He’s been widely criticized, for having pulled out of Afghanistan as he did. He’s been blamed for signaling to Putin that the US would not commit to long term tasks. That America was eager to isolate. If it hadn’t been for Afghanistan, they say, there wouldn’t have been the invasion of Ukraine. Wrong.
Biden did what other presidents before him had not been willing to do. Face reality. Afghanistan was unwinnable. It could not be won with neighboring Pakistan sheltering and supporting the Taliban. Previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic, had not made the choice. Demand that Pakistan cease supporting the Taliban or will not support you. And so the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the man who ordered the 9/11 attack, took much longer that it should have. The pullout from Afghanistan was messy but not messier than from Vietnam. But it had to be done. Biden deserves credit for it.
For one reason or another, during our 20 years in Afghanistan, we failed to elicit in Afghanistanis the will to build their nation. Over 2500 Americans died in that country, alongside others from allied forces. It was very sad to see the country’s undoing, and the difficulties they’re now enduring. But we had to leave. For now.
Ukraine is a vastly different story. Ukrainian nationals who had left the country to live elsewhere are returning to fight for their land. President Biden has acted vigorously to pull together the EU-US alliance and Europe has responded. The Ukrainian people are bearing the brunt of the struggle, fighting valiantly to defend their homeland. Volodymyr Zelensky, their leader, is fully committed to the task and will not surrender.
The Ukrainian bravery has awakened Europe from the denial they were living in, the false belief that they could somehow, through trade, dissuade the brutality of Russia. Europe had seen it before – in Hungary in 1956, in Czechoslovakia in 68, twice in Chechnya, in the 1990’s and in early 2000s, then in Georgia in 2008 – and still they held out hope that Russian leaders could be depended upon. That it would be okay to rely on them for their oil and gas, their wheat, fertilizers and valued minerals. That the moneys from such purchases wouldn’t be used to finance the massacre of a neighbor’s people. Even one of their former chancellors, Gerhard Schroder (1998-2005), became a Putin ally, the chairman of the Russian energy company Rosneft and a proponent of the Nord Stream pipeline to supply Germany with 40% of their energy needs. Such denial was shared by subsequent German leaders with the consent of their people.
But now the Ukrainian nation has awakened Germans and all of Europe from their stupor and so they are owed a debt of gratitude. The struggle for Europe and the West will not be over until Russia and its vassal nations become democratic countries. It has fallen to Ukraine to shed the heroic blood that will mark the path to follow. And then there will be China – for many sectors in the West are still in denial of that nation’s quest for supremacy.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts
No. Putin wants all of Ukraine. The West will not send troops in to aid Ukraine, so for Putin it is only a matter of time. And of adding up more casualties, mainly Ukrainian but also Russian. He has made up his mind. Bombing residences in Ukraine is part of the price. Killing men, women and children. I’ve read he’s ordered that the relatives of fallen Russians receive a payment of $ 50,000. How’s that supposed to make up for the loss of a life? When the reason for the fighting was something he invented owing to his fragile ego and dreams of empire.
He believes that Russia is being threatened, he tells us. That other people’s quest for freedom is too unsettling for him to tolerate. So he must act to squash the possibilities. No matter the cost. Meanwhile, there are nations in our world that see nothing wrong with the invasion. Nations that are afraid to speak against it. Notably China, who instead blames the US for threatening Putin through NATO’s expansion. India and Israel, also, have chosen to not upset Putin. And other nations in the Middle East which have business deals with Russia. Geopolitical reasons they call it. I am sure you can think of better words to describe such behavior.
The question now is, in the absence of a cease fire, and of the West sending in troops, what will happen on the ground? At present Russian troops have advanced from the south as Kyiv, the capital and seat of government, is still holding. But as stiff a resistance as the Ukrainians have mounted, and thousands of volunteers returning from abroad to fight for their land, the likelihood is that the Russian army will eventually prevail.
Advancing from the south and from the north Russians are likely to converge and make their way west to seal the border with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania and so close off the entryway for weapons sent in from the western alliance. Unless a section of the Ukrainian army – while there is still time – changes strategy and relocates West before the Russian army gets there. That way they would be able to have the border with NATO members at their back – with their supplies flowing – and help them make a final stand against the invaders. It could be they may hold that position longer than any other one in the country. It could even lead to a divided Ukraine, which would be better than no Ukraine at all.
Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts
A large part of Putin’s invading army is on its way to encircle and squeeze Kyiv. The Ukrainian Army and volunteers have fought bravely to defend their land but they are clearly outnumbered and outgunned by Russian troops. Ukraine’s quest for freedom has galvanized the European Union and America and together they have shown admirable determination in coming to the assistance of the nation and frantically sending military hardware to help it fight the brutal intruder. President Zelensky has courageously led his compatriots in standing up to Russia.
As I write these words, the Russian army has started to surround the Ukrainian capital. There is no doubt that the residents of Kyiv will resist, but we should ask, should Zelensky and his war cabinet remain in the city? While it is certain that Ukrainians will fight to the death, it is also certain that Putin will show no mercy. That is who he is. He will spare no effort to demolish his opposition. World opinion does not matter. The slaughter of thousands of Ukrainians is about to happen. With Kyiv encircled there will be no way to pass military equipment to the city’s defenders. And, eventually, with the world watching, the city will crumble. Thousands will likely die in the ordeal.
As glaring as that prospect is, many nations still resist denouncing Russia’s invasion, afraid of angering Putin. Among them India and Israel. The latter not summoning the chutzpa to stand up in support of a nation led by a president of Jewish origin. While the West has unified against Russia’s aggression, it has stopped short of sending troops to Ukraine. Sanctions applied to Russia have been increasing and will do significant damage but Putin will find relief in trading with China.
At this point, the western section of Ukraine and its border with the EU remain under the government’s control. Instead of suffocating in Kyiv, perhaps even perishing in it, a strategic option would be for the country’s leadership to relocate to the city of L’viv in the west and so keep marshaling the nation’s defense while getting reinforcements through its border with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. The assistance from the West and the fierceness of Ukrainian fighters may combine to draw a boundary that the Russian troops may not be able to surmount. The outcome may end up being a divided Ukraine. In which case, in time, as in Germany, the West will clearly outdo the East.
The idea that the pain of the siege of Kyiv will stir the world into action is flawed. It assumes that the pain of massacred Ukrainians will lead Putin to relent. It will not. He is in to defeat not only Ukraine but the West. No matter the tally in casualties, Russian and Ukrainians. The horror the world has been witnessing won’t deter him. He is who he is. It will be up to the Russian people to keep him in power, or to depose him.
Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts
The West has shown surprising resolve in sanctioning Russia. Ukrainians are fighting bravely for their land. Protests against Putin are mounting worldwide. The sight of a superior army attempting to trample over a smaller nation has raised the ire of humanity. It is the big bully murdering people with impunity. Soldiers and civilians alike. And still he marches on, unrepentant, completely sure of himself, thirsty for even more blood.
He will not stop until Russia controls all of Ukraine, no matter what the cost in lives. A man like him cannot live with defeat. He has consented to talks with Ukraine in neighboring Belarus for the sake of appearances, but he will not cede ground and instead demand complete acceptance of his terms. He lies constantly and apparently believes his lies too. The West should not relent in the pressure it is applying on him. Ukraine should make no concessions whatsoever. Putin invented the reasons for this war and will have to pay for the blood he’s spilled.
The West should up the sanctions all the way, applying them in the energy sector by stopping the purchase of Russian oil and gas. There is a good chance that, with the heroic resolve of the Ukrainian people and the assistance from the West, Putin will be pushed back and defeated. Anything short of the complete victory he had in mind would be a political defeat for him, with repercussions of consequence at home. Russia under Putin needs to be isolated.
There is the strong possibility that the Russian people will awaken from their stupor to realize the folly of being led by a man who is obsessed with amassing personal power. A man who, for the sake of his aggrandizement, does not hesitate to kill innocent people, whether Ukrainian or Russian.
He has been able to manipulate the Russian media to suit his ends but gradually the truth will surface and the Russian people will react. But the West needs to keep up the pressure and increase it. Cutting off purchases of Russian oil and gas would do so.
It will cost us too but the West has today a great opportunity to change the balance of power in the world. With relentless pressure in the battlefield and in the markets, it could well be that Ukraine will become the graveyard of Putin’s dreams of grandeur. Russia deserves far better than what Putin has delivered. Fight on!
Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.
The brutality that Putin has unleashed against Ukraine is an attack on the West.
Falsely claiming that he is being threatened, Putin has chosen to ravage a country which, having been enslaved by the Soviet Union, now choses to commit to a world of freedom.
