The continuing saga of Donald Trump’s long-simmering romance with Vladimir Putin is heating up. The Associated Press reports that Russia took to defending Trump after some harsh criticism at the United Nations.
According to the AP, Russia filed a formal complaint last month in response to remarks by Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, was upset by Zeid’s inclusion of Trump in a coterie of known human rights abusers. Zeid had said that:
“In what may be a crucial election for leadership of this country later this year, we have seen a full-frontal attack — disguised as courageous taboo-busting — on some fundamental, hard-won tenets of decency and social cohesion that have come to be accepted by American society. Less than 150 miles away from where I speak, a front-running candidate to be president of this country declared, just a few months ago, his enthusiastic support for torture.”
Indeed, Trump has made his advocacy of torture a key focus of his campaign. Last February he promised that “I would bring back waterboarding, and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” The U.N. has called for rescinding “any interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, that constitutes torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”
In criticizing state sponsors of torture Zeid included Trump along with Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders, Nigel Farage (UKIP), Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, Austrian presidential candidate Norbert Hofer, French nationalist Marine Le Pen, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Czech President Milos Zeman.
Given recent revelations about Trump’s affection for the Russians, and vice versa, this should not come as a surprise. Just yesterday he was caught parroting the false claims of a Russian media outlet. He has appeared on Kremlin-controlled cable networks criticizing America and defending Russia. And his financial entanglements with members of the Russian oligarchy and government are well-documented.
The Clinton camp responded with a short but firm statement by senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan:
“This is not only strange — it’s scary. A major-party candidate for the presidency of the United States is being protected by the Kremlin. Wow.”
In addition to the frightening aspects of this, Trump’s campaign has embraced a broad array of pro-Russian policies and praise. He consistently has better things to say about the Russians than he does about America, which he has called “a hell hole.” Likewise, he has greater admiration for Russia’s leaders than any of those in the U.S. of either party. The AP addressed all of this saying:
“Trump has praised President Vladimir Putin’s strength and leadership, vowing to improve ties between Washington and Moscow if he defeats Democrat Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8. He has questioned whether NATO, an alliance of Western nations formed to counter the Soviet Union, is outdated. He has suggested Russia hasn’t entered Ukraine although it annexed the Crimea region in 2014 and is supporting anti-government rebels in the east. And he urged Moscow to find emails that Clinton deleted from the private server she used while secretary of state.”
There really is only one question that comes to mind after observing all of this evidence. And that is: Whose side is Trump on? His open hostility to so much of what makes America great raises doubts about what the country would look like under his toxic leadership. He rejects the welcoming prose engraved at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. His policies violate domestic and international laws against human rights abuse. The bigotry he espouses is contrary to our nation’s quest for tolerance and equality. And his attraction to authoritarianism ought to chill the spine of every citizen.
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It is not incidental that the only country in the United Nations that felt compelled to stand up for Donald Trump was Russia. The two share a philosophy and an agenda for international affairs. And who knows what other incentives tie Trump to the Russians, including a vast web of indebtedness.