It goes without saying that there is generally bipartisan support for maintaining the sovereign integrity of the Ukraine in the face of obvious Russian aggression. Their annexation of the Crimea is one example and their presence- whether in uniform or not- in eastern Ukraine is another example. Putin’s designs in Europe do not stop in this country. The governments of the Baltic states are seriously afraid that Russia will somehow “invade” and take over these countries also. For their part, Russia is saying or doing nothing to alleviate those fears.
Enter Donald Trump to further the fears and apprehensions. During the RNC convention, a little-known shift in policy occurred in the official platform. Language supportive of arming the Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression was mysteriously removed. For their part, the Trump campaign- specifically Paul Manafort, the last person you’d want formulating policy towards Russia and the Ukraine- denied any knowledge of playing a role in the removal of this language.
However, the Washington Post was one outlet that did notice this missing language and followed up on the story. They learned from several foreign policy experts present when the foreign policy section of the platform was being debated and written that Trump’s team were actively involved. One member of the platform committee, Rachel Hoff, said:
It was troubling to me that they would want to water down language that supports a country that has been invaded by an aggressive neighbor. I think the U.S. should properly come to Ukraine’s aid in that struggle. In the past that would not be considered a controversial Republican position.
In a follow up, Hoff further stated that Trump people were involved in the language change along with other unnamed sources confirming her rendition of events. On Meet the Press, Paul Manafort was asked directly about this by Chuck Todd and he denied any knowledge of the campaign being influential in this matter. Given the apparent ineptitude of the campaign thus far, it is possible Manafort really did not know. But, that would stretch the imagination.
Donald Trump likes to portray himself as the ultimate artist of the deal. He did, after all, we are told repeatedly ad infinitum write the book. In this case, however, he seems to be the dupe on the wrong end of the deal. But, let’s step back a minute and ask in what deals is Trump the artist? The answer is business deals, specifically those involving real estate. When he branches outside his comfort zone, there is literally a trail of failures that need not be mentioned here. Others have done the issue more justice.
Trump seems to believe that if he applies his real estate dealing techniques to other areas, there will be success. But whether we are talking about Trump water, vodka, steaks or a bogus university, his methods fall woefully short. Of course, he spins it into some kind of success, but they really aren’t and we all know it.
And in what type of “deals” is Vladimir Putin a success in? Think about that. This is a former KGB agent. He has infiltrated the environmental movement in Europe to deter fracking. He has created a propaganda apparatus throughout Europe to further his agenda. He was used energy warfare to get his way with Central Europe and moved into Georgia and the Ukraine. These are not real estate deals; they are an aggressive foreign policy.
Now imagine Trump taking this mindset into (God forbid) the Oval Office come 2017. Perhaps in some instances with some third world country he may see a modicum of success. But, Russia in general and Putin in particular are, quite frankly, no match for the likes of Donald Trump and recent events prove it. Some blame the presence of Manafort as the reason for Trump’s pro-Russian stances, but he was seemingly pro-Putin before the arrival of Manafort. Manafort simply puts a not so reassuring exclamation point on the concerns of rational people (basically, the entire foreign policy, military and intelligence communities).
Given his real estate dealings, especially in Manhattan, it is likely that Trump has dealt with some rather unsavory characters in the past. And in most instances, he cooperated with them in order to get his real estate projects completed. Some of these are documented and that alone is a scary thought. But, he has never dealt with a trained and accomplished former KGB officer who identifies and exploits vulnerabilities in potential targets.
The serious and dangerous fact is that Putin found in Donald Trump a severe vulnerability- his narcissism and vanity. Just dropping a positive comment about Trump in an interview or press conference plays to Trump’s bloated ego and sense of self-importance.
It would not take too great an effort in creating a psychological profile of Donald Trump by Russia or Putin. They most likely have a huge dossier on him in the Kremlin today. What is scary and dangerous is how easily Trump was played by the Kremlin. In effect, the Kremlin has, in the minds of many intelligence experts, recruited Donald Trump.
And Trump is doing a fine job thus far. He stated/insisted that Russia is not in the Ukraine. When it was pointed out that they annexed the Crimea, a part of Ukraine, Trump said that did not happen on his watch and besides, it is his understanding that the people of the Crimea invited Russia into that region and support the annexation. Despite evidence to the contrary, he says that Russia is not in the eastern part of Ukraine today.
His comments about NATO and coming to the defense of the Baltic states are equally troubling. While he derides the fact that European nations are balking at commitments regarding defense spending in NATO, he ignores the fact that countries like Estonia (a Baltic state) and Poland actually meet the 2% of GDP on defense spending target. Trump’s economic argument with respect to NATO, although not totally without merit, falls short in the very countries in the sights of Putin.
The fact that the ultimate deal maker of all time, according to himself, was so easily duped and conned should be reason enough to think long and hard about voting for Donald Trump. One would think that despite her obvious faults and the ridiculousness of reset buttons that Hillary Clinton would, at a minimum, listen to expert advice and not (hopefully) be swayed by feelings of self-aggrandizement and an over-inflated ego.
To Trump, it is all about Trump. To Putin, it is all about Russia. Trump won’t “make America great again,” but he just may be responsible for a newer version of the old Soviet Union. Clinton may be a dope, but Trump is a dupe and a dopey one at that.