Reviewed by STEVEN TRAVERS
Putin and the Presidents by veteran filmmaker and Putinologist Michael Kirk appeared recently on PBS and can be viewed on-line at https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/documentary/putin-and-the-presidents/.
It is a well done documentary, albeit slanted as can be expected in favor of the Democrats. The focus as the title indicates is on Russian dictator Vladimir Putin who since taking power in 1999-2000 has dealt personally with five U.S. Presidents. First we learn of Putin’s background as a young KGB agent during the Cold War. There is one conspiracy theory (which by the way consists simply of smart people thinkin’ about stuff; every crime scene starts out as a conspiracy theory) that says Putin ran Barack Hussein Obama and John Brennan as assets (see No Way Out, Little Nikita, The Americans). This seems to explain how a young man (Obama) schooled from age nine to age 18 by America’s leading Communist (Frank Marshall Davis) could ascend to the Presidency while naming as his CIA Director an actual-in-real-life Communist (Brennan), who of his own free will voted for the Communist ticket in 1980. Other theories have it that Obama’s family were CIA moles, since the agency liked to have plants in the anti-war and radical movements.
Either way, one of Putin’s specialties was psychological profiling; getting in the head of his subjects. Putin and his way of life seemed to have been upended when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Boris Yeltsin took over and promised Democracy. According to Francis Fukuyama, it was the “end of history,” which had been won by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and the U.S. of A.
But Yeltsin was weak and an alcoholic. Civil wars and breakaway republics hurt Russia in the 1990s. Putin managed to keep his hand in, which to the way of thinking of many would have been like Heinrich Himmler taking over Germany around 1960. He made a deal, promising Yeltsin and the West that he would continue Russia’s nascent Democratic tradition.
Any historian worth his salt could have predicted the failure of such a thing. Russia had absolutely no Democratic traditions prior to Yeltsin. For centuries they have been run by autocrats and oligarchs. Corruption is endemic there, like the air they breath. Russian literature and poetry is awash in woeful descriptions of average people squashed by tyrants. To think that all of a sudden some kind of “new world order” was going to bring flowers and sunshine to this hellish scene was a ridiculous notion.
History tells us that tyrants such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union must be brought to their knees completely; conquered, invaded, overrun, and made to renounce their ways as Hitler’s Third Reich and Imperial Japan had. To assure that the U.S.S.R. and Red China be reformed and made to become a family of nations, the U.S. would have had to militarily destroy both nations between 1985 and 1991, kill and imprison all their leaders, and occupy both nations for at least a decade. Nobody argued then or now for such an action, considering the millions who would have had to die, but the harsh reality is that dictators like Putin and Xi Jinping respect only force. As long as we are unwilling to sacrifice in such a way, we must live in a world dominated in part by tyrants.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said Reagan won the Cold War “without firing a shot.” Indeed had 400,000 Americans died in a hot war with Communism, resulting in the same geo-political world we got in real life in 1991, people would have said it was “worth it,” just as they said defeating the Nazis was “worth it.” Looking back from the perch of hindsight 33 years later, we see “Communism” and whatever else you wish to call it – Fascism, authoritarianism, tyranny, cultural Marxism – was not so thoroughly defeated. Sometimes men must die in this fallen world we live in. Many in the South believe slavery would have come to an end naturally during the Industrial Revolution without war, but we will never know. What we do know is that 600,000 white men died so that black men could be freed.
In 2000, Putin met President Bill Clinton. The imagery focuses on body language. Putin sat with his arms by his side and his legs spread as if Phallically laughing in Clinton’s face. This mimicked Clinton’s magazine cover photo taken during the Monica Lewinsky affair, when he seemed to jeer at the public, legs also spread, a wide, long tie hanging all the way to his crotch.
Clinton’s facial expressions revealed a very unhappy countenance. He had inherited a world of peace from the Republicans, and now he was coming to the realization that under his watch the enemies were approaching the gate once again. He met with Yeltsin, his old partner. They hugged, but Clinton told the departing Russian leader his replacement was not what he had sold himself to be. Yeltsin, seemingly fooled by Putin, blanched.
In 2001 Putin met George W. Bush. The Russian did his home work. Knowing Bush was a devout Christian, Putin told a story of his childhood house destroyed in a fire. All that was recovered was a revered Christian icon. This caused Bush to utter the infamous words that he had “looked into his soul.” The camera caught Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wincing.
The documentary wishes to portray Republicans as weak, taken in by Putin, but this is false. The fact is that Putin and Bush worked closely because they had a mutual enemy: Islamic terror. The U.S. after 9/11 were in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Russians were in a deeply disturbing “dirty war” with Chechen Muslims and other Islamic fundamentalists inhabiting their territory or old territories.
