You have to give it to Donald Trump. The man has an uncanny ability to describe reality as the exact inverse of what almost everyone outside of his nutty supporters believes it to be. At a meeting in Brussels with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg, Trump, who is in the midsts of a federal investigation into his ties with Russia, accused Germany of being controlled by the former Soviet Union.
“I think it is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” Trump said. “We are supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions dollars a year to Russia.”
“We are protecting Germany, we are protecting France, we are protecting all of these countries and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they are paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. I think that is very inappropriate,” he went on.
“Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting from 60% to 70% of their energy from Russia. And a new pipeline, and you tell me if that’s appropriate because I think it’s not and I think it’s a very bad thing for Nato.”
The notion that Germany is “totally controlled” by Russia is completely ridiculous — while there are legitimate concerns about Russia gaining leverage over Germany due to its reliance on their energy sector, thus far there is no evidence whatsoever to support Trump’s claim. Trump appears to be incapable of understanding the fact that nation states trade with other nation states they may political disagree with, just as the US trades with China and Canada — two countries Trump has needlessly attacked during his presidency. Does Trump really believe China and Canada control the US?
Angela Merkel wasn’t having any of this and fired back at Trump when speaking to reporters.
“I want to say that I have experience of when a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union,” she said.
“I am very happy that today we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions. That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany.”
Why Trump feels it necessary to berate and humiliate long time allies is anyone’s guess, particularly when he has spent the last couple of months lavishing brutal dictators with praise at fake summits. But then the world has come to expect this from the American president — total and utter madness at every step of the way.
Furthermore, if anyone is “controlled” by Russia, it is clearly the Trump administration as evidence uncovered by the Mueller investigation has shown unequivocally (and Trump’s own team have now admitted). In fact, as Jonathan Chait lays out in a truly disturbing piece in NY Mag that is worth reading in its entirety, it is possible that Trump has been “controlled” by Russia for over three decades. He writes:
Suppose we are currently making the same mistake we made at the outset of this drama — suppose the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run not just a little deeper but a lot deeper. If that’s true, we are in the midst of a scandal unprecedented in American history, a subversion of the integrity of the presidency. It would mean the Cold War that Americans had long considered won has dissolved into the bizarre spectacle of Reagan’s party’s abetting the hijacking of American government by a former KGB agent. It would mean that when Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle, possibly beginning this summer, Trump may not merely rail on Twitter but provoke a constitutional crisis.
And it would mean the Russia scandal began far earlier than conventionally understood and ended later — indeed, is still happening. As Trump arranges to meet face-to-face and privately with Vladimir Putin later this month, the collusion between the two men metastasizing from a dark accusation into an open alliance, it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.
According to Chait, when you look at Trump’s business ties to Russia over the years it becomes clear that he is deeply indebted to the country and may well have been tabbed as a prominent figure they could gain leverage over. Writes Chait:
During the Soviet era, Russian intelligence cast a wide net to gain leverage over influential figures abroad. (The practice continues to this day.) The Russians would lure or entrap not only prominent politicians and cultural leaders, but also people whom they saw as having the potential for gaining prominence in the future. In 1986, Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin met Trump in New York, flattered him with praise for his building exploits, and invited him to discuss a building in Moscow. Trump visited Moscow in July 1987. He stayed at the National Hotel, in the Lenin Suite, which certainly would have been bugged. There is not much else in the public record to describe his visit, except Trump’s own recollection in The Art of the Deal that Soviet officials were eager for him to build a hotel there. (It never happened.)….
Trump returned from Moscow fired up with political ambition. He began the first of a long series of presidential flirtations, which included a flashy trip to New Hampshire. Two months after his Moscow visit, Trump spent almost $100,000 on a series of full-page newspaper ads that published a political manifesto. “An open letter from Donald J. Trump on why America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves,” as Trump labeled it, launched angry populist charges against the allies that benefited from the umbrella of American military protection. “Why are these nations not paying the United States for the human lives and billions of dollars we are losing to protect their interests?”
Trump’s letter avoided the question of whom the U.S. was protecting those countries from. The primary answer, of course, was the Soviet Union. After World War II, the U.S. had created a liberal international order and underwritten its safety by maintaining the world’s strongest military. A central goal of Soviet, and later Russian, foreign policy was to split the U.S. from its allies.
We are apparently supposed to believe that Trump’s entire political agenda being geared towards then Soviet Union foreign policy objectives was a mere coincidence, that his current admiration for Putin, who helped elect him in 2016, has nothing to do with his extensive business ties to Russia. We are also supposed to believe that Trump’s refusal to punish Russia for hacking American democracy and interfering in an election has nothing to do with “kompromat”, and his surreal war on US allies is not neatly aligned with Russia’s aim to split American from its historic partners.
It is all just coincidence and the rantings of liberal conspiracy theorists.
Except of course, it isn’t, as the Mueller investigation has already shown and history will no doubt vindicate long after this shameful debacle has come to and end.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.