President Trump is at his worst when he asserts a moral equivalence between America and Russia. Trump asserted such an equivalence during an interview with Bill O’Reilly in 2017.
Trump told O’Reilly that he respected Vladimir Putin. O’Reilly objected by noting that Putin is a killer. Instead of explaining the ways in which Putin nonetheless might deserve some form of respect, Trump’s response was: “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”
Now, three and a half years into his term as President of the United States, Trump remains willing to defend Putin by equating American conduct with Russia’s. Asked about Russia arming the Taliban so it can attack American troops, Trump replied, “Well, we supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia, too.”
Andy McCarthy writes:
It’s a page right out of the same Blame-America-First textbook that caused Republican and conservative heads to explode when President Obama spent eight years saying the same things.
True, except I’m not sure that even Obama equated America with Putin’s Russia. I certainly don’t recall Obama defending alleged assistance by Russia, or anyone else, in the killing of American troops.
McCarthy goes on to state:
The president is. . .drawing a repulsive equivalence between our support of the Afghan jihadists against Russia to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet tyranny and Russia’s support of Afghan jihadists against Americans to collapse Afghanistan into sharia fundamentalism.
One can view as problematic our support of jihadists (though not the Taliban — Trump’s claim that we supported it is incorrect) in their fight to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan. Our policy had both positive effects — it helped lead to the demise of the Soviet Union (Trump affirms this in stronger terms during the same interview) — and negative ones — the jihadist takeover of Afghanistan.
But it’s worse than jarring to hear an American president defend Russia’s alleged efforts to have Americans killed and to humiliate our country by making Trump’s withdrawal from Afghanistan look like another case of the mujahideen kicking foreigners out of their country. It’s all the more astonishing to hear this from a president whose calling card is “America first.”
If Putin is aiding the Taliban in killing American soldiers, he likely views it as payback for the way the U.S. helped humiliate the Soviets in Afghanistan, thereby contributing to the end of the Soviet Union — something Putin considers a “geopolitical catastrophe.” I can understand why Putin would see it that way, but it’s unconscionable for an American president to back that narrative.
Trump’s political enemies are going to have a field day with this. Joe Biden’s campaign is blasting Trump’s statement, as it should.
Biden’s strategy of staying in his basement waiting for Trump to make unforced errors seems to be paying off.