NORTH ADAMS >> Donald Trump has said glowing things about several dictators — Kim Jong Un, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi — but he has a favorite one.
If Trump's benevolent dictator swagger at the RNC reminded you of Vladimir Putin, that's no accident. Trump might want to "Make America Great Again," but he wants to do it with a Russian flair.
His history and current actions reveal his No. 1 goal is not only to become our personal Putin, but to align our country close with Putin's Russia and, in a worse case scenario, even transform us into Putin's international lackeys.
When Trump makes statements about NATO, he is envisioning a world that Putin wants. It's one where Russia can advance against its neighbors without consequence, where the former countries of the Iron Curtain can be reunited through invasion. Interestingly, the only point of objection from Trump about the Republican platform was to insist the party no longer pledge arms to Ukraine to fight Russia.
Why would Trump want that?
Much has been made of Bernie Sanders' honeymoon in Russia, but nothing of the Trump family's continuous trips there since the 1980s to meet with financial backers. Donald Jr. portrayed their Russian backing as "disproportionate," and exclaimed "We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia." Trump's recent Soho development in NYC was funded in secret by money from Russia and Kazakhstan, with investors associated with Putin, court papers revealed.
Trump is $630 million in debt. No American bank will lend to him anymore and he's come close to losing Deutsche Bank. He needs the Russians. He needs Putin. This is why he won't release his tax returns.
The connections run even deeper.
Trump's foreign policy adviser for Europe is Carter Page, who made millions through a Putin-controlled energy company. Page frequents Moscow and denounces the United States in his talks there.
Worse, Trump's campaign adviser Paul Manafort was the communications manager and closest advisor for former Ukraine prime minister and president, and Putin ally, Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort's consultancy bragged about having dictators for clients, doing business with Ferdinand Marcos, African dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Lebanese arms dealer Abdul Rahman al-Assir, the Pakistan Intelligence Bureau, and despotic regimes in the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia
Putin shows his appreciation by expressing admiration for Trump, acknowledging Trump's interest in deepening the U.S.-Russian relationship, and by arming his propagandist fake news organization RT with pro-Trump commentary. A recent release of Democratic Party emails from Russian hackers have helped the candidate Putin called the "absolute leader in the presidential race."
Putin has already channeled resources into right-wing goons in Europe. He loaned money to Marine Le Pen in France, funded Silvio Berlusconi in Italy through energy deals, and gave support to the anti-Semitic Jobbik party in Hungary, the nationalist Ataka party in Bulgaria and the Nazi-loving Golden Dawn party in Greece. Trump is just one more notch on the wallet.
Anti-Clinton Trump forces are some of the conspiracy-friendliest people I've encountered, but this is one they won't touch. Too well-documented, I suppose.
I don't really care if you vote for Clinton or whomever, but if you vote for Trump, you vote for not just a fascist of our own, but a totalitarian collusion that will downgrade our place in the world and possibly topple Europe.
If you're voting for him to shake things up, consider what's actually going to be shaken, and think about what a man in debt for $630 million actually seeks. Think about how you feel about world war.
I remember when Republicans railed against the Evil Empire. How far away Reagan seems now. Are you ready for the Trump-Putin Axis of Control, comrade?
Contact John Seven at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @damnjohnseven. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.