Updated: Feb 27, 2022
In a recent interview, Donald Trump described Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine as ‘genius’. It was a comment so outlandish that it shocked even those who said they could no longer be shocked by his comments. Some questioned, once again, whether he was an agent of the Russian government.
Or perhaps he’s just a “useful idiot”?
The term ‘useful idiot’ goes back to the Cold War era and is generally attributed to Nikita Krushchev, who used it to describe those who, while not Communists themselves, chose to support Communist regimes.
In Donald Trump’s case, the argument can be made for either…or both.
Love Dictators/Hate NATO
Trump has never hidden his admiration, or perhaps a better word is envy, for authoritarian regimes. He’s gone out of his way to compliment former Turkish President Recep Erdogan who, during his time in office had opponents and journalists jailed for “insulting him”. When he was defeated, he refused to concede and demanded a do-over which, due to the small margin of victory, was permitted. He lost by even a larger margin the second time, but he’s still demanding another shot at it.
It all sounds too familiar when you consider Trump’s efforts to have the results of the 2020 election overturned, and his demand that the swing states where he lost conduct recount after recount, somehow hoping to change the outcome.
Trump’s “Trade War” with China resembled more of an Apprentice-style competition between business rivals than an attempt to correct the trade imbalances that existed between the two superpowers. American farmers were especially hard-hit, but Trump was finally able to negotiate a “promise” from China to buy more American goods. It comes as no surprise that China failed to follow through on this promise, but that didn’t stop Trump from taking a victory lap.
As for China’s ruler, President Xi Jinping, Trump praised Xi’s power grab when he made himself “president for life”, even suggesting ‘Maybe we’ll give that a shot’, indicating Trump was toying with the idea of such a move on his own. So, Trump was able to separate his admiration for Xi apart from their “business rivalry”. He envied Xi the dictator while respecting Xi the businessman. It’s quite a strange relationship.
Speaking of strange relationships, there’s the twisted “love affair” that existed between Trump and North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un. Trump became so enamored with the North Korean leader that he made the odd boast, “We fell in love”, when describing their relationship. Yeah, this is a guy who has executed his enemies and has threatened America with nuclear annihilation.
But hey, he’s not such a bad guy. Trump so treasured this connection that he even took a “love letter” from Jong with him once he left the White House. It was found among the 15 boxes of material, some of it classified, that Trump had delivered to his Mar-a-Lago resort.
All the while, Trump spent much of his administration trying to destroy the NATO alliance. He repeatedly put down NATO leaders and even requested that Russia be readmitted to the G-7, a collection of world leaders aimed at supporting economic stability between countries.
Russia, Russia, Russia
This brings us to the odd fascination Trump had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even before he took office, there were contacts between his campaign staff and Russia. Trump dismissed this as a partisan “witch hunt”, but this information came from a Republican-led Senate report. This nearly 1000-page report indicated their contacts represented a ‘grave threat’ to our intelligence agencies.
When asked, Trump replied that he didn’t read the report. Shocker!
Then there was the infamous Helsinki Summit, where Trump sided with Putin over his intelligence community. His response that he believed Putin over multiple intelligence reports had even his own staff shaking their heads in disbelief. It even prompted a rare retraction from Trump who later claimed he misspoke when asked if he believed Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
There are some who claim that Putin has damaging information on Trump, and is using this to make him an unwilling agent, or kompromat for Russia. They try to use this as an explanation as to why Trump has been so soft on holding Russia accountable, and even why he’s attempted to promote Russia’s inclusion in certain organizations such as the G-7. He even went so far as to threaten to withdraw the United States from NATO if his demands weren’t met.
That brings us to today’s events. Russia has invaded Ukraine and Donald Trump commented, “This is genius” while slamming Joe Biden as being the reason Putin took these actions. He went on to complain about the rigged election and boasted that such a thing would never have happened if he were still in office.
Why would it? Trump spent his entire administration praising Putin and blackmailing Ukraine in his ‘perfect phone call’ with the Ukrainian president. So, of course Putin held back. He was afraid such actions might backfire and Trump would lose in 2020.
Despite Putin’s best efforts, Trump did lose. But the damage to democracy that Putin had hoped for had already been done. America is a fractured nation due to their Russian-installed puppet. It continues on its downward spiral as the Big Lie continues to divide America.
However, Putin’s latest gambit may backfire. Americans always have rallied around those currently in office during times of crisis. They stood firmly behind FDR following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. George W. Bush was headed for the same one-term fate as his father before 9/11. It’s entirely possible that the invasion of Ukraine might do the same for Biden.
Oddly enough, it’s also permitting Biden to fulfill a campaign promise of making America respected on the world stage. With the invasion of Ukraine, countries from around the world have joined the United States in condemning this action. So, in starting a war, Putin has undone the years of damage Trump accomplished as he tried to bully other nations with his America First policies.
Ronald Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as the evil empire. Many analysts believe Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is an effort to resurrect this once powerful force and reassert Russia’s role as a superpower. In these efforts, he has an all too willing ally in Donald Trump. And they are all too willing to launch the most dangerous offensive operation in Europe since World War II.
In order to be an effective spy, you need to be able to keep secrets. You need to blend into the background so you can commit your acts of espionage unnoticed. You need to quietly go about your business.
None of these describe Donald Trump.
On the other hand, a useful idiot…