On world security, NATO and Germany’s rational response to Trump

REUTERS/Michaela Rehle
German Chancellor and head of the Christian Democratic Union Angela Merkel speaking during the Trudering festival in Munich on Sunday.

I’ll be 66 next month. I chose the time of my birth (1951) very shrewdly. I missed the Depression and World War II. Nothing as bad as that has happened to America or the world since. (Apologies here for whatever worse event you think I overlooked.)

My lifespan (so far) covers a lot of years during which the Western world, led by the United States, organized via NATO, has called most of the shots. Germany, which, during my parents’ lives, had borne much of the responsibility for two world wars, seemed to have figured out how to not do that anymore. (A German, born at the same time as I was, has also lived through many years of peace and prosperity, also featuring the miraculously peaceful reunification of East and West Germany.)

The Soviet Union (and its Eastern European empire organized under the Warsaw Pact), which for most of my life had played the role of chief boogeyman, actually ceased to exist, leaving behind a, by comparison, small, weak Russia that is freer and more democratic, at least relative to what it was in Soviet days. (That’s grading on the curve.)

I’m no fan nor apologist for U.S. imperialism. And the summary above, of course, overlooks many ups and downs. I worry about nuclear proliferation and potential environmental apocalypses. Acknowledging my good fortune reminds me to worry about those born in more dangerous, less prosperous places. But, after the two biggest wars in history, and the invention of (and first use of) atomic weapons, which occurred shortly before my birth, I feel lucky. (My generation was trained to “duck and cover” in case of nuclear attack. Luckily, we never had to do it.)

Now I have kids, so I worry about the future. And I don’t think I’ve ever been as worried as I am right now. It’s Donald Trump, of course, whose presidency seems to threaten many things I value (including the fate of the earth), and Vladimir Putin and his Russian revanchism, and the enigma of their relationship.

Merkel’s reaction to Trump

And now German Chancellor Angela Merkel has just announced that NATO must think about its future security without the same level of confidence in the longstanding explicit-but-now-ambiguous U.S. guarantee of mutual defense in case of an attack on any of the member states (and NATO members are now much more numerous and cover much more of Europe than in my youth).

After the NATO meeting at which Trump declined to make an explicit pledge, Merkel said Germany could no longer “fully rely” on the U.S. to help in case of attack.

Merkel rephrased her statement later to make it less insulting to Trump.

“The trans-Atlantic partnership is of outstanding importance, and what I said was merely meant to note that in view of the current situation there are more reasons … for us in Europe to take our fate into our own hands,” Merkel said.

Her rephrasing of her original comment didn’t change its actual meaning much, but attempted to make it less offensive to the U.S. I wish our president could see the benefit of rephrasing some of the things he says to make them less insulting to the world, including to our best allies.

A rational line of thinking

It’s a perfectly rational thing that Merkel said. If the U.S. guarantee is less ironclad, Europe may have to up its game, militarily. And, although Trump reacted with Twitterly annoyance, and although other members of his administration have tried to make a more explicit pledge to stand by the NATO allies if they are attacked, Trump should nonetheless be pleased since he has been complaining bitterly that too many NATO members have failed to reach the goal of spending 2 percent of GDP annually on their military.

Personally, I think Trump is on perfectly defensible ground in complaining about NATO members who don’t reach the spending target. (He’s on less solid ground when he implies that the underspenders owe years of make-up spending. But we can just chalk that up to his adorable great-deal-maker negotiating style.)

It was also really, really not cool to create any doubt about U.S. willingness to keep its commitment to the NATO allies. It’s not just insulting. Weakening the guarantee also could create doubt in the mind of any adversary, most likely Russia, who was thinking of violating the borders of any NATO members, including the three – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – that border Russia and are former Soviet republics.

But – and here’s  what I started out to say – it actually makes me a little nervous for Germany to head down this path of greater militarization. I’m not worried that Merkel will turn into the next Hitler. Not even slightly. I rate her solid and sane. But in the now seven-plus decades since World War II, the demilitarized version of Germany has mostly been a model citizen of the world. It’s hard to know what more Germany could have done to assure the world that it was over its military aggressiveness.

