Trump and Putin shaking hands
Credit: Shealah Craighead/Flickr

For three years now, we’ve been living with a president whose pronouncements are directly contradicted by reality. It happened again on Wednesday. Trump held a news conference where he declared a “big success” in Syria and said that “this outcome was created by us, the United States.”

In a sense, the president is right. The outcome in Syria was created by the United States. It is, however, an unmitigated disaster. Just prior to Trump’s statement, Putin and Erdogan announced that an agreement had been reached between Russia and Turkey for what happens next in northern Syria. Anton Troianovski and Patrick Kingsley addressed the reality.

The negotiations cemented Mr. Putin’s strategic advantage: Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of formerly Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria. The change strengthens the rapid expansion of Russian influence in Syria at the expense of the United States and its Kurdish former allies…

Mr. Putin has emerged as the dominant force in Syria and a major power broker in the broader Middle East…And it looks increasingly clear that Russia, which rescued the government of President al-Assad with airstrikes over the last four years, will be the arbiter of the power balance there.

As President Trump questions American alliances and troop deployments around the world, Russia, like China, has been flexing its muscles, eager to fill the power vacuum left by a more isolationist United States. In Syria, both Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan have seized opportunities created by Mr. Trump’s sudden withdrawal…

The upshot, Russians now say, is that while their country lacks the West’s economic might, it can be counted on to keep its word.

It is worth remembering that, when it comes to Syria, the national security interests of the United States were focused on defeating ISIS.

As Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, when it comes to this president, “all roads lead to Putin.” I am reminded that another woman once tried to warn us about the danger of the “mind meld” between Trump and Putin. Given that it happened three years ago, she was practically prophetic.

Notice that at one point, Clinton said that “Donald has signaled to Putin that he will let Russia do whatever it wants, from Ukraine to Syria and beyond.” Her words have been proven true, as Trump stepped aside to allow Putin to reach his goals in Syria.

When it comes to Ukraine, Putin’s puppet in that country, Viktor Yuschenko, was ousted from power in 2014.  As the story about Giuliani and Trump’s efforts in Ukraine begins to unfold, it is increasingly clear that their claims about corruption in that country are actually aimed at restoring power to the oligarchs who benefited from the Yuschenko administration, like Dmytro Firtash, who has been described by federal prosecutors as an associate of Russian organized crime.

As I said, there is a way in which Trump was right to say that the outcomes we are witnessing have been created by the U.S. It is just that the beneficiary of those outcomes continues to be Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Things have gotten even worse since Clinton issued her warning. Back in October 2016, she said that “we are dealing with something unprecedented in the history of our country: a foreign adversary trying to influence our presidential election.” That foreign adversary was successful in helping to elect Donald Trump. We are now watching that adversary direct our foreign policy. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would write those words. And yet, it is happening…right in front of our eyes.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.