If you are Vladimir Putin, you’ve got to be absolutely ecstatic with the way things have been going. The Russians were at least partially behind Brexit, and Great Britain is in meltdown with his governing party fracturing while leading members of that party resign. Here in America, Putin helped to get Trump elected, which has caused more divisiveness in America than at any other time probably since the Civil War.
Putin, meanwhile, just sits back and smiles. Last week, when a Republican caucus spent the 4th of July in Russia, the state-run television laughed, mocking the GOP. Pundits on the same state-run television; last month, they declared, “Trump is ours!”
Meanwhile, Trump is escalating the trade war against China (again), North Korea has already balked on its denuclearization deal, and the one powerful Western alliance against Russia is falling apart. To wit, here’s Trump this morning, speaking to NATO and “No puppet. You’re the puppet-ing” Germany. Note John Kelly’s expression:
"Germany is totally controlled by Russia," Pres. Trump tells NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg as they sit down together for bilateral breakfast ahead of Brussels summit. https://t.co/CmyplgrxzN pic.twitter.com/6RnFk8Drgs— ABC News (@ABC) July 11, 2018
Trump is not totally wrong about NATO spending. We do pay more, but we also have a bigger seat at the table, and in any case, this is not how you make the case. NATO countries have already agreed to step up their contributions, but Trump is demanding it now, treating a 70-year-old international alliance like a real-estate deal.
Trump’s relationship with Mexico and Canada — our two closest neighbors — is already in shambles, thanks to Trump. Mexico elected a new President who is hostile to Trump, while Justin Trudeau has fucking had it with the President. France and Macron are fed up; Germany and Merkel loathe us; and even Theresa May — who is dealing with the poisoning of British citizens by Russians — has to hold her nose when she deals with Trump. The longer that Trump is President, the fewer allies we have.
At some point, the only friend we’re going to have left is Russia, our biggest geopolitical enemy. That’s precisely what Putin wants. We’ve already got Republicans — like Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson — saying that we should drop sanctions against Russia and that election meddling was no big deal. They interfered with our fucking democracy, dude. No big deal? The international community is falling apart because of Putin.
By the time Trump meets with Putin later this week — and Trump has already said that it will be the easiest part of this trip — he may have no choice but to offer concessions, because — at least in Trump’s eyes — Putin is his only remaining friend.
That’s exactly what Putin wants him to believe.