It was through taking a look at Ike Kaveladze, one of the shadowy Russians who attended the June, 2016 meeting with Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort at Trump Towers that I stumbled across the name, Alexei Bayer. I mistakenly thought he was Kaveladze's lawyer but he's more of a kindred spirit, something of a writer, with a fairly interesting Twitter feed. It turns out he's also a columnist for the Ukrainian news outlet, KyivPost, where I found this thought-provoking op-ed penned by Bayer, "Why the new Cold War is different from the old one."
Bayer believes that America's sanctions on Russia and prominent Russians probably won't be lifted anytime soon but expects Putin to fire back.
Russia will now fall back on another strategy: create even more havoc in Trump’s already dysfunctional Washington. I’m expecting an imminent release of the Trump “pee tape,” on which the future Leader of the Free World is cavorting with Russian prostitutes. It doesn’t matter whether it will be authentic or manufactured. The new Cold War between the two nuclear superpowers will then be in full swing.
But it will be a very different Cold War – and this time the United States stands little chance of winning it.
After World War II, America built its domestic and foreign policy around the existential imperative of countering the spread of communism and containing an expansionist Soviet Union. Then, the Soviet Union collapsed, most of the old Soviet Empire rejected communism and President George H.W. Bush declared the advent of a New World Order.
Over the past quarter of a century the United States has tried to find a new national idea. The system that was originally built to fight – and win – the Cold War disintegrated and with it went America’s social and political cohesion. Now that a resurgent Russia is bringing a new Cold War to America’s shores, this country finds itself unable to respond.
Holding Karl Marx at Bay
The government played a key role in making America an largely egalitarian, middle class country. It provided a pension scheme and tuition assistance to middle-class families, and a safety net for the poor. It regulated businesses, protected workers and supported unionization. The Eisenhower Administration built a network of interstate highways, on which people travelled free of charge and which helped create suburbs and contributed to the spread of car ownership. To fund all those government subsidies everyone paid taxes, and the tax system was highly progressive, imposing marginal tax rates as high as 91% on the highest earners.
The Ghost of Marx Returns
But the system built to fight communist Russia sputtered once Russia had stopped being communist. The propaganda value of America as a land of opportunity dropped sharply. The orderly, egalitarian, enlightened America was no longer needed, and in this new America many of the dire Marxist-Leninist predictions have suddenly started to come true.
The middle class disintegrated as masses of blue-collar workers were pushed down the income ladder and became lumpenized. Industrial corporations were allowed to bust their trade unions and send jobs abroad. The labor market offered low-paying, no-prestige service jobs without security, benefits or career paths. Many people now have to work several part-time jobs, adding up to much more than 40 hours per week.
While wages are stagnant or declining, corporate profits are at record levels in terms of percentage of GDP, and American corporations are squirreling away trillions of dollars in cash.
Meanwhile, a new class of the super-rich has developed, and it uses its money to sic disaffected lumpenized workers on the liberal intelligentsia with the help of rightwing media outlets. It has bought up the government, making sure it keeps cutting taxes on the rich and shredding the safety net for the poor.
Racism is flourishing after eight years of an African American president. Black lives no longer matter, while the KKK and the neo-nazis, once a minor fringe of American politics, are getting encouragement from the White House.
America’s military has been transmogrified into a nation all its own, which wages undeclared wars all over the world without any stated goals and with no end in sight. The Pentagon maintains troops in over one hundred countries and has a budget that nearly matches what the rest of the world spends on defense. The endless war is a vision not even so much out of Marx as out of George Orwell.
America Confused, Clueless and Vulnerable.
Food for thought.