Pat Buchanan crystallizes the idea behind Trump’s refusal to call Vladimir Putin a thug or killer. No president before has approached an enemy to bring peace by trashing them with pointless insults. It would seem the media and elite politicians are trying to poison the water of any potential Trump/Putin detente by forcing the president into a box. Buchanan writes:
Asked during his taped Super Bowl interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly whether he respected Putin, Trump said that, as a leader, yes.
O’Reilly pressed, “But he’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”
To which Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”
While his reply was clumsy, Trump’s intent was commendable.
If he is to negotiate a modus vivendi with a nation with an arsenal of nuclear weapons sufficient to end life as we know it in the USA, probably not a good idea to start off by calling its leader a “killer.”
Mitch McConnell rushed to assure America he believes Putin is a “thug” and any suggestion of a moral equivalence between America and Russia is outrageous.
Apparently referring to a polonium poisoning of KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko, Marco Rubio tweeted, “When has a Democratic political activist ever been poisoned by the GOP? Or vice versa?”
Yet, as we beat our chests in celebration of our own moral superiority over other nations and peoples, consider what Trump is trying to do here, and who is really behaving as a statesmen, and who is acting like an infantile and self-righteous prig.
When President Eisenhower invited Nikita Khrushchev to the United States, did Ike denounce him as the “Butcher of Budapest” for his massacre of the Hungarian patriots in 1956?
Did President Nixon, while negotiating his trip to Peking to end decades of hostility, speak the unvarnished truth about Mao Zedong—that he was a greater mass murderer than Stalin?
While Nixon was in Peking, Mao was conducting his infamous Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that resulted in millions of deaths, a years-long pogrom that dwarfed the two-day Kristallnacht. Yet Mao’s crimes went unmentioned in Nixon’s toast to America and China starting a “long march” together.
John McCain calls Putin a KGB thug, “a murderer, and a killer.”
Yet, Yuri Andropov, the Soviet ambassador in Budapest who engineered the slaughter of the Hungarian rebels with Russian tanks, became head of the KGB. And when he rose to general secretary of the Communist Party, Ronald Reagan wanted to talk to him, as he had wanted to talk to every Soviet leader.
Why? Because Reagan believed the truly moral thing he could do was negotiate to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
He finally met Gorbachev in 1985, when the USSR was occupying Afghanistan and slaughtering Afghan patriots.
The problem with some of our noisier exponents of “American exceptionalism” is that they lack Reagan’s moral maturity.
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