He has resorted to all manner of lies. Called the Ukrainian government ‘Nazis’, said that Ukraine’s effort to fend off attacks by Russian separatists in the Donbas region are an act of genocide against the Russian people.
But Ukrainians need only look to their neighbor to see what they will become if they continue to live under the boot of Putin and his supporters.
As I write, more Russian forces advance on Kyiv which is being bombed and where street fighting is raging.
The images of their suffering touches all of us deeply.
Both Ukrainian men and women have volunteered to fight for their land, to resist, to put obstacles in the path to the invaders.
They are willing to face the trained soldiers of a clearly more powerful army no matter what the consequences. In the photos that reach us there they are, holding guns in their hands, their souls looking at us directly and asking, why?
Those brave volunteers that we see standing in the photos may be dead in the next hours.
Protests rallies have sparked all over the world. The blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag is worn proudly by protesters and displayed on buildings or in night lighting.
Ukrainian men and women living in Poland are choosing to return to Ukraine to defend their land.
Volodymyr Zelensky has bravely called on all willing to join the struggle. ‘Wherever you are, come help us.’
His cry ‘What use will the sanctions be after they bomb us?’ resonates in the hearts and minds of those who are in a position to change things.
His pressure has had effects. Now Putin has been included in the list of those being sanctioned after a more cautious approach proved futile. Restrictions on Russia’s banking have been stiffened. But nothing has stopped him so far. And perhaps nothing will.
But the West needs to go where it hurts.
The West needs to go all out and completely stop the buying of oil and gas from Russia.
Putin has gambled, that the West will support Ukraine but stop short if its sanctions hurt our economy.
But it is not only Ukraine but the West that is under attack.
This is the time to act and accept the inflationary pressures that will come from energy shortages and their impact on economic production.
Now is the time to act.
China, in its stance to stand by Russia, tells us clearly who and what they value. That is what their government is. They will do whatever they can to weaken the West, even though they are now where they are now partly because of what the West has contributed to their development.
But they are thinking ahead and planning to do in Taiwan what Russia is now doing in Ukraine.
Like Russia, the Chinese are governed by leaders who are enemies of free speech. Leaders who think nothing of squashing the democracy movement in Hong Kong or ruthlessly suppressing the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province.
This is a time for the West to act decisively.
There will be economic pain if we stop purchasing oil and gas from Russia but a world order will be staunchly defended by such action.
This is the time to start isolating Putin.
This is the time for him to pay the consequences of his brutality. A brutality that has been in full display in his backing of Assad in Syria and other countries.
He reasons that his ambitions are worth whatever the cost in human lives. He doesn’t care.
But he is not Russia.
And Russia is not Putin. There are great people in Russia, a land with a vast pool of talent as seen in their creativity, scientific and cultural.
As we speak, Russians are also struggling under the boot of a ruthless tyrant.
We believe in the power of men and women. And men and women everywhere long for freedom. In Russia, in China, in Syria, in Venezuela, all over the world. The task is to aid them in breaking the chains that have been placed upon them by cruel leaders thinking only of their own benefits.
Cutting off Russia from the oil markets in the West will have an enormous negative impact on their economy. And Russians will choose between remaining under Putin’s boot, or joining with the rest of the world, a world that is eager and open to embrace them.
This is the time to place the severest sanctions on Russia for we are under attack.
President Zelensky’s statement, ‘What use will the sanctions be after they bomb us?’ should be our collective battle cry.
This is the time to act.
Before more and more people are killed and subjugated.
Putin will not change. He is who he is. He has placed his bet.
We have to place ours.
‘What use will the sanctions be after they bomb us?’
Oscarvaldes.net anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts, medium.com
He sits alone in his bunker, watching the bombing of Ukraine, rockets being fired, buildings being set on fire or demolished. He has just got news that his forces took over Chernobyl, north of Kyiv. He does not yet know the number of dead, on either side.
The sanctions didn’t stop him from invading. Whatever additional ones the West promises to impose, won’t either. Sure, some of his wealthy associates will be harmed by such restrictions but he will remind them that they owe him. That they are where they are because of him.He is having the time of his life, relishing being top of the news worldwide and being feared. He is rich, but that brings him little solace. The acquisition of wealth is not what drives him. Power is what moves him. And he’s living his grand moment.
