If there was a doubt in your mind that Donald Trump was doubling as Vladimir Putin’s viceroy while acting as the U.S. president, his recent comments should clear the fog. On Saturday, while talking to reporters on board Air Force One, after leaving a summit in Vietnam, Trump said that Putin felt insulted by the talk of Russia’s intervention in 2016 U.S. elections and that Trump believed Putin’s denial of having engineered it.
Trump is cognizant of Putin’s feelings and interests – just like a good viceroy would be – but continues to downplay a matter of vital importance to Americans: Russia’s breach of America’s electoral process. The fact that the breach aided Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton seems to have trounced his will and ability to condemn Russia and reinvigorate America’s electoral security.
Congress will have to compensate for this dastard dereliction by the “president.” But considering that Congress is afflicted with severe leadership-deficit, don’t look for immediate relief from it. Therefore, it is necessary that the American people stop Putin’s encroachment of our national institutions and the possible resultant spillage of our national secrets.
Motives of Trump and Putin are obvious in this game in which American people and the free world are obvious losers.
Putin is still sore over the demise of the Soviet Union. George H.W. Bush claimed credit for it, but as Al Gore said: Bush’s claim was like a rooster taking credit for the sunrise. The hero of this sunrise was the fortitudinous Mikhail Gorbachev, who realized that the system that he was presiding over was infested with suppression, injustices and inefficiencies and, thus, unsustainable. So he removed its artificial guard rails that were already bursting at the seams. The tide of the will of the people then washed away the fake Soviet Union. The communist behemoth dismembered and the republics that it had gobbled up to form itself re-emerged on the world map.
Whenever a transformation of such epochal dimensions materializes, it suddenly leaves a slew of vested interests rudderless and orphaned. But they regroup and retry to dim the brightness that the transformation has ushered. Their motivation is not institutionally driven, but self-centered – naturally. They thus don’t operate within the new system but in a manner extraneous and in conflagration to it, soon drawing-in the harbingers of the proverbial buyer-remorse who by then are immersed in longing for the defunct system. A counter-revolution is then in place.
Putin is clearly the leader and an agent of such reactionary Russian forces. He launched a strategy to ridicule and possibly stymie the American political system that is inherently antithetical to the one he is desperate to revive. So he put his hypogeal trolls to work. They delivered on America. However, they failed on France. Last May, the French equivalent of Trump lost miserably. Voter apathy in Western democracies is clearly operating on a spectrum, having passed the red mark in America.
So what is Trump’s motivation in making America’s prestige and interests subservient to Putin’s feelings? Owing to his business model of jumping to bankruptcies, American banks had refused to extend credit to him. So Putin’s banks rolled in. Putin probably allowed this, because he had an eye on Trump’s ego-driven vulnerabilities. There is thus a reason that Trump has not disclosed his tax returns. Moreover, Putin probably has evidence of Trump’s other activities in Russia.
In order to keep Russians happy, Trump behaves as Putin’s viceroy. In return, Russia doesn’t release the above-mentioned evidence and Trump probably gets an easy payment plan with negligible or zero interest. Meanwhile, Russia gets something that it, otherwise, could never have: A U.S. president who continually undermines democracy, disparages America’s values system, electoral mechanisms, democratic underpinnings, free media, journalists, racial and religious minorities, women, war widows and last but not the least, its unsung heroes: its intelligence agencies. Ridiculing intelligence reports and calling some intelligence officials, political hacks, is a pre-meditated tactic that must greatly please the viceroy’s boss.
One might think that stupidity makes Trump act this way. But that would be wrong. Trump is no dummy. He’s playing quid pro quo with Russians. If he can get his Russian loans written off and avoid airing of incriminating evidence on CNN by behaving in the manner he does, it’s OK with him. He doesn’t care about America’s interests, as long as his interests are safe. That’s why we would never find out why he huddled alone with Putin and a Russian interpreter on the sidelines of a conference last July in Europe. Don’t expect Congress to question that huddle.
With Republican leaders having surrendered to Trump and Democratic leaders dillydallying as usual, the ball is in the people’s court. In less than a year, crucial mid-term elections would take place. Oppressed people of the world would die for the right to determine their destiny. But all Americans have to do to free their political system from Putin’s clutches is to vote against any candidate who lacks courage to confront Trump. “We the people” must foil Putin’s viceroy.
Siddique Malik is a software developer and a former Courier-Journal Forum Fellow. He studied political science at University of Louisville.