• Helsinki Debacle Claims Its Victims

    Writing a commentary on current affairs is always a fraught business; however considered one’s views, they are bound to be challenged by someone – even many, – and they can, by the time they are published, be totally discredited by events that have happened in the meantime.

    Mike Hosking fell victim to this syndrome when he ventured a defence of Donald Trump in the pages of the Herald a week or so ago.  He extolled what he saw as Trump’s virtues – his powers of leadership and strength – and lambasted those who found Trump’s values and morals to be beyond the pale as “haters”.

    Sadly for poor Mike, no sooner had he committed these views to paper than we (and he) were treated to the bumbling debacle of Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.  For the second time in as many months, the American President had engineered a highly publicised meeting with a notorious dictator and, after celebrating, in each case, what he described as a triumph, had emerged with little achieved other than further damage to his claim to be a master deal-maker.

    In the cases of both Kim Jong Un and Putin, Trump seems to have been remarkably subservient to his interlocutor – to the extent that it seemed that he dared not say anything, at least to Putin, that might displease him.  It was almost as though Trump was so impressed by, and perhaps envious of, the dictator’s powers (not least, to order the execution of critics or opponents) that he was completely unmanned.

    His obsequiousness in the presence of Putin inevitably revived questions about exactly what Putin “has on” Trump – to the extent that there was speculation in Moscow that Trump had been “turned” and was now an agent of the Kremlin.

    Whatever the truth of that, we were shown a President in Helsinki who preferred to believe Putin (for whom, the record shows, “truth” has no meaning) to the advice given him by his own intelligence chiefs and who was then so frightened by the outrage at his performance expressed, not least by his own supporters, that he ran for cover with a series of implausible denials that he had not actually meant what he had so plainly said.

    So much for Hosking’s vision of a “strong leader”.  What we had instead was a President who couldn’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag and who, when he was called to account, couldn’t even organise his words as they came out of his mouth.

    Even if Mike Hosking were now to concede that his hero-worship of Trump was grotesquely misplaced, what we should remember is his willingness to overlook – even give a pass mark to – Trump’s misogyny and bigotry and to his well-documented moral failings in his personal life.   Hosking’s tolerance of these attitudes should surely leave us with a valuable lens through which to judge the views he expresses in respect of the domestic political scene .

    Th fact is that Trump’s performance in Helsinki taught us a great deal about the President who is allegedly committed to “putting America first” but who ran away at the first sound of gunfire.  Both Trump, first, and then Hosking, have been holed below the water line.  Wouldn’t it be welcome if they were both, as a consequence, now to sink without trace? 

    Bryan Gould

    20 July 2018


  1. Jeremy Carroll says: July 20, 2018 at 9:26 amReply

    kia ora

  2. mikesh says: August 1, 2018 at 8:46 pmReply

    Perhaps Trump appears “obsequious” only by comparison with the chauvinism of America’s “deep state”. But if the attitudes of the latter were seen to be unjustified then Trump’s stance might be seen in a new light. After all he seems only to be following up on his campaign promise to work towards detente with Russia.

    Do we know yet what were the results of their discussions? There seemed to be some mystery about these at the time and I haven’t followed the matter closely since.

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