Observations on the Trump – Putin Meeting at the 2017 G-20 Summit

Trump - Putin Meeting 2017

During the morning of Thursday, June 7, 2017 (morning in the United States, afternoon in Germany), United States President Donald J. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held an informal meeting in Hamburg, Germany in conjunction with their participation at the 2017 G-20 Summit. The meeting, originally scheduled for between twenty and forty minutes in fact lasted for approximately two and a half hours; hopefully a good sign rather than an indication that two alpha males conducted an oratory battle for perceived supremacy. The United States mainstream media was very active during such time, both speculating on what might be occurring but even more so, preparing anticipatory criticism based on a perception that the meeting might not generate enough conflict and risk of nuclear annihilation. Who says Fox News and CNN can’t agree?

While the presidents themselves made no post-meeting statements, their foreign ministers apparently did. I listened to the news conference held by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson which left me with two very different impressions, first, that unlike most recent secretaries of state, he has at least an inkling of what diplomacy is and how it should be conducted, that’s the good news. But secondly, it amazed me that virtually in the same breath, he discussed the importance of eliminating foreign interference in United States political processes while concurrently insisting on regime change in Syria. Is it possible that any reasonably intelligent person of good will can, in good faith, not recognize the incoherence in such posture?

The reality is that every country has, to varying degrees, legitimate interests in the selection of political leadership in other countries and that such legitimate interests increase in direct proportion to the degree that a country’s power impacts the other. Thus, if the United States holds itself out as the leader of the world, every country has legitimate interests in impacting United States elections through the sharing of information they deem relevant and doing so in the most persuasive manner of which they are capable. The United States certainly adopts that attitude with respect to every other country, Syria merely being the most obvious current example, although the United States does not limit itself to the mere provision of favorable information in a persuasive manner. That our mainstream media obfuscates such reality does us a great disservice, perhaps one that is fatal to a functioning democracy and to functional world leadership.

What is not acceptable is direct interference in the electoral process, whether by another country, our own country, or anyone, through altering electoral results artificially. Unfortunately, that is something that the United States has, throughout its history, been all too willing to do. Our history is replete with examples, from interference at the dawn of the nineteenth century in the consolidation of the South American Republics as one country, as envisioned by Simon Bolivar, through the myriad subsequent invasions there and elsewhere, through organization of coups d’état, fixing elections, etc., including, of course, our current posture in Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya and of course, now in Syria.

The United States is now awash in crocodile tears as both political parties (but especially the Obama-Clinton wing of the Democratic Party), the entire mainstream media, the intelligence communities, etc., furiously attack their created myth that our 2016 elections were “hacked” by the Russian leadership depriving the preselected victor of her crown, while studiously ignoring traditional and direct intervention by the American Israeli lobby. Pulitzer and Hearst could not have concocted a more malign fable during their intramural contests in faux journalism at the end of the nineteenth century. It may or may not be having an impact on the somewhat jaded American electorate, polls having become so inaccurate during the past two years, either through ineptitude or corruption, that it is virtually impossible to tell. But you can’t fault the orchestraters for lack of effort.

So we are on the brink of possible military action in North Korea, engaged in military intervention in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, the Sudan, etc., etc., etc.; considering military intervention in the Ukraine and in Iran, both on the Russian border, intervening in territorial disputes that do not involve us in the South China Sea, and messing around with socio-politico-economic conflict in Venezuela. A rather full plate but still leaving room for pseudo-violent political polarization at home.

Something to think about one would think but an empirical analysis would demonstrate that we are not capable of seeing the face that stares at us in our mirror.

Hard to shave that way.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies) and can be contacted at wacalvo3@autonoma.edu.co. Much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

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