This morning, we woke up to reports of military attacks in Ukraine as Russia drops all pretense of “peacekeeping” (or, perhaps they just have a different definition than I do) and invades the nation.
The very same people who have spent a long time now assuring us that Joe Biden will hold Vladimir Putin accountable if he were to launch an attack are now nodding somberly and declaring that this is all because of Donald Trump.
Of course, you knew it was going to happen, but it’s somewhat shocking to see nonetheless. Here’s Matthew Dowd on Tuesday, teeing it up.
If you are blaming Biden today for what Putin is doing in Ukraine please take down the American flag from your home or social media account and replace it with the Russian flag. It will help us all know where you clearly stand.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) February 22, 2022
Biden, who eased sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and fought against Congress acting on it any further, is not to blame for Russia feeling brave enough to advance on Ukraine. The full responsibility is placed squarely on the shoulders of Donald Trump, who is not in office and saw no Russian invasion of Ukraine at any point during his administration.
Here’s an example.
One thing worth keeping in my mind today: There’s a straight line from Russia’s attack on the US election in 2016 to 1/6 to today’s new invasion of Ukraine. The chaos that Russia unleashed with the election of Trump weakened us to the point Putin feels confident invading Europe.
— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) February 24, 2022
Because Trump was elected, America was thrown into chaos and that’s why Putin is invading Ukraine more than a year after Trump left office. Of course, John Harwood weighs in because Harwood believes in attacking Trump rather than acknowledging reality.
another way of stating Garrett's point:
the Russian thug now attacking Ukraine helped Donald Trump become president because he thought that would some day make this kind of attack easier to pull off
he was right in the short term
longer term, TBD https://t.co/HuRWEzMayR
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) February 24, 2022
Harwood is, of course, flirting once again with the theory that Russia got Trump elected rather than Hillary Clinton being so unsavory to voters that they chose Trump instead. But the argument portrayed here is that Trump destabilized the system so much that Americans had no choice but to elect a leader to replace him who was entirely incapable of dealing with the situation the world now finds itself in.
Let us be really clear here: The system was not all that destabilized. Trump was not as lax on Russia as the media and the left want you to believe. Was he acting perhaps a bit too friendly with Putin at various times? For my taste, at least. But he kept sanctions that were already in place and actually enacted more. For the most part, things went unchanged.
Putin’s designs on Ukraine have been forming for a decade or more, at least. However, it wasn’t Trump’s presidency that encouraged him to move ahead with his plans. In fact, it seemed as though he was hesitant to do anything while the arguably most unpredictable president in history was in charge. Trump’s attitude and agenda changed at times daily. You don’t mess with that kind of unpredictability, you avoid it.
So, what caused Putin to move ahead, then? Afghanistan.
That wasn’t Trump’s fault. That was Joe Biden, committed to his goal of getting troops out of Afghanistan before September 11 and not listening to his top military and intelligence advisers. The withdrawal was an incredible series of blunders, with Americans and allies still trapped in Afghanistan today. The country fell to the Taliban in days. It was a full-scale retreat, the kind of which looks disorganized and panicked.
Up until that point, it would have been unclear to the outside world how the U.S. would react to a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia had very little to fear from the rest of Europe. Germany was, at that point, still dependent on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and even when Russia backed the two Ukrainian “independent” states, the best Germany and France could do was muster up disappointment, despite the fact virtually everyone could see this as yet another pretext to Russia sending its forces in.
Europe was never going to be enough to deter Russian movement into Ukraine. It was always going to come down to whether or not the U.S. would be tough enough to deter it a bit longer. Afghanistan showed that we are not, and so Putin began speeding up his plans.
That’s not to say that Russia is doing this because of anything happening in Washington. It’s simply to say that the last barrier to doing it was the U.S. — and Biden completely tore down that barrier himself.
So, no, Russia didn’t get Trump elected, much less as part of a plan to take over Ukraine. And, no, Trump isn’t responsible for what’s happening now. Weak leadership in the U.S. at this very moment gave Putin all the confidence he needed.
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