For too long he’s been in the shadows of world leaders he considers his inferiors when it comes to drive and sheer ambition. He’s had to live with the frustration of seeing other economies rise and rise, becoming the envy of the world. Apple, for instance, the American technology company, has a value greater than Russia’s entire economy. How did they do that? He wishes he had been able to unleash the full creative potential of his fellow Russians. But he didn’t. Somehow, he reflects, his concern with power, stood in the way.
On a clear night, when he looks up at the sky as he is fond of doing and sees the international space station orbiting the earth, he thinks of the Russian cosmonauts up there. And he reminds himself that it was two Russians and an American who first went up to that station. Years ago. He knows he presides over a powerhouse of talent. Russians with great ability in many fields. And yet, economically, Russia is in the shadows of America and now China. It is hard to stomach.
In his clearer moments, he recognizes that the world sees him as associated with brutality. Supporting the vicious Assad in Syria, for instance. The Generals in Myanmar. The repressive government of Maduro in Venezuela. And associates of his, with his consent, of course, have mercenary troops spreading through Africa, aiding in the coercion and subjugation of hundreds of thousands of people. All of that and yet, somehow, whatever the pain being inflicted, doesn’t keep him up at night. He sleeps soundly. How interesting the human mind, able to put things in separate spaces – boxes or compartments, call them what you wish – so that there is little spilling over between them. Ah, but enough of that introspection.
He has invaded his beloved Ukraine because it belongs to him, belongs to Russia, and whatever the costs to be paid he will pay them. His troops have acted quickly and decisively so there will be little chance for an armed resistance to make a difference. He will put Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky in a plane and send him to Poland, or Moldova. Anywhere but keep him in Ukraine. Let him blah blah all he wants about Putin in exile, but he will not set foot in Ukraine ever again.
He is surprised that Biden had the gumption to rally Europeans to oppose him. He likes that about him. Feisty. But he’s always liked feisty people. And then being able to outwit and dominate them. He pauses and swivels around in his chair. The mood pensive.
‘I grant that during my reign, I did not have the ability to free up the creativity and imagination of Russians… that’s just not me… but I did have the genius to develop a terrific armed force, to facilitate the development of an arms industry, and make Russians proud’.
He closes his eyes as he rubs his face softly. ‘Biden will not give in but neither will I. And I will drive my army all the way to the border with Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Poland. And scare the West… so Russians will be happy, like they were when we went into Crimea. As to the sanctions, I’m not worried. We will find ways around them. China will help, of course. They know they need me. Though now and then I will have to remind them I have lots more nuclear warheads than they do.’ He laughs.
‘In America, Trump likes me. How interesting. Something about my charismatic personality. I never imagined that would happen. I love it, of course. And when the next elections come around, well, I’ll think of something. Anyway, whether Trump gets reelected or not, sooner or later, an American president will be chosen who doesn’t care about Ukraine, and the sanctions will be lifted. Europe may complain but without American support, they will slowly yield. It will be their excuse to appease me. And all their presidents, chancellors and prime ministers will come to Moscow to endear themselves to me, to buy my oil and gas and wheat and aluminum and nickel and palladium, for we have it all, and get back to business as usual. But Ukraine will be mine.’
He leans over to the desk next to him and picks up a globe of the earth. He looks at the area where Ukraine is drawn. He taps on it and says, ‘how many men can boast that they redrew the boundaries of a country?’ And he laughs loudly. ‘I can see the title of an upcoming book by some writer, “Putin, the Conqueror”. Maybe even become a film.’ He laughs again.
Behind him, in the wall monitors facing his desk, Russian war planes fly over cities in Ukraine.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.
One. Russia launches a massive cyberattack followed by a full assault from the air, land and sea.They overwhelm the Ukrainian army and the population surrenders without a fight. President Zelensky and his cabinet are flown to Germany. Pockets of resistance are snuffed out with missile attacks.
Two. Russia launches a full attack but Ukrainians fight back and thousands are killed. The world watches in horror as Russian tanks roll over everything and planes bomb the population. Zelensky and the cabinet leave for Poland to form a government in exile. The West refrains from combat as planned and opens the borders of Poland, Hungary and Romania to war refugees.
