“Vladimir Putin is a thug and a murderer and a killer and a KGB agent,” Sen. John McCain said on CBS’s “Face of the Nation.” Before a phone call between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, McCain issued a statement doubling-down with a statement to remind everyone that Putin is a war criminal.
“Russia’s war on Ukraine has killed over 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. Russia supplied the weapons that shot down a commercial aircraft over Ukraine and killed 298 innocent people. Russia has conducted a massive military buildup along NATO’s eastern flank, conducted large-scale military exercises, violated the borders, airspace, and territorial waters of its neighbors, and intensified its propaganda efforts to undermine the governments of our allies.
Russia has propped up the murderous Assad regime as it has waged war on the Syrian people and killed more than 400,000 civilians. Russia’s military has targeted Syrian hospitals and first responders with precision weapons. Instead of targeting ISIL, Russia has focused its operations against the moderate Syrian opposition, which has only empowered extremist forces in the country. And in the most flagrant demonstration of Putin’s disdain and disrespect for our nation, Russia deliberately interfered in our recent election with cyberattacks and a disinformation campaign designed to weaken America and discredit Western values.”
Russia has propped up the murderous Assad regime
Putin is the leader of a tyrannical regime. Yes, Putin is an undeniable dictator despite holding “elections” and touting the bogus title of “President” as a manipulative masking agent of Democracy since 2000. In 2008, Putin was barred from a third term under their constitution, but on May 8th 2008 only one day after handing the presidency over to Dmitry Medvedev, Putin was appointed the Prime Minister of Russia and effectively maintained his political dominance over Russia. By 2012, Putin retained his title of “president” again and last month, he was re-elected again.
Not to mention, during his reign, nearly a dozen Russian journalists and vocal critics of Putin died under suspicious circumstances.
In 2015, just hours after urging the public to join a march against Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine, Boris Nemtsov was shot four times in the back by an unknown assailant within view of the Kremlin. Putin allegedly took “total control” of the investigation into his murder, but it yielded absolutely nothing and zero suspects.
In 2006, Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya whose book, “Putin’s Russia,” accused the Kremlin leader of turning the country into a dictatorship – extensively writing about abuse in Chechnya. She was murdered in an elevator in her apartment building. Five men were convicted of her murder, but the judge found that it was a contract killing with $150,000 of the fee paid by a person whose identity was never discovered. Former KGB, Putin, of course, denied any Kremlin involvement in Politkovskaya’s killing.
Denied any Kremlin involvement in Politkovskaya’s killing
In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko was a former KGB agent who died three weeks after drinking a cup of tea laced with deadly polonium-210 at a London hotel. A British inquiry found that Litvinenko and two Russian agents, who were acting on orders that had “probably been approved” by Putin, poisoned her. Putin refused to extradite the two and in 2015 the Russian president granted one of the agents a medal for “services to the motherland.”
On March 4th of this year, a nerve agent attack on former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in southern England, which Prime Minister Theresa May claimed it was “highly likely” that the attack was initiated from Moscow.
Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a direct condemnation of Russia for the attack, “There is never a justification for this type of attack – the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation – and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior. From Ukraine to Syria – and now the UK – Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.”
The next day, Tillerson was fired.
And in the wake of Tillerson being fired, now we’re hearing reports out of the Kremlin that President Trump indicated on a March 20th phone call that he would like to invite President Putin to the U.S. for a visit, or as the White House claimed it would be among “a number of potential venues.” This isn’t just a slap to the face of one of our closest allies, but it would also mark one of America’s worst diplomatic decisions.
But before we delve into why we have to take a good long hard look in the mirror.
“What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?” President Trump told then-Fox News analyst Bill O’Reilly in a taped interview aired Sunday on the Super Bowl pregame show in 2017 only weeks after being sworn in during his inauguration.
Here’s the thing. Love him or hate him; Trump is right.
America has long had the reputation for meddling in elections like Vietnam, Italy, Nicaragua, Serbia, Venezuela and the list goes on and on. We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers and banners to manipulate the outcomes of elections. So how can we hypocritically demonize Russia for meddling in ours? Wouldn’t those hard copies of propaganda be the equivalent of digital manipulation? Wait, you can’t do that to us because we’re a superpower! No, that’s still wrong and the very definition of hypocrisy. In fact, when you really boil down the publicly available facts of Russia’s meddling in our election, it wasn’t illegal. It was just wrong. Or so we would say.
And Putin knew that we had no way of retaliation and that’s the point. Plausible deniability and the simple fact that what they did wasn’t technically illegal allowed them escape American scrutiny completely unscathed. In fact, plausible deniability allows them to sweep any accusation under the rug and move on from it.
But what would be the consequences of allowing Putin to visit the White House? What kind of message would that send to Americans and to the rest of the world? And if we’re inviting Putin who is widely regarded as a war criminal and a dictator then why don’t we invite Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un over for a visit as well? What’s the difference?
This ridiculous “the enemy of our enemies is our friend” cliché, in this particular scenario, implying that we need Putin’s help in the war against ISIS, is hogwash. Putin is intentionally trying to create chaos and become the world’s superpower because he is like a supervillain straight out of an Ian Fleming novel. Sure, has America committed atrocities against smaller nations at the expense of spreading Democracy? Yes. But in America, we have the ability to vote out those leaders who have failed us and so do the rest of our fellow Democratic allies. If President Trump invites Putin into the American people’s White House it sets a precedent that will take years to undo and also sends a message to our closest allies – when Trump has attacked nearly all of them for one reason or another – that Putin’s Russia is more of a valuable asset.