Mike Pompeo’s excellent memoir Never Give an Inch provides two hot takes on Russia from third-world heads of state.
While I was secretary of state, little changed in my mission of trying to find a path to cause Russia to look West for answers, while simultaneously showing that we would not abide Russian aggression in any of its nefarious forms. Other leaders often grumbled to me about what a headache Russia was for them, too. One African leader told me, as I know he has told many others, “When my country’s forces train in the US, they come to love the US. And when my country’s forces train in Russia, they come to love the US.” Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan, also told me a story that I have little reason to doubt. In the fall of 2017, Putin met with him in Afghanistan. He encouraged Karzai to run for a second term, but Karzai said he couldn’t likely win. Putin jokingly shot back that if he could fix elections in America, he could easily fix them in Afghanistan.
Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.