Great powers may eventually express power

And I’d like to tone down any implication that there is some flaw in the collective DNA of Germany. But I do think that, in the big scheme of history, great powers eventually find a way to express their great power, very often in acts of military imperialism. (It’s true of the United States.)

When I was young and we were taught that World War I was caused by a Serb nationalist in Sarajevo assassinating the heir to the Hapsburg throne. But why on earth would the world go to war over that? It’s a complicated house of cards to explain how that happened, and ultimately, one realizes, what happened was not the cause but the excuse for a war that Germany sort of wanted.

When I was older I learned a more sophisticated cause. The phrase was “unexpressed German power.” The theory went like this: Because Germany was formed in the late 19th century out of Prussia and several smaller Germanic states, after smaller, weaker powers colonized the Third World, Germany needed to express its power by dominating Europe.

It would be a silly oversimplification to imply that if the recently reunified, rich and powerful Germany, built up its military power it would start invading its neighbors. But I do believe that when countries become more powerful, that power may eventually get “expressed.” Something in there explains why the notion of Germany increasing its military power makes me nervous.

Comments (26)

  1. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 05/31/2017 - 11:35 am.

    Change in Republicans

    The Germans would also be rational to think that what they see in Trumpnis a permanent change in Republicans, so that even when Trump is gone, Republican presidents will warm up to dictators and turn away from democratic allies. That means the West will be thing that includes the US only when Democrats are in charge. Nothing Democrats can do will assure our allies that this isn’t true. Only Republicans can show them that Trumpism is past.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 05/31/2017 - 12:32 pm.

      Perhaps

      Trump is not a typical Republican. He has his liberal ties as well and is not afraid to rankle anyone.
      Elections are coming up for Merkel and she needs to stay in the headlines so her statement is not surprising because she is getting pressure from the more progressive side plus a new conservative party. She has done many things lately that has ticked off Germans and many in Europe.

      The thing is, she doesn’t have to like Trump. But she, and NATO, needs him. He is not going to bail on them. He’s even said that many times. But true to many, once you have the US government pay for things and then have it taken away, instead of being grateful that our country has provided the far majority of the financial mean (for decades in this case), it’s easier to criticize than actually provide a solution.

      It also doesn’t help in that this piece is just another hit piece based upon personal feelings and a continued hatred for our current president. The specter of the Soviet Union was very real for Europeans during the Cold War. They wanted to take over Europe. If they could not take it, they would have leveled it with nukes. That’s why Reagan was tough with the SDI (‘Star Wars’) and the Soviets despised that because it was a great barrier with what they wanted. Russia and it’s past is still a worrisome proposition for Europeans. The takeover of Crimea is a shining example with a premise that Hitler used to annex the Sudenland prior to WWII.

      • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 05/31/2017 - 01:17 pm.

        At his present rate,

        The hatred for this president will only expand exponentially. He is not Reagan.

      • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/31/2017 - 01:26 pm.

        Why do Trump supporters tend to use highly-charged and violent negative terms like “hatred” to describe criticisms of Trump’s actions and words? This is part of the problem of our political discourse, which Trump supporters think should normally include violent suggestions about shooting an opposing candidate (Trump’s Second Amendment people remark about Hillary Clinton being taken care of) or jailing her for some unknown crime. Corralling the press at public rallies like animals, physically ejecting them, or denying American press entry to meetings where Russian press is admitted. Not helpful.

        I can’t forget Pope Francis’s face in photographs of his brief meeting with Donald Trump. The pontiff could not manage a smile, during the entire photo session. Glum. And he’s a man who tries to see the best in everyone; what couldn’t he see in our President?

        I also can’t forget how crude and personally violent Trump was when he shoved the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside at the NATO meeting, so Trump could get in front of the group of officials. Trump shoved the man, didn’t look him in the face but went on to “his” spot, straightened his jacket and “smiled for the camera.” Trump was oblivious to the presence of everyone else; he didn’t even look any one of those leaders in the eye! I was never so ashamed for a president in all my years. You’ll remember, too: Trump refused to shake hands with Angela Merkel when she visited Washington early in Trump’s presidency.

