On Thursday, Donald Trump offered another reason that he should not be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, telling Fox News Channel's Bret Baier that he knew Russia well because he held a Miss Universe event there.
The clown show that is Trump offered that ridiculous statement when prompted by Baier asking Trump if he had ever spoken with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, as Trump had refused to answer earlier in the week when asked if they had ever met. Trump told Baiaer he still wouldn’t answer the question because "I don't want to hurt his confidence."
Then, incredibly, Trump actually said to Baier, “I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, Miss Universe contest, which was a big, big, incredible event. An incredible success.”
Baier asked, “OK, so you got to talk to him?”
Trump, who apparently learned everything he needs to know about foreign policy by listening to Miss Universe contestants, gushed, “No, I got to meet a lot of people. And you know what? They want to be friendly with the United States. Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with somebody?”
Remember, this is the same man who said he obtained his knowledge of military affairs this way: “I watch the shows.” Trump’s utter inability to deal with foreign policy as an adult has frightened numerous people; in March, a letter with over 120 signatories by Republicans, many of them foreign policy experts, adumbrated the reasons why Trump was genuinely dangerous as a prospective leader of the United States. In part, the letter stated:
His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle. He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence … Similarly, his insistence that close allies such as Japan must pay vast sums for protection is the sentiment of a racketeer, not the leader of the alliances that have served us so well since World War II. His admiration for foreign dictators such as Vladimir Putin is unacceptable for the leader of the world’s greatest democracy. He is fundamentally dishonest. Evidence of this includes his attempts to deny positions he has unquestionably taken in the past, including on the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 Libyan conflict. We accept that views evolve over time, but this is simply misrepresentation. His equation of business acumen with foreign policy experience is false. Not all lethal conflicts can be resolved as a real estate deal might, and there is no recourse to bankruptcy court in international affairs.
In addition to Trump’s terrifying incoherence on foreign affairs, his connections with Russia are highly suspect. In late April, Trump gave his first major foreign policy address under the banner of the Center for the National Interest, which has strong ties to Putin. The Center for the National Interest was buddy-buddy with the Russian government-funded Institute for Democracy and Cooperation; in May 2014 both think tanks held a press conference defending Russia’s position in Ukraine. As David Adesnik wrote in 2014, “Although there is diversity in the dozens of articles TNI has run, its editorial staff leans heavily toward portrayal of the Kiev protests as an illegitimate coup d’état while encouraging concessions to Russia rather than a firm response to its aggression.”
As Eliot Cohen, who served under George W. Bush, told Politico, “Well, we’re all known by the company we choose to keep, aren’t we? Trump is a dangerous, ignorant demagogue. To give him a platform, and hence legitimacy, is to be complicit in his rise.”
“I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, Miss Universe contest, which was a big, big, incredible event. An incredible success.”
Donald Trump, vying for the Miss Universe title
As the Sydney Morning Herald points out, Russians see a strong similar similarity between Trump and the former ultranationalist leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and presidential candidate, Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The Herald writes:
Trump says he wants to build a wall to stop illegal immigrants; Zhirinovsky once threatened to use giant fans to blow radioactive waste into the Baltic states. Trump talks of "making America great again"; Zhirinovsky promised to "bring Russia up off its knees" and dreamed of a Greater Russia with Russian soldiers washing their boots in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Trump doesn't draw back from insulting women; Zhirinovsky once ordered an aide to rape a pregnant woman journalist.
As U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul wrote in his 1994 book Understanding Russia's 1993 Parliamentary Elections: implications for US foreign policy, Trump’s use of television was anticipated by Zhirinovsky. McFaul wrote:
After Russia's Choice [the government party], the LDP had more television time than any other party or bloc. As an individual candidate Zhirinovsky received more television exposure than any other candidate. Zhirinovsky used his television time effectively. He spoke in short sentences using simple language. His message was clear. He addressed issues that were of concern to voters … He lambasted the people in government as theoreticians who cared little and knew even less about the Russian people. He blamed Caucasians, (those from the Caucusus) Jews, neighbouring countries, and the West for Russia's woes. Russians, Zhirinovsky declared, no longer had to sacrifice and wait to be great again.
Zhirinovsky was responsible in part for the downfall of Boris Yeltsin, paving the way for the ascension of the brutal Putin. Russian political analyst Leonid Radzikhovsky said, "Zhirinovsky is a very, very, very bad person … all of his public activities are evil. He is aggressive, cynical, mercenary, without a conscience. When he entered parliament, it was quite different. After 25 years, Zhirinovsky has totally brought it down to his level, even if Russians don't take him seriously.”