MEMBERS ONLY: Trump And Putin Are Setting The Table For World War III

Earlier this week, I published an article describing a new hashtag campaign in which Trumpers and a massive swarm of Russian trolls are attempting to undermine Democratic unity by suggesting Dems should walk away from the party, and just in time for easily the most consequential midterms we’ve ever witnessed.

The “WalkAway” concept was allegedly started by a New York hairdresser named Brandon Straka who claims to have been a Democrat who’s fed up with the incivility of his (former) party. So Brandon decided to sign on with the Red Hat Army, which is kind of like abandoning traditional medicine and, instead, opting for leeches and blood-letting because traditional medicine seems “antiquated.” It’s like leaving the rebellion in Star Wars and teaming up with the Empire because the rebels are too imperialistic.

None of it makes any sense. It makes even less sense when we learn that most of the people who support the Walk Away thing self-identify as conservative Trump supporters, and based on what I’ve seen, they’ve been this way for a long time. These non-former-Dems are joined by countless Russian trolls participating in the 2018 resumption of hostilities against American democracy by the Kremlin. All of the astroturf markers are there, leading experts to believe this is undeniably a troll attack intended to manipulate public opinion, to squelch reasoned debate and to manufacture artificial consensus around the idea of walking away.

And who knows? It might be working, it might not be. The most important takeaway is to not engage these people. They’re the furthest thing from rational, and you’ll never successfully shame them mainly because a solid chunk of them aren’t even real. When you see the hashtag on social media, swiftly block and report that account. End them. Don’t let them infect the rest of us the way they did in 2016. Since my article went live on Monday, I’ve been accosted by dozens of obvious trolls and my only workable response has been to block as many as possible, with the hope that Twitter and Facebook will take over from there. But I’m not holding my breath for that outcome, so it’s up to each of us to banish them back to the phantom zone from which they emerged.

The surge in this agitprop attack comes at a harrowing time. The president is currently in Brussels meeting with the heads of the other NATO member nations, and he’s predictably acting as Putin’s surrogate, undermining the organization and thus helping to empower Russia. I don’t think any of the Trumpers who are helping the Kremlin trolls spread this “Walk Away” hashtag realize that by helping Trump and Putin, they’re precipitating the potential for another world war.

Yeah, I know. Forecasting a world war sounds extreme, but these are extreme times. I’m not saying it’s going to turn out this way, yet given the manner in which events are transpiring it’s not difficult to see how we could end up in the worst case scenario.

Here are the markers you should watch for.

Step 1) Trump’s closed-door summit with Putin. At least part of this meeting will be held in private without any other Americans in the room. That said, we can rest assured knowing the room’s been bugged for sound by the Russian FSB. Nevertheless, it’s entirely possible if not likely that Trump will decide to recognize Putin’s incursion into Crimea, legitimizing the annexation. How do we know Trump’s leaning in that direction? He said so on June 29: “We’re going to have to see.”

Step 2) Trump accepts Russian-occupied Crimea. If Trump indeed takes this step, perhaps while also lifting some of the sanctions, he’ll provide Putin with enough latitude to invade elsewhere. The Baltics are in particular danger since these nations rest on the Russian border and have been coveted as a prize in Putin’s quest to restore Russia’s Soviet-era dominance of eastern Europe. However, the Baltics — Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania — are NATO signatories, which means…

Step 3) NATO nations must respond. While NATO was stymied and unable to stop or push back against Putin’s invasion of Crimea and Ukraine (not a NATO member), invading one or more NATO countries, such as one of the Baltics, will trigger Article V of the charter, amounting to an attack against all of NATO, forcing a military response against Russian forces.

Step 4) Meanwhile, Trump abandons NATO. At the command of his handler Putin, Trump’s laying the groundwork as we speak, softening his loyalists to the concept of a benevolent Russia and a cheapskate NATO pact that’s ripping off the United States. Of course Trump doesn’t know what the goddamn hell he’s talking about since NATO doesn’t have a checking account requiring deposits from member nations. It doesn’t matter, though, as long as his easily-suckered disciples believe that’s the case, and only around 40 percent of Republicans support the idea of the U.S. remaining a member. It’s soft support, too, knowing how Trump is working hard to chip away at it. So let’s say Trump pulls the trigger and walks away just in time for Putin to invade, say, Latvia. What next?

Step 5) War? Either NATO will retaliate against Putin’s invasion, pushing back militarily, or else Putin will be further emboldened to march into yet another country. One thing to note here: the Russian economy is in the shitter. A war, however, will surely boost the economy. A win-win for Trump’s boss. Furthermore, it’s likely Trump will defend Putin’s actions, aligning the United States against European democracies for the first time.

Remember how I referred to this as “extreme?” Well there it is. Don’t worry, though, because mitigating circumstances could pop up along the way to prevent this series of events, so hope isn’t lost. Nevertheless, keep your eyes open for how Trump deals with NATO and what specifically emerges from this ill-conceived Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki. I hate to sound even more extreme, but the future of western alliances and, in fact, the future of peace on the European continent hang in the balance — with an incompetent, intellectually vacant president at the helm. Tens if not hundreds of millions of lives are at stake, and Trump is dragging us toward a world war.

Bob Cesca is the host of the Bob Cesca Show podcast, a twice weekly political talk show. He’s also a contributor to Salon.com. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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