July 14th marks the one year anniversary of President Trump witnessing France’s Bastille Day parade alongside President Emanuel Macron. Just as he is being shown on television alongside Queen Elizabeth reviewing the Royal Guard, reporters break in to announce that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted twelve Russian intelligence officers for interference in the US election. By deliberately raining on Trump’s parade, the Democrats want to force him to confront Vladimir Putin when the two presidents meet on Monday.
As cries for him to cancel the meeting altogether grow louder, the media fail to realize that Trump’s second encounter with European pomp and circumstance will only have increased his admiration for strong leaders such as Vladimir Putin, the next best thing being the two thousand year old British monarchy. He will be more determined than ever to negotiate with the Russian President, while cries of anguish continue at home. (Think desperate parents of a sweet sixteen who has eloped with her French teacher…)
Amazingly, not one journalist has mentioned the fact that the venue of the Putin-Trump summit, Helsinki, was the backdrop for the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe that, in 1973, gathered representatives of 35 European countries to begin the thawing of East-West relations. Its two-year long negotiations culminated in the adoption of three ‘baskets’, political-military cooperation, economic and environmental cooperation, and the ‘Third Basket’ devoted to human rights. This unprecedented effort lead to the gradual emancipation of the Eastern European nations from Soviet Control, punctuated by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and culminating in the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union.
The American public is oblivious to the significance of Helsinki as the venue for the Putin-Trump summit, but I would wager that it was suggested by the history-conscious Russian President. Vladimir Putin characterized the dissolution of the Soviet Union as the greatest historical tragedy, due to the fact that it left hundreds of thousands of people in an economic no-man’s land, and the choice of Helsinki is intended to mark the completion of the process of reconciliation between Russia and the West begun forty-five years ago.
President Trump, who hates briefings, has probably been left unaware of the meaning that Helsinki has for his partner, although that knowledge would help him respond to the increasingly shrill campaign against his sit-down with the Russian leader. That failure will increase his resolve to ‘take down the administrative state’ (in Steve Bannon’s words), and, with the approval of his gun-toting base, replace it with a form of authoritarianism similar to the fascism London demonstrators accused him of representing.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.