President’s Hard Line Stances Against Russia Have Been A Fluke, Or Based On Necessity (This blog is based on an earlier post)
Don’t buy the republican President Donald Trump’s walk back of what he stated at the 7/16/18 Helsinki summit between the US president and the Russian leader, where he looked like a weakling on the world’s stage. His bluffing and posturing to where he likes to exhibit the appearance of strength, was missing. He threw the US Intelligence agencies, all of his foreign policy experts and the American peoples under the bus as he equivocated on the question of whether the USA was attacked by Russia as it interfered with the 2016 US elections infrastructure.
I have been watching the cable TV news pundits. Many GOP in the US Congress have been covering for President Trump by referring to how he has admitted to making a mistake to where he misspoke which is a crock. The change of one word of would to wouldn’t does not negate everything else he expressed when he openly discounted the work product of US Intelligence agencies in favor of choosing to take the word of Russia’s President Putin when he denied attacking the US elections infrastructure in 2016.
Without taking a breath, these same cowering republicans pivot the conversation to discuss how President Trump has been tough with the US sanctions against Russia. Then they remind the American peoples about the fact that the US had even sold military hardware to Ukraine so that its peoples could defend themselves against further Russian aggression.
Today, President Trump publicly announced that Russia will definitely not be repeating its 2016 attack on the US elections system in 2018. Of course, these words differ from what his own appointed Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats has alleged Russia and other bad actors which are:
“At the time (2001), intelligence and law enforcement communities were identifying alarming activities that suggested that an attack was potentially coming to the United States. It was in the months prior to September 2001 when, according to then CIA Director George Tenet, the system was blinking red. And here we are nearly two decades later, and I’m here to say the warning lights are blinking red again. Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”
What I have been failing to hear are the counter arguments based on the following facts:
President Trump has NOT been tough on Russia….
I remember being pleasantly surprised around mid April 2018 that President Trump had finally taken a tough position for the first time against Russia, the country that had attacked our US democracy on numerous fronts having to do with our election infrastructure in 2016. In addition this was supposed to send Russia a message that the US was backing our ally Great Britain where two Russian expats were poisoned by Russian agents on UK’s soil.
Around that same time, I was beside myself with joy when the US Ambassador for the United Nations Nikki Haley had announced that the US was poised to enact additional sanctions against Russia that would be announced by the US Treasurer Steven Mnuchin on the 16th of April 2018, until the president stopped her with notice that there would be no further sanctions enacted against Russia.
Then the Washington Post published a story that when President Trump enacted his April 2018 hard line sanctions against Russia, it was only because he made a mistake. There is ample credible reporting that the president could be heard screaming and cursing his advisers when he found out that he had expelled more Russian diplomats (60) from the US than our foreign counterparts. It turns out that the advisers had been granted the okay to match the numbers of the European counties. In total the European Union (EU) had expelled 60 Russian delegates from their countries but the numbers for each country was only a fraction of this, like maybe two or 3.
As per a 5/12/18 Newsweek report by Cristina Maza, Ukraine’s government stopped cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation after it secured deadly weapons from the Trump administration.
In short, President Trump agreed to provide weapons to Ukraine, only because this action that he had previously strongly resisted, benefited his personal interests.
On June 9, 2018, Ashish Kumar Sen of the Atlantic Council penned the following report, “Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: Russia is Attempting to Influence US Midterms, Divide Transatlantic Alliance”
“Russia is attempting to influence the midterm elections in the United States in November as well as divide the transatlantic alliance, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned at a meeting co-hosted by the Atlantic Council in Normandy, France, on June 8.”
“Coats said Russia had already undertaken an “unprecedented influence campaign to interfere in the US electoral and political process” in 2016. Russia, Coats pointed out, has also meddled in France, Germany, Norway, Spain, and Ukraine. “It is 2018, and we continue to see Russian targeting of American society in ways that could affect our midterm elections,” he said.”
“Coats’ comments are aligned with assessments by the US intelligence community and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who in his previous role as director of the Central Intelligence Agency warned that he expected Russia to attempt to disrupt the midterm elections.”
“Coats spoke at a meeting jointly hosted by the Atlantic Council, Le Figaro, and the Tocqueville Foundation in Normandy, France.”
Coats said Russia had conducted cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns with the intent of “degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances.”
“These Russian actions are purposeful and premeditated and they represent an all-out assault, by Vladimir Putin, on the rule of law, Western ideals and democratic norms,” he said.”
“[Putin’s] actions demonstrate that he seeks to sow divisions within and between those in the West who adhere to democratic norms,” he added. “
“Coats, a former US congressman and senator, delivered a clear warning of Russian attempts to split the transatlantic alliance.”
“The Russian threat in particular has awakened Europe to the need to reinvigorate NATO and bolster our collective defenses,” he said. “The Russians are actively seeking to divide our Alliance, and we must not allow that to happen.”
“Coats used his speech to explore ways in which democracies can be strengthened. Perhaps mindful of the challenge the United States currently poses to the liberal world order, he said: “In my current position, my responsibility is to focus on foreign threats to our democracy—and refrain from commenting on politics in the US. It is not pretty.”
“Trump has roiled the transatlantic relationship and strained ties with many of the United States’ longstanding friends and allies by his dogged pursuit of an America First policy. Such an approach has seen the US withdraw from multilateral agreements—the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate pact are prominent examples—and impose metal tariffs on the European Union (EU), Mexico, and Canada on the pretext of preserving US national security. These actions have increasingly left the United States alone on the world stage.”
“While firm on the threat posed by Russia, Coats underscored the importance for the US to have enduring relationships with its European allies to stand up to that challenge.”
“As I see every day in our intelligence reports, we live in a time of uncertainty, turmoil and peril for Western democracies,” said Coats. “From Russia’s renewed aggression, to China’s global ambitions, to the persistent threat of terrorism, democracy and faith in our national institutions are under assault.”
“Coats listed Russia’s malign actions, including its massive cyberattack on Ukraine in 2017 that caused worldwide damage and its attempt to kill a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, in the UK in March.”
“Vladimir Putin says he wants a united and prosperous Europe because it is Russia’s biggest trade and economic partner, yet all one needs to do is look at the actions of the Russian state, not Putin’s pronouncements,” Coats said.”
“Invading Ukraine, seizing Crimea, attacking individuals in the UK with nerve agent, conducting cyber-attacks against multiple EU countries, and undermining the energy resources of Eastern European countries do not strike me as unifying actions,” he asserted.”
“On the transatlantic relationship, Coats conceded that there will be differences over policies, “but our overarching relationships have endured.”
“Coats expressed appreciation of France’s willingness to take on a greater role in global, regional, and security issues and disappointment in the fact that Germany, a country which he said is the most capable of providing strength and resources to Europe, “isn’t punching up to its weight.”
“Our expectation is that our partners will join us in countering malign aggression and global threats,” Coats said. “In doing so, they are not taking a political stand, but a stand to guard and sustain our security and democratic values.”