By Jackson Richman
Too much hype is surrounding the backlash over President Donald Trump’s congratulatory phone call to Russian president Vladimir Putin earlier this week on winning another term in office amid criticism of the election being rigged and Putin’s infamous record on human rights and other issues, according to prominent British historian and intellectual Niall Ferguson.
“I’m not going to throw my toys out my stroller about this,” Ferguson told The National Discourse on Wednesday. “Because after all, the European Commission did the same and it is conventional to acknowledge the success of another world leader on his election even if you think the election was rigged, as in many ways Putin’s election was.”
“I don’t think it’s the worst thing President Trump has ever done,” Ferguson added.
Reportedly, Trump was advised by members of his national security team in briefing materials which instructed “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”
Ferguson echoed those who believe the leak itself is a greater issue. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), though he did not like the call, joined the choir. “No, I don’t like that he did it, but you know what I like even less? There’s someone close to him leaking this stuff out,” Rubio told CNN’s Manu Raju.
Meanwhile, leaders like Senator John McCain (R-AZ) only derided the president’s call. “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said in a statement. “And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.”
Ferguson said, “But you have to take a step back and acknowledge the whole problem bedeviling this administration is the Russia connection.”
He continued, “And until [special counsel] Robert Mueller’s report is complete, assuming he’s allowed to complete it, this problem isn’t going to go away and it’s going to make U.S.-Russian relations very unsatisfactory and very stalemated.”
The president later defended the phone call and posted on Twitter, “Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
“They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race,” the president added. “Bush tried to get along, but didn’t have the ‘smarts.'”
Ferguson responded that Trump’s justification about Russia helping the U.S. on issues like North Korea is “unquestionably true.”
“One of the things one has to face in this world of ours is that Russia is still a great power,” Ferguson said. “It’s not a great economic power, but it is a great military power and it is a formidable power in terms of geopolitics.”
“And to imagine one can resolve problems, like problems in the Middle East or problems of the Korean peninsula, without any reference to Russia at all is, I think, to enter the realm of fantasy,” he added. “As somebody who [has] recently published the first volume of a biography of Henry Kissinger, I suppose I’m bound to say that in the realm of power, you can’t choose only the counter-parties who are without moral blemish because you won’t find many kinds of parties in that happy state.”
Ferguson published that biography of the former secretary of state, known for confronting the Soviet Union through partnering with China, in 2015. The second volume has yet to be announced.