Trump Adviser Compared U.S.-Russia Policy to Slavery, Police Shootings

GOP frontrunner’s new aide outside Republican mainstream on major foreign policy issues

Donald Trump
March 23, 2016

Energy investor Carter Page, one of Donald Trump’s handpicked foreign policy advisers, has heavily criticized what he considers American aggression toward Russia, even comparing U.S. policy to American slavery and high-profile police shootings.

American sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for its invasion and military occupation of Crimea "parallel an 1850 publication that offered guidance to slaveholders on how to produce the ‘ideal slave,’" Page wrote in one column.

Page is now advising the Republican presidential frontrunner, who finally announced his foreign policy advisory team in a Monday interview with the Washington Post.

Page’s appointment drew fire from experts who said his work sounded more like Internet conspiracy theories or foreign government propaganda than the counsel one would expect of a U.S. president’s top aides.

"The very fact that a senior adviser to the leading Republican candidate for president seems to truly believe that a few individuals in the U.S. government are responsible for certain international events puts him firmly in the realm of conspiracy theorists," said Hannah Thoburn, a Russia policy expert with the Hudson Institute.

"Many of [Page’s] public remarks on Russia and Ukraine seem as though they have been lifted directly from the broadcast scripts of Russia Today," the Kremlin’s U.S. propaganda arm, Thoburn said in an email.

Trump’s selection of Page may indicate the reality-star-cum-politician’s opposition to U.S. policies that counter Russian interests in key global theaters.

In his Post interview, Trump suggested that he would reduce U.S. involvement in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the west’s foremost security alliance and the counterweight to Russian influence in Europe.

"Look, I see NATO as a good thing to have," Trump told the Post. However, "Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we are doing all of the lifting, they’re not doing anything."

"We pay billions, hundreds of billions of dollars to supporting other countries that are in theory wealthier than we are," he added. The State Department is currently asking Congress for $953 million "to support a democratic Ukraine."

Page has criticized more than the cost of American involvement in the conflict; he considers American influence in the region to be fundamentally unfair towards the Kremlin.

Page has blasted NATO states’ "biased philosophies and draconian tactics," their "targeted discrimination and interventionist policies," and their "misguided and provocative actions" in columns for the Global Policy Journal.

He has also compared U.S. policy towards Russia to high-profile police killings of unarmed black men. "The deaths triggered by U.S. government officials in both the former Soviet Union and the streets of America in 2014 share a range of close similarities," he wrote.

"While the loss of Michael Brown and Eric Garner has received intense media coverage and perfunctory federal government investigations, the economic injustice unleashed upon the millions of people residing in Russia, Ukraine, and the former Soviet Union by misguided Western policies has met limited recognition."

Page favorably quoted a propaganda arm of the People’s Republic of China, which wrote "After examining America's staggering racial disparity, one cannot help wondering whether the U.S. accusation of the Chinese government this time was another political tactic of shunning criticism at itself."

Page is a managing partner of Global Energy Capital, an energy services investment firm. He founded the firm after a stint at Merrill Lynch, where he advised Russian-state-owned energy company Gazprom on its acquisition of "the largest oil and gas export project in the world." He lived in Moscow for three years before returning to New York.

Page has pushed for greater cooperation between the United States and Russia’s state-owned oil and gas companies.

"Some of the largest Russian companies including Lukoil and affiliates of Gazprom have been engaged in" Iraq, he wrote of the country’s recovering energy industry. Resistance to Russian influence in the Middle East reflects "a mere tendency toward Cold War thinking."

President Barack Obama leveled similar criticism at 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. However, by 2015, Obama’s nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called Russia "the greatest threat to our national security."

Trump has brushed off concerns about Russia as a threat, even praising the country’s strongman president Vladimir Putin and defending him against allegations of political violence.

"He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country," Trump said in December. Asked about the killings of adversarial reporters in Russia, Trump added, "I think our country does plenty of killing also, so you know."

That affinity for the Russian government, and Trump’s recent comments on NATO, have drawn criticism from Republican rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

"Donald Trump is wrong that America should withdraw from the world and abandon our allies. Donald Trump is wrong that America should retreat from Europe, retreat from NATO, hand Putin a major victory and while he's at it hand ISIS a major victory," Cruz said on Tuesday.

Page’s support for Russia is not the only position that places him outside of the Republican mainstream on foreign policy.

Page has also defended the Iranian government’s decision to appoint as its representative to the United Nations an individual who was involved in the 1979 taking of American hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. He criticized efforts in Congress, spearheaded by Cruz, to deny a U.S. visa to any diplomat who previously engaged in terrorism against the United States or its interests.

The energy investor seemed concerned about the damage this might do to American businesses interested in the Iranian energy sector.

"The potential for future U.S.-Iranian energy ventures is substantial if moves forward in current diplomatic negotiations are indeed achieved," Page wrote.

Page was also highly supportive of international climate talks in Paris last year, despite Republican concerns about international agreements that they say could hike energy prices and force American taxpayers to foot the bill for fossil fuel restrictions abroad.

"The political gathering has substantially raised attention to climate, environmental and future energy issues while leveraging the growing levels of concern amongst societies worldwide," Page wrote. "But for both citizens and leaders alike, real action in the future will be a far more essential driver to the future direction of progress in comparison to the many words which will be spoken and to a lesser extent heard over the coming weeks."

Neither Page nor the Trump campaign responded to requests for comment.