Mon 23 Jul, 2018 11:21 am
A lot of current events get wrapped up under the Trump thread, so I thought I'd try to pull some out for separate discussion.
Just to be clear on my background on this issue, I'm not a fan of the President. I'm also a cold warrior, serving in the submarine force during the last years of the cold war when the conflict between the US and the Soviet Union was a real matter of cat and mouse games both on the surface and below it. On a diplomacy side, I am on record here on A2K of believing that the US should have open discussions with countries all over the world even if it is only to yell at each other and that diplomacy with Russia is an absolute requirement for our country.
All that said, I'm astounded and shocked by what happened over the last two weeks with NATO and Russia. We have a foreign power committing crimes in the US with the goal to influence our elections and policies. The Facebook stuff is bad enough, but that's just more of the propaganda war we've fought for decades. Hacking into election systems and email accounts, that's illegal and a direct attack on our country. I can't understand any American disputing that, nor can I see anyone at this point disputing that the Russians are involved. With that as a background, to go into a NATO meeting and disparage our allies then go meet with Russia and essentially give them a complete pass significantly weakens our security. Putin is following a standard cold war strategy. He will progressively push the boundaries until he receives push-back in equal measure and right now, he is getting the opposite of push-back. He's got a green light to continue to attack the US election systems and he's looking for the next step, logically a military confrontation with a junior NATO partner. (Looking at you, Estonia.) Something that can be written off as an accident in the case of a strong response, but that will strain the alliance further if the response is weak.
Our current policies here are putting the security of our allies and ultimately our security at risk. I'm very confident that the President's advisers are not telling him to go this direction, so what the heck? Nothing the President has done here has helped the US.
At this point, I see the President as being completely compromised. Even if there was "no collusion", there're clearly enough incriminating contacts between Trump allies and the Kremlin for Russia to release documents to reflect poorly on the President. The only solution I see would be for him to be completely above board. Having two hour private meetings and not revealing transcripts or even what was discussed doesn't foster confidence.
I am also a cold war warrior, and I also agree that we need to talk with everyone. Putin's return to active adversary has been going on for a long time, his decision to resume the long range armed bomber aviation patrols was not front page news. He has been the guiding force in all Russian decisions or close to two decades, and he will never give up this position of power.
I'm not totally convinced Trump realizes what he is doing. I suspect he is just such an attention hog, and so desperate to be feared that he blunders forward thinking or not thinking. His antics might work wonders in New York or some other states where he can sue others into oblivion.....but now he is trying to intimidate other nations....and it's really not working well for him. The North Koreans are flipping him the bird and he doesn't get it but he did cancel Military exercises with South Korea as a favor to his new best fake friend, happy to announce how much money he saved the tax payers..........and now he can use it for a military parade on Veterans day.
The Russians are already talking about the fantastic deals the two leaders agreed to, but we don't know anything about them.
I would think that that if Russia attacks one of the Baltic states, the Europeans will give them a strong response -- at the very least much harsher sanctions.
Near as I can tell, Trump is treating different world leaders differently. I don't think Russia or Putin has special hold over Trump. That's silly leftist propaganda.
One thing I can tell you is that Putin, KGB trained and a pretty skillful reader of people and has treated Trump like a hero. Trump likes to be praised and anyone paying attention can see that.
I look at the past two weeks and I yawn because it's a bunch of nothing special. US and Russian leaders met and a had a chat. What are you guys so afraid of? Do you think they are going to plan a moon base run by McDonalds?
It's hard to watch the lengths people will go to to degrade their political opponents... I mean really, treason? Seriously?
I agree that the Russians understand Trump's ego, are stroking him pretty hard, and will continue to do so as long as he holds the US apart from our traditional allies. I'm not sure how you can see Trump sitting with Putin for two hours then coming out and saying nothing as a bunch of nothing special. There are good reasons why previous Presidents have taken aides into those meetings. Trump came out of that meeting saying it was an interesting idea to give up a US diplomat to the Russians and very little else. Putin says they discussed Ukraine. What did they say? Same with Syria. This is a guy who has annexed part of Ukraine, sent troops into Georgia and attacked US election systems and infrastructure and Trump hails him as a wonderful guy? That doesn't concern you at all?
The standard trick is to create an incident that can be ignored. Destroy a plane flying near the border and claim it was in Russian space for example. If the US doesn't respond with their allies, we fail the test and our allies are uncertain of our support.
Russia expanded the "border" of South Ossetia in 2015 so that Russian troops now control a section of one of the big Georgian oil pipelines.
Apparently it is possible to build a new section of pipeline that circumvents the Russian area if necessary, but it would be wise to get Georgia into NATO and set up some strong troop positions to prevent Russia from taking any more land.