By Blair Bess
During WWII, when the communist government of Joseph Stalin joined the United States and Great Britain in their battle against Nazi Germany, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill observed, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Somehow the interpretation of this message has been lost in translation for President Donald Trump. He’s turned friends into enemies and enemies into friends. The gnawing question continues to be why?
The Russians meddled in our elections. Our intelligence agencies have made this abundantly clear. They present ever-increasing evidence that the Putin regime did so to favor one candidate over another. This does not mean, however, the Russian government alone was responsible for President Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.
The former Secretary of State blew her chances of occupying the White House in any number of ways. A President Clinton II would, by now, most likely have been juggling more china-laden plates than even President Trump and, under this Republican Congress, might well be on her way to impeachment proceedings.
Vladimir Putin and his regime are the beneficiaries of a type of turmoil that would have occurred regardless of who had won the 2016 presidential election. Since then, disagreements and differences of opinion have devolved into a national sickness, viciously pitting those with one set of political beliefs against those with another.
The Russians have fomented a level of chaos and distrust that has opened the door for the desecration of civil American society; a democracy that, until now, has been a form of government that has been more successful than any other in history and the envy of all. All except Vladimir Putin, who now watches with glee as the alliances of which the U.S. has long been a leader develop fissures so deep it will take decades to mend.
And yet, the president – on impulse, though he says it’s strategy – is willing to embrace the leader of an oppressive regime and suggest he and his corrupt government be brought back from the economic dead and invited to rejoin the G7 nations (or the G6+1; or, quite possibly, just the G6 the way things are going).
This is not strategy. This is ignorance of the very reason why Putin was absent during the summit held in Canada recdently and from previous meetings: a response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014.
This ignorance of history should come as no surprise. During the presidential campaign, candidate Trump displayed a total lack of knowledge regarding Putin’s invasion of Crimea. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, he said he might recognize Russia’s claim to land that was an undisputed part of Ukraine, a sovereign nation. Trump said “the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they are.”
That wasn’t exactly true. While some people of Russian heritage living in Crimea may have welcomed the candidate’s remarks as much as they did Russia’s invasion, most Ukrainians did not.
Trump’s opinions would be tantamount to saying that some Americans would rather be with Russia than where they are. Most likely, Americans whose ancestral home may once have been Smolensk. Or those who favor foods like borscht, caviar, kotlety and beef stroganoff.
Or Americans like President Trump for that matter.
The president appears to enjoy spending quality time with Vladimir Putin more so than Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Theresa May of the U.K., French President Emmanuel Macron, Italy’s new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti; as well as his favorite golfing buddy, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. You know, those G7 members who counted on us and we counted on as allies.
But hey, let’s be fair. The president had a lot on his plate, so he decided to skip dinner and get out of Dodge – or Quebec – as quickly as he could. Before the G7 summit ended. Trade wars be damned.
The president had more important things to do, places to go, people to see. Like North Korean dictator and fratricidal crown prince Kim Jong Un, whose reputation for dispatching political rivals and relatives (some, one and the same) is known the world over. But, like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un is, in the president’s words, “very honorable.”
Blair Bess is a Los Angeles-based television writer, producer and columnist.