Whatever Trump and Putin Secretly Talk About Is Making Russia Great Again
September 28, 2020
By Joe Rothstein
How on earth did Time magazine exclude Vladimir Putin from its list of the 100 most influential people in the world? He not only deserved that recognition, he should have been #1.
As the leader of a nation that ranks 11th in world GDP, Putin has managed to wreck havoc on the U.S. and virtually every other country with larger economies.
He’s driven perhaps an irreversible wedge between the U.S. and its European NATO allies, weakening an alliance that has kept Russian expansionist interests at bay for 75 years.
He’s all but replaced the U.S. as the principal outside military force in the Middle East by saving Syria’s Assad and cozying up to Turkey.
He’s helped turn the China-U.S. economic partnership into a hot mess of tariffs, ill will and military tension while improving Russia’s own relationship with its border rival.
And perhaps most significant of all, Putin has fractured belief in democratic government worldwide, even among Americans themselves.
Talk about influence! There’s nothing that comes close to matching it. No one in modern history has has achieved more consequential geopolitical results with less risk and at such a low cost.
How has Putin managed this? Well, primarily by managing the mind of Donald Trump.
Way back in 2016, many of us believed Putin was helping Trump because of his animosity for Hillary Clinton. Clearly, Putin had designs on a much richer prize than simple revenge politics. The fact that he helped Trump and that his help was an important factor in making him president is beyond dispute. The entire U.S. intelligence community was on to it before a single vote was cast. The Mueller investigation identified the sources and methods Putin used.
Once in the White House, a fawning and appreciative Trump went all in on a pro-Russia agenda. For 75 years, Russian leaders have struggled to weaken the U.S-western Europe alliance. They walled off Berlin, sent tanks and troops to put down insurgencies in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, cut off energy supplies to the West, and railed incessantly against Western aggression.
With Trump in the White House, all Putin had to do was have an American president show up at NATO meetings and treat U.S. support for the alliance as a financial protection racket.
The Cold War was a decades-long effort by Russia to exert its political influence and undermine the advance of the U.S. model of democratic government. With the collapse…