Trump-Putin meet: Easy to castigate US president, but Helsinki summit could go down as his most statesmanlike moment

It is easy to tar and feather US president Donald Trump. Largely because he generally sits up and begs for it. But the Helsinki summit was neither heaven nor did it sink to the abysmal depths of hell being suggested by the anti-Trump brigade.

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

In fact, history might show that Trump’s risk in antagonising the media, Capitol Hill and even his staunchest supporters could have moved the Doomsday Clock back a bit. Don’t laugh too loud if one suggests that it is probably the most statesmanlike gesture by Trump ever. For once, Trump himself admitted that politics took second place to the pursuit of peace and if Moscow and Washington can prevent the outbreak of a second Cold War, the rest of the world can sleep that much better.

But for the likes of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, powerful senator John McCain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and most of the media, it's all about how President Vladimir Putin eclipsed Trump and turned him into a simpering acolyte eager to please. The imagery was that of a surrendering weakling, an eaglet with a broken wing, more prey than predator.

These John Wayne expectations endure

The Americans see everything in cowboy terms. They want that mud in the eye and gravel in the gut stuff and often fail to see beyond this fact. They would have wanted Trump to tick off Putin over the issue of Russia meddling with the 2016 US election and sock it to him. To pound his chest and tell Putin to admit his country’s interference and eat humble pie.

All very well but to what end? Even if chief spook Dan Coats castigated Trump, the cruel fact is that even if Russia did mess with the electoral system and the vote count, the intelligence services in the US only responded after the fact. It has been two years and if this need to purge oneself of the embarrassment of being electronically invaded is so overwhelming why not have the election voided? Let the House and the Senate call for it. Go to the Supreme Court and file a petition.

Until then, grandstanding at Helsinki or Davos or Brussels is simply displaying petulance and churlish bravado. The world does not need the two most powerful nuclear powers to be at loggerheads. If the Russians meddled in the US election process, one has to say that despite all these super presidents before Trump and billions spent on intelligence, they only realised they were being diddled after the fact.

If they failed to twig that their election was being hijacked, why blame Trump for trying to sweep it into the past and moving on? Should he have punched Putin in the face to score a point and be seen as a hero? Be fair. What purpose would be served two years down the line by going into a public spat with Putin?

It is water under the bridge, so give Trump the credit for taking the more difficult road and not being the boorish, tactless leader he normally is. It is ironic that the first globally acceptable step he has taken could be the last straw in his own country. Stop and think US: Do you really want a war with Russia?


Updated Date: Jul 17, 2018 22:24 PM

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