigieg as her running mate, bringing a much needed dose of intellectualism to Washington, after four years of mob-like rule, in which Biden was also a player.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.