Vladimir Putin, President Trump, Donald Trump discussed on Monocle 24: The Big Interview
Extensively what a lot of the central you're in eastern European post-soviet states decided to do. I don't know that that makes a huge difference. In, this century there were all these incredible arguments about whether. Presidential System is better or parliamentary system is better whether a two party system Hana aren't thought that a two party system wasn't brilliant invention because it really imbued whatever party was in power with a sense of responsibility for the fate of the country that she felt was absent in a parliamentary system. I think maybe in the last fifteen, twenty years, we have learned that focus on structures. was somewhat misplaced that it's not unimportant to talk about institutions. But especially in the American context. This faith in the perfectly designed institution is misplaced. Again. To go back to that experience of Russia in the nineteen nineties though, was there a particular moment when you realized that it wasn't going to turn out like that or was the say a sort of a frog in source been kind of process you know I think the answer is usually both I certainly remember feeling really uncomfortable in nineteen, ninety six when President Boris Yeltsin. was reelected and so many of the people I knew felt that his opponent who was a communist was an existential threat to the country. And so they voted for Yeltsin and worked to have Yeltsin elected and you know the Ruutel awful just. An old words are unjustified but but this was just beyond anything I'd seen it. I'd been correspondent nineties. The war in Chechnya has been going on for two years. And and all these people I knew were willing to forgive or The war in Chechnya. Because they felt that the communist candidate who I think would have been freely and fairly elected had the election been allowed to Go on in what we think of as a free and fair way they felt that he was an existential threat. So that was scary and but I think the decisive moment from it was the emergence of Ladder Putin and here I can. Record will show that almost as soon as he appeared. I. Started writing about what a threat was to the fledgling. Russian. Democracy to have this very, very Soviet, very, very KGB I become president in a very, very undemocratic way I mean is there actually a vastly different parallel history of Russia in which Vladimir Putin for whatever reason never rises any higher than mine KGB functionary? I. Guess we'll never know. But. Look I mean this is is very much like the line I tried to walk in the new book about trump. There are two ways to tell the trump story trump came from outer space. He's a total anomaly in American politics. The Russians installed him and he is destroying everything that we hold. Dear, which is all true except for maybe the Russians installed it, and then there's another way which is a minority view. But as held by some people, I respect very much like the political scientists. Corey Robin who basically says, Oh, he's just a Republican president. He is the natural continuation of Republican politics over the. Last however, many generations. He's exactly the same thing that we've seen before and all the wonted norms that she talked about that. He's supposedly destroying. You know are just these norms of your class privilege, which is also true right? Both of those things are true. The conditions for a trump were laid over in some ways over fifty years. I'm counting back to JFK or in some ways over the last one, thousand, nine years I'm counting back to nine eleven and yet trump is a special snowflake and. Someone who shares some of his qualities, but is not a deranged self-obsessed. Malignant narcissist clown could have taken his place and so both of those things are possible. He is completely anomalous unlike anybody else albeit quite recognizable character, he's also using the groundwork was laid for him. So I think of it as taking a quantum leap from a running start. I WANNA. Come back in a bit to the parallels between the two. And the non parallels between the two which you do write about in the new book but. Written as you said extensively, about Vladimir Putin most notably in your book Man Without a face do you know how much interest he has personally taken in your writing about him? I do exactly zero. And I you know there's a very strange reason. I know this. But. This is now ancient history but you know eight years ago I was fired from my job as editor in chief of Russia's big. Popular Science magazine for not sending a reporter to accompany. Putin on his adventure hang gliding Siberian cranes and I tweeted about it imposing apparently saw it and. Called me and offered me my job and it wasn't his style for back. But he doesn't realize that because he thinks if he likes something, he owns it. But as the meeting with Putin was prepared to discuss that whole misadventure of mine. It became clear to me that he was not briefed on how I was and you know the reasons are very clear because he loved the magazine. I was at. And probably at a certain point when he decided that he loved that magazine and this was during my tenure, somebody would have had to say to him, but there's an issue with the editor and someone dropped the ball and actually know who it was and I know. I know how that happened. They didn't notice that I was editor. And then when he wanted to meeting. Then that someone would have had to say to him, but there's a problem and there's a book. and. He would have had to then learn of the existence of the book which also couldn't have been pleasant for the Messenger. So there was actually a lot of jockeying to avoid telling who I was. So they basically told him nothing about that was a very interesting experience like he was told about my preferred name usage, which is particular Russian. But he was not told that I was an American citizen for example, something that I happen to understand because our meeting happened to fall on September. Eleventh. And so I know there's no way he would have emitted mentioned that if he had known that I use it as an and so on inserting he didn't know about the but. What kind of conversation is it possible to have with him but what do you talk about when you meet President? Putin. Well. We talked about sincerity of his nature conservation efforts basically had two topics he wanted to tell me.