Quote: The State is a an instrument in the hands of the ruling class to break the resistance of adversaries (Joseph Stalin, Foundations of Leninism, 1924).
In the news: Russia says military help available for Belarus; huge protest held in Minsk (Andrew Osborn, Andrei Makhovsky, Reuters, 8.16.20)
In context: I was long an adult when I asked my mother an obvious question that had never before occurred to me. “How was Russia able to control all of Eastern Europe for so many years?”
“Simple,” my mother answered. “They installed local leaders and backed them up with military might.”
The Budapest New Public Cemetery is a bucolic park dating back to the late 1800s. Plot 301 is topped by a modern monument in memory of 260 martyrs who were executed in 1958 for their participation in the heroic 1956 Hungarian revolution against Soviet occupation.
Also executed in 1958 was then Prime Minister Imre Nagy, whose body was exhumed and interred in a private grave. That all happened in 1989, the year that the Iron Curtain fell. All were “rehabilitated” posthumously 30 years after being killed for revolting against a doomed campaign to keep a tyrannical grip on satellite countries whose resources were siphoned into the would-be Soviet empire that collapsed two years later in 1991.
The Russian Oligarchs grew out of that lawless Soviet carcass, as did Vladimir Putin who channeled their transactions. Perhaps coincidentally, that was about the time that Donald Trump ran into financing drought at home and somehow found alternative financing elsewhere.
No one knows the secrets of the Trump empire, perhaps not even the Donald himself. If he’s as clever as he seems, many years will pass before the threads of that maze are unraveled, much beyond the reach of the American justice system. In the meantime, America may benefit from the lessons learned as a result of direct experience with the Soviet precursor of modern Russia.
The Fogarassy family of four left Hungary in the dead of night in December 1956, part of a small group who trekked through sleet across Noman’s land into Austria. All left because they couldn’t stay.In the Fogarassy case, both parents were involved in the failed revolution.
The father was an X-listed undesirable whose family holdings were seized during nationalization of private property under the Soviet-directed national Communist party. The mother was a Communist Party member, a privilege granted to those from the working class.
The couple was already married when the system of class rotation was instituted. The mother had joined the Party because that was the only way to support the young family that had already lost a child in the post-WWII shortages.The effects of the class-rotation system reached into the safety of the United States where the family eventually landed.
Americans today feel uneasy about chumminess between Trump and Putin. An American who remembers the terror of midnight raids in her home sees a blinding red flash. Young Americans were traumatized by school shootings until the Covic pandemic put an end to school itself, but no virtual learning conveys the panic of school dismissed suddenly, then leaving to see barbed wire and armored tanks in the town square. For American who believe it can’t happen here, consider the slow creep.
Donald Trump himself has betrayed doubts about his 2016 election to the US Presidency. As a privileged American, he accepted the benefits that accrued as a natural outcome of the bounty that had come his way. The nomadic Somalis saw UN largess during the 1993 intervention in just that way. Fatedropped bounty in their midst and they were free to use what they could take. But if Trump was an unwitting install of the very devious Vladimir Putin, America can learn from European roots.
The turbulent Trump era has climaxed in the global Covid pandemic that has exposed the folly of trying to fence off America from an encroaching world. America is spinning in its own version of social equity issues that Trump tries to resolve with dictatorial means. Democratic elements call for vigilance to protect a fragile democracy. Actually, America’s democracy is solid. It is, however, in danger under Trump, especially if he is a Putin install or even if only in Putin’s pocket.
The US Constitution is a time-tested broad platform to resolve disputes about emerging issues. It is a legal framework that absorbs crises into the grand safety-cushion of evolving history. Information about an increasingly interconnected world feeds into that fundamental bedrock, most reliably through accredited news sources with established editorial standards. aka the constitutionally protected free press.
Russia, on the other hand, has no such a democratically elaborated constitution. The provisions of its constitution leave gaping holes that have allowed for such developments as the rise of the Oligarchs in close coordination with the central government. At present, crime pays in Russia and the massive amounts of money earned are channeled into international expansion.
The Russian marriage of business with government is in direct contrast to the American divorce of business from government. The Constitution’s Emoluments Clause and the Hatch Act prohibit capitalizing on holding a governmental office. Donald Trump is the first US President to defy such legal strictures. With his massive global private interests, the opportunities for conflicting private and national interests are astronomical.
Donald Trump has boasted of gaming the system. He proudly proclaimed that he paid no more tax than he could evade. As US President he defiesh the law with relish and dares the system to stop him. In charge of the system, he’s skated free and admire cheer his craftiness. Others profit from from the presidential exploits. Thus, efforts to stop the hemorrhage of American currency into private coffers are doomed to fail, including through impeachment. The role of Vladimir Putin and his Oligarchs remains buried but distinct.
Three yeas in office were enough forDonald Trump to blast through norms that took 300 years to develop. Nothing could stop his uncanny use of vast US presidential powers until the Coronavirus pandemic proved his inability to use those powers for the purpose intended..
Provincial to the nth degree despite his global holdings, Trump had no clue about how the country or the world worked. He knew only how to make deals as measured by how much he won. Losses didn’t count and were simply written off. When the pandemic hit, he didn’t bother making a plan to manage it. He doubled down on promoting himself as a winner of the ultimate US presidential plum. When reality and social unrest threatened to topple that campaign, he resorted to dictatorial methods for shoring his position and firming the loyalty of supporters.
