“There are poleznyye idioty (useful idiots) and then there are…just idiots.”
--Attributed to V. Putin
The bravest man on the planet is gone, brutally murdered by Vladimir Putin. Aleksei Navalny’s assassination was probably inevitable given his career as the biggest thorn in Putin’s side and potential threat to the Russian dictator’s brutal, 25-year dictatorship. Eventually, every Putin critics dies at his hands, so Navalny’s demise was predictable and inevitable. Putin’s dread of his late adversary is so deep that he won’t even allow a public funeral, which might turn into something even he cannot control.
But why now? What is it about the present time that prompted Putin to act? Here’s a plausible theory:
Recently, Donald Trump announced his intention, if elected in November, to refuse to honor U.S. obligations under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which commits alliance members to come to the defense of one another. In other words, an attack on one is considered an attack on all. The only time Article 5 has been invoked in the 75-year lifetime of the treaty was following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Our NATO allies rushed to help us go after the terrorists.
Trump went even further than a refusal to honor Article 5. He actually invited Russia to attack NATO countries! Of all of his servile kow-tows to his puppetmaster, Putin, this one was both the most craven and the most shocking. It sent European leaders reeling and panicking.
Putin must have been over the moon with glee when he watched the Trump video.
But Trump’s red-carpet invitation to Putin was not the only reason the Russian despot is beside himself with joy. Congressional Republicans have also been rushing to appease Putin and encourage his worst instincts.
Putin, observing Republican reluctance to support European security, could not believe his luck.
But that was not the end of the handouts Republicans were gifting him. A majority of Senate and House Republicans have spent months stymieing Biden administration and congressional Democrats’ efforts to supply Ukraine with the military aid necessary to resist Russia’s invasion of our democratic ally. At this writing, the House of Representatives isn’t even in session, having been sent home by Speaker Mike Johnson, the latest in a long line of weak, incompetent mediocrities (Hastert, Boehner, Ryan, McCarthy, Johnson) spit up by the Republican caucus into the Speakership.
Even this degree of toadying was not the end of Republican sycophancy to the Russian murderer. Despite the best efforts of Gym Jordan and James Comer, two committee chairs who have devoted themselves to impeaching President Biden instead of governing, their prize witness was revealed to be a conduit of misinformation from Russian intelligence agencies. Which makes them willing tools of the enemy. There is a word for what these aiders and comforters of Vladimir Putin are doing: Treason.
Topping off the abject abasement was MAGA-mouthpiece, Tucker Carlson. The disgraced Fox News ex-con job and perpetraitor (not a misspelling) of lies, gushed about how great Russia is compared to America after his debacle of a visit to Putin’s fantasyland and his fawning interview of the Stalinist murderer. Following his Mother-of-All-Softball interview, Carlson embarked on a tour of Moscow that left him awestruck with the magnificence of Russian life. He couldn’t wait to contrast what he saw with the American carnage back home.
Enabled by Carlson, Donald Trump and his congressional Republican grovelers, Putin felt this was the perfect time to act against Navalny with impunity. With the U.S. in cowering retreat from Ukraine and NATO and stunned by how easy it was to turn Trump and key members of Congress into willing Russian agents, he could rid himself of his principal opponent with minimal blowback.
Note that Trump has been out-of-character silent about Navalny’s murder. His only comments involve comparing what happened to Navalny to his own U.S. legal problems. He achieves new depths of repugnance with every bad breath.
While there are literally thousands of reasons for not electing Donald Trump or, for that matter, any Republican now that so many of them have bowed down in abject servility to their orange demigod, one that stands out most glaringly is their unwavering support for America’s mortal enemy, Vladimir Putin.
February 23, 2024