At long last, every single media outlet in the U.S. can report with absolute certainty and without fear of contradiction from the White House, “Trump Met with Putin!” Of course, that was just ten days or so ago in Hamburg. Germany, at the G-20 Summit. It had nothing to do with any possible Russian/Trump tete-a-tetes that might have occurred during last year’s presidential campaign. But at least the headline is finally officially valid. There are even a few pictures to back up the claim.
One photo in particular showed The Donald and Vlad leaning over a small table in obvious deep discussion about who-knows-what. Rumors from that two-hour chat have indicated that the topic of Syria was numero uno. Putin, a good buddy of Bashir Assad, the Syrian dictator that has overseen the deaths of more than 470,000 of his fellow citizens, apparently is pushing for Syria to remain Syria, but with a little help from its friends.
Much as Germany was carved up into administrative zones after World War II by the Allied powers, Putin would like to temporarily (a key non-specific timeframe) have outside countries provide security for zones important to them. But just until the Islamic State is driven from the region. The U.S. is a bit leery of what Putin has up his sleeve, to the surprise of no one.
In all probability, Trump and Putin discussed a wide range of issues besides Syria as well. As usual, the press was only in the room for a short time, and so the complete conversation is not available. That tends to leave the substance up to a bit of speculation. Global alliances, climate change, and economic issues were probably all dealt with. But chances are there were a few things not on the official agenda that really got the two men talking.
For example, in the aforementioned photo, Putin looks to be gesturing with his thumb toward someone else in the room. Probably a reporter. Perhaps he was saying something such as, “How about that one? Can you trust him?” To which Trump may have replied, “A little. The one next to him? Not so much. Steer clear of that whole group. Fake news every hour every day.” Putin may not have even glanced up when responding, “We don’t have fake news in Moscow. Only my news.”
The two presidents probably got along pretty well personally. Both are more than a bit bellicose, and definitely enjoy getting their way. There may even have been an exchange of pleasantries at some point.
PUTIN: Is that really your hair?
TRUMP: Every bit of it. Melania cuts and combs it for me.
PUTIN: I’m envious of both. Look at me. No wife and losing hair every day.
TRUMP: Hey, at least you can still ride horses without a shirt on. No way I’m doing that.
PUTIN: Push-ups. Hundreds of push-ups. Less vodka, more exercise. That is key.
TRUMP: Good to know. So, listen, what’s the deal with you and Assad? He’s a bad dude, man.
PUTIN: Hey, Russia doesn’t have many friends, you know. You think you got hassles with Mexico. I got China on one border. And all those “stan” countries? None of them realize how good they had it under USSR. We gotta take what we can get.
TRUMP: Yeah, well, you see, that’s a problem. I’m gonna be blunt with you. The USSR? That used to be huge. Russia by itself? Not so huge. I know that bugs the heck out of you, but you gotta face the facts. China’s huge. We’re huge. That’s about it these days.
PUTIN: Nyet. Not true.
TRUMP: Yeah, well, you think what you want. The Soviet bear isn’t nearly as fierce as it used to be. Ask around. I know you’d like it to be. But, frankly, you just keep making things worse for yourself.
TRUMP: Well, what about Iran? I just can’t see you guys working out of the same playbook with them.
PUTIN: It’s complicated.
TRUMP: It’s stupid. You really think helping those mad-hatters with a nuke is going to lead to anything good?
PUTIN: They could blow themselves up.
TRUMP: Vlad, you’re smiling. What’s going on?
PUTIN: I don’t smile. That was not smile.
TRUMP: Just be cool, Vlad. There are enough messes to go around already. Oh, and stay away from our elections.
PUTIN: Elections? What elections?
TRUMP: You’re smiling again.
PUTIN: No smile.
TRUMP: Right. Hey, you don’t know anything about Hillary and a uranium deal, do you?
Well . . . it could have happened that way.
©MMXVII. William J. Lewis, III