Trump’s Biggest Test So Far

Eric Zuesse

On December 7th, was posed the biggest test so far of the mettle of America’s President-Elect, Donald Trump.

He had said several times during his campaign, that if elected as President, he would seek a new, less-hostile, relationship between the U.S. and Russia. Now the moment has come when he must either make his first move forward with that historic commitment, or else — by his own inaction when the circumstances (such as right now) demand immediate action on this very promise — set his future U.S. Presidential Administration onto exactly the opposite path: following through with and accepting the existing hostilities, even when they are the most blatantly irrational and counter-factual on their American basis (as now is the case).

The precipitating event here is this: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on December 7th that they want to continue the existing hostilities against Russia: specifically the economic sanctions that U.S. President Barack Obama initiated against Russia after Russia had accepted the overwhelming (90%+) request of the residents in Crimea to restore Crimea’s pre-1954 status, of being for hundreds of years an integral part of Russia.

The way Steinmeier phrased it was, “The necessary significant progress” by Russia in the implementation of the Minsk Peace Agreement for Ukraine, has not been achieved, and so the sanctions against Russia “will continue to exist.”

By “the necessary significant progress” he was referring actually to the thing that has been blocking the carrying-out of the Minsk agreements: the Ukrainian Government’s refusal to adhere to provision #11 of the Minsk II Accords, the provision that says Ukraine will pass an amendment to its Constitution so as to provide “special administrative status” within Ukraine to the two breakaway regions, Donbass (where 90% of the residents had voted for the Ukrainian President whom U.S. President Barack Obama’s Administration had overthrown in a bloody coup in February 2014, which coup sparked Donbass’s breakaway), and Crimea (where 75% had voted for that deposed President, whose bloody removal by Obama’s operation sparked Crimea’s breakaway on 16 March 2014, three weeks after that coup).

What Stoltenberg and Steinmeier ought to be demanding, then, certainly is not continuation of sanctions against Russia for something that Russia isn’t responsible for and actually opposes (a breaking of that promise by the Ukrainian Goverment), which is Ukraine’s refusal to comply with provision #11 of the Minsk II Accords, but, instead, sanctions against the Ukrainian Government itself, and perhaps also against the U.S. Government, for their opposing and blocking implementation of that key provision of the Accords (and, perhaps belatedly, also for that coup).

However, since NATO and Germany are not (such as they’re claiming to be) demanding Ukraine’s compliance with the Minsk Accords, perhaps other nations should instead consider imposing economic sanctions against NATO and Germany, as a possible alternative way of achieving implementation of those Accords, by penalizing NATO and Germany for pushing forward with this lie and moving in the opposite direction — toward war — from the direction (ending the West’s confrontation with Russia) which the U.S. President-Elect had said he wants. And, of course, economic sanctions against the United States Government, for its having illegally imposed a coup-government in Kiev, and so precipitated the entire confrontation, might also be considered. Those options could be rational, but what Steinmeier and Stoltenberg are demanding is certainly not.

U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump can eliminate any such necessity, however, and also fulfill his basic campaign promise regarding U.S.-Russian relations, by informing both NATO and Germany that, unlike his immediate predecessor in the U.S. White House (Obama), a President Donald Trump will push for an immediate end to the Obama-sanctions against Russia.

This move on Trump’s part needn’t necessarily be accompanied by any official repudiation of his predecessor’s actions regarding Ukraine and regarding Russia, but it would, in and of itself, establish a new and far more peaceful future course in international relations, in which all nations will be able to unify around the common goal for international security, of wiping out jihadists — no longer any trumped-up accusations and hostilities that extend and needlessly continue old-style big-power rivalries, which unnecessarily drain the world’s resources and kill thousands of people, for merely partisan, and clearly counter-productive and potentially catastrophic, purposes.

If President-Elect Trump declines to take advantage of this “blatant” opportunity to change course in a constructive direction on U.S. foreign relations, then what realistic expectation can there be that he ever will do so? Can a more “blatant” instance to initiate his promised change-of-direction be even imagined?

Also on December 7th, Mr. Trump named a passionate opponent of regulations against global warming, to become the head of America’s Environmental Protection Administration, which enforces those regulations. The appointee is Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is no scientist and who even denies that there is any significant scientific consensus that global warming exists or has any human involvement in its cause if it does exist, and has fought against regulations to reduce or prevent runaway global heating. Unless he would reverse those positions of his, approval by the U.S. Senate of his appointment would make any concerted international agreements against runaway global heating, such as as the recent Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, impossible to achieve or enforce. This would be yet further reason for imposing economic sanctions against the United States — but this reason would be due to Mr. Trump’s own international malfeasance, rather than to Obama’s.

Consequently, the real test now isn’t only for Trump; it’s also going to be a test for every government on this planet. And not only international peace is at stake; our livable planet also is.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • WillDippel

    Here is a look at Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Defense and his comments on the Iraq War:

    Mattis’ boots on the ground experience may impact America’s willingness to go to war, particularly with Russia.

