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The Myth that Won't Die: Donald Trump as Russia's Puppet

March 25, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Donald Trump’s political adversaries, along with an
assortment of Russia haters in the foreign-policy community and the
news media, keep pushing the narrative that Trump is Vladimir
Putin’s puppet. That allegation shows few signs of
dissipating even though no credible evidence supporting it has
emerged. Unfortunately, the situation is unlikely to change even
though Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation
concluded that the Russian government’s meddling in the 2016
presidential election did not entail collusion with the Trump
campaign.

Yet, shrill allegations of treason have been commonplace, reaching a
crescendo following last year’s Trump-Putin summit in
Helsinki, when the president made some highly favorable comments
about his Russian counterpart. The innuendos and outright
accusations persist. And despite the bland outcome of the Mueller
investigation, congressional Democrats, most notably House
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), insist that
they will continue to investigate the “Russia
collusion” angle.

Russophobes seem to believe that if they repeat an absurdity
often enough, it somehow becomes true. The myth that Trump has been
Putin’s puppet falls into that category. Trump did commit the
apparently unpardonable sin during the 2016 campaign of advocating
better relations with Moscow, and he was guilty of using effusive
diplomatic language at Helsinki. But if one examines his
administration’s actual policies toward Russia, the notion
that he is “doing Putin’s bidding” or even
pursuing an appeasement policy evaporates.

Critics who contend otherwise need to cite specific Trump
administration policies that Putin welcomes. It would be a very
difficult task.

It certainly would not be Russian enthusiasm about Trump’s
decision to end U.S. adherence to the Intermediate
Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The Kremlin reacted firmly to that
action and warned that Washington’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty
would compel Russia to develop new missiles ; in response, Russia
would resume targeting U.S. bases in Europe and important assets of
America’s NATO allies. That is a curious reaction from Putin if his
aim was to prompt his puppet to take that step.

It is also unlikely that Russia is happy about the Trump
administration’s approval of two major arms sales to Ukraine. The latter
sale in spring 2018 even included Javelin anti-tank missiles. Since
Moscow backs a secessionist war in eastern Ukraine and is on very
bad terms overall with the government in Kiev, the U.S. decision to
boost the military capabilities of Russia’s nemesis is a hostile
act, not one of appeasement. Indeed, it is a step that Barack Obama
pointedly refused to take. A similar escalation of Washington’s
support for Kiev is evident with the Trump administration’s program
to to train Ukrainian …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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