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About Donald, Vladimir and…

The Road to Unfreedom
Timothy Snyder is convincing in his explanation of how our world understanding has been replaced by a "national understanding".


In 1989 I'm on my way through Europe on my first Interrail. The world seems open and full of possibilities. But in the international arena, the world does not look bright at all: It is at the very end of the Cold War. And the 4. June the same year, while sitting in a bar in the "South," Chinese authorities massacre protesters at Tiananmen Square. In early May, however, some Hungarians cut through the border to Austria, and the first hole in the iron curtain was created. Just over two years later, the wall has fallen, and the year 1989 remains standing as the very marking year for the development of democracy in the world.

Then we write 2018: We are back in the atmosphere of the Cold War, and Europe is again characterized by fascist currents and totalitarianism. I sit in my apartment with Timothy Snyder's new book, which bears the significant title The Road to Unfreedom. How did we end up here, with Donald Trump as President of the United States? "Because of Putin's Russia, and its natural dish to influence the world by any means, "is Timothy Snyder's answer. But how did it begin, really?

Russian capital

In the early 1990s, Donald Trump is in big financial trouble. Russian gangsters gain access to the Trump Tower, and use the buying and selling of apartments as a means to launder money. Russia's most notorious assassin also lives in an apartment building. Quickly one third of the building is taken over by Russian oligarchs and gangsters.

At the end of the 1990s, Trump is almost bankrupt: he owes over $ 55 billion to over seventy different banks. After the banking crisis, no bank will lend him money – and he is unable to repay what he owes. Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev buys a house for XNUMX million more than Trump paid for it. The Russian apparently has no interest in the house beyond owning it; he doesn't live in it himself. But Rybolovlev often shows up during Trump's election campaign.

Trump is making quick money from allowing apartment complexes to be used for money laundering.

Trump realizes he can make quick – and much – money in letting apartment complexes be used for money laundering, and allows Russians to build even more buildings in the "future president's name." Millions of dollars in support flow into Trump's election campaign box; Having Trump's name on buildings makes huge gains. In 2016, the former Soviet Union is funding the giant housing complex Trump Soho, giving Trump 18 percent of the profits, thanks for using his name. The Russian elite declares Donald Trump as "their" president. The character "Donald Trump – successful businessman" is created, and he is on his way to becoming the world's most powerful man – by Vladimir Putin. Felix Sater, who works as a senior advisor to The Trump Organization, lives two floors below Trump's apartment. Sater forms the Bayrock group, which sells apartments to people of the post-Soviet era. At this point, Trump is completely dependent on Russian capital to run his presidential campaign.

On October 7, 2016, Trump is again in big trouble: A tape in which the president boasts how he – who is a powerful man – can "take care" of women sexually, strikes down as a bomb in public. Thirty minutes after the loss was announced, emails to John Podesta, the top supporter of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, have been hacked. The emails are distorted to the unrecognizable by means of fake news; It is claimed that the emails contain sensitive news, such as that of Clinton pedophile. The case is called "Pizza-gate". The attention surrounding these emails is getting so massive that it is taking full weight away from Donald Trump's plump statements.

contemporary Diagnosis

"Never in American history has a presidential campaign been so closely linked to the influence of a foreign country," Snyder writes. And he has solid sources for his claims. The book contains almost a hundred pages only with source references. Among the strongest claims in the book is that Vladimir Putin is the brain behind the Russian hacking. But he also writes that cyber attacks were prepared for years, and that the US authorities have slept for hours.

But why did Russian hackers do this? And why was the hacking supported by Vladimir Putin? Because Putin likes Trump? Hardly. "He did it to destroy the United States," writes Timothy Snyder. An American president who is so totally in the hands of a Russian president that he has contributed to cyberattacks against his own country to win the presidential office is either a nod or a mere criminal.

But how did the Russians manage to win the American election? Timothy Snyder writes: "The Russians' effort succeeded because Donald Trump is much more like the Russian leader then the Americans like to think." (…) "Unlike Russians, Americans tend to get their news from the internet." The author describes the Internet as a platform for ice break-economy: Here is sent and created market-specific news – tailor-made for each Facebook user's account. Two different Facebook users can receive two completely different angles on the same news, depending on what they want to read. Facebook News does not provide a comprehensive overview, but offers an extremely narrow and market-tailored news platform. For example, Newsfeed and Trending Topics, two online news services, offer an endless amount of fiction-based news to its users, paid for by advertising agencies. As long as people read the Internet as a newspaper, US Internet users can become targets of Russian secret police, claims Timothy Snyder. In this way, news agencies producing fake news (something the Russians have long experience with) can collaborate with American conspiratorial forces without being stopped.

Keep walking the heavy road. Join in the path to freedom. Get to know Timothy Snyder's bleak and accurate contemporary diagnosis.

Henning Næs
Henning Næss
Literary critic in MODERN TIMES.

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