The Trump Foreign Aid Doctrine

President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

My Friend and sometime writing role model, Dr. Charles Lipson has an interesting article out regarding the bread and circuses effort by the Democrats to impeach Donald Trump.

In his article, Impeachment: 3 Crucial Questions, 3 Answers, So Far, Lipson provides an interesting structure to hang our assessment of the “inquiry” thus far. He first, asks 3 questions

1) What did President Trump really want from Ukraine?

2) Can Democrats prove he wanted something so improper, so lawless that it meets the high bar for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” bribery, or treason?

3) What’s the rush? Do voters think the charges are so serious, the proof so convincing, and the need to remove the president so urgent that it cannot wait until the election next November?

Great questions. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on the first one, as it is most applicable to the pool I normally swim in, Foreign Policy and Military Affairs.

Answering Number 1, Lipson states

The Democrats argue — and have presented testimony — that Trump cared a lot more about getting Ukraine to investigate the Biden family than he did about advancing American national security.

Dr. Lipson follows with (emphasis mine)

Those are reasonable arguments. Indeed, they are the most likely explanations for the 55-day hold on aid to Ukraine, which Congress had authorized.

That doesn’t make sense, especially since Dr. Lipson immediately and correctly walks though a serious amount of evidence clearly demonstrating that starting early on in his campaign, Donald Trump gave plenty of reasons for his future actions vis a vis U.S. Foreign Aid to Ukraine. This set of evidence I’ll refer to as the Trump Foreign Aid Doctrine..

The Trump Foreign Aid Doctrine has multiple facets. The center of gravity however, is President Trump’s general hostility to the very idea of taxpayer funded Foreign Aid. He announced that philosophy day one and damned near every day thereafter of his campaign…America First! I’d be exaggerating (but not by much) that there wasn’t a day that went by that he’d not say words to the effect of, “Why are we spending all this money (on other countries’ walls) when we have problems of our own at home (we need a wall too)? Why are we sending money to countries that hate us?”

Moving on from the America First! mantra President Trump wants to know, “If we have so many allies, how come they don’t kick in a little to help out?” That was his specific question when the whole conversation began on aid to Ukraine. Why isn’t NATO pulling their weight? Great question.

We know that President Trump starts out with little regard for the concept of Foreign Aid. Couple that with the fact that there are always strings attached to all U.S. government funds (see: Threatening to Withhold Foreign Aid in Support of U.S. Policy—Is Legal). When we put the above together with Congressional mandates requiring certain certifications prior to the disbursement of Foreign Aid and the same certifications for its continuance, President Trump was essentially, acting under his Article II Powers regarding Foreign Policy, following U.S. Law and adhering to a duly signed and ratified treaty regarding cooperation on criminal and corruption investigations.

The end result of all of this? The Trump Doctrine on Foreign Aid: U.S Foreign Aid should only be given under the following circumstances—There will be some benefit to the United States; the recipient country doesn’t continuously badmouth us in the UN; the recipient country will properly (and un-corruptly) use the aid as designed and finally, wherever possible, our allies will help out.

As far as Dr. Lipson’s first question? Asked and answered. The answer is, The Trump Foreign Aid Doctrine. The other two I will leave to the reader. Take the time to have a look. Lipson is one of my favorite writers.

Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.

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