  • nomad1984

    I hope Trump doesn’t follow the Obama model. We have, in the past 8 years gone from MAD to MADness.

  • cstahnke

    I think until we change our level of consciousness we will see the same sort of “leadership” we see now. One advantage to the Trump regime’s hostility to climate science is that it will challenge the European population’s support of the Empire a bit more. Also, one hopes this will revitalize the left and the environmentalists but I doubt it–I don’t think there are more than maybe 20% (at best) of the American people who have any real interest in doing anything substantial about climate change.

    As for whether Trump wants to continue the crusade against Russia, we shall see. The main reason I voted for him is that he seemed to want to deconstruct NATO (the chief instrument of U.S. political control of Europe) and negotiate with Russia in good faith (unlike Obama/Clinton). Washington is what it is, the Imperial Capital and I’m not sure Trump can resist the pressure to maintain the Empire. He appears to want to trump the Imperial agenda by calls to nationalism (the only thing he can conceivably do) and an anti-“terror” agenda. This has been the most fascinating period of U.S. political history since 1968.

  • kimyo

    one cannot measure consensus (it’s akin to measuring racism, there’s no measuring tape, no possibility of replication, the results are entirely subjective.).

    and, consensus is not science. what you have here is religion, ie: 97% of top catholic bishops agree that the pope talks to god.

    one hopes trump will force the release of the taxpayer-funded climate models and raw/adjusted land-based data, cause that will shoot this bogosity right down.

    Institute of Physics Accused of Corruption as Climate Change ’97 Percent Consensus’ Claim is Debunked

    “Cook’s 97% nonsensus paper shows that the climate community still has a long way to go in weeding out bad research and bad behaviour. If you want to believe that climate researchers are incompetent, biased and secretive, Cook’s paper is an excellent case in point.”

    Firstly, Tol points out that science doesn’t depend on consensus. A scientific truth is objective not subjective; that is, it’s true whether one person adheres to it, or everybody adheres to it.

    Secondly, Cook’s paper, titled Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature, only claims that 97 percent of the scientific literature that takes a position on climate change (most does not) supports man-made global warming hypotheses. Yet supporters have used it to claim that 97 percent of scientists support global warming theories; they do not.

    That aside, Tol highlights problems specific to Cook’s paper, such as the fact that, although Cook and his team sampled over 12,000 papers to reach their conclusion, they “did not check whether their sample is representative for the scientific literature. It isn’t. Their conclusions are about the papers they happened to look at, rather than about the literature. Attempts to replicate their sample failed: A number of papers that should have been analysed were not, for no apparent reason.”

    That wasn’t the only sampling issue – further analysis has found that their sample was “padded with irrelevant papers,” such as an article on TV coverage of climate change which has been used as evidence to support climate change. “In fact, about three-quarters of the papers counted as endorsements had nothing to say about the subject matter,” Tol says.

    Despite these and other issues, the paper’s editor praised the paper for its “excellent data quality”. Refusal to hand over data for third party analysis breaches the publisher’s policy on validation and reproduction, yet an editorial board member of the journal defended Cook’s obfuscation as “exemplary scientific conduct”.

  • ICFubar

    What can one say but to expect continuity of agenda with differing rhetoric, only more so. Republican Trump as Democrat Obama only more so. As for Pruitt, his appointment is to grease the skids of deregulation for resource extraction polluters, fracking,mining, over logging and other environmental degradation such as pipeline breaks etcetera. As to Pruitt’s opinion on the state of climate change it is quite probable he is correct as the science is very much in dispute as one can certainly discover by reviewing all sides to this debate. To be skeptical on this issue is to be honest The Paris accord is an accord of governments, not of scientific fact, and we all know how governments will use any catastrophic event, real or imagined, to further their goals and the goals of those who have them by the short and curlies. And the goal of the holders of this monumental debt seek “to inventory and control all land, water, plants, animals, minerals, energy, means of production, construction, education, information, human habitation and all humans on this planet.” (Rosa Koire) as outlined in the U.N. IPCC’s action plan Agenda 21-2030COP2, implemented with stealth through such corporate backed entities as ICLEI and the World Environment Facility (a bank) as an arm of the World Bank which takes possession of previously sovereign land in exchange for debt forgiveness.

    • Deniserwooden

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj498d:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
      ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash498MediaLandGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!mj498d:….,…….

  • Joel W

    “…who is no scientist and who even denies that there is any significant scientific consensus that global warming exists or has any human involvement in its cause if it does exist…”

    There is no scientific consensus on globull warming (man made). The 97% “consensus” is something like 75 hand picked “scientists” out of a survey of a few thousand (some of whom WERE NOT scientists either), which was then whittled down to 77 total responses counted. The numbers were made up in the same way Voodoo Economics states there is no inflation and that REAL unemployment is going down. Fantasy land nonsense. Now back to reality, 75 people out of 77 (hardly scientists – paid shills or worse) is hardly a consensus on something that “effects” the entire world.