by Brent Budowsky
If President Trump were in office the day Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, would he have stated he would be honored to meet Hitler, who was a strong leader and “smart cookie” who destroyed his opponents and was riding high in public opinion polls in Germany?
If Trump were president on the day Benito Mussolini became prime minister of Italy, would he have called Mussolini, whose words he once favorably retweeted, to congratulate him on drawing huge crowds for his march on Rome that led to his taking power in Italy?
If Trump were president in 1939, would he have called Generalissimo Francisco Franco to congratulate him on bombing the hell out of Spanish Republicans and killing innocent civilians to win the Spanish civil war, praised him as a strong leader, and invited him to meet to discuss common interests?
If Trump were president in 1968 after the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, would he have spent the next several years repeatedly praising Soviet dictator Leonid Brezhnev as a strong leader who knows how to get things done and saying he hopes Brezhnev’s KGB would do more to attack America to defeat his Democratic opponents?
Trump has used these words and more to praise, court, make excuses for and seek favor with a motley collection of foreign despots and dictators — in some cases calling them fascist is not too strong a word — whom no American president should ever flatter or praise.
It was appalling, inexcusable and against everything America stands for when Trump said he would be “honored” to meet the mass murdering North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and praised him as a “smart cookie” apparently for keeping power by ordering the murder of his uncle among other demented, criminal and dictatorial acts that Trump seems to believe constitute strong leadership.
Trump praises Egyptian president and dictator Abdel Fatah al-Sissi for doing a “fantastic job” after many of his opponents have been murdered, large numbers of innocent citizens have been imprisoned and the human rights of Egyptians have been systematically destroyed.
Trump was the only leader of a major democracy to call and congratulate Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for “winning” a referendum vote that analysts widely believe was fixed, stolen and designed to grant him dictatorial power.
Trump recently said he had a “very friendly conversation” with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, another mass murdering authoritarian who publicly brags about the number of people he has illegally killed.
Trump’s longtime praise of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is legendary, and the unseemly list of Trump confidants who have met various Russians is now under major investigation. Putin’s stealth invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea and cyber war against America and Europe designed to elect his favored candidates are condemned by friends of freedom everywhere but not Trump, who actually once urged Russia to escalate its cyberwar against America that attacked Hillary Clinton and who proclaimed “I love Wikileaks.”
Trump champions fake patriotism about “making America great” but acts like a dictator-friendly, despot-friendly and fascist-friendly president who aggressively opposes civil rights at home and effusively praises human rights abusers abroad.
Trump has supported torture and praised torturers. He calls our free press the enemy of the people and praises dictators who murder journalists and close down newspapers and television stations.
Trump attacks judges and tries to criminalize political opponents by leading chants of “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton and falsely accusing President Obama of illegal wiretapping — while lavishing praise on police state dictators whose political opponents and advocates of democracy end up dead or hauled without trial to political prisons.
It is often necessary to negotiate with foreign leaders who are unsavory and repellant. But it is shameful for Trump to sing their praises while they commit their crimes and create grave new dangers and dread for courageous men and women fighting for freedom, justice and democracy in troubled lands.