As we watch the brave men and women of Ukraine defend their homeland against the savage invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, questions arise about the responsibility of the former president and his allies in this naked aggression of the from Vladimir Putin.
To what extent did the former president’s respect for Putin set the stage for this week’s actions by the Russian military under Putin’s command?
To what extent did the delay of critical military aid from the former president to Kyiv impact the readiness of the Ukrainian Armed Forces as Russian troops crossed their borders?
And how does the former president’s current loyalty to Putin, backed by many in the GOP and right-wing media, hamper our own political response?
From the moment the former president was elected in November 2016, he offered nothing but praise to Vladimir Putin, who may have put his thumb in the balance of the election. (Trump publicly sided with Putin’s denial of a CIA report to that effect.) Family connections and possible banking ties have further eroded our respect for the presidency that presidents from Ford to GW Bush have worked so hard to restore after the Watergate scandal.
Former President Trump began his presidency under a cloud of suspicion as special prosecutor Robert Mueller secured a guilty plea from Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for communicating with Russia after the election of Trump, asking Moscow not to respond to President Obama’s expulsion from Russia. security agents in late 2016, imploring Russian Foreign Minister Kislyak to wait until after Trump’s inauguration. How much did this illegal clandestine diplomacy cost our country given that Putin knew he would soon become a favored world leader in Trump’s eyes?
How did Trump’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, followed by his withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty in 2020, impact Putin’s decision to continue building up his military? for a possible invasion of Ukraine? While the Trump administration accused Russia of cheating, Trump’s actions enabled Putin to develop and deploy tactical nuclear weapons, which he has just threatened to use by putting his nuclear forces on heightened alert. .
It should be noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is the same man Trump tried to extort into lying about Joe and Hunter Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign. How different would this war be if Trump didn’t? did not retain military aid as a means of extortion? And how damaging was it for Trump to accuse Zelensky of corruption to justify denying aid? And how does the former president, who avoided military service by fake bone spurs, compare as a world leader to Zelensky?
By our measure, not too good.
People who study Putin often note that he thinks strategically, seeking long-term gains in his interactions with world leaders. In Donald Trump, Putin found an irresponsible leader easily manipulated into complacency in the face of Russian cyberattacks, against which he likely wanted him re-elected. Putin has spent the years since Trump’s inauguration building up the military into a force large enough to allow him to take control of Ukraine.
With this scenario unfolding before our eyes, we have to ask ourselves how much more successful would Putin be with a second Trump term? Would Trump have continued to alienate our European allies and praise Putin’s strength? He would certainly not have been a convincing leader to unite the EU and NATO. He should cede this land to Zelensky.
Would Trump respond to naked aggression at all, or would he dispute the intelligence reports of the buildup? Would he be willing to unite our European allies (including Switzerland) by revealing to the world the raw intelligence collected on the Russian military buildup surrounded by Ukraine, as President Biden has done? If Trump’s past behavior is any indication, he reportedly asked Putin if it was true and then took him at his word.
Would Trump even address the threat to stability enjoyed by the Western world through a strong alliance with European nations and NATO? There would be no personal gain for Trump (who praised Putin saying, “I mean, he takes over a country for $2 in sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart” ), so what would compel Trump to act?
Over time, these questions can be answered.