Donald Trump’s early fascination with Russia and the Russian President Vladimir Putin led to some absurd comparisons that claimed to show that somehow the two men are ‘alike’. Whether you like either of these men or no, it is clear that they are very different individuals with different personalities, styles and capacities. I responded to of these supposed comparisons that came to my attention recently as follows:
Trump is an arrogant, thoughtless individual who is being manipulated on all sides. Putin is a subtle, intelligent leader who brought Russia out of a complete collapse through careful and deliberate management of the resources available. He has been walking a tightrope in his relations with the US, an arrogant intransigent bully, for over a decade.
Trump says whatever comes into his head. Putin openly states the truths that the US establishment tries to bury and he does so, for the most part, without rancor. Trump comes from nouveau riche bourgeois wealth and attended private schools without depth of education.
Putin was born in post WWII Leningrad- St. Petersburg, in a hostel for multiple families. A rebellious young man, he worked his way through the public education system, making choices that would eventually bring him to the KGB, which seemed to him to be an elite part of the bureaucracy, kind of like a young man working to get into the FBI in our country.
Trump admires Putin because he recognizes a successful leader when he sees one. Putin is at the helm of a ship in rough and shark infested waters, constantly adapting to stresses. Would a friendly US president be helpful to him? Of course. But he isn’t a fool and does not have a reputation for reckless commitments.
I don’t say that Putin doesn’t have an agenda. He and Xi in China, are building an alternative network of global alliances, with an alternative economic root. Just as the US leaders think that aggressive war is the only way to continue as the ‘exceptional’ power in the world, Russia and China are building what they hope will be a foundation for their multipolar world. They are using economic and political means to build this alternative while trying to stay out of the line of fire long enough to let the Americans expend their resources until they no longer have the power to do harm. Metaphorically, they are waiting for the US military industrial complex to hang itself with it’s own rope.
Some days I think that Russia’s involvement in the US wars of aggression is purely self defense, but it often seems to me that while China is quietly building infrastructure in the background, Russia is harrying the US forces and creating a distraction. This is classical military strategy. Much as I’d like to think they are righteous in their support of Syria and Iran (for instance) I think they are (also) engaged in a tactical feint to the outside. They say they are protecting themselves from ‘terrorism’ and that is also true. Consider this while we are on the subject, Putin has an agenda to undermine the extremist terrorism (whether we like his methods or not) to protect Russia and the ex-Soviet countries between Russia and the Middle East while the US is actually building and supporting sources of extremist terrorism, under what I think is a false assumption they can keep them from coming here, but also knowing they will target our allies (friends?) in Europe.
All this talk about Putin and Trump lying is just absurd. The one thing they do seem to have in common is a tendency to tell the truth – at least the truth as they see it – even when it is inconvenient. I say this with the caveat that their truths are not necessarily the same. :Putin sees broad strategic perspectives while Trump seems rather near sighted. But of course, the establishment doesn’t want you and me to hear the truth – any relevant truth. So, there you have it.
As an addendum I want to say that through this discussion I acquired a link at which one can see Oliver Stone’s interviews with Vladimir Putin and I would highly recommend them. Most Americans have very little direct knowledge of Putin or Russia and the interviews encompass both. They open a very important conversation that is not taking place at the highest levels of government where they should be occurring about detente, balance and the very real consequences of US continuing aggression against Russia, and the rest of the world. I was about to get the introductory month on Showtime (though I really really do not want to give them my credit card number) when I found them here.