Russian President Vladimir Putin’s escalating threats to invade and annex Ukraine have drawn global condemnation. Former President Donald Trump, though, had a different take. Asked to comment on the crisis by conservative talk radio host Buck Sexton, Trump responded with enthusiastic praise for everything Putin did. The Russian leader, Trump said, was a “genius.” He was “smart.” He was “savvy.”
Some pundits, analysts, and supporters in the past have argued that Trump’s foreign policy instincts are dovish. They’ve seen in him a proponent of nationalist isolationism which would reduce US interventionism and conflict worldwide. But Trump’s support of Putin’s aggressive imperialist war demonstrates once again that fantasies about authoritarian absolutism do not create a strong foundation for peace.
Trump has long expressed enthusiastic admiration for Putin, and Putin has praised him right back. Putin called Trump “talented” when he was running for the Republican nomination in 2016; Trump responded by saying that even if Putin killed journalists and invaded other countries, “at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.” During his campaign against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump publicly appealed to Russia to hack her accounts. Evidence suggests they did just that. When Putin (unconvincingly) denied any involvement in US election hacking, Trump praised him as “very, very strong.”
It’s tempting to think that Trump defends Putin solely out of self-interest since Putin has verbally and quite possibly materially supported Trump’s political career. But Trump also praises many authoritarian leaders — like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan — who was not involved in US election tampering. “He’s a strong guy, tough guy” Trump said about Chinese president Xi Jinping. Trump admires authoritarians not despite their harsh rule, or their repression of their people, but because of it. The vision of unfettered power, deployed without accountability or restraint, seems to appeal to him.
Source: El Diario