Saturday, December 17, 2016

Why Trump and Putin are in love

Good analysis, it seems to me. It not only lays out the reasons for Vladimir Putin's antipathy toward Hillary Clinton (and yes, Trump partisans, Vlad does hate Hillary), but provides insight into both a personality and an agenda which dovetail remarkably with those of Donald Trump.

Trump and Putin are both personally insecure authoritarians who project their self-doubt upon their nations. Their rhetoric in each case resonates with those who themselves are filled with self-doubt and project their own sense of self-loathing upon those same nations.

In Putin's case, he was deeply humiliated by Russia's defeat in the Cold War and determined to renew the contest with the  United States and win this time. In Trump's case, his nation is the most powerful on earth, but partly due to the world economic meltdown in 2008, partly as a result of bad decisions by national leaders of both parties, and party due to the eagerness of those in the grips of the hostility which always is expressed toward the dominant economic and political world power to belittle it and humiliate it in every way possible. While Putin wants to "make Russia great again" by reasserting its eminence in the international arena at the expense of the United States, Trump seeks to "make America great again" by abandoning the international arena to Putin, adopting a protectionist trade strategy which history has demonstrated does not work, and generally "circling the wagons" and adopting a defensive posture toward an increasingly hostile world.

That both men have similar personal insecurities has led to more than their mutual penchant or egotism and macho preening. Both are deeply corrupt. Both are profoundly authoritarian personalities. Trump (and, in case it has escaped anyone's notice, typically his followers)  habitually threaten their opponents and critics; Putin has his killed or ruined. While I doubt that Donald Trump will ever descend to the moral depths that Putin has, both men are classic bullies for whom defeating opponents is not enough. They must humiliate them at best and destroy them if they've really gotten under their skins. Trump's thinly-veiled threats dating back to the earliest days of the campaign to use embarrassing information to which he supposedly has access to destroy his opponents or even to abuse the powers of the presidency to do so are chilling given his personal similarities to Putin.

Trump's investments in Russia (as well as in Iran, China, and other unfriendly countries) are just icing on the cake. His similar personality to Putin's promotes mutual understanding, which in other circumstances might actually be a good thing. But their geopolitical aims dovetail so neatly that those conflicts of interest are the least of our worries.

I doubt that Trump will serve more than one term if he gets through even that. But a lot of damage can be done in less than one term. The longer Trump serves, the greater the likelihood will be that when it's over Trump's "greater" America will be weaker at home and drastically diminished in international influence, while Russia, if no better off domestically, will share with China the mantle of the major geopolitical player on earth.

Putin and Trump are similar in many ways. But Putin is both smarter and more ruthless, which does ot bode well for the West in the next four ears.

Graphic by Greg Palmer
HT: Real Clear World

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