US rulers, Moscow set summit meet to discuss decreasing Mideast tensions

By Terry Evans
July 16, 2018

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have set a July 16 summit in Helsinki, Finland, seeking a new level in collaboration between the two central military powers in the Middle East. The liberal press, driven perpetually by their determination to oust Trump from office, denounced the summit, hinting darkly Putin must have something on the U.S. president.

This opposition flies in the face of the progress Trump’s government is making in advancing U.S. imperialist interests in the region and elsewhere.

Recognizing that Washington has not been able to impose its will through a series of seemingly unending and inconclusive bloody wars there, the current administration is seeking to reduce armed conflicts and secure some stability for the capitalist class. Though it has nothing to do with the intentions of the capitalist rulers in either Moscow or Washington, moves like this can open up greater political space working people can use to discuss, debate and organize to assert their class interests and defend themselves from the impact of the capitalist crisis.

One of the central questions on the table is the ongoing moves by the regime in Tehran to extend its military forces and counterrevolutionary alliances in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said July 2 that ending Tehran’s military presence in Syria was the administration’s priority in the region, a goal shared by the capitalist rulers in Israel. One of Washington’s bargaining chips in talks with Moscow is to agree that the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad will remain in place. Bolton ruled out any moves by Washington to try to halt Assad’s current offensive against opposition-held areas in southwestern Syria.

Moscow’s airstrikes backing the Assad government’s two-week offensive there have forced 270,000 people to flee their homes, most retreating either to the border with Jordan or toward the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The attacks violate the terms of a “de-escalation zone” agreement reached last year between the U.S. rulers and the governments of Jordan and Russia. Moscow is now seeking to broker surrender terms with opposition forces under assault, and many have complied.

The very victories scored by Moscow and Tehran in propping up Assad with their military intervention starting in 2015 have created conditions for their alliance to now come apart, as they seek to advance their separate interests. After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Putin’s government has sat by while the Israeli rulers carry out airstrikes on Tehran-backed forces aimed at destroying their heavy weapons and driving them out of Syria.

An anti-Trump “Resistance” editorial in the June 28 New York Times denounced what it called the “Too-Friendly Summit” between Trump and Putin. The editors grumble the administration intends to pull U.S. forces out of Syria, may offer Putin a reduction in sanctions on Russia, and might even propose to withdraw U.S. troops from the Baltics. Regardless of whether Trump raises any of these things — any reduction in Washington’s sanctions, which hit working people the hardest, and in their military forces and armed interventions would be good for our class.

One overarching theme of the liberal pundits is that Trump’s talks with Moscow mean he is downsizing the U.S. rulers’ world status. Writing in the Washington Post  June 28, David Ignatius complains the president is allowing Moscow to become “the indispensable regional balancer, playing a role once proudly claimed by the United States.”

But the administration has advanced the U.S. ruling families’ interests in the Middle East by deepening collaboration with Arab governments to push back Tehran’s rising clout and to press Palestinian leaders to join negotiations with Israel. And the U.S. rulers maintain far and away the most massive military firepower throughout the region

Liberals look to 2018 elections

“A Stunning New York Primary,” “Ocasio-Cortez … Giant Slayer” were two of the many plaudits that gushed from the Times following Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s defeat of Rep. Joseph Crowley, in New York’s June 26 primary election. Crowley is the fourth-highest-ranking Democrat in the House. Ocasio-Cortez is a former Bernie Sanders staffer and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. A mere 27,000 voters bothered to turn out.

Writing in the Washington Post June 27,Dana Milbank says the victory of Ocasio-Cortez “gives the Democrats a vital chance to own the emerging electorate of young, female, nonwhite and progressive voters. This coalition can beat Trump in 2020 and thwart Trumpism for years to come.”

Millions of Caucasian and Black workers voted for Trump, just as they did for Obama in the two previous elections, looking for some relief from the impact of capitalism’s economic, social and moral crisis. In the liberals’ electoral schema these workers are the enemy.