May 29, 2024

Wary NATO leaders

The recent gathering of NATO’s leaders was one of celebration. Although major concerns remain due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the spirit of its people and effectiveness of its military make us believe they will prevail. Russia will be driven out, Ukraine will recover, rebuild and be a stronger, more independent nation than before. NATO, itself, is the strongest it’s ever been. The recent admission of Finland, and now Sweden, is remarkable since both had held out as neutral nations for decades.

Vladimir Putin definitely miscalculated with this invasion. He thought NATO was weak and wouldn’t challenge him. Instead, NATO has become powerful, and with Finland, 800 miles are now added to the border with Russia. Ukraine will also join the alliance when the war ends. It’s remarkable how good leadership by a competent and experienced president has restored and enhanced NATO’s unity and strength.

According to a bi-partisan Senate report, and the CIA, Russia helped Donald Trump became President in 2016. During the four years of Trump’s presidency, Putin built up Russia’s military, betting that his ally in the White House would be re-elected. When NATO leaders met this July in Helsinki, it was exactly five years to the day when then-President Trump appeared alongside Putin at the 2018 NATO summit. Reporter Jonathon Lemire asked Trump, “President Putin has denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did interfere. Who do you believe, and would you denounce what happened right here with the whole world watching, and warn President Putin never to do it again?”

Trump responded, “Dan Coates and others in our intelligence agencies think it was Russia. But I have President Putin here and he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be. And I will tell you he was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

When Sen. John McCain, who was dying of cancer, heard Trump’s answer, he said, “It was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Officials in Trump’s administration, the press and world leaders sat in stunned silence upon hearing such disloyal words from an American president. He continued for several more minutes launching into his predictable tirade about Hillary Clinton and her emails. Then he added, “President Putin has made an incredible offer to have his people come and help our people investigate.”

Trump’s aides were frantically warning him this offer was a trap, and they were more concerned than ever about his private two-hour conversation with Putin before the news conference. There is no written report or recording of this meeting between Trump and Putin because notetakers were deliberately excluded. Nor are there complete records of their regular phone calls.

Later in his presidency, and the start of the 2020 campaign, Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine. He told President Zelensky he must dig up dirt on Joe Biden before aid would be released. Trump’s actions resulted in his first impeachment. Unbelievably, he made the same sort of threat again last weekend, saying if elected, he would withhold further aid from Ukraine if House Republicans don’t follow through on investigating the Bidens. Obviously, he still doesn’t understand how dangerous Russia is to America’s security, and Ukraine’s importance in keeping us safe. Or maybe he doesn’t care.

Trump now boasts he could end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours if he becomes president again. His claim is frightening because he would, no doubt, try to withdraw aid to Ukraine with the support of his MAGA loyalists in Congress. He could pull out of NATO, or at least sabotage it similar to what he was doing before, and he would continue his mysterious loyalty to Putin. He’ll not be appointing Cabinet officials next time who challenge his dangerous policies, either. The experienced people he appointed at the beginning of his previous administration left early on, completely disillusioned by the incompetent Commander in Chief.

NATO is united now as never before, and members credit President Biden’s leadership. They remember what it was like when Trump was America’s president and they don’t want to experience it again. NATO countries are as wary of another Trump presidency as they are of Russia.