So, what is Putin's vision for America? I would guess his slogan would be, "Make America weaker." It is also established fact that Russia, by a variety of methods — mainly using social media — tried to impact the election through hundreds of thousands of ads and false stories that saturated Facebook and other means of communication. So, what did Putin hope to see happen with a Trump victory?
(1) The Pentagon has time and time warned our country that our greatest threat is our national debt. This barely gets a mention on 24/7 cable news, although with the recent stock market crash some of the talking heads are pointing out that a contributing factor may be rising interest rates, which has resulted in the interest on our national debt ($22 trillion) being $1.5 billion a day. The chickens are coming home to roost. Both political parties are weakening our future with their generational theft. Check this box for Putin. We are playing into his hands.
(2) Putin wants America out of Syria, so Russia can fill the void and be the major power broker in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Check box No. 2 if President Trump follows through with his plan. This is now hotly contested in Washington. By the time you read this, the president's decision to completely withdraw from Syria may have been reversed. Regardless, Putin's and Trump's visions for Syria are on the same page.
(3) As I mentioned above, Putin wanted Hillary Clinton to go down in defeat. How did he manage to contribute to Trump's victory? We do not know all the answers to that question, but we do know this: The Russians wanted to divide America, and they did this by, for example, putting on Facebook inflammatory ads and stories about race, guns, sexuality, etc. In other words, the Russians wanted to make our divisions even wider and more filled with anger and hatred. Check this third box for Putin. Even now on Facebook I see constant rancor and awful posts, using all kinds of four-letter words. The Russians have not stopped their interference even with Trump's victory, and far too many Americans are duped by the Russians’ hope to keep us divided.
(4) Putin wants America to lift sanctions which our country has imposed on Russia for its misbehavior in Ukraine and Crimea. Putin has not yet won this victory, but the administration has lifted sanctions on some individual Russian oligarchs. This is a partial victory for Putin. The whole issue of sanctions and whether there was any deal made between Russia and the Trump campaign to lift sanctions with a Trump victory is the primary point of investigation by the Mueller team.
(5) Putin wants to weaken NATO and our ties to the Western democracies. Putin wants other countries to lose faith in the strength of America and our willingness to stand side by side with our allies. With Trump's comments on NATO and his professed nationalism (e.g., his imposition of tariffs), Putin is clearly on Cloud 9. Another box is checked by the dictator.
(6) Putin wants to undermine our faith in our elections, our faith in the FBI, CIA and Justice Department, and Putin wants to wreck democracy not only here but all over the world. With Trump's help, Putin must be very happy in our withering confidence in our institutions. Putin must also be equally overjoyed over Trump's revisionist history on why the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, arguing that the Russians were justified. Here Trump is even “outputining” Putin!
Why has the president been so silent in his criticisms of Putin? Is Trump somehow compromised by Putin in terms of finances or sex traps? Some talking heads are now even calling Trump a Manchurian candidate, evoking the classic movie of that name.
The truth of all of this will in time come out and the truth may set us free.
— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune community columnist