Former President Trump refers to Putin as a “genius” for his invasion of Ukraine


Danielle O’Brien, Editor

On Feb. 2022, former President Trump made remarks on the “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” concerning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, commending it by referring to Putin as a “genius.” The remarks made set forth a disturbing precedent for political scientists to analyze whether these encouraging comments can have a welcoming effect on Russia’s dream of reforming the USSR.

Former President Trump states in the show, “I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine, of Ukraine, Putin declares it as an independent. Oh, that’s wonderful… So Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force,” It’s important to point out that besides referring to Vladimir Putin as a “genius” for his moves in Ukraine, Trump also refers to Russia’s presence in Ukraine and more specifically Vladamir Putin as a “peacekeeper.” It’s possible that the people of the United States could give former President Trump the benefit of doubt as the United States government has a habit of invading countries unwarranted and referring to it as “peacekeeping.” 

Although these comments could have been intended in a joking manner, these potential jokes were certainly not sarcastic, considering Trump goes on to declare that the “savviness” of Putin for his invasion of an independent country is the same savviness the U.S. needs to take up towards its southern border. Trump states, “We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen… Here’s a guy who’s very savvy… I know him very well. Very, very well.” What President Trump alludes to in his comments about the southern border, whether he is stating that invading our neighbors south of the border and claiming them as our own is a “savvy” idea, remains unclear. 

 Dr. Mark Thomas from the political science department weighed in on how comments like these may be encouraging Putin’s actions in Ukraine. Thomas stated, “Trump’s praise of Putin as a ‘genius’ has only as much credence and bearing on the global stage as his remaining sycophants in the U.S. give to it. He hardly speaks for the U.S. and even many of his most ardent supporters in the U.S. are viewing him as increasingly irrelevant and more as a roadblock to the future success of the Republican Party.” 

“That said, to those foreign leaders and people, who share Putin’s perspective that peoples divided by the post-World War I and II borders can be altered by force, his words can justify their actions, the same way the Jan. 6 protestors listened to his calls for action against former Vice President Pence and Congress in certifying the 2020 election results. The borders drawn in the post-war era are not logically based on geographical or ethnic lines; they are the equivalent of gerrymandering peoples to achieve the political goals of those drawing the lines. Needless to say, the Soviet Union (Russia), the U.S. and the U.K. drew those maps together,” continued Thomas.

“As to whether Putin is a genius is definitely doubtful. He is, at best, a judo expert who waits for his adversary to make a move to which he can leverage their own force against him so Putin can gain the advantage. His threats to use nuclear weapons are that type of move. It is what we used to refer to as ‘crazy Ivan,’ acting so unpredictably and apparently insanely to provoke fear, either to intimidate the opponent into appeasement or to push him into a position to justify another crazy act. Putin has been doing this since 2008 and he told us so in his 2014 Russian Security Strategy. He has been doing the unthinkable, be it information operations to undermine political stability in the U.S. and other Western countries, annexing Crimea and de facto annexing eastern Ukraine, assassinating dissidents abroad, cyber-attacks (ransomware are the publically known ones) on the industry. He has been softening us up for his move on Ukraine and his ultimate objective of creating a polycentric order where nobody discounts Russian military might again. Putin sadly underestimates his Eastern flank and that China is ‘playing the U.S. card’ to gain an advantage over Russia’s economy,” Thomas Concluded

Dr. Thomas’s comments seem to indicate that positive remarks surrounding Putin’s character, such as the ones made by former President Trump, may act as an endorsement for countries to declare others theirs to conquer. This is the opposite of the values of American democracy, something which it is willing to go to war over. 

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