There’s no other way to explain Trump’s unilateral tilt toward Russia. The move contradicts decades of U.S. policy and Russian hostility toward the United States.
At the same time–also contrary to traditional U.S. policy–Trump has expressed animosity toward China, one of the nation’s largest trading partners, not to mention utter contempt for Muslims and Latin Americans.
To find ideological underpinnings for such views, look no further than the rhetoric of white supremacists in the United States and Russia.
“I really believe that Russia is the leader of the free world right now,” Matthew Heimbach, a self-professed white supremacist and alt-rightist told Business Insider in a recent interview.
“Putin is supporting nationalists around the world and building an anti-globalist alliance, while promoting traditional values and self-determination,” he added.
Russia is also caught amid a rising tide of nationalism and racist world views. At a conference in St. Petersburg, Russia last year, U.S. extremists were represented.
Organized by Rodina, or Motherland, a Russian nationalist party, the event drew Jared Taylor, a U.S citizen who described himself as a “race realist.”
Klu Klux Klan lawyer Sam Dickson also attended and shared Taylor’s view that preservation of “[the white] race and civilization” were his goals.
Heimbach outlined his view of the situation in a 2013 speech at the Stormfront Smoky Mountain Summit, a gathering of Neo-Nazis.
He called Russia a “model for civilization” and “a beacon for nationalists,” according to Business Insider.
“This isn’t just a European or a right-wing movement,” he said. “We’re trying to position ourselves to be a part of this worldwide movement of globalism versus nationalism. It’s a new age.”
White supremacists, neo-Nazis and far-right nationalists gathered in Moscow two years ago and described their racial politics as a do-or-die situation.
“We will either win or the Russian people will die,” said a co-organizer Dmitri Demushkin, who leads a banned rightist group in Russia.
A survey around the same time found that 54 percent of Russians support the idea of “Russia for ethnic Russians,” according to The Los Angeles Times. Even more tellingly, more than a third of those surveyed supported expelling Caucasus and Central Asian Muslims.
Russia fought two wars in Muslim majority Chechnya and battled the break-away Republic of Georgia, fueling racism and unrest.
While Russia periodically cracked down on right wing groups in the 1990s, Putin has co-opted many them as part of his power base.
The conservative and immensely powerful Russian Orthodox Church, resurgent czarist-era paramilitary Cossacks, and right-wing parties are not only being tolerated but in some cases encouraged by Kremlin-sanctioned nationalism, according to The Times.
In return, far right groups are strong supporters of Putin’s foray against Ukraine and other former Soviet republics and support his desire to re-establish or at least extend hegemony over the old Soviet Union.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky 69, a leader of the far right movement and former member of the Russian Duma, promised to expel non-Russians, install barbed wire around largely Muslim Chechnya and Dagesta and “return” Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states to the Russian orbit.
Now compare that to Trump’s campaign rhetoric; the patterns are strikingly similar.
Trump openly embraced Putin while disparaging the Chinese and taking a hard stand against Latin American and Arab immigrants.
Richard Spencer, who heads the National Policy Institute, an alt-right think tank has called on the United States to abandon globalism, a policy the nation has followed since World War II.
Spencer calls Russia the “sole white power in the world.”
He’s urged pulling out of NATO, resetting the U.S. relationship with Russia, and courting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Trump has echoed all three positions, according to Time magazine.
Trump said during one of his televised campaign debates he didn’t like Assad, but praised him for “killing ISIS.” The remark was interpreted to suggest he would consider working with the Syrian dictator to fight Islamic extremists.
Assad and his Russian backers, however, have focused most of their efforts on defeating moderate, U.S.-backed rebels in Aleppo.
It’s doubtful Spencer has Trump’s ear, but Steve Bannon does. As president of the alt-right propaganda Web site, Breitbart News, he’s promoted many of the same views.
Bannon served as chief executive of Trump’s campaign and will be “chief strategist and senior counselor” on Trump’s White House staff.
Bannon is the clearest sign yet that Trump will maintain his ties to the populist white nationalism that helped propel him to the White House, according to NBC News.
“The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant America,” tweeted John Weaver, an adviser to Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.
Infused in alt-right philosophy is rabid anti-Semitism.
Kevin MacDonald outlined the alt-right’s view on Jews at a National Policy Institute conference, according to Business Insider.
“Jews remade America in their interests … to make white America comfortable with massive non-white immigration and its own dispossession,” he said.
He also asserts that Jews are behind a campaign to demonize Russia “in Western media and political circles” to undermine Putin, whom he calls the “savior of Christian civilization.”
Trump’s campaign speeches and ads warning of a global conspiracy among bankers, media and government officials resembled tropes used historically to target Jews, according to The Anti-Defamation League.
Bannon has strongly denied harboring anti-Semitic views, even while Breitbart, under his direction, promoted misogynistic, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and thinly disguised racism on the site.
The Trump administration has yet to take office. Only after he’s inaugurated on Jan. 20 will Trump’s true stripes emerge. All signs indicate that America is about to become a bastion of white Christian nationalism.
If so, America may be in for a very long, dark ride.