From Strategic Culture
President Donald Trump and his White House team may have been cleared of collusion with the Kremlin in the 2016 presidential election. That startling conclusion by Special Counsel Robert Mueller after nearly two years of investigation, might be viewed by some as giving Trump freedom to now get on with normalizing relations with Moscow. Don't bet on it.
Mueller's report, and US attorney general William Barr's appraisal of it, only partially vindicate Trump's long-held claims that the whole so-called "Russia-gate" story is a "hoax."
Yes, Mueller and Barr conclude that neither Trump nor his campaign team "conspired" with Russia to win the presidential race. But Democrat opponents are now dredging up the possibility that Trump "unwittingly" facilitated Kremlin cyber operations to damage his 2016 rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton.
In his summary of Mueller's report, Barr unquestioningly accepts as fact the otherwise contentious claim that Russia interfered in the US election. Democrats and the anti-Trump US news media have not been deterred from pursuing their fantasy that the Kremlin allegedly meddled in US democracy. Trump has been cleared, but Russia has certainly not. It very much continues to have the smear of interference slapped all over its image.
At the heart of this narrative bolstered by Mueller and Barr is the false claim that Russian cyber agents hacked into the Democrat party computer system during 2016 and released emails compromising Clinton to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. That whole claim has been reliably debunked by former NSA technical expert William Binney and other former US intelligence officials who have shown indisputably that the information was not hacked from outside, but rather was released by an insider in the Democrat party, presumably based on indignation over the party's corruption concerning the stitch-up against Clinton's rival nomination for the presidential ticket, Bernie Sanders.
That is real scandal crying out to be investigated, as well as the Obama administration's decision to unleash FBI illegal wiretapping and dirty tricks against Trump as being a "Russian stooge." The Russian collusion charade was always a distraction from the really big serious crimes carried out by the Obama White House, the FBI and the Democrat party.
In any case, the notion that Russia interfered in the US elections even without Trump's collusion has become an article of faith among the American political and media establishment.
That lie will continue to poison US-Russia relations and be used to justify more economic sanctions being imposed against Moscow. Trump may be cleared of being a "Kremlin stooge." But he will find no political freedom to pursue a normalization in bilateral relations because of the predictable mantra about Russia interfering in American democracy.
But there is a deeper reason why there will be no reset in US-Russia relations. And it has nothing to do with whether Trump is in the White House. The problem is a strategic one, meaning it relates to underlying geopolitical confrontation between America's desired global hegemony and Russia's rightful aspiration to be an independent foreign power not beholden to Washington's dictate.
Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin has presented a somewhat shocking quandary for the US ruling class. It found that Russia was no longer in the servile business of rolling over to pander to Washington's tyranny in international relations. Under Putin, Russia shook off the vassal status that it had unfortunately acquired under the feckless presidency of Boris Yeltsin (1991-99).
Putin's landmark speech in Munich in 2007 was certainly a watershed moment in geopolitical relations whereby the Russian leader condemned US rampaging across the Middle East with criminal wars.
Then there was the failed attempt in 2008 by the US and NATO to over-run Georgia; failed because of a decisive military intervention by Russia in support of neighboring South Ossetia.
The return of the Cold War in US-Russia relations under former President GW Bush was due to the realization in Washington that Putin and Russia were no longer subordinates that could be pushed around for the gratification of American imperialism.
The Americans then tried another tack. Public relations and inveigling.