The God-Emperor and the Neo-Tsar
As soon as the press conference ended CNN cut to its panel with these words from TV personality Anderson Cooper: “You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, surely, that I’ve ever seen.”
David Gergen, who for years has gotten away with portraying himself on TV as an impartial political sage, then told CNN viewers:
“I’ve never heard an American President talk that way but I think it is especially true that when he’s with someone like Putin, who is a thug, a world-class thug, that he sides with him again and again against his own country’s interests of his own institutions that he runs, that he’s in charge of the federal government , he’s in charge of these intelligence agencies, and he basically dismisses them and retreats into this, we’ve heard it before, but on the international stage to talk about Hillary Clinton’s computer server …
“It’s embarrassing,” interjected Cooper.
“It’s embarrassing,” agreed Gergen.
White House correspondent Jim Acosta, ostensibly an objective reporter, then gave his opinion: “I think that sums it up nicely. This is the president of the United States essentially taking the word of the Russian president…over his own intelligence community. It was astonishing, just astonishing to be in the room with the U.S. president and the Russian president on this critical question of election interference, and to retreat back to these talking points about DNC servers and Hillary Clinton’s emails when he had a chance right there in front of the world to tell Vladimir Putin to stay the HELL out of American democracy, and he didn’t do it.”
In other words Trump should just shut up and not question a questionable indictment, which Acosta, like nearly all the media, treat as a conviction.
Hey, fair's fair. They want you and me destroyed for believing in the things that we do. Turnabout is fair play as far as I'm concerned.
Which just so happens to be in - hey! check it out! - Ukraine.
And, yes, he has ruled his country with an iron fist as an autocrat. For some bizarre reason, the world's Western elites find this unacceptable. Do they not realise that democracy in Russia does not work? I have personally heard Russians tell me this to my face. (I happen to agree with them - democracy doesn't work, and not just in Russia.) To the Russkies, this newfangled notion of "democracy" is a 20-year aberration in their twelve-hundred year history.
Yes, he has done plenty of things that appall and shock Westerners. There is no real press freedom in Russia, for instance, and government corruption and bureaucratic stupidity is pretty bad over there. (Though, to be fair, if you want to see a government that is a true plague upon its people, come to India. The Russian one is a paragon of efficiency and good sense by comparison.)
All of that is par for the course in a country that has known nothing but rule by god-kings and nobles for pretty much its entire history. Tsar, after all, is simply a Russianised form of the ancient Latin word, Caesar - meaning "emperor".
But it is not an invading army.
Russian ground troops number roughly 350,000 active-duty personnel (though that number is unreliable at best), and their total armed forces number less than a million. With 147 million people and a sharply reduced birth rate, Russia simply does not have the manpower, the population, or the economy to back a full-scale invasion of Europe any longer - even if the Europeans are so anaemic and pathetic in terms of their own defence spending that German Bundeswehr troops have to train with broomsticks instead of real rifles.
And that is before we get to the well-known problems of cohesion and morale within that army. The Russkies only implemented an actual NCO corps in their army starting in 2008, and it is only now starting to show results. Until the Serdyukov Reforms, the Russian Army somehow managed to operate without a dedicated core group of professional non-commissioned officers. In the US and Western militaries, the noncomms are the absolute backbone of any standing army; I don't have the first clue how the hell the Russians managed to have a functional fighting army without one.