Friday, April 29, 2016

Clinton/Trump (1) -- Will Donald Trump Defend Ukraine Against Russia?

Is Donald Trump caving in to Russia on Ukraine? It sure looks like it. There are strong indications that Trump opposes President Obama's policy of steadfast resistance to Russia, and would prefer to downgrade NATO, abandon Ukraine, and forge an alliance with Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump has chosen Paul Manafort -- an apologist for the Russian puppet Viktor Yanukovych -- as his campaign manager. This is deeply troubling. It calls into question Trump's loyalty to western Europe, his commitment to democracy, and his willingness to stand up to Russian expansionism. Why is Trump doing this? Trump is not a leader who has the best interests of people at heart. Trump is an opportunist who wants to make money.
Donald Trump's position on Russia is becoming increasingly clear, and it appears that he would reverse seventy years of United States opposition to Russian expansionism.

From the end of World War II to the present Americans have sought to defend Europe against Russia. That's why we formed NATO and extended the nuclear umbrella over western Europe. That's why we stationed soldiers in Germany and relieved Berlin in the 1940s. That's why we fought the Cold War, and when that conflict was over that's why we extended our protection and NATO membership to the eastern European countries as they achieved freedom from Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Why did we do this? It was not only for economic reasons, although the capitalist system and free trade have enhanced the quality of life of hundreds of millions of people. 

No, it was for more than that. Since the Iron Curtain has lifted democracy has flourished, not just in eastern Germany but in all of eastern Europe. The people of eastern Europe now breath the fresh air of freedom.

Vladimir Putin has called the collapse of the Soviet Union "a major geopolitical disaster of the century." Russia has aggressively fought to reassert sovereignty over any area where ethnic Russians live, including Transnitria in Moldova, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, and in Syria where according to the New York Times 30,000 Russian citizens live. Russia currently exercises authority over areas that they conquered and ethnically cleansed -- the native population removed and given over to Russians -- including the Crimea in Ukraine and Kaliningrad Oblast in what was Germany. There have been myriad reports in the last year that Putin now intends to invade the Baltic countries: see AlJazeera, July 29, 2015; Politico, November 1,2015Newsweek, January 12, 2016; Daily Mail, February 3, 2016

And, of course, in February and March of 2014 Russia invaded Ukraine, stole Crimea, and is still seeking to seize Ukraine's eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. On March 16, President Obama told Vladimir Putin that the Untied States and its allies would "never" recognize Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. President Obama outlined the American response to this aggression in these remarks from the White House on March 20. On March 26 he delivered an impassioned address in Brussels, saying "NATO nations never stand alone." Within a few months he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel swiftly organized stiff economic sanctions against Russia. He and Merkel vowed today that economic sanctions against Russia should remain in place until Russia demonstrates respect for Ukraine's sovereignty. President Obama's unyielding stand against Russian aggression in Ukraine is deeply unpopular in Russia. See Obama Lashes Out at Russia Over Crimea During Brussels Speech, Russia Today (March 26, 2014).

Trump has now made a number of troubling remarks that call into question his willingness to stand firmly against Russia in Ukraine and elsewhere. He has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin. Trump Lavishes Praise on Vladimir Putin, CNN (December 18, 2015). When reminded that Putin murders journalists who criticize him, Trump said:
"I hate some of these people [journalists]. I hate 'em." Trump told the crowd. "I would never kill them. I would never do that."
Then he decided to reconsider.
"Uh, let's see, uh?" he said aloud, his voice rising. "No, I would never do that."
Trump has denigrated NATO and our commitment to that alliance, calling it "obsolete." In a formal speech on Ukraine that he delivered on September 11, 2015, that The Hill described as "awkward," and "embarrassing," Trump had nothing but criticism for President Obama, whom he referred to as "not strong," and he said that Putin did not respect the President. The Washington Post quoted Trump as saying that the situation in the Ukraine was a "European problem," and noted that Trump had previously expressed indifference as to whether Ukraine becomes a NATO member. In an interview with Bill O'Reilly, Trump had said:
"I was over in Moscow two years ago and I will tell you -- you can get along with those people and get along with them well. You can make deals with those people. Obama can't. I would be willing to bet I would have a great relationship with Putin. It's about leadership."
In his latest speech, billed as a major foreign policy address, Trump took his nationalism and isolationism a step further, adopting the mantle "America First" -- the slogan of Charles Lindbergh's pro-Nazi, anti-British political movement. The headline in Reuters was Trump's 'America First' Speech Alarms U.S. Allies. In this address Trump once again disparaged NATO and offered to enter into negotiations with Russia. Nicholas Burns, a former Bush official and current Clinton advisor, describes Trump as "casting these thunderbolts at threats at our allies, and yet there is almost a kid-glove treatment of Russia and China."  

According to Bloomberg, Trump has sought to do business in Russia for years. According to YouGov, Hillary Clinton is favored by the people of every other country, except Russia, where Trump is preferred by more than 20 points. Sputnik International made Trump's statement at a Presidential debate, "Wouldn't it be nice if actually we could get along with Russia?" a headline. CNN reports, Donald Trump's Foreign Policy Speech Earns Praise in Russia. And Pravda loved his recent foreign policy speech because it signals such a reversal of American policy towards Russia. Pravda particular likes Trump's advisors. Pravda quotes Vladimir Vasilyev, a Russian expert on the United States, as saying that Trump will stop listening to traditional foreign policy experts in the United States and that he will take a "business approach" to foreign policy. Vasilyev states,
"In particular, his adviser on the Ukrainian issues is a political strategist who served the Party of Regions. And for Russia he took a person who used to be the Gazprom's adviser in Russia."
Basically, Trump has announced that he is ready to do business with a murderous, dictatorial, kleptocratic, and militarily aggressive regime, and to betray the western allies who share with us a commitment to peace and democracy. He admires Vladimir Putin's reckless use of military force as "strength" and despises President Obama's wise and judicious use of diplomacy and economic leverage as "weakness."

Diplomacy and economic leverage have made Iran give up its nuclear ambitions, stripped Syria of chemical weapons, extracted us from ruinous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is slowly forcing Russia to the negotiating table over Ukraine. Trump would throw all of those accomplishments away, desert our closest allies, and abandon our deepest principles. All for a few dollars more.

1 comment:

  1. I support Wilson Huhn in this description of how important it is to fight for the vlaues of democracy and freedom that we established in the Battle of Lexington so many years ago.
    Susan Eustis, Lexingotn Ma


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