Every time I think I can go another week without talking about Trump or Putin, something or other in the news says, “Trump, Putin, Trump, Putin” in big, screaming red letters with bells and sirens going off.
A former spy and his daughter and others are poisoned by a nerve agent that is so Russian that it has an ironic Russian name, “Novichok.” This happened in Britain. And no one can see how it could have happened unless the Russian government pulled it off, given that they have the Novichok.
That was March 4. Nine days later, in the early morning hours of March 13, Rex Tillerson, former Exxon CEO who made cushy deals with Putin for Exxon, decides as Secretary of State to denounce the poison attack, stating that the attack clearly came from Russia. Later that morning Tillerson was fired.
Also on that day, March 13, Trump officials claimed that Tillerson knew since March 9 that he was going to be replaced. An Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein then said, no, actually that did not happen, there was no warning to Tillerson. Rather than argue with Goldstein over the matter by producing a letter or email that would show that Goldstein was uninformed, the Trump administration fired Goldstein that same day, March 13.
It was only two years ago January that a public inquiry in Britain concluded that Alexander Litvinenko, who was murdered by radioactive poisoning in London in 2006, was murdered by Russian agents probably with the approval of Putin. Litvinenko was a former Russian member of the FSB (what the KGB became) who specialized in investigating Russian organized crime. He fled to Britain after blowing the whistle on another state-sponsored assassination.
Litvinenko was poisoned on Nov. 1, 2006. About two weeks earlier, he had publicly accused Putin of having sanctioned the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya on Putin’s 54th birthday, Oct. 7. She was murdered by gunshot in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building. What? You say no poison? Well, she had survived an attempt to kill her by poison just a little over two years earlier. That poison attempt was probably state-sanctioned. Maybe they decided not to repeat the same method twice.
Had she survived the shooting, perhaps they would have used a flame-thrower next.
Or maybe Litvinenko was wrong and Putin didn’t have Politkovskaya killed. Russian and Chechen agents were implicated. Or it might have been a joint venture, with Oct. 7 also being two days after the Chechen president’s 30th birthday. They probably also exchanged cards.
But all that’s in the past, and it’s not like anyone else is remembering or cares, right? It’s just me, Wes Browning, the same foolish person who said two years ago: Please, please don’t vote for Trump, because Trump admires Putin.
So what if Putin is a murderer and a thug? So what if Trump likes him so much he wants to be him? Or more precisely he wants to be the American Xi Jinping, president for life, but act like Putin.
Sure, what’s wrong with Trump saying maybe we’ll try that whole president-for-life thing later? That happened, and hardly anyone seems to care, presumably because they think he couldn’t pull it off. But when you look at all the admiration the man displays toward his heroes Putin, Xi, Kim Jong-un, Duterte, you have to think he’s looking for ways he can emulate them.
Getting back to the crisis at hand: The British have been talking about calling for NATO sanctions, and it was beginning to look like Trump was going to deny Russian involvement in the poisoning attempt all the way no matter what European leaders said. But as of last Thursday, Trump went along with a joint statement with Britain, France and Germany condemning the attack, and admitted it did look like the Russians were behind it, calling it “a very sad situation.”
Having started a trade war with most of the world, maybe Trump decided now was not the right time to further alienate all our allies in Europe for the sake of placating Russia.
But something tells me that whoever whispered in his ear, “It’s crucial that you take part in the joint statement, sir,” will be fired within a month and replaced by someone from Fox & Friends.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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