Today President Trump put his country into the orbit of Russia’s allies. As long as he is president, the United States is no longer an independent nation but a Russian satellite willing to do its bidding like the Soviet satellites of fifty years ago. And the longer he remains president and continues to damage the institutions that protect our freedom—the judiciary, the press, the two-party system, and the unity of the American people—the more firmly embedded in the Russian orbit the United States will become.
Today he stood beside the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and in his weakness accepted Putin’s denial that he ordered a cyber attack on America’s 2016 presidential election. He also accepted Russia’s support of Syria, its annexation of Crimea, and its war on eastern Ukraine.
A few days ago Roger Cohen in The New York Times wrote that “The Finlandization of Trump’s United States is pretty much complete.” It is a term dating from the Cold War when small and vulnerable Finland on the very border of the Soviet Union protected itself by never challenging any Soviet policy or statement.
In fact, as Cohen conceded, our situation is now worse than Finland’s. It is closer to that of the Eastern European countries that Russia’s then-dictator Stalin gathered on his western flank for protection after World War II. Czechoslovakia is an example, though all of them ultimately suffered the same fate, their governments becoming subservient to and controlled by Moscow and their leaders to a man becoming faithful Soviet acolytes.
For those who don’t remember, the others were Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania.
In the political disorganization following World War II, Moscow moved quickly to organize, encourage and strengthen the Communist parties in each of these countries with a view toward guarding against political subversion or military attack from the west.
In 1946 and 1947 Communists won only 38 percent and 22 percent of the vote in Czechoslovakia and Hungary respectively, and elected leaders in both countries were voicing their national democratic traditions. With the Communists facing serious electoral losses, Moscow abandoned the facade of working within the electoral system and began organizing “workers demonstrations” to express “the will of the people.”
In the spring of 1948 Czechoslovak Communists with Soviet support staged a coup, the president fearing civil war and Soviet intervention capitulated, and a new constitution was written and approved by parliament.
Jan Masaryk, the only member of the new government who was neither a Communist nor a sympathizer, was found dead one morning in his pajamas under his third floor bathroom window. Masaryk was not only the foreign minister in the new government, he was the son of the first Czechoslovak president. But he had an American mother, an American wife, an American law degree, and had lived in London during the war.
When, twenty years later, the general secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party Alexander Dubcek undertook a careful realignment of his country’s internal and external policies, he and his allies were arrested, handcuffed and flown to Moscow on the floor of a military aircraft for interrogation.
In just over a month from now, on August 21, Czechs and Slovaks will observe the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Russian tanks on the streets of Prague to enforce Moscow’s control of their country and the end of Dubcek’s “Velvet Revolution.”
And today, after Moscow’s attempt to control the American election of 2016, our President Donald Trump was given an opportunity to criticize Putin’s action to his face. Trump refused in the most craven and cowardly fashion. Instead he chose to believe Putin’s denial over American intelligence officials and expressed the pitiful and cowardly hope that Putin will “like” him.
Giving aid and comfort to an enemy is the definition of treason. Until now Trump’s action has not formally been treasonous because Russia was not legally an enemy. But the attack on our electoral system was a hostile act.
Trump in his refusal to recognize that—and as president to protect the United States—is a traitor.