Trump’s Venezuela Hallucination
Trump was eager to boast about Moscow’s withdrawal of its troops from Venezuela, but it turned out that he or someone else in the administration just made it up:
The Kremlin said on Tuesday it didn’t know where U.S. President Donald Trump had got the idea Moscow had removed most of its military specialists from Venezuela, who it said continued to work there.
Trump tweeted on Monday that Russia had told the United States it had removed “most of their people” from Venezuela, where Moscow has maintained close military and economic ties with socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
Trump’s Venezuela policy is a shambles, and Russia previously brushed off his ultimatum to remove their forces from the country. It isn’t surprising that he would try to spin any development in his favor, but in this case it seems that he just invented something out of thin air so that his Venezuela policy wouldn’t look quite so feckless. He has no genuine successes that he can talk about, so he has to have pretend victories instead. The original tweet is still up:
Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2019
Claiming that “Russia informed” him of this thing that didn’t happen makes it even sillier, because it immediately prompted the Russian government to announce that they couldn’t have informed Trump about something that hadn’t occurred. Now that Russia has corrected the record, the president looks even more ridiculous than usual.
This episode isn’t that important by itself, but it shows how easily Trump can be convinced of the reality of things that haven’t happened and how readily he will accept any story, no matter how unfounded it may be, if it flatters him and bolsters his agenda. That makes him unusually easy to manipulate and provoke, and it makes him an exceptionally easy mark for misinformation. That puts the president’s decision-making completely at the mercy of the advisers that control what he sees and hears.