For Vladimir Putin, Donald J. Trump is the gift that just keeps on giving.
I suppose it is possible that some theoretical American president could do more to advance the interests of Russia in the world than Trump, but it is pretty hard to imagine.
Let’s go over an imaginary Russian check list of proposed gifts from a new American President they might have written up before the election:
- Legitimate Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimea? Check.
2. Fail to hold Russia accountable for continued military action against the Ukraine? Check.
3. Fail to press hard on Russian interference in U.S. elections? Check
4. Acquiesce to violations of human rights in Syria by Russia and its puppet, Assad? Check.
5. Leave Assad in unchallenged power in Syria? Check.
6. Undermine NATO unity? Check.
7. Alienate key American allies in Far East and Europe? Check.
8. Undermine global trading regime responsible for much of the West’s power? Check.
9. Reduce American prestige and influence worldwide? Check.
10. Weaken America’s diplomatic and intelligence services? Check.
11. Turn Americans against each other? Check
12. Weaken democratic institutions? Check
13. Weaken free press? Check
14. Destroy traditional conservatism and the Republican Party? Check.
15. Abdicate the role of leadership in the free world? Check.
16. Set up future economic turmoil and instability through expanding deficits and economic policies designed to increase income inequality? Check.
17. Foster dangerous nationalist movements in America and other countries? Check.
18. Encourage and befriend human rights violators? Check.
19. Expose U.S. to ridicule from other advanced nations? Check.
20. Radicalize major portion of American population? Check.
I’m sure there are other examples that I didn’t think of right now. I also deliberately did not put anything about the damage being done to our health system, our education system, our environment and so forth, as those tend to be longer term and difficult to quantify. Although I think that they will all damage American power and prestige eventually (perhaps more than some of the things I did list), they are more difficult to predict when and how exactly.
In short, I really have no idea why Trump does what he does, nor do I know if it incompetence, ignorance or narcissism that is the defining characteristic of his presidency and his foreign policy. Likely a noxious mix of all three.
It is also hard to not speculate, given all the things he has done that benefit Russia, that Putin has something on him. Or perhaps Trump just really wants to shift the alignment of the United States from leader of the free world to lap dog of a dictator. I have no knowledge or insight to offer on this that hasn’t been offered by others. To me it is simply mind-boggling that intelligent people on both the left and the right are even considering the possibility that the President of the United States has been compromised by an enemy power. That used to be the province of the more fevered imaginations of Hollywood script writers, not serious political observers.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter all that much why he is doing it. What is clear is that he is giving aid and comfort to our enemies, whatever his reasons.
It needs to stop. His independence first needs to be curtailed by losing his congressional majority of spineless tribal ass kissers this November, and then his job in 2020.
Hopefully, there will still be some shreds of our international power and prestige left by then.