So, what’s so controversial about the U.S. president calling a Russian leader to congratulate him on an election victory, even though pretty much everyone understands the results were set beforehand?
According to the White House, after extending best wishes on Putin’s latest election the president “highlighted achievements in U.S.-Russia relations” recently, including cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran and world trade issues.
The American leader’s understandable effort to keep lines of communication open did not mention growing human rights concerns involving Russia nor Moscow’s deep military involvement in Syria’s bloody civil war. Looking to the future, both men agreed their goal was “a successful reset in relations.”
What did the media find so outrageous about those exchanges? Nothing. Absolutely nothing when it was Democrat Barack Obama in 2012.
But now that it’s 2018 and Republican Donald Trump calling Putin with election congratulations, this is all very suspicious, dangerous and portends ominous collusion. See, the contemporary media narrative is there must be some secret Trump-Putin collusion somewhere somehow.
The Washington Post, assuming Trump read his briefing papers, reported that Trump had defiantly ignored a warning: “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.” That would have been a politically prudent thing, given Trump’s agreement with Britain and France that Russia was behind the recent assassination attempt on a former spy there. And the administration now agrees Russia did indeed try to meddle in the 2016 election, to no real effect.
Turns out, as usual, there’s more to the story. Trump was briefed on his upcoming Putin chat by phone and did not read the briefing paper.
Trump, who sees himself as an ultimate dealmaker, defends his phone call as an effort to finally rebuild a positive relationship with the former KGB agent, something his two predecessors had also unsuccessfully sought. Were they all naive? Or just hopeful?
Albeit predictable, such anti-Trump coverage ignores, among other things, the facts of Trump’s NATO bolstering, his new and increased sanctions on Russia plus his sale to Ukraine of military hardware such as missiles and tanks. To avoid riling Putin, it was Obama who declined such armament requests for ally Ukraine. Instead, Obama sent only military field rations.