Who needs friends when you’ve got Vlad?

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Those effete “G-6” people got what was coming to them for questioning our President’s demands and then dissing Vladimir Putin. When that Canadian guy protested and said he was going to stand up for his country, what could a strong guy do but torpedo the joint statement everyone had already agreed upon? The nerve of Trudeau for reciprocating with a nationalistic statement. But, perhaps we should look at the other side of the issue.

The G-7 was set up by the major industrialized democracies four decades ago to forge closer economic ties as a counter to the Soviet threat. After G-7 members and other allied nations helped us run the Soviet Union out of business, the G-7 placed its focus on promoting democratic values. America has greatly benefited from its friendship and treaties with these countries, economically, politically, and militarily.

When America called upon these friends for support in the First Gulf War, they willingly pitched in. When the U.S. was attacked on September 11, G-7 countries and our other allies were at our side. This is a tough world and it helps to have friends when you need them. Just like on the school yard, if you are facing a bully you may need backup. If you are the bully, you may get comeuppance when the others have had enough and gang up on you.

It is sometimes easy to overlook what you may be getting out of a relationship if you focus on just one part of it. There are kinks in the trade arena that need to be worked out, but it goes both ways. That can be done in a quiet, thoughtful way. Shouting rarely produces good results.

On the other hand, we benefit from having forward operating bases in some of the G-7 countries that help project American power around the world. And, we have power because these important countries recognize and support U.S. currency as the coin of the world’s realm. We set up the system, it has been to our substantial benefit, and we have a strong national interest in maintaining it.

Now, let’s turn to Putin and possible reasons for not re-admitting his country to the democracy conclave (Russia gained membership when there was hope it would take a democratic turn, but got kicked out when all such hope was lost). It seems to me that present-day Russia may have become ineligible for membership by not being a democracy, by grabbing Crimea, by setting up an insurgency in Ukraine, by giving its thugs the equipment to shoot down a commercial airliner, and by clamping down on its press and killing reporters. Add to that the interference in American elections (and those of other G-7 countries), the unabated kleptocracy being carried on in Russia by Putin and his cronies, aiding and abetting horrendous atrocities in Syria, fixing Russian elections, and a host of other unsavory acts. Those could explain the reluctance of other G-7 members to allow Putin to join the democracy bandwagon. He should at least be banned until he washes the blood off his hands.

It all boils down to the fact that America has soared to greatness with the help of our allies and particularly our G-7 friends. Let’s not insult them out of our circle of friends. On the other hand, why allow an autocrat to join with the democracies? What has Putin ever done for America and all but a tiny number of Americans?

• • •

Jim Jones is former Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court and a frequent contributor to the Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls Press.

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