Three. Russia attacks but Ukrainians resist with such force that they stop the attack. Huge quantities of weaponry are flown in from the West to support the effort. President Zelensky calls for volunteers from the rest of the world to aid in the resistance. A Brigade for Freedom in Ukraine is formed. The world denounces the enormous loss of life and property and a United Nations security council meeting is convened to sanction Russia but China vetoes the motion arguing that Russia is only defending itself from western threats. The fight roars on for weeks until a truce is agreed upon and Ukraine is officially divided between East and West. Kyiv will be in the West.
(China, meanwhile, speeds up preparations to invade Taiwan)
Four. Russia does nothing. They start to deescalate and blame the West for goading them into a fight. But they reinforce the dissident forces in the Donbas area and have them renew their push against the Ukrainian forces.
Five. Russia sends in special commandos in a nighttime raid that kidnaps president Zelensky and flies him to Minsk, setting up the stage for a Russia friendly president to take over.
Six. Errant missiles fired by Russia land in Poland and Hungary inflicting human and material destruction and causing western nations to ready for war in keeping with article 5 of the NATO charter. A nuclear confrontation looms. The stock market drops 2000 points in a single day as the world goes into a recession.
Seven. Putin is put under house arrest and a new leader emerges in Russia. To the public, he just caught Covid.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net. anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.
He is alone in his private residence. He is standing by the window, looking out onto a beautiful forest covered with snow.
He has Ukraine surrounded by troops in the East, South East and in the north in Belarus. He knows the Ukrainians won’t be able to stop him, once he gives the order to invade.
He has enjoyed enormously being in the headlines, day after day, everyone talking about him. How will the world ever forget him? They cannot. He is now part of history. Forever. Immortal.
He rubs his chest lightly as he smiles.
He looks back at his desk, and the phone on it. He needs only to reach over, pick it up and order that his troops march into Ukraine. Just that, no more than that, and thousands of lives will cease to exist. Unless, of course, they all fall to their knees and beg for mercy.
What a life he has lived. So privileged.
Thinking to himself, he says, there is something so special about having so much power over people. So much power over the hapless Europeans who start shaking the moment he talks about holding back his supply of gas to them.
And he smiles when he thinks of his power to deceive, to persuade, to pressure. What talent!
‘Yes, I want to rebuild the Soviet Union. I want to have Russia be the number one power in the world. And I have the guns, the supersonic missiles that can get to Washington in 5 minutes. I have them.’
‘Sure they will retaliate, but I’m convinced my weapons are better. My resolve greater. My willingness to destroy unmatched.’
‘I have been able to bully others all my life. No one, no one at all, has bullied me back.’
And now he thinks of how he has no trouble sleeping. None at all. He puts his head on the pillow and wakes up refreshed 8 hours later. What a gift.
‘How can a man have so much power?’ he says to himself.
His eyes brighten. ‘I convinced others to give theirs to me, that’s why,’ and he laughs.
‘I convinced them that I would be their shepherd.’ He laughs again.
‘I do worry that I’ve caused lasting damage to my fellow Russians… that my being in power so long has led to an atrophy of their will to be. I do worry. But I won’t live forever, so they’ll have other people govern them. Meanwhile, I will rule this land as I wish and die in power, like Stalin did. President for life. What a charmed life. People will write and write things about me, like some hapless blogger is surely doing just this moment, trying to imagine what goes through my unique mind. But they won’t come even close. There has never been anyone in the world like me. No one. And I will continue to sharpen my cyberwarriors to undermine my enemies. One after the other. They will get so good at it that I will decide elections in other countries.’
He turns around and takes a few steps to sit at his desk. His phone is within arm’s length.
‘I can pick up that phone right now, order the invasion, and all the world’s attention will be on me, on my next moves. Europe will tremble with fear. America will squirm, Xi Jinping worry about what I’ll do next.’
He crosses his legs and brings his hands together interlacing his fingers.
‘I can see the headlines all over the world… “Russia Invades the Ukraine. Troops within reach of Kyiv.” “The Russian leader speaks of Lebensraum. More living space for Russians.” “Germany and Europe Panic”
‘Oh, I’m a genius. Yes. And right now, other world leaders are simply envious of me. But they can’t stop me. They don’t know how. Worse, they won’t dare.’
He rubs his face.
‘I enjoy seeing the world scared of what I can do. What pleasure that gives me.’
‘Ha! And Russians will celebrate me. And I will destroy completely all those who’ve dared oppose me here in my land. I’ll simply get rid of them.’
‘This will be the century of Vladimir Putin. I am now 69 and will govern for another 31 years, and all the while the world will be in awe of my powers.’