Then in 2008, Russia made their move. They began collaborating with Red China, who announced their presence with authority in a nationalist and militarist Olympic Games reminiscent of 1936 Berlin. Bush was a “lame duck,” deeply unpopular despite the success of ‘the Surge” in Iraq (2007) because the wars were in their seventh year and thousands had died. A wildly successful American economy also began to falter, due to policies developed by Clinton and Barney Frank in 1998, and very possibly pushed by global events orchestrated by George Soros, who bragged that he had once brought down the British pound and now was doing the same thing to the American sub-prime mortgage industry.
Putin invaded Georgia. At the time, it appeared more of the same from the 1990s, when Eastern Europe was awash in civil wars. At the Olympics Bush tried to speak to Putin. He had been fooled. We now know it was the beginning of a master plan. It was by this time obvious Putin and Russia were not friends or allies of the United States. In 2012, Mitt Romney called Russia our biggest threat, and President Obama said “Reagan just called and wants his foreign policy back.”
That remark reflected Obama’s utter and complete stupidity, lack of historical knowledge, and possession of any kind of competency. The documentary actually shows Obama with his head in his hands, describing how he felt that the whole world would love the first black President, opening doors of peace everywhere, and not forcing him to make actual tough leadership choices. He was utterly and completely in over his head. PBS must be commended for showing this truth, rare for a liberal media outlet.
In 2014 Putin ran roughshod over Obama, invading Crimea. Obama had made threats and ordered “red lines” against Islamic terrorists, only to have them pay no attention, showing zero respect for him as when the Islamic State created a caliphate in Iraq. Putin was watching. Obama did nothing.
It was also during this time that Putin regularly killed his political opponents, by assassination or poison. In 2016 Donald Trump was elected. The filmmakers actually try to revive the old notion that Trump was involved in Russian disinformation, which it has been proven he was not, but there is no doubt that Putin preferred Trump to Hillary “Re-set” Clinton.
Russia played a role in revealing damaging information about Hillary, but in a strange way they were doing the world a favor, which was to show true, bad things about a corrupt woman. In a normal world, the American media and justice system would have discovered all of Hillary’s corruptions. The documentary does not see it that way, complaining that discovering how bad the woman is, was worse than the woman being so bad in the first place.
But this is the way of the fallen world of lies we live in.
Trump tried to make nice with Putin, and he could not be blamed for wanting a little peace. He is excoriated for refusing to say Putin murdered a political rival, but this is like many things Trump did. He was a guy who said he got A’s when he got C’s. Everybody knew Putin murdered his enemies. Trump confirming it was like confirming California is a state in the union.
But Putin made no bold moves during Trump’s Presidency. This is the way of history. He knew Trump was tough and just itching to pull the trigger on what he still looked at as a bunch of Commies. There was relative peace. Since the Civil War, with very few exceptions, wars and bold, aggressive actions by America’s enemies occur when Democrats are in charge and the nation is weak. When Republicans are at the helm our enemies wait until the likes of a Joe Biden, a clown and another incompetent, take the scene. John Bolton is quoted saying that Putin thought Trump “stupid,” but this does not ring true. Trump is a lot of things, many not complimentary, but he is not stupid.
Predictably, Putin has taken Ukraine, waiting until Trump had his Presidency stolen away from him. If the documentary really wanted to expose some true corruption, they would have explored how Joe in 2016, figuring he was out of politics, was in bed with his son and Ukraine, and shown how Democrats have seemingly been itching for war with Putin since the 2016 election. At this point Biden is an agent of Ukraine, subject to blackmail from them as well as from Putin. Putin did not need to create a psychological profile of Biden. He had a clown act on display and played him like a fiddle. Little mentioned is the fact Putin is considered by many to be the world’s wealthiest man; his ill-gotten gains stolen at every turn.
History also tells us that while most dictators, or at least most countries run by dictators, eventually fall, it often takes time. Red China has not fallen yet. The Soviet Union, whose demise Putin called the “greatest political disaster in history,” has in many ways re-emerged as a new form of evil. There is also a minority train of thought that says Putin is exposing the degeneracy of the West. There is no doubt cultural Marxism is alive and well. There were those, including Dr. Michael Savage, who once said that what Islamic terrorists hated most about the West was not freedom per se, but pornography and immoralism, dished out in heaping spoonfuls by Hollywood to their Muslim daughters.
At this point it is in God’s hands.
Steven Travers is a former Hollywood screenwriter who has authored over 30 books including Coppola’s Monster Film: The Making of Apocalypse Now (2016). One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation (2007) is currently under film development. He is a USC graduate and attorney with a Ph.D who taught at USC and attended the UCLA Writers’ Program. He played professional baseball, served in the Army JAG corps in D.C., was in investment banking on Wall Street, worked in politics, lived in Europe, and was a sports agent before finding his calling as a writer. He has written for the San Francisco Examiner, L.A. Times, StreetZebra, Gentry magazine, Newsmax and MichaelSavage.com. He lives in California and has one daughter, Elizabeth. He can be reached at USCSTEVE1@aol.com or on Twitter @STWRITES.