If the last few disastrous days of American diplomacy prove anything it’s this: Vladimir Putin’s investment in Donald Trump has paid off far beyond the Russian dictator’s wildest dreams.
As I said on the radio this morning, it’s like Putin dropped five bucks on a scratch-off lottery ticket at the corner gas station and found the million-dollar jackpot underneath.
From President Trump’s attempted demolition of the NATO alliance at its summit in Brussels, to his undermining of British Prime Minister Theresa May that further destabilized her already tenuous hold over her own government, to describing the European Union as a foe of the United States, to his final lickspittle, groveling performance at the feet of Vladimir Putin before the eyes of the world’s media in Helsinki, this was a week unlike any we have ever seen in modern American foreign policy.
As Putin’s top diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, put it, from their perspective the Trump-Putin meeting in Finland wasn’t just “better than super,” it was “fabulous.”
And why shouldn’t the Russians assess it that way? In their joint press conference, Trump openly rejected the consensus of his own government and embraced Putin’s “powerful denial” that Russia had in any way interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Trump said it was the United States that was responsible for tense relations between the two countries, both his predecessor in the Oval Office and the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian meddling.
Certainly nothing he was willing to point the finger at Putin for, like waging covert war in eastern Ukraine, or using military force to redraw international borders by forcibly annexing Crimea, or shooting down a civilian air liner over Ukrainian territory in 2014, or the use of a deadly chemical weapon on British soil in an attempt to assassinate a Putin critic earlier this year.
In fact, Trump didn’t mention even one of those.
And why would he? When you’re someone else’s puppet, they’re the one pulling strings. Trump just acts, and speaks, accordingly.