The biggest threat in the world right now is not North Korea, or even China. It’s one man: Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump is, and has been, unwise to cozy up to this dictator, tweets aside. Here’s 8 reasons why Putin is today’s bogeyman.
- Putin is indeed the most powerful dictator Russia has seen since Joseph Stalin. He will rule that nation for life.
- He’s likely the richest man in the world. Putin can manipulate the price of oil, which has a large effect on the U.S. economy.
- He can blackmail Europe, which is more threatened by an ascending Russia than at any time since the Cold War.
- During the Obama administration, Putin effectively took control of Syria, both keeping the brutal Bashir al-Assad in power, and placating Israel with a promise of stability.
- Russia boldly and openly interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. This isn’t some political opinion. It’s the opinion of President Trump’s Department of Justice, released in 2019: “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”
- Russia has a well-developed and dangerous social media warfare arm, which is as effective as any nation-state psy-ops operation can be, and aimed directly at the United States. It’s strategy is to divide and conquer. Can any one company stand up to a coordinated government covert and technological attack?
- Vladimir Putin understands what makes Donald Trump tick. John Bolton (you may not trust him, but he believes it) says Putin “plays Trump like a fiddle.”
- Though President Trump disputes this, the New York Times reports that U.S. intelligence has concluded that Russians were (are) paying Taliban fighters a bounty for killing coalition, including U.S., forces.
These are not the actions of a friend. In fact, these are the coordinated, intentional, and dangerous actions of an enemy willing to attack us where we are weak, bide his time, measure the effectiveness of his attacks, adjust as necessary, and continue with the most damaging campaigns.
Russia is inside our OODA loop (“Observe, Orient, Decide, Act”). As any fighter pilot would know, that’s a bad, bad thing. It means they have worked a strategy that allows them to respond, measure, evaluate, and react faster than we can understand what they are intending to do.
Russia used the 2016 election to further politically polarize Americans, in spite of the fact that most of us have greatly overlapping opinions on policy. There’s more than ample room for compromise, but our own opinions of “the other side,” fed by social media, press bias, and a thin-skinned president, are moving us further from our best options.
Russia wants America to abandon rational thought, as they stand behind the curtain and pull levers, and push our buttons. They can’t fight us militarily, but they can distract us, and weaken our institutions, and watch as our resolve crumbles. Then, when they move, in a small way (like when they took Crimea), they can watch our reaction.
There is an endgame to Putin’s play, and it doesn’t end well for us.
President Trump needs to understand, and communicate, that Putin is not a man to trifle with, and in fact, is as bad an enemy as the old Soviet Union ever was.
The best part of doing this is that, consistently, most Americans agree that Russia is no friend, and in fact, is an enemy. If Trump wants to unite America, he can unite us on that, and maybe even win another term doing it.