Staunton, January 8, 2017 — Nina Khrushcheva, the great-granddaughter of the Soviet leader who was ousted from power for his “hare-brained schemes,” says that the affection for Putin incoming US president Donald Trump and his associates feel “is not the result of brainwashing if one doesn’t consider a love for money a form of that.”
But Khrushcheva, a scholar at the New School in New York, says that what is likely to happen with the Trump administration is likely to turn out “more unbelievable” than Hollywood films like “The Manchurian Candidate” and to end even worse than did that movie.
The “Kremlinphilia” of Trump and his entourage is “obviously anti-American,” she says, as was the president elect’s decision to condemn the American intelligence agencies and support Vladimir Putin on the issue of Russian hacking. Indeed, such a preference is both “remarkable and dangerous.” Trump’s pro-Moscow stance is one of the few thing he has been constant about.
Trump’s selections of key aides makes all this even more disturbing, Khrushcheva says. His candidate for secretary of state has been much involved with Russia for many years, sought to undermine the US sanctions regime imposed after Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, and to this day “is proud of his status as ‘Vladimir’s friend.’”
And his selection of Michael Flynn as national security advisor is also worrisome. After he was dismissed by Barack Obama as head of DIA for “incompetence,” Flynn “immediately began to develop business ties with Russians, and Putin it appears was glad to provide [him] with these contacts.”
Trump personally has had many business dealings with Russia because for him “money doesn’t smell,” as the Russians say, wherever it comes from. And those dealings appear to be one of the reasons why he hasn’t, in violation of US precedent, released his tax returns so that all this could be confirmed.
But “Trump’s adoration of Russia – or more precisely Russian wealth –“ Khrushcheva continues, “was obvious long before the elections as was his habit of surrounding himself with advisors supporting the very same views,” as the case of Paul Manafort shows, someone Trump fired only when his corrupt dealings with a Putin agent became too obvious for comfort.
According to Khrushcheva, Americans should be asking “three important questions” before Trump takes the oath of office on January 20th. First, what should be done “if the FBI finds evidence of criminal behavior” by the new president or if Trump tries to block investigations into the links he and his people have with Russia?
Second, how close are the relationships between Trump’s candidate for secretary of state and Russian oligarchs like Igor Sechin and others close to Putin? And third – and this, Khrushcheva says, is “the most important question,” are Americans “ready to accept a president who condemns people who risk their lives in the defense of the US but praises and defends Putin and his clique?”
At the end of “The Manchurian Candidate,” the US-based Russian scholar says, one character, played by Frank Sinatra, manages to “free himself from his programming and disrupts the conspiracy of the communists.” That of course was Hollywood in the Cold War where “the good guys won.”
Unfortunately, it isn’t likely that “a film about Trump will have such an optimistic ending.”