People on the left, for the better part of a year, have been touting with absolute certainty the connection between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Like some sort of advanced calculus equation, they diagram out these fantastical connections that they are so sure exist between the two men. For the past year and a half, the media and Democrats have fervently reported that Trump must be in league with Putin, because they interfered in the election, coupled with Trump’s unwillingness to trash Putin in the media prior to the election. Their explanation for this is that clearly Putin has blackmail information, such as reported in the Steele Dossier, or at the very least there’s some sort of vague collusion to sell the United States out and advance Russian interests. Possibly that Trump is such an egomaniac that he’d do anything to win, or that he is covering up various murky business interests. We have witnessed hearing after hearing, and watched our elected officials rant for hours about the “subversion of our democracy” by Putin.
What has Trump, the supposed colluder, actually done?
So far, by all accounts, Trump has been tougher on Russia than President Obama. From arming Ukraine, fueling Poland, Syrian opposition, and sanctions, Trump is undermining Russian interests at every turn. We have seen no evidence of being “soft” on Russia through removal of sanctions, the Magnitsky Act, or any other geopolitical maneuvers that would further Russian interests either directly or even indirectly. What then, is the root of Trump’s admiration and even praise for Putin going back to early in the election?
He thought we could work together to advance our interests.
It really is that simple. For Trump, a successful businessman, he actually really believed he could make it work. Russian resets for years have failed because we never approached it as a business transaction. Maybe it’s because we never had a successful billionaire negotiator that understood the importance of relationships. Our leaders always talked about a “Russian reset” but somehow could never pull it off. Maybe it’s because we were more than happy to trash Putin in a very public manner, then expect that he would play ball with us whenever we felt like it. Imagine that I come over to your place of business to talk with you about a deal, then immediately upon entering I hear you talking over the intercom about what an abhorrent person I am. How likely would I be to make a deal with you in good faith? Trump fundamentally understood the relationship component, and didn’t want to torch the potential of a deal before he was even elected. The media and democrats wanted you to believe that Trump wouldn’t trash Putin because he was in league with him, when in reality Trump was playing “How to Win Friends and Influence People” 101 right in our faces and a lot of people didn’t recognize it as what it was: Smart business tactics.
The reality centers around something far less nefarious. I believe this is really just a failure of imagination on the part of the opposition. They are still triggered from a devastating loss, so they need to invent reasons Trump won, to absolve themselves of the cognitive dissonance they are experiencing. The reality of all of this is that Donald Trump legitimately just didn’t want to trash a potential deal before even sitting at the table. If you’ve ever worked in the private sector, you’d understand the necessity of maintaining relationships. You don’t torpedo a potential deal by running your mouth in public before you’ve even met someone. This is why he was so averse to publicly trashing Putin. He knew he might have to make a deal at some point in the interests of the US, so why immediately start out by trashing the guy just to look tough on TV?
Due to his reluctance to savaging a world leader in public, the other side invented the narrative that they were either buddies or Putin had blackmail information on him. After a year and a half, we haven’t seen one single piece of evidence that Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin. After all this time, the most that the opposition has been able to muster is a vague obstruction argument, and they’ve virtually abandoned the central collusion argument. So now, here we sit, unable to make a mutually beneficial deal regarding ISIS, trade, or North Korea, all because a bunch of triggered liberals invented an excuse for losing an election. Imagine the pressure we could exert on North Korea or Iran if we worked with Russia and China, who incidentally has done arguably worse to us than Russia. No one thinks Putin is a great guy, we all think he’s a dictator who works to undermine the United States. However it is possible for two things to be true:
1. Vladimir Putin is a reprehensible individual.
2. We can advance our geopolitical interests with him.
Then of course you have the “strongman” leader theory. The idea is that Donald Trump envies Putin and wants the same level of dictatorial power Putin wields. Again, this comes down to failure of imagination. In this instance as well it is possible for two things to be true:
1. I respect the power of this individual.
2. I understand he would love to see us compromised.
So much of this narrative just boils down to imagination. Democrats just can’t imagine a scenario that Trump would praise Putin, other than that they colluded with one another. They can’t envision that the man they’ve been calling a moron for 2 years might actually have some decent strategy up his sleeve.
Think of this: We have left a tremendous amount of strategy on the table, simply because Trump cannot be seen to do anything even remotely positive with Putin. So in essence, the Democrats have actually hurt the country due to their fake investigation that’s produced exactly zero evidence after a year and a half. It is politically impossible for Trump to do a single thing that could be seen as even slightly friendly with Putin. He would be excoriated instantly, even if it were to combat ISIS or leverage North Korea or Iran. It’s highly possible that people have even died, just simply because we are unable to partner with one of the foremost powers in the world to combat terrorism. No one thinks Putin is a noble player, but we could have used him in a variety of ways all over the globe. Instead we are stuck in an idiotic game where Trump can’t even breathe the wrong way around Russia without a new hearing being launched and Cold War 2 being declared.
The truth about Trump and Putin is that there is no Trump and Putin, and there never was. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, there likely never will be.
“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”
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“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”
Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.