Everywhere you look these days it is impossible to escape Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, and Russia is apparently hoping that he becomes the next leader of the United States.
With his appetite for controversy and larger-than-life personality, Trump is a magnet for attention. In his latest outburst, he called for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States. The news rippled around the world, causing outrage in most quarters. In Russia however, Trump may have an unlikely foreign supporter, writes Roy Greenslade for The Guardian.
Trump’s anti-Muslim tirade sparks international criticism
While one New York Times writer called Trump’s diatribe “reprehensible,” another deemed it “outlandish.” In Britain a number of journalists spoke out on Trump, with criticisms flying in from Gary Younge in the Guardian; Max Hastings in the Daily Mail, who said that Trump is “increasingly unhinged”, and in several editorials, such as the Independent, the Daily Mirror,the Times and the Guardian.
Opposition in Britain was inspired by Trump’s claim that parts of the country have become so radicalized that they have become no-go areas for police. The majority of British journalists used their writing to point out that this is far from the case, and questioned Trump’s eligibility to become President of the United States. Even before his latest outburst, the majority of British people were opposed to the idea of Trump as president, and it is fair to say that public opinion has hardened against him even further.
However over in Russia things are slightly different. In order to find out what Russia thinks of Trump, Greenslade read Russia Beyond The Headlines, a supplement published by the Daily Telegraph. According to “international analyst” Bryan MacDonald, Russian President Vladimir Putin is supporting Trump in the race for U.S. presidency.
Moscow rooting for Trump thanks to friendly foreign policy
In an article titled “Why Donald is Moscow’s trump card in US primaries,” MacDonald claims: “If the Kremlin could vote in the US presidential primaries, it would probably back Donald Trump… The surprise package of the race was a kind of comedy candidate. Nobody’s laughing now.”
He later goes on to explain why Trump would be popular with the Kremlin. “Trump believes ‘Putin has eaten Obama’s lunch’ on Ukraine. ‘Putin has no respect for our president whatsoever’… ‘He [Putin] has got a tremendous popularity in Russia; they love what he’s doing, they love what he represents,’” he wrote.
In fact, Trump has previously predicted a warm relationship between the two. “He [Trump] told a press conference in Scotland: ‘I’d get along very well with Putin,’” he wrote.
Russia wary of Rubio and Clinton
MacDonald later says that “some US allies in Europe might be alarmed at a President Trump’s warm feelings towards Russia,” which is surely quite the understatement. Ukraine would perhaps be the most worried, especially if MacDonald is correct in stating that Trump “believes Crimea is Europe’s problem and that the US has no role to play.”
Given his views on U.S. foreign policy commitments it is hardly surprising that Putin is quite favorable to the idea of Trump taking power. Other Republican hopefuls such as Marco Rubio would not be such good news for Putin, particularly after Rubio suggested making Ukraine a member of NATO.
While it seems unlikely to do so, Ukrainian accession to NATO would mean that the U.S. and other allies would intervene if Russia committed any further acts of aggression. Putin would not be able to accept any further creep of the military alliance to the East, and tensions would be ratcheted up another notch.
Article published twice by Daily Telegraph
MacDonald believes that Putin is backing Trump in the Republican race. “If Russia’s rulers could vote, they’d probably back Trump for the Republicans and anybody but Hillary [Clinton] on the Democrat ticket. The Kremlin’s worst nightmare would be a Clinton-Rubio battle. In such a contest, Russia would make a convenient whipping boy for their foreign policy tussles… Russia could find itself used as an electoral bogeyman,” he wrote.
Later on Greenslade reveals that the article had in fact been published on 11 November with only a small number of changes. The original version was called “The US electoral match-up the Kremlin elite would like to see.” While it could have been a mistake to publish a very similar article again, there may also be other sinister forces at play. As Greenslade writes, “propaganda relies on repetition.”
Trump continues to court controversy in his bid to become the Republican presidential candidate. With nearly two months until voting begins, he continues to ride high in the polls. Despite his pronouncements it is time that the world seriously considered the possibility that Trump may contest the race for the U.S. presidency.