By Jason Taylor
President Obama’s sanctions are a gift to Trump; freeing him to pursue an alternative policy toward Russia. The gift is, of course, a bit of a two-edged sword as undoing those sanctions might prove to have a domestic political cost for Trump.
Vladimir Putin’s response seems, on the surface, to also be a gift to the President-elect, but, in fact, is a rather transparent trap. It strokes Trump’s ego evidenced by the latest Trump bromance tweet regarding Putin’s smarts. Now, whatever Trump does — keep or increase sanctions or reduce them, Trump has problems at home.
Trump is selling himself pretty cheap. Waiting to see how quickly the GOP Congress abandons almost 70 years of strident anti-Soviet and 30 years of anti-Russia ideological posturing.
This whole spectacle is like something out of a John LeCarre’ novel. Putin patiently bides his time until his implanted mole is firmly in place on January 20th. Given our nation’s sinister history of McCarthyism and red-baiting, it’s astonishing that we’ve allowed such unchecked collusion to occur in the first place. Kruschev was right back in the fifties when he predicted they would take us down from within.
Putin is relying on Trump’s business investments and connections in Russia and Russia’s client states, which investments would be threatened if the US were forced to withdraw its diplomats. Therefore, Putin has Trump in a bind, either risk jeopardy to his Russian-related investments, or do Putin’s bidding, essentially forcing Trump to commit treason. We will see which way this plays out.
In Russia, with its absence of institutional transparency and journalistic independence, it would be clear that the compromised leader would protect his personal interest in any decision with impunity. So this is a test for American journalists and for our democracy: can we uncover the real nature of the relationship between Putin and Trump, and the nature and extent of Trump’s dealings with Russia, Russian client states, and Russian financiers?
It is going to be a very difficult ongoing decision for the USA security forces to decide how much information to give Trump in those security briefings. Careless talk costs lives. The over impulsive, not very bright, narcissist Trump is likely to sling ‘careless words’ into a Tweet. Luckily he said ‘ I’m smart, I don’t need daily briefings. Call me if anything happens’. I expect they’ll have the real meetings when he is away and ‘simplified’ ones when he attends. But he’s giving them a free hand to run the world.
Now the president-elect agrees to sit for an intelligence briefing.
Hopefully, he will also be paying attention and maybe learn something.
If nothing else, I hope this briefing scares him as much as I am scared at the thought of his presidency.