Question: It is being called the Trump-Putin “bromance” and Hilary Clinton appears to put this so-called relationship at front and center of her campaign to be the next POTUS. Media are all over this – and the wildest claims are being made. What do you make of this?
Answer: Overwhelmingly so this is a one-side conversation based on very thin accusations. What can be confirmed is the two politicians have exchanged public pleasantries about each other. I was witnessed to one when attending the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last June. Putin would like to have better relations with the U.S. If Trump wants to have better relations with Russia, then why not was the sense of Putin’s words? There is nothing conspiratorial about that. And why would Putin have pleasant words for Hilary Clinton after she compared him to Hitler?
Q.: The media echo chamber is pulsating with the claim Trump would sell out his own country to please or appease Putin. Speak to this claim.
A.: Trump is a dealmaker – at least that is his claim to fame. He sees problems and deals with them (and it is always all about him). I think he sees Russia and Putin the same way. From what I know of Trump’s business practices he is ruthless and unpredictable (and not very trustworthy). He is dispassionate and cunning. Putin, on the other hand, is patient and calculating. Putin too is a masterful dealmaker – he makes sure Russia gets the best possible deal at very little cost. My hunch is that Trump sees Putin as a worthy opponent. But I see no evidence Trump would ever buckle under to do Putin a favor – it’s simply not his nature. It is a matter public record Trump has had very harsh words for Russia – in many ways he is no different from the traditional media bashing of Russia and its policies. For the moment the lamestream wishes to forget about this.
Q.: Would the Kremlin like to see Trump president? Trump has talked about re-defining NATO, refusing to arm Ukraine, drop sanctions, and even recognize Crimea as part of Russia.
A.: These are all good points – and yes Russia most likely looks favorably on all of them. But looking favorably on somethings doesn’t mean the Kremlin hopes or expects such things to happen if Trump is elected. The fact is Putin and most of the Russian political elite does not trust the west, particularly the U.S. They have many good reasons to think this way. All the points you mention can be looked at in a different way. Instead of saying they benefit Russia, how about how they benefit the west? The conventional wisdom is NATO is a pillar of western security. This is laughably false. NATO’s primary mission is to exist. To exist it needs a threat – Russia is the alliance’s convenient threat. Trump is not alone when saying this. Many serious thinkers have questioned NATO expansion to the east since Bill Clinton started this process in the 1990s.
Also, why should the U.S. arm Ukraine? Ukraine isn’t in NATO. Ukraine today is a security threat for all its neighbors since the U.S. backed the illegal regime there in 2014. It is perfectly normal for Trump and others to ask how escalating the internal conflict in Ukraine benefits the U.S. or its NATO allies?
On sanctions it needs to be remembered that Russia has NEVER asked to have the sanctions ended. Russia’s position is that sanctions are illegitimate. If Trump wants to drop them, then fine. But the Russian side – because of principle – will not ever ask for this. This all may be a mute point – the Europeans may out of necessity force the next American president’s hand.
Finally regarding the status of Crimea: The democratic return of Crimea was the direct result of the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected president. In fact, the U.S. determined Crimea’s fate and not Russia. It is simply silly for Washington now to hold hostage future relations with Russia because of a horrifically stupid policy adventure. You reap what you sow.
Q.: Are you surprised that Team Clinton and her cheerleaders in the “exceptionally uniform media” have targeted Putin as weapon against Trump?
A.: Team Clinton was caught red-handed rigging the Democratic Party’s primary process. Hacked and later leaked emails from the DNC prove this beyond a doubt. The Democratic Party can now scarcely call itself democratic. The hacked and leaked emails may or may not have been the work of Russian security services – but so what? That is what security services do – the NSA does it on a global scale. What is important here is how the emails were later used: to suggest this was done to for the sole benefit of Team Trump. This is again an example of how the west’s political elite and its obedient media think and work – they never can accept responsibility for their actions. It is as if Team Clinton says: “Ok, we did evil, but there is greater evil out there (e.g. the Russians). This is the politics of adolescents.
Q.: Hypothetical: President Trump and President Putin meet – what happens?
A.: Both leaders pride themselves on success. Both want the better of the deal. Neither side will do the other any favors. Ironically, this is best of possible starts. If Trump proposes real ideas and not just empty rhetoric, I bet Putin will listen carefully. If not, Putin and Russians will deem Trump no different from the kindergarten sandbox full card box cranks known as American politics.
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.