Tell me who your friends are

I especially liked the moment when the Botox Boy passed a World Cup football to Trump and said: “The ball is in your court”.

Trump accepted the gift gratefully and tossed it to Melania. Score another one for the extravaganza of political propaganda designed to boost the image of Putin’s bandit state.

Those who harbour doubts about the true political function of the World Cup ought to read the coverage it received in Putin’s poodle press. This, for example, is what his staunchest acolyte, the political scientist (!) and Duma member Sergei Markov, said before the England-Croatia semi-final:

“Whom shall we prefer? British slanderers and poisoners or Croatian neo-fascists? Both are bad. But still, the Russians dislike fascists even more than the British…” (In case you miss the reference, the British poisoned the Skripals and then slanderously claimed the Russians had done it.)

By agreeing to play political football with the Botox Boy, Trump effectively endorsed such statements for, whatever Putin’s dummies say, he’s the ventriloquist. He’s the one who opened the valve in the sewer of foul anti-Western effluvia.

Trump de facto endorsed the most hostile and belligerent anti-American propaganda that Russia has ever produced since Stalin’s halcyon days. Putin’s Goebbelses routinely and incessantly talk about turning America into radioactive ash and creating the ‘North American Strait’, meaning obliterating the land between Canada and Mexico.

It’s against that backdrop that Trump delivered the most fawning and sycophantic performance by an American president facing a criminal dictator.

(The important part is ‘criminal’ rather than ‘dictator’. Not every undemocratic state, say Franco’s Spain, is criminal in the same old-fashioned sense as Putin’s kleptofascist junta is. Dictatorship is a guarantee of evil no more than democracy is a guarantee of virtue.)

It was moral equivalence run riot. America and Russia, commiserated Trump, are equally to blame for the souring of relations. We’ve both made mistakes, he said.

It’s no wonder that his detractors and allies alike were up in arms. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said: “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”

Then again, Ryan has never taken any pains to conceal his distaste for the president. Not so his predecessor Newt Gingrich, who has always been Trump’s loyal ally.

Yet he too was appalled: “President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected – immediately.”

Gingrich was referring to the issue of Russia’s meddling in US presidential elections that – unlike any other crimes committed by Putin’s mafia – did come up during the post-summit press conference.

Fielding a question, Trump uttered a truly emetic statement: “I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

In other words, our spooks can produce any intelligence they like but, if Putin says he didn’t do it, that’s it. Open and shut case. Mr Jones, did you kill your wife? No? Splendid. Case dismissed. Bang goes the gavel.

Why, Donald’s best friend even offered a joint investigation into the case of 12 Russian spies indicted for hacking in the US. That, according to Trump, is “an incredible offer.”

So it is, if we use the word in its literal sense. Incidentally, Putin made the same ‘incredible’ offer relating to the Skripal poisoning, which, to its credit, the British government dismissed with the contempt it deserved.

The offer would become credible if it came packaged with the magic word ‘extradition’. Without it, it’s yet another KGB ruse from the Botox Boy’s repertoire.

Trump has form in taking Putin’s word on vital issues. For example, last year he ignored the overwhelming evidence that not so much showed as proved that the Russians are behind Kim’s missile and nuclear programmes. Why such credulity? Because “I believe Mr Putin.”

The basis for this implicit trust isn’t immediately clear. Putin’s whole career is based on lies, as befits a career KGB man who made a painless tradition into international gangsterism on a scale never before seen in history – and I use these words advisedly.

Available in the public domain are reams of evidence, complete with countless document facsimiles, showing Putin’s personal links with all four major Russian mafia families, called ‘criminal groupings’ in Russia, from the time of their inception.

(The Russophones among you will find such documents on the site The rest may just enjoy the pictures.)

He’s the embodiment of history’s unique blend of organised crime and secret police, known as the Russian government. A government whose every action betokens its true nature.

Trump believes that Putin didn’t meddle in the US election. Yes, the Botox Boy did say he wanted Trump to win. So what? That doesn’t mean he tried to do anything about it.

This in spite of incontrovertible evidence that a whole troll factory was created in Petersburg specifically for the task of subverting Western politics.

