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5 obstacles Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will have to address in their meeting

When Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet, they will have to overcome more than just the present political crisis in the US. They will have to overcome and understand history. Eurasia is the key.

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With all the fuss over Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meeting later this week at the G20 summit, many have conspicuously failed to grasp that the monumental task ahead of both leaders has little to do with their own period in government and even less to do with their personalities. These things of course do matter, but their importance is dwarfed by larger historical and present economic and geo-strategic concerns.

With that in mind, here are the giant obstacles that both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will be faced with when they meet.

 1. Spheres of Influence 

The modern day struggle between Washington and Moscow is an ideological conflict which masks an even more sinister competition for global influence. The fact of the matter is Donald Trump like many Americans, respects Russia’s Orthodox traditions and Russia as a satisfied Orthodox power does not seek to impose its culture or social system on anyone else.

But when it comes to economic and geo-strategic spheres of influence, both countries are in direct competition. This is largely due to America’s hegemonic view that the entire planet is it’s literal sphere of influence.

Russia would be all too happy for America to present Russia with an agreement whereby Russia is entitled to exercise economic, geo-political and commercial influence in its natural spheres of influence while allowing America to exert power over hers.

Russia’s natural sphere of influence is Eurasia including the Caucuses, central Asia, the Turkic world and much of the Arab world. Insofar as this is the case, Russia would have to and is willing and able to cooperate with Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India, countries which are all key regional powers themselves, though not superpowers as the US, Russia and China are.

America would not be asked to forfeit many of its existing goals in these regions, but America would have to go back to the drawing board and accept a commercial relationship rather than an overt political relationship with these regions.

This is of course nearly an impossible task given the geo-strategic thinking of American big business and the deep state. That being said, Donald Trump’s commercial sense means he is more ideally suited to at least discuss this reality than any other realistic would-be US President at this time in history or in the foreseeable future.

2. Asia 

Russia’s extremely important alliance with China is a major stumbling block to good US-Russia relations.

It could well be a permanent stumbling block for reasons which predate the existence of the United States and the British Empire from which the US seceded on the 4th of July.

With the exceptions of what in hindsight were minor periods of disquiet in the 17th century and 20th century, Russia and China have always had a good relationship. China and Russia will always be neighbours and the overall historical trajectory of this relationship indicates that China and Russia have generally served as complimentary rather than adversarial neighbours.

It is wise to remember that since the end of the Mongolian Golden Horde, Russia has generally had far better relations with the Asian powers than with any other powers of the world. Russia is largely an Asian/oriental power after all.

The fact that Russia and China have so completely patched up the disputes of the 20th century is a testament to the fact that the Sino-Soviet split was a period of aberrational rather than archetypal relations between the two great powers.

Between Russia and China, two of the three world super-powers dominate the geo-politics and economics of Eurasia and East Asia.

In this sense, the US is both outnumbered and geographically outmatched.

Russia’s relationship with India remains strong in spite of India’s ability as a post-non-aligned power to play China, Russia and America against each other.

While India will doubtlessly continue to do this for short or even medium term historical gain, India’s geography and her economic strengths dictate that in the longer term future, it will be necessary for New Delhi to economically cooperate with Beijing. Russia is of course the glue that could hold this marriage of convenience and also of necessity together.

Turning to the Middle Eastern edge of Asia, Russia has had an on-again off-again relationship with Iran. It’s past wars, particularly those of the 18th and early 19th century were territorial disputes which have long been put to bed. For this reason alone, let alone many other more pressing current matters, Iran and Russia’s partnership looks set to last.

Turkey by contrast has been Russia’s historic Eurasian enemy, one which often bound Iran and Russia together against a common foe.

Turkey’s position in NATO means that Turkey has the ability to play both sides against one another, but unlike India which has economic interests with China, Russia and the American led west, Turkey is increasingly finding its economic interests to be squarely in line with Russia and with Russian partners.

While Turkey is a key Eurasian power, ultimately she still needs to choose to be allied with one of the super-powers. Just as sure as America has pushed Turkey away, Turkey has learned that its economic future is more closely linked with Russia than with any of the other superpowers.

