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When Liars Get Together

Don Rose 12 July 2017 No Comment

Last week came the momentous first meeting of two of the world’s great liars–both heads of state, but as different in style as Sinatra and Eminem. There was Vladimir Putin, smooth, experienced, savvy in world affairs and the former spymaster for the old Soviet Union. Then there was our very own Trump, inexperienced on the world stage and in diplomacy, erratic, undisciplined and often self-contradictory–he once even lied that he had previously met Putin face to face.


   With them were Trump’s novice Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who knows Putin and even won an award from him, and Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, equally experienced and savvy as his boss, plus two translators. Notably absent was National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, an expected figure at such a meeting. Nor were there any note-takers or recording devices (that we know of). So we have to rely on the accounts of two champion liars or their close aides.  

  There were many important issues on the unannounced agenda–Syria, terrorism, Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, sanctions imposed on Russia, nuclear North Korea–and of course the matter of Russian hacking to influence our last presidential election.

  Up to the end of the meeting most of the US and much of the world wondered whether Trump would press the last issue–which apparently he did, but we don’t know how hard. Lavrov’s report said it was couched in terms of “many people in American want to know….”

  Let’s set aside for the moment the question of Trumpite collusion with Russia and the issue of any potential financial ties he has to it. We know he hates the idea of Russian meddling minimally because it suggests he didn’t win  the presidency all my his lonesome. He has kinder words for Putin than for his own intelligence services, which he disses and dismisses on the issue, saying the hacking might have been by Russia but it could be someone else. (Can you imagine Putin denouncing his own spy network, except perhaps to butcher a double agent?)

  When the issue was posed, Putin naturally denied any involvement. Lavrov and later Putin said Trump accepted and was “satisfied” with the denial. Tillerson did not quite agree, saying such past issues were well “litigated” but it was time to look forward not backward. His language was intentionally circumlocutious. We may never know what was actually said, except one apparent point of agreement, and here the Russian checkmated his checker-playing foil:   Putin, in denying any hacking role, asked Trump to produce “proof.”

  That’s the last thing Trump wants to show. The evidence was provided to him by 17 US intelligence agencies, whose work he questions publicly, here and abroad. Putin must have been laughing up his sleeve.

 Consider:  if Trump believed the intelligence reports (which he secretly may), would he dare show them to his adversary? They would show the methods and the human assets through which the intelligence agencies did their work and gathered their information. Damn near treason–though earlier he gave the Russians some highly classified information.

  Perhaps Trump could learn chess via tweets.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer 



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