We’re all used to our new normal, but really, it wasn’t long ago that an American president cozying up to Russia and betraying allies who helped us contain the Soviet Union and create an unprecedented era of peace and growth in Europe would have seemed like some kind of lunatic alternative history concept.
It is entirely fitting that the Trump-Putin summit will occur in Helsinki. Plucky Finland, which had fought the Red Army to a draw in 1940, thereafter accepted a quasi-vassal role. It remained a free-market democracy, but it entered into a “treaty of friendship” with the Soviet Union, compromising its principles and even its sovereignty so as not to provoke the bear next door.
President Trump, for reasons we can only guess at, seems bent on the Finlandization of Europe — and even the United States.
Not normal, nor desirable. I wonder what Republican presidents of 20-30 years ago would make of this. It’s tempting to just assume that Trump’s been bought off by someone or that the Kremlin has some kind of dirt on him, but I suspect the truth may be even more banal than that: he’s a man with a weak intellect who responds to flattery and toadyism and the Russians are playing him like a violin.