The current situation in Belarus is an example of a classic dictator at work, Its Russia-friendly dictator was in power for 25 years when a new election neared. Challengers rose and were dispensed. Declaring himself a winner by 80%, the dictator put down dissenting protests. Global news fanned the swell or protesting crowds until the dictator showed a chink.
Though the state machinery including the military had his back, decrees became shaky and conflicted. NATO was at the border and Russia was sending help. Outside sources reported that Russia was waiting to see which way the wind blew, as was NATO>
The Belarus situation was still unfolding when the US Democratic Convention got under way in its Covid virtual guise. US President Trump trolled the Convention by barnstorming toss-up states. His mainstay rallies were mere touch-downs near airports since the Tulsa fiasco where few supporters braved the Covid dangers to render support.
In Belarus, protests led to a country-wide factory strike and the dictator staged a rally he claimed 100,000 supporters attended. Outside sources reported no more than 10,000. The dictator had the internet shut down.
News reverberates in a global world connected by the info highway. In the glut of misinformation, the truth stubbornly assert itself.
Vladimir Putin needs no subterfuge. He’s made it clear that he intends to rule the world and he is immune to censure. He was schooled by Soviet predecessors and trained by the KGB. Donald Trump as President of the mighty US just may be the pivotal target in his plan.
Based on a resume unseen when elected, Donald Trump is devoid of integrity, ethics or morals. He made his bones by making a show of clinching deals. That made him a perfect tool for a ruthless power-monger willing to grant him the ego gratification so desperately needed in exchange for keys to the American kingdom.
Resource starved Russia has no infrastructure to develop the natural resources it does have. At the same time, it needs legitimacy for Oligarch funds if it is to grow in a world increasingly regulated by international laws against global crime. Donald Trump, with his penchant for one-on-one deals and aversion to multilateral agreements, may be the skeleton key that unlocks opportunity for Russia.
Whatever his relationship with Vladimir Putin of Russia, Donald Trump of the United States is the ideal avatar for realizing Putin’s wildest dreams. Donald Trump has his country in a twist. He’s enthralled some with entertainment and captured others by spewing feel-good messages mixed with scathing attacks that give the powerless a vicarious thrill of catharsis. He’s split the country along racial and political lines, alienated the country from global allies, transformed a benevolent American image into that of a dangerous lunatic. Most importantly, Donald Trump thrives in the dark regions of democracy where autocratic principles flourish.
Donald Trump is a practiced expert in the art of lying. He enjoys getting the better of the law just for the thrill of getting over on it. He excels in talents of manipulation, elevating allies, vilifying enemies, pitting rivals against each other and in general just plan spreading terror. Most importantly, Donald Trump has cover from his state machinery. That is where the wide-ranging Oligarchs come into play, as in the home state of the US Senate majority leader.
The world is watching the 2020 election with an acute interest in the global future. The beacon of democracy is in a death-rattle battle with an incumbent leader who doesn’t care which way the election goes as long a he comes out in a result he can claim show him the winner.
Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, is keenly invested in the outcome of the election. A Trump win will allow him to continue operating in the dark world where he and Trump are equally comfortable, regardless of national differences.
In Russia, opponents of the government are disappeared or poisoned. In Trump’s US, seven of the sitting president’s top aides have been indicted and/or indicted to date and the president himself might have gone the same way had it not been for legal protections of his office. In both countries, the common factor is a result with no trace back to the probable originator of a directive.
Such machinations of dictatorial power may be beyond the quick reach of American laws protecting the rights of individuals and even beyond the reach of investigative journalists working on behalf of a free press according to established standards. They are not beyond the notice of immigrants such as Madeleine Albright or Col Alexander Vindman, whose insight, courage and convictions are a result of having arrived in the United States after homeland tyranny made it impossible to stay.
America may be confused as the 2020 election nears. The country took a chance on an outlaw showman who now has the mighty powers of Office at his disposal. He brandishes those with a style that blasts past norms, possibly under the tutelage of a crafty outside power.
However, the democratic principles held sacred by a land of immigrants is bound to prevail. The majority of Americans is not gullible and won’t succumb to despotic shows of force delivered by a possible tool in the hands of an outsider.
Donald Trump was impeached. He escaped conviction due to the meticulous legal standards protecting individual rights, whether or not Russian Oligarchs were involved in any way. Retaliatory actions since the impeachment as the Covid pandemic crisis was ignored increase the suspect air over Donald Trump as US President.
Trump is spreading the wings of his office to subvert an election that can prove him an impostor. In turn, the democratic voice of the American people rises loud and clear.
Americans don’t like coercion and they don’t like being taken for a ride, particularly not by a foreign power. All they need to vote Trump out of Office, regardless of the bombs he throws, is to see proof of a trifling but historically significant possibility.
America may well have spent four excruciating years in a venture no more noble than one man’s ambition. Now, if Trump can deliver America to Putin in a done deal, Putin will let Donald Trump explore further the Moscow Trump Tower project that was all that Trump wanted all along to begin with.