A Toast To Vladimir

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” - Vito Corleone

Vladimir Putin is often described as a gangster in western media outlets. Corruption is a way of life in Russia, and political opponents of their President have been gunned down on the streets, poisoned in England, or perhaps even thrown off buildings in New York City. The oligarchy of billionaires that he supports continues to thrive even as the Russian economy goes through a dive similar to our Great Recession. No matter, Putin won his last election with over 63% of the vote and his popularity remains at an astounding 80% according to a recent Gallup Poll. How is this possible? Its all about respect. Once you except a world view that acknowledges all of our leaders are corrupt, you can’t help but like the fact that yours is the best at it, and their Vladimir may be the best in history.

Putin is punching way out of his weight class and lands a haymaker every time. His military is one seventh the size of the United States, but when Russia’s surrogates invade the Crimea its no problem holding onto it. The sanctions may hurt their economy, but the people are willing to buck up. This is a nation that was invaded by Napoleon, The Kaiser and Hitler, so they are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to get back onto the world stage, and they got the guy who can do it. What we don’t understand is they take it personally when Secretary Clinton questions the legitimacy of their election, or our CIA supports a revolution in Ukraine that over throws a President sympathetic to mother Russia. We disrespected them, nothing left to do but teach us some respect. We are still being taught.

Just who’s election is illegitimate, anyway? Our current President lost by three million votes and won. Hilary Clinton lost, and President Trump is dismantling the Obama legacy. Russian operatives hacked into the the DNC and Hillary’s campaign and according to the vanquished candidate it was one of the reasons she lost. Remember its personal.

Our President picked a National Security Advisor who took money for speeches in Russia and lied about it. He had to be fired, and is seeking immunity for his testimony. The President is incensed that there are investigations into his “Russian connections,” but he invites the Russian Foreign Minister along with a known Russian spy to the White House the day after he fires the Director of the FBI, the man responsible for investigating Russian espionage in our country. Knowing it might not look good in the press, the White House staff did not allow our media access to the meeting. Allegedly the Russians agreed not to release the photographs they took, but then they burned our President by splashing their smiling faces with him on the front page of every paper on Earth. Now, it has been leaked that President Trump revealed classified information to them during the meeting. I wonder who leaked it? Who was in the room?

In an attempt to refute the alleged Russian connection our President had his tax lawyers prepare a letter telling us Mr. Trump has no financial connections in Russia but for “a few exceptions,” such as the sale of a Florida home for 96 million to a Russian “billionaire” for more than twice what he paid for it three years earlier. There were of course other “ordinary sales of goods or services” but these were “immaterial.” There also was the beauty pageant in Moscow which was responsible for a “substantial portion” of the “foreign income” he received in 2013.

Here is where Putin’s master plan seeking to weaken and destabilize the position of the United States of America on the world stage has worked beyond his wildest expectations. No matter what his operatives say about President Trump’s connections to Russia, be they financial, political or salacious they are going to be believed. It is irrelevant whether they are true or not, because so much has been admitted, proven true, or denied without proof, any quality lie will stick to him. The President of the United States is hostage to a Russian propaganda machine he helped create.

Whether we see Vladimir Putin as a worthy adversary, enemy, or just the most successful gangster in history, we have to acknowledge his diabolical genius. I can’t help but believe that in every bar and nightclub in The Russian Republic vodka toasts are being offered to Vladimir Putin and the restoration of their nation’s prominence. Most of them never really believed in democracy anyway, notions of liberty and equality were for naïve dreamers. No, it is the strong man with an iron fist in the image of Joseph Stalin that they can’t help but admire. He may have murdered 50 million people, but he won the damn war against the Nazi’s. Life on this Earth has been that cynical for them, and its based in their reality.

So here’s to Vladimir, we need to acknowledge that when it comes to the unraveling of democracies he is unsurpassed. First his own, and now he’s after ours with the help of an unwitting accomplice. He is the enemy worth staying close to, if only to never underestimate him again.

Written by: Philip Remington Dunn is a practicing criminal defense attorney, social justice advocate, and author of the critically acclaimed book: When Darkness Reigns.