What Trump and Putin Have in Common: Weakness

“It is the mantra of all dictators.”

There hasn’t been this much talk about Russia during a presidential election since we were consumed with talk of the “Red Menace” in the form of the U.S.S.R. We currently have a Republican nominee who seems to be doing the bidding of President Vladimir Putin and has staff with deep ties to him and his Russian oligarchs. Beyond that, most experts believe that the hacking of the DNC server was backed by Russia in an attempt to discredit the Clinton campaign, while some people worry that the Russian military build-up along the Ukrainian borders could spell trouble prior to our election. Finally, we are witnessing what Josh Marshall calls “asymmetric – or information – warfare” with Russia’s growing number of propaganda networks in the West. It is obvious that Vladimir Putin is flexing his muscles.

All of that is why I appreciate what Marshall went on to say:

With the DNC hacking operation (which seems likely to be Russian government backed but might not be), the on-going crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s role in the Middle East, various possible ways of trying to make mischief in the US election etc etc etc, we shouldn’t lose sight of an essential point: Russia is a weak and vulnerable state with geopolitical pretensions wildly out of sync with its national wealth and power.

Hmmm…where have we heard that before?

That was after Russia invaded Ukraine. President Obama said something similar to Steve Kroft when asked about that country’s intervention in Syria.

When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally…

Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership.

Trump and Putin are demonstrating what bullies do. They mask their weakness with bravado and attempt to intimidate people into fear. It is the mantra of all dictators.

Right now that’s not working for Donald Trump in this election and it is only further isolating Russia from the rest of the world. Let’s put it another way: if Trump and Putin were so strong, why are they having to work so hard to prove their “manly dominance” to everyone?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .