We like to underscore the good things baby boomers do. But we also have to admit, since both U.S. president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin are baby boomers, it’s not all good. That’s what BoomerCafé’s co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs examines in this Boomer Opinion piece called, Russian and American Baby Boomers in Cahoots.
“Nyet.” All Donald Trump had to do was say “nyet,” which is Russian for “no.”
I’m sure he knows the word. Between his grandiose plans at least 15 years ago for a Trump Tower in Moscow and his proud performance a half dozen years ago when he staged his Miss Universe pageant in Russia’s capital, he must have heard the word more than once. And if not then, then how about some time during his more recent bromance with the former KGB agent who now runs Russia with an iron hand? Maybe Putin said it when Donald Trump tried to give him a kiss.
But, no, Trump never said “nyet.” Not when Turkey’s president pushed into Syria to chase our allies, the Kurds, as Trump pulled American troops out. Not when Russia’s president then hosted Turkey’s president in the Russian city of Sochi to cement their deal to divvy up Syrian territory between them.
All Trump said was, come on in. To Russia!! His very words were, “If Russia wants to get involved with Syria, that’s really up to them,” followed a few days later with, “Others have come out to help and we welcomed them to do so.”
Why don’t we say the same about others we defend… especially if, as the president so crudely put it about the Kurds as he was leaving them in the lurch for their predators, “They didn’t help us with Normandy.” Neither did the Saudis, but we’re now sending them almost 3,000 more U.S. troops, plus warplanes and other weapons, to help defend them against Iran. So why doesn’t Trump say, “If Russia wants to get involved in Saudi Arabia, that’s really up to them, we welcome them to do so?”
Do you see where this is going? Russia, which lost its place at the table when its predecessor, the Soviet Union, crumbled, is back at the table again, with a firm foothold in the Middle East. Staring at us eye to eye. Or at least, it would be if we still had a place at the table ourselves. But we don’t. Trump got up and walked away. And gave his chair to Mr. Putin.
His chair? Our chair!
I did two different documentaries about politics in Russia over the past ten years and I promise you, this is right where Putin wants to be perched. If the documentaries had a single theme, it was the drumbeat of nationalism seen and heard all over Russia, pushed by Putin: We were a superpower once, we can be a superpower again.
I just never thought it would be an American president who would help make his wish come true.
Of course it didn’t just start. It started when Trump welcomed Russia’s influence in the American presidential election and even cried out during his campaign, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 (Hillary Clinton) emails that are missing.” It started when as president, Trump proclaimed publicly— time after time— that he trusts Vladimir Putin more than he trusts his own people, his own advisors, his own intelligence experts. It started when Trump reportedly told fellow leaders at last year’s G7 Summit in Canada, “Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian,” even though it’s only “Russian” because Russia invaded Crimea and annexed it in 2014. It started when Trump took so much off the table in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute that the Palestinians said that if there were to be peace talks at all, they’d prefer they be held in Moscow.
Read other stories and opinion pieces by Greg Dobbs. Click here!
Now it continues with Russia replacing us in Syria. And partnering militarily with Turkey. Just think about that for a moment: Turkey— the second biggest army in NATO— playing footsie with the very nation NATO was created to counter.
Because Trump had neither the guts, nor the strategic grasp, nor the wish, to say “nyet.”
Russia is back.
This is a nation where civil rights have been crushed. A nation where journalists who’ve looked the wrong way at Vladimir Putin have been murdered. A nation I once covered where I knew people— when it was the Soviet Union— who yearned for the liberties we had, and after the Soviet system disappeared, they got them. But then, in short order, they lost them again when they got a president named Putin. A nation we’ve helped put back on the world stage.
Mitch McConnell, the overseer of the spineless Republicans in the Senate, spoke out the other day against sanctions toward Turkey for its behavior in Syria (which his president unleashed), declaring, “We don’t want to further drive a NATO ally into the arms of the Russians.”
Sorry Mitch, that horse is out of the barn. You’re a little late.
It only underscores the importance of the testimony of our former ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. He told the impeachment inquiry that after learning that Trump was holding up money for political purposes that Congress had appropriated to help Ukraine repel Russia’s bid to redraw its borders through force, he looked across a bridge at Russian-backed military units and thought, “More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die.” At Russia’s hand.
Does anyone remember the “Red Scare” any more? It’s really better known as “McCarthyism,” a rabid crusade to root out communist sympathizers— “reds”— in American society. It’s where Richard Nixon earned his bones. And it was a crusade of Republicans, worried about Russia’s insidious influence. What happened to their angst? Why do they now silently sit by and let our unenlightened president show Russia’s undemocratic president such deference? Maybe we should call it reverence. Why do they sit silently while he hands Russia such gifts?
There are plenty of theories out there. One is that dating back decades to his dreams of a deal in Russia even as his casinos in the U.S. were collapsing, Donald Trump still is beholden to Putin’s friends in the Russian mafia, who reportedly helped bail him out; this actually is documented in journalist Craig Unger’s book House of Trump, House of Putin. Another is that the report in a former British intelligence agent’s dossier that Trump lasciviously watched Russian prostitutes urinate in a Moscow hotel room in 2013 is true… and that Putin has a tape to prove it.
In a way though, the “whys” don’t matter. We have a president who is forsaking American power and influence to Russia.
Putin’s superpower is growing in stature. Ours is shrinking. Because Donald Trump won’t say “nyet.”