The conclusion of this is a ‘New Silk Road’ by default. The fact that China with Russia’s support is building such a project by design, the One Belt–One Road project, is simply a manifestation of how each of the aforementioned countries are aware of the inevitability of a new silk road as something necessary for the prosperity of each nation. While getting all the powers with their own histories of disputes to cooperate in respect of building the New Silk Road is no easy task, it is actually an easier task than getting Russia and  China to submit themselves to America. It is no longer 1989, such an idea is fantasy in 2017.

In this sense, while there will be some bumps along the New Silk Road, it will be build and Russia and China will lead the way with India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey leading very close behind.

In this sense, historic trends have automatically shut America out of much of Asia. The only two real Asian allies the US still has are South Korea and Japan.

Pakistan is increasingly looking for opportunities elsewhere and due to the wisdom of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines has decided to align itself more closely with China, which also allows Manila to develop close ties with Moscow as in the 21st century, having mutually good relations with Moscow and Beijing is no longer a conflict of interests for Asian powers as it was through much of the 20th century.

Duterte was the first leader of a medium sized Asian power to realise that the choice is between that of US post-colonial style domination or showing respect to the real king of the region, the super-power of China which in turn offers Asian countries more in pragmatic terms than the increasingly distant US is capable of offering.

In this sense, it is not up to Putin or Trump whether America gets its much coveted Asian prize. Asia is China’s and China and Russia are co-equal allies.

America can fight this if it wishes to experience infamy or it can accept this if it wants to play some role in the commercial future of a region it no longer has the ability to dominate or even subdue.

In other words, in respect of America giving up on Asia “We can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way”.

3. Europe 

Whereas America ought to realise that it has no overarching future in Asia or Eurasia, Russia has bravely realised it has no future with Europe other than a few commercial transactions, mainly in the field of energy.

Europe is one of the few places on earth where hatred of Russia is in the collective political DNA.

It was Europe which fought more wars against Russia than any other region. The hatred of Russia in the elite circles of its former battle field adversaries in Warsaw/Vilnius, Stockholm, Berlin, Vienna, Paris and London has not gone away. In recent years it has increased. Europe has increasingly little to offer Russia and the inverse is also largely true. Europe has willed it so.

The exceptions to this trend are in southern Europe. The Orthodox powers of the Balkans have always looked to Moscow as a spiritual guide and increasingly, as the EU’s position in the Mediterranean becomes untenable, it is highly likely that in future decades Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and possibly even Roumania will look more to Moscow than to Berlin or Paris–let alone London. As this is a part of the world which holds no appeal to Donald Trump, he is better placed than many to allow this to happen without much of a fight.

His visceral hatred of the Germanic EU is yet another boon to such a future phenomenon.

Catholic Southern Europe may not feel a fraternal connection to Russia as the Orthodox countries of southern Europe do, but nor do they harbour any real ill will towards Russia.

Likewise, the two small Muslim countries of southern-Europe, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania are totally removed from the issue. Bosnia is already a neo-Turkish colony in all but name and if America eventually gives up on its aggressive project for an imperial Albania, Turkey would likely step in to fill the gap. In many ways Turkey is readying itself for such an eventuality.

The burgeoning relationship between Turkey and Russia means that a Turkish-Russian “partnership” could if anything help restrain Albanian aggression against Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Macedonia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted at such a stance when he publicly condemned the Greater Albania project for regional Albanian imperial aggression.

The recent spat between the major European powers and the US over possible US sanctions that would prohibit the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to the EU demonstrates just how weak and compromised Europe is vis-a-vis both Russia and the United States.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin could foreseeably bond over their ability to play Europe against itself in a tug of war between Europe’s pathological anti-Russian hatred and its greedy desire for cheap Russian gas delivered via a regional pipeline  vis-a-vis American liquefied natural gas which would be coming from the other side of the Atlantic.

Unlike most European elites, America’s elites generally do not have a pathological hatred of Russia. They often adopt it with Hollywood like zeal, but many are personally unconvinced of it. Many more simply do not care, most Americans know nothing about Russia, something which is actually an asset when it comes to pragmatic businesslike relations that Europe is incapable of due to its inability to let go of the past.