‘And next will be Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland. And no one will stop me, no one has the guts to stop me.’
‘I can live with fear… yes… and know how to stare it down… but so few people can.’
He pauses, holding his hands locked in front of him.
‘It’s up to me… and only to me… I alone choose the fate of thousands of people… hundreds of thousands… millions…’
He reaches over to the phone but hesitates… and hangs his head for a moment.
Then, raising it slowly… eyes narrowed as he looks off… the expression determined… fearless,
he says, softly,
‘Do I invade today or tomorrow?’
Oscarvaldes.net. also available on apple and google podcasts and buzzsprout
In a surprise press conference, the President admits to the nation that Russian hacking may have played a decisive role in his election. He then proceeded to give his full endorsement to the Mueller probe. He provided details of a phone conversation with Mr Putin, held earlier in the day, demanding an immediate stop to any interference with the American electoral process. Speculation has run rampant regarding the motives for the President’s about face…
The following day
Washington Post Headline
President Trump says Bye Bye to the Wall
While remaining committed to immigration reform, the President announced that he would not include building the Wall as a priority. ‘We can use the money for education and training of the American work force,’ he said to a stunned crowd in West Virginia. But there were no boos in the arena. Pundits were left puzzled at the move, with some speculating that he is feeling more secure as we head into the mid term elections, with others seeing it as an effort to broaden his support and woo the center. The decision comes right after taking an unexpected tough stance against Russian interference and openly stating that had it not been for the interference, Hillary Clinton may well have been elected President in 2016. The stock market greeted the news with relish and the Dow jumped 581 points to an all time high…
Washington DC. Park. Evening.
Two men in suits approach. They spot a bench and sit side by side. They pull out their cell phones, turn them off and place them on the bench between them.
1st – Pretty crazy.
2nd – We knew he was full of surprises.
1st – It’s insane. After all we’ve done to provide him with cover.
2nd – I know. He must think we’re a yo-yo.
1st – You think the base will go with him?
2nd – They have a love affair with this guy… I don’t see it.
1st – But there it is. What bugs me is his new talk about bipartisan dialogue. Where did that come from?
2nd – You vote for him?
1st – Holding my nose.
2nd – We all did.
1st – Well, they can’t prove anything so we’ll keep our seats.
2nd – Maybe he had a stroke… one of those silent ones…
1st – Anything is possible.
2nd – Maybe he got hit by lightning… I read about this doctor who got hit during a rainstorm and became a pianist afterwards… he hadn’t been musical before.
1st – I suppose it could go the other way and you become a dope fiend. I’ll tell you this… if he gets the base to stay with him, that’s the rabbit out of the hat trick.
2nd – If he does that, he’ll win the next election.
1st – Bipartisan dialogue… can you believe it? We haven’t done that in so long we don’t know what it sounds like.
2nd – On the other hand… maybe we’ll get something done for a change.
1st – I suppose. I’m up for reelection and my opponent is getting all kinds of donations. Women and immigrants are up in arms.
2nd – You worried?
1st – A little.
They look at each other.
2nd – I’ll hate to miss our chats.
1st – Don’t count me out yet.
A gay couple goes by. They’re holding hands as they talk amorously.
White House. One week later.
Press conference. Late afternoon.
The President at the lectern, Melania standing near him on one side, Ivanka on the other.
Trump – To all the women whom I have mistreated… I beg your forgiveness… in my fits of narcissism I violated your boundaries… treated you like chattel… thought myself entitled to your bodies to satisfy my carnal desires. Owning up to my transgressions is an acknowledgment of the predator impulse in me… a first step to understand it and to control it… for I have caused emotional injuries that have left you with scars. I have no doubt that… with the assistance of my wife Melania… I will in time conquer that disgraceful flaw in my character… and help me move toward becoming a better human being… and a better man. Thank you.
Reporters jump to their feet with an abundance of questions but the President simply waves to them and exits.
White House. South Lawn. Midday
Melania is strolling on her own. Trump comes into the garden and calls to her.
Trump – Melania!
(she waves back at him. He approaches and they embrace)
Trump – What did you think?
Melania – It went very well.
Trump – I thought so, too. Will it help us win the election?
Melania – Dee… what will be, will be… and we’ll always have each other.
(they turn and holding hands, start to walk off)
(after a stretch…)
Melania – Have you thought about your tax returns?
Trump – Ah, those… let me think about that one some more.