        I also saw how Trump has the bully’s habit of shaking someone’s hand by sharply tugging at that person’s arm, pulling them off balance and toward him as an act of physical domination–he tried it with the newly-elected French president, who is half his age, though, and limber and who was able to counter Trump’s pull very effectively. In addition to the other, white-knuckle handshake that Macron delivered in response to Trump’s roughness. I won’t mention Trump’s need to be driven around in a golf cart where all the rest of NATO and G-7 leaders walked and talked together.

        Nobody but the Saudis and other Middle Eastern despots, and the Israelis, came away from their encounter with Trump with positive views (the American press is omitting quotations of the European press on Trump’s visit; the views are truly damning!)

        I don’t know when Trump supporters here will realize that most of the world is repelled by what they see and hear from Donald Trump. It’s not just American Democrats or the independent press.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/31/2017 - 02:41 pm.

          Haters Gonna . . . No, I Can’t Say It

          “Why do Trump supporters tend to use highly-charged and violent negative terms like “hatred” to describe criticisms of Trump’s actions and words?” It isn’t just Trump supporters. Calling critics “haters” is a common thing for some (not all) conservatives. I think it stems from an absolute certainty that they are right. There can be no reasonable or even rational disagreement with what their person says–it must be some kind of personal animus. Do you disagree with something they say? You can’t be right; in fact, it is completely unreasonable for you to feel the way that you do. It must be because you hate Trump (or whoever). There can be no other explanation.

          Trump’s bullying and petty aggression is a feature, not a bug. It’s called “being honest” and “saying what he means.” The fact that it is also behavior that would be punished in most children (hatred?) is overlooked.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/01/2017 - 07:17 am.

            I think I saw it before

            “Calling critics “haters” is a common thing for some (not all) conservatives. I think it stems from an absolute certainty that they are right. There can be no reasonable or even rational disagreement with what their person says–it must be some kind of personal animus. Do you disagree with something they say? You can’t be right; in fact, it is completely unreasonable for you to feel the way that you do. It must be because you hate Trump (or whoever). There can be no other explanation.” Why does this sound so familiar? OK, now I remember, people who disagreed with Obama could not have had any rational motive for that so they must have been racists Obama-haters and xenophobes…

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/01/2017 - 09:35 am.

              Obama Hatred

              While I do not doubt that there was opposition to President Obama’s policies driven by good faith differences, the reflexive, vitriolic nature of that opposition cannot help but lead one to the conclusion that it was fueled or informed by racism.

              • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/01/2017 - 10:38 am.

                Starting with

                someone’s ‘birther’ campaign.
                What goes around ….

                • Submitted by Arthur Swenson on 06/04/2017 - 08:59 am.

                  Principled Objection

                  And continuing with the stated objective of the Senate Majority Leader to “Make Obama a one-term President.” Followed up by consistent Republican opposition to every Obama proposal — even those he cribbed from the Republicans (ie: Affordable Care Act).

                  I can’t believe that a “good ol’ boy” like Mitch would never say or do anything based on racism, hypocrisy, or self-interest. He’s so public-spirited.

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/02/2017 - 07:30 am.

                A quote from today MinnPost piece about townhall meetings: “Harkins says the vitriol of the 2017 round of town halls has more in common with 1994 than anything else. The Iraq War and Obamacare town halls centered around issues, he said. This climate, he says, is characterized by “true personal animus.” So, as you can see, with Obama it was about issues, not race, while with Trump it is about Trump and hatred of him. So saying that “the reflexive, vitriolic nature of that opposition cannot help but lead one to the conclusion that it was fueled or informed by racism” is exactly what you spelled out in your previous post (“I think it stems from an absolute certainty that they are right. There can be no reasonable or even rational disagreement with what their person says–it must be some kind of personal animus. Do you disagree with something they say? You can’t be right; in fact, it is completely unreasonable for you to feel the way that you do.”)

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/02/2017 - 11:10 am.

                  Oh Say, Can I See?

                  “So, as you can see, with Obama it was about issues, not race, while with Trump it is about Trump and hatred of him.” I see nothing of the kind. What you are quoting is one person’s opinion.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/01/2017 - 07:16 am.

