Sunday, July 15, 2018

Is Trump Unwittingly Undermining Putin and Helping Stop Brexit?

In 2016 Both the United States and the United Kingdom experienced election interference - cyber attacks, if you will - directed by Russia.  Both had similar long term goals: the destroy the western alliance that had held the Soviet Union/Russia at bay for 70 years and to induce self-destructive national behavior. In the case of the UK, the goal was to tilt the country to leave the European Union through the BREXIT vote, thereby weakening both the EU and the UK economically and perhaps breeding discord within NATO as well.  In the case of America, the goal was to see Donald Trump, Putin's the great destroyer, elected so that the western alliance could be further weakened, if not destroyed.  In both countries, the prime targets were more rural areas and less educated voters bearing hostility towards non-whites and "foreigners," where dreams of past glories blinded voters to the reality of a forever changed world. In the UK, Russia appealed to those with dreams of "Rule Britannia" and the era when the "sun never set on the British Empire." In America, the targeted population was white nationalists, xenophobes clinging to a false myth of American exceptionalism, and a past of unrivaled US dominance that will never be re-achieved.  In both nations, voters fell for the bait and Vladimir Putin/Russia was victorious.  Since then, the UK has been tearing itself apart and Trump has faithfully implemented the division and destruction so desired by his Russian handler/puppet master.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at the irony of Trump - who is basically hated in the UK - perhaps setting in motion forces in the UK than may unwind Putin's Brexit victory.  Here are excerpts:

Can Brexit still be stopped? I gave up on that possibility a long time ago, but politics is fickle, and contemporary politics is full of shocks. And I’d say that the odds of pulling back from the brink, still low, measurably improved this past week. I know that sounds unlikely given the political chaos in London, and Donald Trump’s explosive intervention in the Sun tabloid last night, but bear with me. It’s precisely the chaos and [Trump] the president that might offer hope.
In fact, last week was the first time I began, perhaps foolishly, to suspect some method in Theresa May’s blithering badness. To see why, it’s worth remembering that May was always a centrist Tory, devoid of ideas or inspiration, but diligent, earnest, competent and, ahem, persistent. She’s not an ideologue. She had a reputation for steeliness and a mastery of her brief in her long stint at the Home Office, which oversees immigration, policing, counterterrorism, and other domestic policy. And she was long pragmatically in favor of remaining in the European Union, indeed voted to remain, even if she kept relatively quiet about it. . . . she became prime minister by default to execute a policy she didn’t believe in.
The potential shift, if sudden and severe, could devastate Britain’s economy, at least in the short term, and arguably for much longer, as well as effectively end Britain’s status as a global power. Her own party had only a small majority in the Parliament, narrowing her space to maneuver even farther, and was itself deeply split over the form Brexit should take. And so she thought her best bet last year would be to throw the dice, call an election, and try to get a hefty mandate and a much bigger parliamentary majority that would give her the flexibility she needed at home, and the leverage she wanted with the E.U. This wasn’t a crazy idea. She was 20 points ahead in the polls, at the time.
But it wasn’t to be. As we all discovered, she was a crap campaigner and in the end, the Tories lost their majority altogether. It seems to me that a hard Brexit effectively died that day. May didn’t have the popular mandate or the parliamentary votes to get what the right of her party demanded.
With only nine months now to go until Article 50 kicks Britain out of the E.U., with the country still deeply divided, big business still terrified, and without any actual final negotiation with the E.U. at all, she finally pushed and shoved her cabinet into backing a very soft Brexit at Chequers, the prime minister’s country estate, last weekend.
They all signed up for it, including Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary. The “Chequers Deal” meant pursuing Brexit but effectively also remaining in the customs union, and in much of the single market. Brexit In Name Only — yes, it’s BRINO! — was suddenly the official government position. Britain would still abide by most E.U. regulations and laws, it would even be subject to the European Court in some respects, but, being outside the E.U. proper, would have no say in any of it.
The Tories’ momentary unity on the subject, painfully achieved only two years since Brexit, lasted two days. The hard Brexit faction in the House began making insurrectionary noises; Westminster went febrile; the chance of a Tory Party coup against May was on everyone’s mind; further resignations were expected. The Tory press went apeshit. The Telegraph asked: “Is Theresa May Guilty of Treason?” It seemed like another nadir for the unfortunate prime minister.
Within days, it was quite clear the hard-Brexiteers were far too divided to launch a putsch, and no one had the support or the guts to bring her down. Johnson’s reputation even among the Tories is far from what it was; Davis didn’t go in for the kill; and the other leading Brexiteer, Michael Gove, firmly backed May. Advantage Theresa.
The Brexiteers’ next gambit was nihilistically lashing out, by using Trump to piss all over May’s compromise, which he duly did, the day after behaving like someone on PCP at the NATO summit. . . . It was a brutal and unprecedented attack on a sitting prime minister as she was actually hosting the American president for a visit. It was a knee-capping.
It was also, in my immediate view, a serious Brexiteer blunder. Trump is despised in Britain, as he is across Europe. His endorsement of the Brexiteers at this critical moment is humiliating for May but potentially a boon for her as well. If Donald Trump is now the face of Brexit in Britain, Brexit is in trouble. And Brits will not take kindly to their own prime minister being dictated to and humiliated by an American president, as he lands on British soil.
And so the real endgame comes into sight. Britain faces the prospect of the worst of all worlds Brexit — a staggering, chaotic, and catastrophic departure from the E.U. with massive collateral damage, an outcome now endorsed by a loathed American president.
Am I exaggerating? Among the immediate doomsday possibilities the government itself is worried about in a crash exit are the effective, immediate collapse of the port of Dover — grinding trade to a halt — and the dispatch of thousands of electricity generators on barges in the Irish Sea to keep Northern Ireland’s lights on, because the province’s ability to share a single electricity market with the whole island of Ireland would end with an E.U. exit. Northern Ireland itself could explode in sectarian violence again if a hard border is erected between north and south, as it would have to be. Scotland would move toward independence. Critical shortages of food, fuel, and medicine would open up within two weeks, by the government’s own estimation. The military would have to be deployed to ensure transportation of essentials. Stocks and the pound would plummet. A steep recession at home, and maybe also abroad, could follow. It would be one of the most harmful things a democratic country ever did to itself, or to its neighbors.
[W]ith parliament deadlocked and the E.U. implacable, a simple solution could present itself as the only way out for a Tory Party desperate to keep Labour out of power: The transition period could be extended, and a second referendum called. On the ballot this time would be the two actual, non-fantasy options: a brutal exit, or remaining in the E.U.
This wouldn’t be a referendum to undo the first one; it would be to clarify it, after the actual, tangible, non-fantasy options are available. People voted for Brexit with no one actually knowing what kind of Brexit, or any clear idea of what it would entail, and many voters were confused about the intricacies. Two years later, and the confusion is even deeper, and the divide greater.
I don’t know what the result of such a second referendum would be, but I know that it is the only way not to permanently divide and embitter the country, and to end the debate for good. I suspect that a doomsday Brexit would concentrate the mind; and that sticking with the status quo, after the last two chaotic years, might seem a little more enticing that it once did. In that scenario, Brexit may — just may — be reversed by the people. That’s my hope anyway. Some small part of me wonders whether it isn’t Theresa May’s hope as well.
One has to wonder if Trump will get his ass chewed out by Putin for perhaps setting the stage to undo Putin's Brexit victory.  No wonder Trump doesn't want any other American present when he faces his handler/puppet master.

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