The CNN producer who recently admitted that Russiagate is “bullshit” is typical of the American opportunist who will say and pretend to believe anything for publicity but in reality will share a beer with anyone at the local bar–including a Russian, something which cannot often be said for the more zealous Europeans. This applies to Donald Trump, only the beer will be a Diet Coke.

If Trump and Putin can exploit Europe mutually, it would go a long way towards calming tensions, especially on Russia’s borderlands which NATO seeks to subdue, though for little practical economic gain. Unlike Asia, eastern Europe has little of value in the 21st century for any major power. If anyone can realise this, it is Donald Trump. Asia is a prize America simply cannot win. The streets of Riga and Lvov are nothing to be desired for any major power at this stage–not Russia nor the United States. It is only the US who is trying to claim this non-prize at this point in history.

4. Latin America and Africa 

Russia’s post-Soviet relationship with Latin America and Africa is actually a very helpful model for what America’s relationship with Asia and Eurasia could potentially be.

Russia has economic interests and certain partners in Latin America and Africa, but Russia generally has not been a dominating political force in either continent, especially now that Russia is no longer a Marxist-Leninist power.

Russia’s modern relationship with the powers of both Africa and Latin America is commercial rather than ideological or even geo-strategic.

Since the collapse of Imperial Spain, the United States has generally become the domineering regional power in Latin America and this is unlikely to radically change even though many countries, particularly Venezuela refuse to buy into America’s geo-political ambitions for the region.

Likewise, Africa’s tragic post-colonial experience means that on the one hand, Russia and  China are seen as super-powers who did not torment Africa with imperialism, linguistically and legally, African states still are deeply beholden to their former European overlords and it is the United States, not least because it is an English speaking country with a Common Law legal system that has stepped in as Europe declined.

5. Two Men–Many Nations 

While Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin may well develop a good personal relationship (I’m inclined to believe that they will), the obstacles between the two have to do with not just the Russian and American political systems but with the realities of every continent in the world.

The western powers have always sought to subdue Russia in order to have a land-bridge to Asia. While this was more true of Europe than America, it is still the guiding force behind the neo-con/neo-liberal imperialist thought which dominates Washington.

The key would be for Donald Trump to accept that it is cheaper in the short term and more profitable in the long term if America develops a relationship with Asia that is similar to Russia’s relationship with Africa and Latin America.

Both countries are capable of economically dividing a broken Europe, much as they did after 1945.

If Putin and Trump can at least come to terms with this balance of power without coming to blows, this could be the start of a very good friendship.

For Putin, the job would be easy as Russia is comfortable with its existing and naturally expanding spheres of influence.

For any American President, the task would be monumentally hard–nearly impossible. But if anyone could listen to a pragmatic argument aimed at understanding that Russia and America have different roles to play in the world and that a lack of competition, rather than a more amorphous idea of ‘fighting terrorism’ is the key to making such an understanding take hold in the future, that man might well be Donald Trump.

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Why did Trump recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind US President Trump’s sudden recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Following Trump’s statements as US President, acting Israeli Foreign Minister is saying that Trump will make it official and sign an executive order to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian border territory on Monday.

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Via DW

Israel says White House officials are preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, which will be signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday.

The signing of the decree will be witnessed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during talks with Trump at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz (pictured), said in a Tweet.

“Tomorrow, President Trump, in the presence of PM Netanyahu, will sign a decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan. Israel-US ties are closer than ever,” Katz said.

Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, subsequently annexing it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Trump’s tweet annoys allies

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy when he posted a Tweet on Thursday that said it was time to accept Israel’s widely-contested claim to the border territory.

The decision has been criticized by many US allies — Germany, Britain, France and the EU have all said they still consider the Golan Heights to be “occupied” by Israel.

Syria and other states in the region said the recognition, if confirmed, would violate international law.

Netanyahu has long pushed for Washington’s endorsement, and many analysts see Trump’s comments as a campaign gift ahead of Israel’s April 9 election.

In 2017, Trump drew condemnation throughout the Middle East when he recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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