What Trump has learned from Putin

Donald Trump is now in a neck-and-neck race with Hillary Clinton for the presidency.

How is this possible, given the stream of blatant lies, distortions, and half-truths that continuously billow forth from his mouth, not to mention the unbroken stream of unforgivable insults and offenses that are his trademark?

First, the fact that he is even with Hillary Clinton tells us something important about the electorate and the way political opinion is formed in 2016.

The old rules where character and truthfulness were critical factors in the choice of a president no longer seem to apply.

In part, this phenomenon is the result of the impact of “the infnite expansion of the present moment” with the advent of social media and electronic media that seem devoid of historical context, or even the context of what happened two weeks ago.

In part, it is the result of a failure of educational institutions in the project of civic education.  The latter represens the greatest challenge and most important responsiblity of the educational system.

There is no more important task than turning a potential barbarian into an educated citizen who can think about politics, morality, and political choices in an analytical manner, and make decisions rationally.

In part, it may also be the product of the cowardice and lack of principles of many political leaders who have failed to oppose Trump, and to call him out for his lies and distortions and unforgiveable insults and obscenities.

Taking advantage of this new political arena, Trump seems to have learned a great deal from Vladimir Putin.  The latter’s countless fabrications and distortions in the Russian media and its echoes in the West, have provided a striking contemporary example of the effective use of lies and propaganda.

Putin, like German leaders from 1932-1945 and Soviet leaders since Lenin, has used the propaganda methods of telling big lies, and repeating big and smaller lies continuously. This desensitizes audiences over time, so that new lies just seem to be “more of the same”.

This profusion of lies and distortions continues incessantly, seemingly allowing no opportunity for fact-checking or rebuttal, until the senses of listeners are overwhelmed.

Putin, the KGB man, has perfected these techniques and used them effectively in the Crimea, the Ukraine, Syria, in Russia, and elsewhere.

Trump appears to have enhanced his innate abilities as a B.S. master by learning from Putin. Is it any wonder that he so admires the Russian authoritarian leader?

Trumps’s election in November would represent a major and portentous historical development. Yet it looms.

What would be the consequences of entrusting the nuclear codes to Donald Trump? No one knows, but given his ignorance of international affairs and his personality, there is ample cause for grave concern.

Could he navigate his way through a Cuban Missile Crisis like John F. Kennedy did in 1962?

Who could stop Trump from recognizing the Russian annexation of the Crimea, or in effect destroying NATO?

The scenario of a Trump victory approaches.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.