‘Trump White House ‘Threatening The Very Foundation Of This Republic’ | Wbur Radio | Dec 20th, 2017



Former world chess champion and Russian pro-democracy activist Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) joins Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the first year of the Trump presidency.

Kasparov is warning Americans not to let President Trump turn the U.S. into Russia, which Kasparov sees as profoundly undemocratic under President Vladimir Putin:

Interview Highlights

On problems he sees being generated by the Trump White House

“I think we should look at Trump’s criticism — not against individuals, that’s in bad taste — but against institutions. And that’s the playbook of every would-be dictator. And Trump is very consistent in his attacks against U.S. institutions, U.S. electoral system, free press, now law enforcement. And it’s worrisome because that’s what every dictator did starting his campaign on destroying the pillars of democracy.”

On there being a difference between calling something “fake news” and jailing journalists

“That’s why I say, it’s still a long way to go. And I don’t think we’ll ever see the same problems here as we’re seeing in Russia, or in other authoritarian and totalitarian countries. But you’d better be aware that such dangers do exist, and the fact is that, within a year — probably we can say more than a year, adding up the time Donald Trump has spent in his campaign going after U.S. institutions — he did a very good job by swaying a big chunk of Americans, 25, 30 percent, with him to believe that there is a deep state, and institutions that are not doing a good job. And I think the fact is that many people are just losing their faith in the FBI, in other law enforcement offices, in the free press. They buy the concept of ‘fake news’ and deep state. That’s a big success for Vladimir Putin, because all Putin wanted [was] to discredit democracy as an institution, and the fact is that now American democracy … it’s not in jeopardy, but it’s kind of in the gray area, where people have doubts about the way these institutions are functioning. That’s troubling for me.”

“I don’t think we’ll ever see the same problems here as we’re seeing in Russia, or in other authoritarian and totalitarian countries. But you’d better be aware that such dangers do exist.”

Garry Kasparov

On key differences between Trump and Putin

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“Trump is still the president of the United States. It’s a democracy. He was elected. Like him or not, he was elected by the law of the land. Vladimir Putin’s election was a charade from day one. It was all known in advance. And so that’s why when Vladimir Putin now is heading for a new election campaign, it’s rather a reappointment than a re-election. But no doubt that Trump envies Putin and other authoritarian leaders and dictators in the world, because Trump definitely wants to have the same uncontrolled power, and Vladimir Putin, as an experienced KGB agent, knows how to play with the weaknesses of his counterparts.”

On whether he sees the Trump-Putin dynamic through the lens of a chess master

“I have to say that, from my perspective, 2017 was not a bad year, because many Americans realize how dangerous the situation, how fragile the situation was. But we’re just in the beginning, or maybe I would say in the middle game, if I use chess terminology. Because recognizing the threat, it’s a first step, but you have to come up with a strategy, and it seems to me that strategy is not there, and it’s just the beginning of the debate about the strategy. And that’s the way to deal with dictators, because if you tried to play a sharp tactical game, it’s a very short-term game. With a dictator you will lose, since a dictator is not limited in his actions by public opinion, parliamentary investigations, free press. The only way to counter these kind of activities, clandestine operations against you run by dictatorships, is to come up with a strategy. It’s a long view to guarantee that the advantages of democracy will eventually prevail. But that means we need politicians, rather, not politicians, but statesmen, who will look beyond their term in the office. And so far I see very little of this in this country or in Europe.”

On saying a woman could be a world chess champion, when he didn’t think so before

“Look, things are just changing everywhere. And obviously the gap between female and male players is not as great as it was 30 years ago. It’s still there, so there’s I think the one female player, the strongest one, Hou Yifan from China, she’s making the top 100. But we had also an example of the great Judit Polgár, the Hungarian player, she was at one point top 10. So that’s why there’s nothing that precludes female players of climbing higher. It may take longer than people want, but the trend is inevitable. And as everywhere else, we could see more and more female players competing on equal terms with their male competitors.”

On what he wants to teach people through his online chess course

“It’s not just teaching. It’s more like sharing my passion and love for the game of chess. Because even in seven hours, you cannot teach people how to play chess. It’s not about giving information, it’s about inside an inspiration. Those are the most important things a teacher can provide a student. And I prepared this curriculum, and of course it includes tactics and strategy and many useful advices. But at the end of the day, it’s for students to get more excited about it, and to see the beauty of the game, to enjoy these ‘ah’ moments where they could solve the story and just to be so proud about their ability to move one step further in their understanding of this great game.”

This segment aired on December 20, 2017.


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