President Donald J. Trump certainly could have addressed Vladimir Putin more assertively in Helsinki Monday regarding Moscow’s interference in America’s elections. The stinging reactions to Trump’s statements paint America’s president as a veritable reincarnation of Julius Rosenberg. But Trump’s actions refute this unfair attack.
• House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California wondered, “What do the Russians have on Donald Trump, personally, financially, and politically?”
• Rep. Louis Gutierrez (D – Illinois) said that “the president takes his marching orders from the Kremlin.”
• “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,’” former CIA chief John Brennan said via Twitter. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”
The idea that Trump is a treasonous puppet who dances while Putin tugs his strings is belied by what the president and America’s NATO allies accomplished in Brussels, just days before Helsinki.
First, NATO members agreed to fulfill their treaty obligations to spend their fair share for collective defense: 2 percent of GDP. While Estonia, Greece, Latvia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. (at 3.5 percent) now meet or exceed that benchmark, NATO’s 24 other members fall short. However, with Trump’s prodding, NATOites are boosting their military outlays.
“I would like to thank President Trump for his leadership on defense spending,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week in Brussels, as CNN reported. “It is clearly having an impact. Last year on the President’s initiative, we agreed to develop national plans to raise defense spending.” Stoltenberg expects NATO’s European members and Canada to “add an extra $266 billion to defense between now and 2024.”
Second, Trump pressured Germany’s Angela Merkel to abandon Nord Stream 2, an energy-dependency-enhancing pipeline that would pump Russian natural gas into Western Europe. Trump urged Merkel, instead, to purchase U.S. liquefied natural gas.
A pro-Putin puppet would not prod European nations — some bordering Russia — to spend an extra quarter-trillion dollars on soldiers and weapons. A “Siberian candidate” would not foil Moscow’s scheme to hook Germany on Russian natural gas.
Previous Trump initiatives give Putin migraines:
• As early as January 2017 and as late as last month, Trump slapped severe financial sanctions and travel limits on Russian companies and oligarchs in retaliation for the invasions of Ukraine and Crimea and “the Kremlin’s destabilizing activities, including its interference of Western democratic elections in 2016 and 2017,” according to CNN. “We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful,” Trump said in a statement. “We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections.”
• In July 2017, Trump sold Patriot air-defense missiles to Poland. As The Weekly Standard then observed “The agreement comes seven years after the Obama administration removed a group of missile launchers from near the Russian border with Poland after Moscow objected to their placement.”
• A U.S.-led coalition airstrike on February 7 killed several dozen Russian “mercenaries” operating in Syria.
• In response to the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in the U.K., Trump last March expelled 12 Russian diplomats from New York, 48 more from Washington, D.C., and padlocked Moscow’s consulate in Seattle.
• In April, Trump sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine. Obama didn’t. “I am sincerely grateful for the just decision of Donald J. Trump in support of Ukraine, in defense of freedom and democracy,” said Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. “We continue to work on strengthening our defense capabilities in order to deflect Russian aggression.”
In contrast to Trump’s “treason,” remember that, as part of their “Russian Reset,” Obama and Hillary handed Putin control of 20 percent of America’s uranium supply. Before, during, and after that 2010 deal, investors in Uranium One poured $145 million into the Clinton Foundation. Those calling Trump treasonous seem remarkably relaxed about his predecessors’ letting Moscow capture one-fifth of America’s stockpile of the active ingredient in atomic bombs.