Putin’s Big Win

Via an opinion column by Masha Gessen in the NYT:  Trump Gave Putin Exactly What He Wanted

Mr. Putin has for years — 17 years, to be exact, for this is how long he has been in power — been clear about what he wanted from his relationship with the United States president: He wants to be treated as an equal partner on the world stage and not to be questioned about or pressed on the Russian government’s actions inside Russia or in what he considers his sphere of influence. Despite the friendly tenor of Mr. Putin’s relationship with George W. Bush and the offer of a “reset” made by Barack Obama’s administration, Mr. Putin never achieved his objective — until now. His fourth American president has given him exactly what he wanted: respect, camaraderie and freedom from criticism.


The one accomplishment of the meeting — a limited cease-fire in Syria — is exactly what Mr. Putin wanted. Not the cease-fire, that is: He wanted an acknowledgment that the United States and Russia are equal negotiating parties in the Syrian conflict. He spent years cajoling and then blackmailing the Obama administration into accepting Russia’s decisive role in the Middle East. Now, Mr. Trump has handed him much more than that. He has demonstrated that Russia and the United States can negotiate Syrian life and death without involving any Syrians.

But what was really important was what was apparently missing from the meeting: any criticism of Russia’s war in Ukraine, including its occupation of Crimea, and of the crackdown on political dissent inside Russia itself.

I suggest the whole piece, which includes a list of recent human rights violations by the Russian government.

Since at least the 1970s, Russian leaders and Soviet leaders before them had to face questions about political freedoms and human rights whenever they met with their American counterparts. The Trump administration has ended that tradition.

I know it is cliché  at this point, but:  sad.


FILED UNDER: Middle East, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CSK says:

    I haven’t read Gessen’s column yet, but did she say anything about Trump’s Twitter boast that he and Putin discussed forming a “cyber security” unit to prevent election hacking?

  2. An Interested Party says:

    For all their fawning over Reagan, anyone who admired him and who now admires Trump obviously doesn’t realize that Reagan must be turning over in his grave, with Trump now shuffling along to a Russian dictator’s tune…it’s more than sad, it’s pathetic…obviously we’ll have to wait to have a president who has no ties at all to Putin to stand up to him…

  3. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Imagine having a job in the White House where you had to hear of stuff like this and say “great idea, boss!” So long as no one can detect sarcasm, it might be a pretty great job.

  4. dazedandconfused says:

    I generally like Masha, but feel she missed the mark in that one.

    The Russians are the ones with real boots on the ground in SW Syria, and thereby must be treated as “equals” for the moment.

    What she is basing her comments on is the notion that the US and Russia must be enemies. Well, we snuggled up to Stalin himself in a war. The Russians are fighting ISIL too. ‘

    What she really missed is a biggie: This cease fire is to free manpower in the Syrian Army for the big push in the east to wipe out ISIL. Since Israel has been supporting the Al-Nusra guys in the SW, this screws them. No more Israel AF support, and they will be courting big trouble bombing the Hezzie supply train under the excuse the Hezzies are arming to attack Israel someday. The Hezzies are fighting for Assad and that means fighting the Al Nusra related Jihadis whom for whatever reason Israel supports.

    Trump’s big ass kiss tour last month for the Saudis and Israel was either a con job or has been shown to be the bleatings of a man who can be manipulated by anyone who praises him. Putin is smart enough to know his public praising of Trump after their meeting does not help the Russia problem of the Trump administration one bit, hurts bigly, actually. He likely felt it unavoidable. It’s his primary tool of manipulating the child-Trump.

  5. CSK says:


    It would depend on how long you could stomach catering to Trump’s endless need for lavish praise. I think I’d last maybe two hours before I laughed in his face–and then delivered some really choice home truths. Speaking of which, where are Spicer, Conway, and Bannon? Did Kushner win the face-off with Bannon? It was reported that both parties were actively trying to sabotage one another.


    Putin knows exactly how easy it is to jerk Trump around. Ain’t that grand?

  6. CSK says:

    Donnie just Tweeted that the fact that he and Vlad discussed a mutual cyber security initiative doesn’t mean he thinks it could happen.

    Ivanka must have yelled at him on the plane.

  7. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I used to work for guys like that in the transportation industry. They NEVER catch the snark, or I’d have been gone long before the 15 years I worked there were up.