As Melania Trump might “write” it: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”–for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
The Best: For Trump, becoming the anointed Presidential choice of the Republican party marked the climax of a life studded with fame and riches.
The Worst: The televised proceedings showed Right-wingers luxuriating in hated, chanting “Lock her up!” at the mention of Hillary Clinton’s name. Trump’s speech was straight out of a Fascist playbook: “Everything’s terrible, so give me total power and I’ll make everything perfect.”
The Best: For Clinton, being anointed as the Presidential choice of her party marked the highest achievement in a life already filled with them: Former First Lady, U.S. Senator from New York and Secretary of State under President Barack Obama.
The Worst: On the eve of what amounted to her coronation ceremony, Wikileaks released nearly 20,000 emails hacked from computers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). These clearly revealed a bias for Clinton and against his lone challenger, Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
One email revealed that Brad Marshall, the chief financial officer of the DNC, suggested that Sanders, who is Jewish, could be portrayed as an atheist.
Sanders’ supporters have long charged that the DNC and its chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, were plotting to undercut his campaign. Now thousands of them have descended on the Democratic convention as furious protesters.
The convention opened on July 25 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and will last until the 28th.
For Clinton, the release of the Wikileaks files could not have come at a worse time.
And it’s widely suspected that this is no accident. Cyber-security experts believe the hackers originated from Russia–and that Russian President Vladimir Putin may well have authorized it.
Putin has infamously voiced his admiration for Trump: “He is a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it. It is not up to us to appraise his positive sides, it is up to the U.S. voters. but, as we can see, he is an absolute leader in the presidential race.
“He is saying that he wants to move to a different level of relations with Russia, to a closer, deeper one. How can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome that.”
But more than one dictator’s admiration for another potential dictator-President may be at work here.
Trump has repeatedly attacked United States’ membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He believes the United States is paying an unfairly large portion of the monies needed to maintain this alliance–and he wants other members to contribute far more.
He has also said that, if Russia attacked NATO members, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after determining whether those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.” If he believed that they had not done so, he would inform them: “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”
For Putin, this clearly signals a reason to prefer Trump to Clinton. Trump’s statement marked the first time that a major Presidential candidate placed conditions on the United States’ coming to the defense of its major allies.
The withdrawal of the United States from NATO would instantly render that alliance kaput. Its European members that have smugly hurled insults at the United States for decades would suddenly face extinction.
Even if their armed forces proved a match for Russia’s–which they would not–their governments would cower before the threat of Russia’s huge nuclear arsenal.
If, in fact, Putin lies behind the capture and leaking of highly embarrassing DNC files, he is not the first Communist dictator to find common cause with an avowed Right-winger.
In late August, 1939, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin negotiated a “non-aggression pact” with Nazi Germany’s Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler.
The reason: Hitler intended to invade Poland–but feared going to war with the neighboring Soviet Union if he did so. By signing a non-aggression pact with Stalin, he avoided this danger–and gained “rights” to the western half of Poland.
In addition, Nazi Germany began receiving huge shipments of raw materials from the Soviet Union, as Stalin’s effort to placate Hitler and avoid a Nazi-Soviet clash.
As for Stalin, he got something, too: The eastern half of Poland, which would be occupied by the Red Army.
But the Hitler-Stalin alliance lasted less than two years. Signed on August 23, 1939, it ended without warning on June 22, 1941.
With 134 Divisions at full fighting strength and 73 more divisions for deployment behind the front–a total of three million men–the German Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union.
If Putin did authorize the leak to discredit Clinton and enable Trump to become President, there are two ways he may yet come to regret it.
The first is if a vengeance-seeking Hillary Clinton becomes President–and inherits the resources to impose sanctions on Russia.
And the second is if Donald Trump becomes President–and decides, like Hitler, that he doesn’t owe his onetime benefactor anything.