I mentioned yesterday that in trying to unravel Trump’s love affair with Putin we can eliminate compromat. No matter what Russia possessed to attempt to compromise Trump it would have no bearing on his presidency. He has the Republican Party solidly in his corner and while they control Congress he is as safe as a bed bug in a NY City moderately priced hotel.
I’ve written about Trump’s reluctance to criticize Putin. While he has criticized many other leaders that has stood out. But there is another leader who he has also not criticized that seems to fly under the radar. That is Bibi Netanyahu the prime minister of Israel. You may think that is just the pot not calling the kettle black because they are both under criminal investigation but it is more than that. If in Trump’s mind Putin walks on water then Netanyahu glides over it.
You must understand what a relief it was to Netanyahu that Trump was elected. Netanyahu expressed his feelings about America in 2001 when he told a group of settlers: “I know what America is. America is a thing that can be easily moved, moved in the right direction. They will not bother us. Let’s suppose that they will say something… so they say it? Eighty per cent of the Americans support us… We have such support there!”
Think back to the Netanyahu/Obama falling out and what a shock it was to Netanyahu that he could not get what he wanted. What was the major cause of it? Do you remember. Yes, that’s right it was the Iranian deal whereby we and other nations lifted sanction on Iran in exchange for them giving up nuclear ambitions for fifteen years.
Netanyahu has been urging us to attack Iran since the beginning of time. He even threatened that Israel would do it on its own if we did not act. When Obama preferred a peaceful solution over the Netanyahu war plan we saw the unseemly spectacle of Netanyahu campaigning for Mitt Romney and later the Republican Congress giving him the honor of addressing it in his anti-Obama endeavors.
Not only does Trump not criticize Putin or Netanyahu, neither does Netanyahu criticize Putin. What makes Putin so untouchable? Netanyahu and Putin do not seem to share a common interest. Certainly in the war in Syria they appear to be on opposite sides. Yet they have met seven times, five times in Russia, over the last two years. According to this article they have a close relationship which has benefited Israel to the detriment of the United States.
At a meeting in August 2017 Netanyahu said he told Putin: “Iran is not hiding its intention to create a land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean, and transfer Iranian forces – air, sea and ground – to Syria to supplement the Shi’ite militia already there.” Then at a follow-up meeting after which Russia sent a team of senior Russian security officials to Israel in late January 2018 Netanyahu told Putin again of his position on Iran in Syria but added he told Putin of Israel’s “objections and also those I heard from US President [Donald] Trump [of the Iranian nuclear deal]. I can’t speak for the Russian position, but they understood that if certain changes weren’t made, it is very possible that the US would make good on its threat” to withdraw from the deal.”
It would be nice to know what Putin said in return, if anything, but we do know there has been increasing cooperation between Netanyahu and Putin. Along with this is the desire on Trump’s behalf to please Netanyahu by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and cutting off all aid to the Palestinians.
The greatly under reported statement by Trump to Netanyahu that he plans to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal along with the positioning of Bolton and Pompeo, two strong advocates for withdrawal, in the power structure of the Administration tell us there is no doubt that will happen in May. How then does that play into the courtship of Putin?
As I see it both Trump and Netanyahu recognize Russia is in close cooperation with Iran. Their reluctance to criticize Putin is their attempt to put a wedge into the Russian/Iranian relationship. To this time, since the Iran/Iraq/Syrian axis with their allies in Turkey is beneficial to Russia, they have been unable to do this. They will continue to try to break Russia away from Iran.
If unsuccessful, they hope to persuade Putin not to interfere in the attack on Iran which will be carried out mainly by American air power and cruise missiles. The question will come down to what Putin will extract from them for standing off. Israel angered American officials when it refused to criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but it pleased Putin. Will the US and Israel give Russia a free pass in Ukraine? The Baltics?
Difficult to tell but keeping Putin happy seems to be the goal of Trump so that he can please Netanyahu by bringing war to Iran.