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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Carlos Alberto Montaner: Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump
Carlos Alberto Montaner takes us on a grand tour of the world and issues where Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin agree and disagree.

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

Vladimir Putin agrees with Donald Trump on certain important points.

They don’t agree on everything, but they do on some issues.

They disagree, for example, on Trump's endorsement of Israel, which seems right to me, and on the rejection of the Cuban, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Bolivian satrapies, a rejection that is consistent with American democracy, but which is not shared by Russian mild dictatorship.

In which issues do they coincide?

For one, Trump denied that Russia was an adversary of the United States. He firmly believes it. He said that to Tucker Carlson in an interview for Fox with the young journalist. According to Trump, Moscow helped the U.S. win World War II, a fact that hardly anyone disputes. The USSR, in fact, contributed 20 million corpses in order to defeat Nazism.

However, Russia did that after being attacked by Adolf Hitler, its former ally, in June 1941.

The war began in 1939 when the Nazis subjugated Poland coming from the west, while the Soviet Communists did the same thing from the east. In the secret clauses of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, which are known today, the two powers had shared Europe.

If Hitler had not opened the Russian front a few months earlier, the United States would probably have had to face the Soviets after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

In what other issues do Putin and Trump agree?

According to Putin, NATO is a military force that threatens Russia. Originally it faced the communist divisions of the Warsaw Pact, but since the disappearance of the USSR in 1991, and the immediate ending of that military alliance, NATO has been used to intervene in the former Yugoslavia, support the existence of Kosovo at the expense of Serbia, and destroy the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya, all of them clients or allies of Russia.

According to Moscow’s strong man, NATO should have been dissolved after the ending of the Warsaw Pact. Simultaneously, the former satellites of the USSR – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, Albania, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro – have swiftly sheltered under the military umbrella of NATO and the European Union. Ukraine did not do it, and Russia invaded it twice.

Trump – a protectionist and anti-globalization nationalist for many years – has serious doubts about the extent to which the United States should risk the lives of its soldiers and its economic destiny defending small countries like Montenegro, a fragment of the former Yugoslavia, without economic or historical ties with the United States, which later joined Serbia and finally opted a few years ago for independence.

Why, Trump asks, in the case of a Russian attack, like the one carried out in Crimea, should the Americans defend the Montenegrins in combat, if 95% of Americans does not even know where that minimal Balkan nation is?

In which other aspects are Trump and Putin are near each other?

In the rejection of immigrants, especially those of Islamic origin, and collective free trade agreements. Trump connects with Putin in those issues.

Both celebrated the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Putin much more discreetly), both appreciate the Dutchman Geert Wilders, and both applaud Hungarian leader Viktor Orban, also a builder of walls on his borders, erected to dissuade the immigrants that endanger the white and Christian identity of Europe.

Eventually, Europeans will have to defend themselves, create an army to replace NATO, and fund that organization.

Fortunately, the German economic muscle and the mastery of French nuclear technology can stop the Russian imperial spasm. It is true that France and Germany are second-class powers, but so is Russia, an economically backward country with a per capita similar to that of Greece, although endowed with disproportionate armed forces.

It is very likely that Trump embodies a very eloquent symptom of the weakening of U.S. international leadership after World War II and linked to the Cold War. The leadership lasted seventy years, but there is a substantial part of the American population that prefers to cancel that period. They are, precisely, Trump’s voters.

In any case, the important thing for everybody is that the European Union resists the thrust of its internal enemies –the Europhobes – and the external ones – Trump and Putin – until the next Russian implosion takes place. Maybe that cataclysm does not take long to arrive.

Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.


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