Here’s the full transcript of the interview:
BP: During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly bashed NATO and threatened to dissolve the group. However, after assuming office, Trump praised NATO as a “great alliance”. What’s your take on this?
Stuart Bramhall: Donald Trump reverses his foreign policy on a daily basis. US relations with Russia are a good example. He campaigned on building closer ties with Russia. Then after taking office, he issued a whole series of threats against them. Now after meeting with Putin, he's back to endorsing stronger US-Russia relations. I think it's the same with NATO. What must be remembered is that Trump is playing a double game. He spouts a lot of isolationist and protectionist rhetoric to please his base - blue collar rust belt workers who want him to reduce military spending and invest in jobs and crumbling infrastructure. Then he spouts a lot of pro-NATO militaristic propaganda to please his Wall Street banker and oil/gas/coal donors - and congressional Republicans whose campaigns are funded by these corporate lobbies.
BP: Is the US using NATO to destabilize Europe?
Stuart Bramhall: I think the US is using NATO mainly to re-align the European energy market, which at present is extremely reliant on Russian gas. I think the Wall Street lobbyists who control US foreign policy would very much like to have both Eastern and Western Europe copy Poland and discontinue their piped natural gas from Russia and buy US liquified natural gas (LNG) instead.
In the past the US has also used NATO to pressure European allies to participate in illegal wars of aggression against Yugoslavia and Libya. In my view, these wars were essentially resource wars launched to protect Wall Street economic interests. In the case of Yugoslavia, the goal was for US oil companies to establish a foothold in Eastern Europe to improve their access to oil deposits in the Caspian Sea basin. In the the case of Libya, the agenda was two-fold - to help US oil companies gain control over Libyan oil and to prevent Gaddafi from creating an African Development Bank and an African Monetary Fund which would have bought and sold oil in currency other than the US dollar. At the moment, it's only the requirement that Middle East countries (except for Iran) sell oil in dollars that keeps the US dollar from collapsing.
BP: What’s your assessment of US policies on the Balkans? Is the US gaining more influence in the region through NATO?
Stuart Bramhall: I'm not very current on present happenings in the Balkans, except that there is a bitter battle between the US and Russia over who will supply the Balkans with natural gas. Apparently Russia is at a disadvantage because they don't have a good pipeline structure to the Balkans to supply natural gas - while the US is backing the EU based Trans Adriatic Pipeline from Turkey (to be completed in 2020), in addition to a planned LNG terminal in Croatia. The US is using NATO and USAID (a State Dept/CIA agency) to pressure Balkan countries to sign up to these energy deals. In May, seven Balkan nations -- Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro -- signed a deal to jointly develop a natural gas pipeline that could diminish their dependence on Russia. See (indiatimes.com)
I personally feel the Balkans (and the world) would be a lot better off if both the US and Russia supported them in developing a strong renewable energy infrastructure - instead of investing billions of dollars in a fossil fuel infrastructure that will be obsolete before it is paid off. There is strong agreement among climate scientists that the only way to prevent catastrophic climate change is to leave remaining fossil fuels in the ground.
It's really sad to see both the US and Russia are pursuing narrow short term economic interests at the expense of the rest of the planet.
BP: How has the EU changed since Trump became president of the United States? Is he creating division among EU member states?
Stuart Bramhall: I think there are a number of forces causing stresses and strain among EU countries that have nothing to do with Trump. The massive influx of migrants and refugees is causing major strain for all EU countries, while strengthening the hand of far right xenophobic groups like the National Front. This along with painful austerity measures all EU countries have enacted to bail out their banks has created a massive backlash among working people against a ruling elite that gets richer and richer while ordinary people get poorer and poorer. The same forces that led to a surprise Trump victory in the US also led to a surprise victory for the Brexit referendum in the UK and now to a call for an Italian referendum to leave the EU.