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From Finland with Love: Trump in Helsinki

It was cold during the Russian invasion of Finland in the dark days of 1939. The Soviet army wasn’t properly clothed or armed, and its inefficiency only exacerbated by the weather and eventually low morale after Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Russia’s intention was to conquer all of Finland however due to the country’ set backs (many of them no doubt stemming from the weaknesses of authoritarian rule) the Soviets had to settle for a semi-vassalage of the Finnish. Finland could retain its sovereignty but with a Soviet controlled puppet government. Seventy years after the signing of the Finno-Soviet Treaty, when Russia is attempting to do the same thing to the United States, it is only fitting that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump would meet in Helsinki.

What we saw from Donald Trump in Finland was nothing short of disturbing. The day was already off to a bad start when we were all subjected to a Trump tweet, which was false and unbecoming of America’s chief law officer: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of US foolishness and stupidity and now the Rigged Witch Hunt.” This was odd to say the least. The US intelligence community unanimously agrees that Russia interfered with our election. Interfering in any democratic process bad by any standard. Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling has secured indictments or guilty pleas from 32 individuals including 26 Russians and four advisors from Donald Trumps campaign. If the United States has a poor relationship with Russia it’s warranted and disrespecting the country you represent right before a diplomatic summit is not a great negotiating strategy. 40 minutes after Trump shot off his early morning tweet the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs re-tweeted him saying, “we agree.” It would not be the last time Donald Trump would insult the United States in Finland.

“Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do it?” asked a reporter later that day. “Yes, I did. Yes, I did,” admitted Putin. “Because we talked about bringing the U.S. Russia relationship back to normal.” If anyone needed to hear Putin literally admit to interfering in our election, he did, in Finland. Donald Trump did not respond to Putin’s statement. We were then subjected to another unpatriotic and surreal moment on the part of Donald Trump when asked if the president held Russia accountable for interfering with our election. “Yes I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.” Later on in the press conference a reporter from AP news asked him again: “Would you now, with the whole world watching, tell president Putin, would you denounce the what happened in the 2016 and would you want him to never do it again?” This was Donald Trump’s full response:

So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven't they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I've been wondering that. I've been asking that for months and months and I've been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying? With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coates, came to me and some others they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server but I have, I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while but I don't think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They're missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton's emails? 33,000 emails gone, just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn't be gone so easily. I think it's a disgrace that we can't get Hillary Clinton's thirty three thousand e-mails. I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today and what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators, with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer. Ok? Thank you.

The president has unequivocally taken the side of a foreign despot who is actively looking to undermine the United States over the interest of his own country. After Trump’s display it would be hard for any of his supporters to credibly stick by him. Many Americans voted for Donald Trump expecting him to protect them and serve their interests. In Finland he let them down more than ever before by refusing to defend the United States and democracy. “No president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” said Republican Senator John McCain, and he is right. The experiment of American democracy was born out of the spite for tyranny and oppression and no American president in history would dare act towards an authoritarian leader the way this president has done. This kind of relationship is frightening to say the least considering the way he has been treating natural allies of the United States. The day before the meeting in Helsinki Trump called the EU a trade “foe” of the United States and was causing trouble just for troubles sake earlier in the week at the NATO summit. At best Trump comes out of this meeting a coward, unwilling or unable to stand up to Putin in the name of the United States. Also known as (when you’re the president of the United States) doing your job. “Its unbelievable,” said a Republican Congressman from Texas and former CIA officer. “I would never have thought I’d see an American president being played by a foreign adversary in that way.” No American, except for Donald Trump, can try to claim that the president’s visit and subsequent meeting in Finland was in anyway successful.

“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than risk peace in pursuit of politics,” the president read from his notes in Finland. That sounds all well and good, but that is exactly what the president is doing. He is willing to put everything on the line for the sake of positive relations with Vladimir Putin. This includes alienating our closest allies, compromising national integrity and conceding every point to his Russian counterpart. One can achieve peace without lying down and compromising core principles. This is the cornerstone of true American diplomacy.

In the early 1800s the Portuguese court, with the French Army at its heels, escaped to Brazil. In Brazil Princess Carlota Joaquina enjoyed making her subjects kneel as her royal carriage rode by, ordering her guards to whip anyone who did not comply. This honor made no exception for diplomats. One day her carriage rolled down the street passing an American diplomat. He did not kneel. When threatened with a whipping he refused still, even threating to shoot any guard that touched him. Most likely looking to avoid a diplomatic crisis and much to the Princess’ displeasure, the King exempted the American diplomatic core from carrying out this custom from that point onward. The American diplomat in Brazil risked a beating and possibly death because he knew kneeling for a monarch was against his nation’s, the nation he represented, founding principles and integrity. Ben Franklin had said, “Even peace could be purchased at too high a cost.” As we saw during the American Revolution, men dedicated to peace believed “a free constitution of civil government cannot be purchased at too dear a rate,” wrote John Adams in 1776. Adams knew that if Americans conceded to the King’s terms of peace their country would be subjected to the same form of tyranny that plagued the Irish, living “upon Spanish potatoes and cold water.” He feared the American states would become subject to the same kind of semi-vassalage that would eventually befall Finland almost two centuries later. Now Vladimir Putin is attempting the same strategy of dependency and subjugation at our expense. We must be aware of his manipulation on our president, who is either a simpleton or a criminal, and understand how dangerous and potentially damaging this situation is to American democracy.

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