When Trump came to power one thing was beyond doubt: both the United States itself and the rest of the world were in deep trouble, and things would never be the same. Trump, who built a fake imperium on basis of loans, bankruptcies, and shameless behavior, was bound to dump all the rules and challenge all restrictions to his power. And all this only for the sake of one goal: to be a King in a republic, a Fuehrer in a democratic country and to match the dictators that he so much admired. Trump was actually from the start very clear about it, just wishful thinking kept the eyes of many closed for too long a time.
To many in the mental health field, it was almost from the very start clear what kind of personality he was. Having been involved in fighting the political abuse of psychiatry for most of my life, I refrained from voicing any diagnosis, believing that brandmarking a person with a psychiatric rubberstamp would not only be unethical but also a sliding slope leading to exactly the practice I spent all these years on opposing. However, it is no secret that many in the mental health field early on understood the dark sides of his personality, and thus also knew that it could only get worse when time progressed. Which it did, right up to his last day in office.
In history Trump is not the only person whose policies were affected by his state of health. You only need to read the book “In Sickness and in Power” by the former British Minister of Foreign Affairs David Owen to understand that Trump is one in a long sequence of similar mishaps. However, hardly ever before did this affect international politics to such an extent. The reason is that most of the leaders, whose decision making was affected by health issues, were in essence democratically oriented, or did not have such an influence over world politics as Trump did as President of the United States.
The total lack of morality and unbelievable egocentrism of Trump led to a possibly unrepairable rift between Europe and the United States, an erosion of both the vestiges of democracy in his own country and the image of the United States as the beacon of democracy, and unfortunately also a strong stimulus to non-democratic rulers to just go ahead with their repressive measures because if Trump can get away with it so can they.
What has surprised me, needless to say, is the amazingly wide support Trump received through the years from Russian émigré circles. To what extent Trump was at least a partial creation of Putin and his FSB only history will tell, and that Russian moles both in the United States and Europe were activated to fuel his disruptive influence is also not of any surprise. But many of the Russian emigres who either fled totalitarianism or Putinism, and who should have sensed the danger that the man entailed, instead supported him and believed in the totally nonsensical claim that the policies of the opposing Democratic Party were “socialist” or even “communist”.
Quite a few of the Russian diaspora living in Europe or in the United States support Putin because he is giving Russia its “rightful place” in the world, and probably most of them believe that Ukraine is a fake state and “ours”, as they tend to say. Some maybe believe that also the Baltic countries should go back into the Russian fold. Others support Navalny, who in this respect is not much better. He too believes in Russia’s “imperialist greatness”, and supports the occupation of Crimea and the Russian side of the Russo-Georgian war. But even among those who see Putin as the ruthless dictator that he is, as a KGB officer who turned his country into a KGB-run mafia state and has perfected that merger of criminality with the ruling class, even they applaud Trump and somehow consciously deny the fact that much of his policies have made Putin’s life much easier or played outright into Putin’s hands. Among those who still defend Trump, and believe he was “treated unfairly”, are quite a few who belonged either to the human rights movement in the USSR or the current opposition, which makes me wonder how deep their understanding of democratic rule really is. As far as I can see, there are only few who support this position among those who emigrated from the other countries that were forced to be part of the Soviet Union because of having been occupied, or who now see having been part of the USSR as a black page in their history and the result of Russian imperialism.
I have no doubt that Trump envied Vladimir Putin, just as much as he envied Kim Jong Un of North Korea, and wondered why they could get away with things that he could not. If he had had the chance, he would not have been much better, I am quite sure of that, and the thievery and corruption that made Putin and his cronies among the richest of the world would have been quite up his sleeve – only he might have been less successful in such “business”.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union quite a few Western politicians scrambled to deny or hide their buttering up to the Soviets or to leaders of e.g. the GDR and Romania. I am sure that in the coming months and years we will see many persons trying to rid themselves of their exclamations of support for Trump. But what remains a sad mystery to me is the question how those who fled Soviet totalitarianism failed to see the evident signs of similar behavior on Trump’s wall.