This play was written in 2018, right after Trump and Putin’s conference in Helsinki.
My intention was to help the president change course and lead the country in a different direction. Events, however, turned out to be quite different.
This work is copyrighted Oscar Valdes. 2018. All Rights Reserved.
Oscarvaldes.net also available in anchor.fm, apple and google podcasts and buzzsprout.
This is a dramatization of events. I do not know Mr Trump, Melania or Mr Putin.
Trump is alone at his desk, staring off. He raises his hands to his temples, then he begins…
Trump – To all the women whom I have mistreated… I beg your forgiveness… in my fits of narcissism I violated your boundaries… treated you like chattel… thought myself entitled to your bodies to satisfy my carnal desires. Owning up to my transgressions is an acknowledgment of the predator impulse in me… a first step to understand it and to control it… for I have caused emotional injuries that have left you with scars. I have no doubt that… with the assistance of my wife, Melania… I will in time conquer that disgraceful flaw in my character… and help me move toward becoming a better human being… and a better man.
(he swivels in his chair to face the window that looks out onto the city)
Trump – I’ve memorized my culpability speech… but will I ever make it public?
(he leans forward, hands clasped, the mood pensive)
Trump – Melania would say that it’s the right thing to do.
(he stands up)
Trump – Will I be mocked? I can see women saying, ‘It’s too late’… questioning my sincerity. Some will try to take me to court… but without any physical evidence, I should be okay. What worries me is what my base will say. They accept me as who I am. A manly guy who loves… but that’s in the past. I’m giving it up. For Melania.
(he turns to walk into the room, hands held in back)
Trump – What will the political fallout be? This finding my higher self… and my emotional depth… has political risks. And then Melania wanting me to be a bipartisan president.
Trump – I’m not saying it’s not possible but it’s a stretch. Still, I have to find that sweet spot in me from where to draw the strength to confront Putin. And I have to find it now. Could it be… that making my culpability speech public… will take me where I have to go?
(he sits by the fireplace)
Trump – Something about owning up to the truth as a source of psychological strength. What would I say to Putin?
(he pauses, then narrowing his eyes leans forward and begins to speak to the imaginary Putin)
Trump – Look man… whatever you have on me, you have on me. I don’t care what it is. I do not care. If you helped me get elected, so be it. That’s right. I owe allegiance to my country, got that? That’s right. I owe allegiance to my people… that means everybody. Native and immigrant. White, Black and Brown and whatever lies in between. Protestant and Catholic, Jew and Muslim. And yes, I’ve taken a vow to protect and nurture the American mind. With whatever wrinkles it may have. So here’s the deal, Vladimir… you have to stop interfering in my country’s elections… or in anything else. Did you get that? By hook or crook, it has fallen to me, a hotel businessman from New York, that great city who survived 9/11, to protect and enhance the American way of life… with all its defects… because we keep learning, buster, did you get that? We keep learning so we can make it better, and if you don’t stop… then I will start piling up sanctions on you… one after the other, until your people are sick of them. And once they get to that point, they’ll come to you and say, ‘what’s the deal, Vladimir? Are you representing us or are you on a power trip? Because we’re the ones getting hurt with the sanctions, not you.’
(he sits back in his chair)
Trump (still addressing the imaginary Putin) – What did you say?
(he leans forward again)
Trump – That your interference in the election was vaster than it’s known? Okay. Then put it out, man. Just put it out. You can’t prove anything. You do not control the American mind. Period. Okay? That’s your delusion. And you do not control my mind. No one does. I am now putting an end to the nightmares, all right? Do you understand? I am in control of my mind. That’s it. Case closed. Dismissed.
(he nods and sits back)
Trump – I like that. It felt good.
(he crosses his legs, now more relaxed)
Trump – You are not Russia, Vladimir, like I am not America. Our nations are greater than us. Better than us. Smarter than us. And if you don’t stop your cyberwarriors, I’m warning you, I will punish you with sanctions ‘til your people are hurting so bad they’ll tell you to go to hell.
(he smiles to himself, a hint of regret)
Trump – I should’ve said something like that in Helsinki but I didn’t. Okay. We get to have second chances in this country. And third ones. I’m taking mine.
Trump – Wow, I feel lighter. This feels good. Melania had a point.
(he stretches his arms over his head)
Trump – I feel great, beautiful. Yes! I liked the part about our countries being better and smarter than us. It just came out. Love it.