There’s no prima facie evidence, however, of Trump’s complicity in any hacking or trolling. That most members of his original team have been shown to be acting on Russia’s behalf doesn’t ipso facto constitute such proof in any corroborative sense.

Yet Trump makes himself sound guilty by denying the very fact of Russia’s hacking and trolling, which has been demonstrated by masses of counterintelligence data. Moreover, he sees the gathering of such information as a deliberate effort to sour relations with Russia and perhaps impeach him into the bargain.

So fine, he believes the Botox Boy’s denials. But even so, is the US as guilty of the rift as Putin’s Russia?

Suggesting this, as Trump does, can be either idiotic or, as his critics insist, treasonous. Seeking, as I always do, to find a good side in people, I’d like to think it’s the former.

Such moral equivalence depends on stretching credulity to a snapping point. Does Trump also believe – as Putin’s media scream around the clock – that America is to blame for Putin’s attack on the Ukraine following his illegal annexation of the Crimea?

Was it America that shot down Flight MH 17, murdering 298 passengers and crew? Killed at least 10,000 people when pouncing on the Ukraine? Poisoned Litvinenko with polonium and the Skripals with Novichok? Laundered at least a trillion through US banks, and as much elsewhere? Inundated Western countries with spies and gangsters? Armed such rogue states as Iran and North Korea, along with terrorist organisations like Hamas and Hezbollah?

Trump likes to portray Putin as his fellow fighter against terrorism. Yes, and Herostratus is the patron saint of firemen everywhere.

The president could do worse than look at Putin’s 15-year career in the KGB. The Russian media portray him as a sort of Soviet Bond, an intrepid intelligence operative. He was nothing of the sort.

For the first 10 years of his employment Putin worked for the Fifth Chief Directorate, whose function was to squash dissent by developing a network of snitches and agents provocateurs. It was only after that stint that he, already a major, was transferred to the First Directorate (foreign intelligence) and posted to Dresden.

But he wasn’t a head of the KGB station there for the simple reason that there was no such thing. The KGB spied with East Germany, not against her, which is why it had not stations but representations there.

As the KGB representative in Dresden, Putin’s primary responsibility was to act as the conduit for the money, arms and logistic support flowing from Russia to a whole raft of terrorist organisations, from the Red Army Faction to the PLO.

Hence Putin had few global equals in the effort to promulgate terrorism – as he has none now. Claiming that this man is a reliable ally in America’s struggle against terrorism is like claiming that the Islamic State may help to promote religious tolerance.

When asked if he has a dossier of compromising material on Trump, Putin didn’t deny it outright. Instead he mumbled something to the effect that such trifles aren’t worth talking about.

Perhaps. But I’d like to hear another explanation for Trump’s disgraceful behaviour.

His impassioned fans point at the absence of any concessions to Putin announced after the summit. No sanctions have been repealed, no Russian spies exonerated, no foreign territory offered as a peace offer.

That’s true. But ‘announced’ is the operative word. We don’t know what was promised during the meeting between Trump and Putin behind closed doors.

But even if no future concessions were promised, it’s naïve to deny that the tone of international diplomacy matters. Had Trump been as critical of Putin as he was of America’s Western allies, this article wouldn’t have been written, and both his allies and critics would be spared the threat of apoplexy.

Trump’s sycophancy – even if unprompted by any blackmail – sends the kind of signals that are bound to embolden Putin. And his kleptofascist regime needs no encouragement.

6 thoughts on “Tell me who your friends are”

  1. I don’t like Putin, but why would he want the one pro fracking candidate to win? Surely Trump was the worst person for Putin to win as he will have the biggest negative effect on oil prices?

      1. True but prices are still lower than in 2015, also any new fracking due to Trump would not be overnight (particularly as prices were very low in 2016)

  2. Uh oh, yesterday Peter Hitchens blasted Trump for his handling of himself in the UK and his treatment of PM May. Could there be agreement between you and PH on Trump?

    1. Hitchens adores Putin and his criminal regime. Hence Trump’s sycophancy has won brownie points, as far as Hitchens is concerned. So no agreement on that one, I’m afraid. I do see, without altogether sharing, his point on Trump in Britain though.

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