Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
One of the fascinating aspects of the psychology in the Trump/Putin relationship is the way that Trump refuses, at every opportunity, to be critical of the Putin regime even if it would score him political points at home.
There is little noticeable downside in Trump indulging in a little Reaganism on the subject of Russia. Putin’s regime is viewed unfavorably by a majority of citizens in nearly every nation, including and especially in America. Even if Trump’s actions remained as toothless against Russian interests as they have been thus far, he could still project a strong image of disapproval through messaging or other means. In most instances, however, he has chosen to remain silent–against interference in elections; against assassination attempts carried out within the borders of our allies using military-grade nerve agents; against public, hypothetical displays of striking Florida with a nuclear weapon.
So let’s indulge two scenarios:
(1) The much unlikelier possibility that Putin does not in fact have any leverage over Donald Trump. Which means that Trump’s silence is borne solely from admiration of Putin and his regime. Which is disturbing on several levels.
(2) The greater likelihood that Russia has entire filing cabinets of kompromat on Trump and his businesses, and that they have let him know in no uncertain terms that they can ruin him at will.
Yet here’s what’s so strange about scenario (2).
If you’re an intelligence operative running an asset in a high-stakes operation, it’s to your benefit to make sure that your asset remains in a position to do the work you need done. If the situation is in fact that Putin currently holds Trump’s marionette strings, it would be a more sound tactic to let Trump criticize Russia, bolstering his popularity at home. To all appearances, however, he will not allow that. The demands seem clear: Even the mere hint of defiance will lead to consequences.
And that leads to scenarios (2a) and (2b):
(2a) Putin is a man divided between his experience and skill at running an intelligence operation and his megalomania. He knows that it would be better for his agenda to allow Trump to play-act the heavy against him, but he simply cannot abide it, as he similarly has been unable to abide journalists who voice opinions against his regime.
(2b) Trump’s usefulness to Russia was in destabilizing the country’s people and institutions, an objective that has largely succeeded. As such, this phase of the operation has entered its last stages, and Putin is waiting until the most productive moment to either actively burn his asset or hang him out to dry. (The prospect of pulling him in seems remote, at best.)
Truth be told: I don’t think (2a) and (2b) are mutually exclusive. And it’s very unnerving in the midst of all this to have the House Intelligence Committee abandon their investigation into Russian interference and collusion within the same 24 hours that Rex Tillerson gets fired from State for speaking out against Russia for the attack in London.