(he walks back to the window, looks out)
Trump – Wow… feeling the way I am… I might just… what?
(a thought occurs to him that takes him by surprise. He is astonished)
Trump – Really? I’ll be darned. Who would’ve thought? I should tell Melania. She’s probably asleep, though. But I’ll wake her up, she won’t mind. No… it can wait. No… it shouldn’t wait.
(he crosses to the door to exit but stops. He turns around and looks in the direction of Andrew Jackson’s portrait. He walks over and stands before it.
Trump – Stonewall… I wanted to tell you… right here, today… and God is my witness… that I’m taking a vow to protect and nurture the American Soul.
(Jackson smiles at him)
Trump – Thank you, buddy.
(he returns to the door and exits the office)
White House. Bedroom Suite. 4 AM
Melania is at the table, writing on her journal. Trump enters.
Trump – Hey, how come you’re up?
Melania – Wanted to wait for you.
Trump – That’s sweet.
(he goes to her and kisses her. He pulls up a chair and sits opposite)
Melania – Something’s on your mind.
Trump – Yes, I was talking to Putin…
Melania – This early…?
Trump – The imaginary Putin…
(she is intrigued)
Trump – … and I told him he had to stop the interference. Period.
Melania – Okay. You’re practicing…
Trump – It’s done. I’m going to do it.
Melania (surprised) – I need to hear this…
Trump – You will. Tonight, for sure. I want to go over it again. But that’s not what I wanted to tell you.
(he takes her hands in his)
Trump – What I wanted to tell you was that it felt great telling Putin to back off or else. I don’t care what he has on me. And feeling great I had this thought I wanted to share with you.
Melania – What?
Trump – You won’t believe it.
Melania – The suspense grows…
Trump – Feeling as good as I felt from my conversation with Putin, I realized…
Melania – Yes…?
Trump – That we don’t have to build the Wall.
(Melania gives a gasp)
Melania – Are you serious?
Trump – Yes, I’m going to walk it back.
Melania – Oh, my god.
Trump – It was a ripple effect from my imaginary talk with Putin. I realized that I could come out as a leader… and that doing so meant telling my base that… after careful consideration…those moneys would be better spent in programs for their education and training to acquire new skills… to help them become a cutting edge work force… and that I still would be keeping my commitment to stop illegal immigration… but that considering all costs and our existing border guards… building a Wall is unnecessary.
Melania (joyously) – I knew you could surprise me!
(she leans over and embraces him)
Trump – I realize it would be a test for my base. They have believed in me… but it’s the right thing to do.
(tears have welled up in Melania’s eyes. She dabs them dry)
Melania – I thought this moment would never come.
Trump – I know, I didn’t either. It surprised me.
(she pulls back slightly)
Melania – And the Mueller investigation?
Trump – I will endorse it as the right thing to do… for the good of the nation… a nation that is better and smarter than I am.
Melania – No more witch hunt?
Trump – No more witch hunt.
(she still doesn’t believe it)
(he gets up, takes a few steps into the room and, going down on one knee, lets himself drop to the ground to lie flat and face the ceiling)
Melania – Please tell me that this isn’t a joke?
Trump – It’s not a joke.
Melania (going to him and lying on the ground next to him) – How did this happen?
Trump – It was the nightmares… I felt so humiliated by them… and I knew I had to push back.
(he takes her hand in his)
Trump – You know what this means, don’t you?
Melania – What?
Trump – My base may not be supportive… they may not go along with me… they may feel betrayed and I may not be nominated in 2020… if I survive the Mueller probe. But I have to do the right thing… or I’ll be running scared and in shame for the rest of my life.
Melania – I love you.
(They turn to face each other, while still on the ground)
Melania – When are you going to tell Putin?
Trump – Tomorrow. And then I’ll hold a press conference.
Melania – Does anybody else know?
Trump – Just you. It will be a surprise. I won’t tell anybody in advance. I will then fully endorse the importance of the Mueller probe.
Melania – What do you think the party will say?
Trump – I don’t care. For some things I don’t consult the party. I’m not a committee.
(she gently caresses his face)
Melania – Have you thought of apologizing to women?
Trump – I have. I’ve memorized that short speech you heard a while back. But I want to wait a few days before I go public. I promise I will.
(they kiss… and make love)
Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net available in anchor.fm, apple, google podcasts and buzzsprout