*Editor’s note: On March 4, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.
The day has come for Russia’s hopes to be realized: Nov. 8, the midterm elections in the United States. “Trump Republicans will win, and all will be well.” That is the tenor of the prevailing mood in Moscow. The election results were unconfirmed when this article went to press, but it is reasonable to proceed on the basis of predictions that the Republican Party will take both houses of Congress.** When that happens, what are the chances that Russia will get what it wants?
With a third of the Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives at stake, these midterm elections matter because a new Republican Party — both in composition and in character — has emerged. What is new is the party’s sharp turn to the right under Donald Trump (granted, ultraconservative money had put that process in motion even before Trump). To understand the difference between the old Republican Party and Trump Republicans, compare Trump to the Bush presidents. In the early 2000s, George W. Bush, who unleashed war in the Middle East, looked like a cowboy radical next to his “aristocrat” of a father who, while in power during the critical years of 1988 to 1993, put his money on Gorbachev the “social democrat,” ever wary of the “nationalist” Yeltsin. But now, next to Trump and a new generation of Trump supporters, even the cowboy Bush Junior looks like an aristocrat.
American imperialism and the pursuit of hegemony were common to both political parties. Throughout the Cold War and the decades that followed, in matters of foreign policy, Republicans differed from Democrats in style only. The sole constraint on the United States was the Soviet system and its military might, and wars started to break out (the first Persian Gulf war was in 1990) as the sun began to set on the Soviet Union. Since then, one war has followed another, almost continually.
The two parties and their respective administrations have functioned like the two fists of a boxer: first from the right (Republicans), then from the left (Democrats). But a boxer has only one brain. Now the right fist is growing in strength. Trumpism as a concept is a broader than Trump himself. It rushes headlong, playing on the basest human instincts and fears, duping with conspiracy theories, inspiring hatred for the “other,” and sanctioning racism, torchlit marches and violence. Trump is by no means anti-system; he is the most radical part of the system.
So, what should Russia expect? True, some Republicans favor cutting financial support for Ukraine. True, such arguments will be advanced both to fight the Biden administration and as a natural consequence of the objective circumstances of the coming recession. True, funding for the Kyiv regime may, as a result, decrease. And that is good.
But a temporary improvement should not create the illusion of success. Capitalism means war. It is inherent in capitalism’s pursuit of maximum profits. Capitalism in crisis means guaranteed war. Recession in the United States and throughout the world — which is looming, according to many economists—practically assures, if not a world war, then military escalation against capitalism’s primary opponents: Russia, Iran, and China.
A certain degree of ideological affinity between today’s Russian conservatism and Trumpism will not eliminate the laws of capitalism. As the world crisis becomes more acute, the United States will need more “lebensraum” in the East with its abundant natural resources. There will be no “getting along” with raging American capitalism, regardless of whose name it bears —Biden, Trump, or anyone else. Just as it was not possible to “get along” with Germany in the 20th century. Back then, the Soviet Union prevailed. Now it’s up to Russia.
**Editor’s Note: As of Nov. 14, 2022, the Democrats have taken the Senate, while the Republicans are expected to gain the House by a slim margin. Overall, the Republican Party had a much more feeble showing in the midterms than expected, considered to be largely due to Trump.
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