Today President Trump will meet with Soviet strongman Vladimir Putin. Although technically he is the president of the Russian Federation, he still thinks of himself as the dictator of the now-defunct Soviet Union. Eight years ago he said, “The breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century,” a clear indication of his intention to reconstitute the “Evil Empire,” as Ronald ReAgan characterized it. He has already started the process. In 2008, when he was Prime Minister, Russia invaded Georgia. More recently, as President, he invaded and occupied parts of Ukraine, the greatest prize in his dream of a reconstituted Soviet Union.
The mainstream media is almost unanimous in its opinion that Putin will trash Trump in their meeting today. They point out that although Trump is a skilled businessman and negotiator, he is no match for the former KGB spymaster Putin. I think they’re wrong.
The two men are alike in many respects. They are both powerful personalities. They are both fiercely competitive. They both counter-attack fiercely when attacked. And they both dominate the room in every situation – not just by the power of their positions, but by the strength of their personalities. In other words, they are both Alpha males.
But there the similarities end. Trump is a good man. You can say what you like about his methods, but you cannot question his motives. He didn’t need to become president; in a very real sense, it was a demotion for him. As a self-made billionaire, he could do almost anything he wanted, with no one looking over his shoulder. Now he has 321 Million bosses.
Trump ran for the White House because he wanted to serve the nation that has been so good to him. He ran because Obama had run the nation into the ground, and Hillary would have completed the job. “Make America Great Again” is not a campaign slogan in Trump’s mind – it is his mission. He really believes that by getting the government off the backs of the people, protecting us from terrorists and illegal aliens, and unleashing the economic power that had been crushed by Obama bureaucrats, we can once again be prosperous and free.
On the other hand, Putin is the personification of evil. If Reagan were here today, he would probably say that Putin is the demon in charge of the evil empire. Since he is not here, I will say it for him. Let’s start with his political office. His actual title is Totalitarian Dictator. In response to calls for true democracy in Russia, he says that he runs a “managed democracy.” In other words, democracy is whatever he says it is. And that includes rigged elections and manipulating the system.
He never intends to relinquish power until he is dead. Russia has a constitution that he can eliminate at any time. But since he has found how to game it, he allows it to exist – for now. It says that a president can only serve two consecutive terms, but imposes no overall limit on the number of terms. He served two terms from 2000 to 2008. Then he put his handpicked crony Dmitry Medvedev in the position of president and made himself Prime Minister. For four years he continued to run the nation through his stooge, during which time he changed the term of the president from four to six years. Then in 2012, they swapped places, and now Putin can run the shop for 12 years until he plays the swap offices game again.
As far as his dreams of conquest, Putin still considers the nations of the former USSR as his property. Although none of them none of them ever joined the “Union” voluntarily, he believes they were traitors when they declared their independence. The Soviet Union was comprised of the Russian bear plus 19 smaller nations that were crushed militarily or by intimidation, and forced to “join” the USSR. Russia always had all the power, and the others were slave states. Unfortunately, Russia emulated the Roman Empire and colonized their new conquests. They encouraged Russian emigration to the colonies, giving Russian citizens houses and businesses stolen from the people in those nations. That gave them the “right” to intervene militarily if the slaves acted up, in order to “protect” ethnic Russians who lived there. Today they still use that ruse. That was their excuse for invading Ukraine and stealing its most prosperous region, Crimea.
I have personally spoken to several people, including pastors experienced in counseling, who have met Donald Trump. While they acknowledge that he (like all of us) has flaws, they believe that he is a good man and is a born-again believer.
Putin, on the other hand, only believes in personal power. He has no mercy and no humanity. Which is why I was shocked in 2006 when George W. Bush said, "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country." Well, he was right about the second part. He cares about his country – or, more accurately, his complete control of his country. But I can’t imagine what President Bush was thinking when he “found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.” His own intelligence officers could have told him that Putin has always been a vicious animal. But even if he believed his feelings, he should have kept them to himself. He made himself look foolish in the eyes of the world.
So today’s meeting will be a classic struggle between the forces of good and evil. Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I believe Trump will get the best of Putin, because he is the good guy.