Global Pairings

Donald Lukashenko: Amazing Parallels Between Belarus and the US

Under Trump, the United States — despite 250 years of self-government — may get dangerously close to how Europe’s last dictator has operated in Belarus.

Takeaways


  • Under Trump, the US may get dangerously close to how Europe’s last dictator has operated in Belarus.
  • In their disdain for women -- especially women in positions of power -- Lukashenko and Trump are evil twins.
  • Lukashenko is turning to Putin -- hoping that the Russian dictator will extend a helping hand. Trump also called on Russia to attack Hillary Clinton in 2016.
  • Trump and Lukashenko underscored their similarity by how they reacted to the coronavirus – undermining efforts to combat the virus.
  • Americans may learn what Belarusians are already finding out: Nations that give up their freedom will eventually give up their independence as well.

Belarus has been independent for less than 30 years — 26 of which it has been ruled by a buffoonish former collective farm chairman Alexander Lukashenko.

To see how the man widely described as Europe’s last dictator is quickly becoming a hero in the Trump firmament, let’s start with the art of skewing elections.

Voter suppression has long been a Republican tactic, but Donald Trump is taking it to a previously unknown level.

He has openly admitted that he is planning to steal the election by dismantling America’s Postal Service during a pandemic in order to keep voters from casting mail-in ballots.

Lukashenko leading Trump…

And if that doesn’t work and he still loses in November, Trump has already prepared the ground for disputing the election and undermining trust in its result. There is also the possibility that Trump will refuse to leave the White House in January 2021.

The latter step would be a page out of the playbook of Alexander Lukashenko. The Belarusian dictator is still clinging to power even though pretty much the entire country is out in the streets, demanding that he leave after grossly falsifying the results of the latest election in his country.

… and Trump leading Lukashenko

Lukashenko’s response to peaceful protests since the election has been to send his security forces to beat up, tear gas and arrest protesters — in other words, to commit crimes while demanding that protesters “obey the law.”

Here the Belarusian dictator is following in Trump’s footsteps. The U.S. President famously tweeted (repeatedly) that he was a law and order president while sending federal troops in riot gear to attack peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon.

Two pandemic deniers

Even before the August 9 election in Belarus, Trump and Lukashenko demonstrated their similarity in the way they reacted to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lukashenko decided to ignore it — thus creating the 15 minutes of fame for the Belarusian soccer league, when it was the only one for a while holding professional soccer games while everybody else was locked down.

Trump didn’t completely ignore COVID 19, but constantly undermined efforts to combat the virus by articulating crazy medical theories and giving rise to an entire anti-masker movement among his followers — all of which continues to feed a devastating death toll in the United States.

Advantage: Lukashenko

Of course Lukashenko, who has been described as “Europe’s last dictator,” had more resources at his disposal ahead of the August 9 vote to rig it. To start with, he simply arrested his leading opponents and put them in jail.

When the opposition united behind Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the wife of one of the jailed candidates, and huge lines formed in front of polling stations, Lukashenko prevented them from voting and told poll workers to falsify the results.

But since the vote for Tikhanovskaya was an avalanche, the president simply stopped counting and simply declared that he got 80% of the vote. Period.

Trump: Dreaming of pulling a Lukashenko

True, Trump is not there yet — but he’s trying hard to emulate Lukashenko. He can’t make Joe Biden or Kamala Harris ineligible to run by jailing them.

However, he and his allies are doing the next best thing — mounting fake investigations of Biden and spreading fake birther theories about Harris.

Two men united in their disdain of women

As to their disdain for women, especially women in positions of power, Lukashenko and Trump are evil twins. No sooner did Biden announce Harris as his running mate than Trump attacked her as a “nasty woman.”

Lukashenko did one better, calling his female opponent a confused girl. He also mocked her as a weakling and repeatedly declaring that a woman would just “collapse, poor dear,” if she became president.

Courageous Belarusians

But this is where similarities end. It may have taken them more than a quarter of a century — but the people of Belarus have grown tired of constant lying. They have finally realized that you can’t be free if you allow your leaders to lie to you with impunity.

In the United States, too many people — Trump’s support is still running at 40% and more and the entire Republican Party establishment is loyally behind him — are still allowing Trump and the Republicans to go on with their lying.

More stunning yet, among white voters, Trump’s support stands at 48%, tied with Biden, and in some polls it still surpasses 50%.

Bigoted conspiracy mongers

Even as his support fades, Trump is doubling down on racist rhetoric. That’s exactly what Lukashenko has done when faced with massive protests.

Addressing his followers, he warned not only that NATO is massing troops on Belarus’s borders but that they will send in “black-skinned, yellow-faced and blonde-headed soldiers.”

Two men dependent on Putin’s help

In his hour of need, Lukashenko is turning to Putin, hoping that the Russian dictator will extend a helping hand.

Trump also famously called on Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s server to get her emails during the 2016 election. And, right on cue, Trump is now planning to have a one-on-one summit with Putin before the election. It is anybody’s guess what the two are going to discuss.

Americans may learn what Belarusians are already finding out: Nations that lamely give up their freedom will eventually give up their independence as well.

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About Alexei Bayer

Alexei Bayer is a Senior Editor at The Globalist, based in New York. [United States]

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