So, What Happened?

I think this:

  • Trump wants to be chummy with Russia. He (or others on his campaign) may well even have colluded with Russia.
  • Fascists admire Putin and want to be chummy with Putin, too.
  • Trump wants to pander to fascists.
  • But Trump’s ideology is mostly about promoting Trump. He has no firm commitment to fascism. He just pandered to fascism because he needed their votes in the election.
  • Fascists (and even fascist sympathizers) with significant policy experience are rare, meaning Trump has been compelled by circumstances to hire many conservatives.
  • Conservatives are not fascists. Trump was never very popular with conservatives. They just learned to eventually accept Trump because at least he’d probably appoint judges they’d like.
  • Moreover, Trump may be losing patience with the fascists. Bannon’s advice hasn’t exactly served him well. This doubtless explains Bannon’s recent demotion.

End result? An administration packed with conservatives who went into orbit when Assad launched that gas attack and automatically started denouncing it. Yes, I believe at least some of them started denouncing Assad before even consulting their boss on the matter. Reason: they wanted to strongarm their boss into seeing things (or at least professing to see them) their way.

But Trump still wanted to be chummy with Russia, so he told Russia first and launched a deliberately ineffectual attack. But it’s looking increasingly like that didn’t work. Putin paid for his lapdog, and he’s apparently quite upset that he hasn’t gotten what he paid for.

This is where things might start really getting interesting. For openers, if Putin does really have kompromat on Trump, he will almost certainly use it, given how upset he seems to be. Don’t expect that shoe to drop until after Tillerson leaves Moscow. If it doesn’t, the kompromat probably doesn’t exist.

On the subject of Putin and his wished-for lapdogs, expect Putin to be particularly livid at Assad for launching the attack and setting off the whole mess in the first place. The Russians are doubtless already searching for someone better to back in Syria, and as soon as they find him, Assad will be dumped.

The lesson here is that ruling elites are not the master manipulators that conspiracy theorists believe them to be. They hold great power, but they also work with limitations and imperfect circumstances in an unpredictable world.

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