          Laugh or cry

          I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry. So “why do Trump supporters tend to use highly-charged and violent negative terms like “hatred” to describe criticisms of Trump’s actions and words? This is part of the problem of our political discourse, which Trump supporters think should normally include violent suggestions.” Well, first, because “the hatred for this president will only expand exponentially.” Second, because holding what seems to be a severed bloody Trump’s head or shooting Trump in a video is hard to classify any other way but hate. And third, because people had been called Obama-haters and Clinton-haters (and many other loaded terms) for the last nine years non-stop. OK, laughing is healthier so I will choose it over crying…

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/31/2017 - 07:59 pm.

      The increasing hostility of Republicans toward Europe has been present for decades. Trump is merely the next example in the spiral. Remember “freedom fries” ?

      So, of course, a part-time ally is an unreliable ally. Especially when the timing of your “ally” depends on vicissitudes of elections and current doses of propaganda.

  2. Submitted by Patrick Tice on 05/31/2017 - 12:01 pm.

    History will mark the Trump presidency

    …as the turning point in the decline of American influence. It will now cease to be a given that other nations will support our military adventures, and other leaders will emerge, Germany in Europe and China in Asia. But that’s not all: In broad areas of knowledge and industry the USA will be eclipsed by nations that embrace science and education. There will be leaders in bioengineering, renewable energy, transportation, health and healthcare, and climate science – but the United States will struggle with a massive, ill-educated, superstitious, under-employed, and sicker underclass and be hamstrung with outdated infrastructure that has been sacrificed to support massive military spending for far too long. It may well be that we are already too far along this road to ever be that singular leader again.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/01/2017 - 07:18 am.

      “History will mark the Trump presidency as the turning point in the decline of American influence. It will now cease to be a given that other nations will support our military adventures, and other leaders will emerge, Germany in Europe and China in Asia.” First, American influence has significantly declined in the last eight years and other leaders have emerged – Russia, China, Iran… Second, other countries have supported our military “adventures” not because they loved America but because they thought it was in their own interests (that is how it usually works in the world). And finally, isn’t it good that American “adventures” will not be supported (I would guess that the word “adventure” assumes something not helpful) and that the world would become multi-polar?

      “But that’s not all: In broad areas of knowledge and industry the USA will be eclipsed by nations that embrace science and education… It may well be that we are already too far along this road to ever be that singular leader again.” So that could have happened just in four months?

      • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/01/2017 - 07:03 pm.

        I hope Ilya pays more attention to the details of Trump’s budget proposals! In them, he slashes through and almost destroys complete.ly proven-effective programs in environmental research (and they whole research page of the EPA is gone from the website!), education, the department of the interior, public service entities like NPR and the NEA and NEH, the Center for Disease Control and the National Health Insitute, not to speak of the hundreds of millions (about $1.4 billion) from Medicaid alone! Does Ilya realize how many elderly living in nursing homes as they near death are on Medicaid completely? How many US children are on Medicaid?

        Those of us who follow these details at all realize the harm that Donald Trump is doing domestically, with policies that he hasn’t got the time or attention-span to comprehend. Internationally he’s considered a disaster area in everything. Do presidents get away with “winging it” just because they got elected?

        Much damage has been done to our country by this man. In a bit more than four months’ time.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/31/2017 - 01:02 pm.

    Guns do not provide security

    I’ll be 73 in August. Aside from family-specific details, my own story is not radically different from Eric’s. I learned to “duck and cover” in elementary school, as well, though of course, as adults, we’re all aware that ducking and covering would have done nothing to protect us. I’ve been very fortunate to grow up in the post-World War II United States, enjoying the prosperity and freedom that Americans all pretty much take for granted.

    For the sake of argument, I’ll just suggest that we might all be better off, Germans, Americans, Chinese, Russians, French, British, Japanese, etc. if NO country was spending 2% of its GDP on its military, especially the United States. Our military capabilities are greater than any conceivable enemy state by several orders of magnitude, but that hasn’t stopped non-state terrorist organizations and individuals from figuratively thumbing their noses at those capabilities. Spending even more on military capabilities won’t necessarily make this society any more safe for its citizens.

    If Mr. Trump knew anything about history, and of course, he does not, he’d be aware that much of world and/or international stability relies and depends upon trust. Nothing he did as a candidate, and nothing he’s done since taking office, suggests that Donald Trump is trustworthy. Ms. Merkel, in saying that Europe may have to look after itself, is simply making a reasoned and somewhat self-protective statement in response to Trumpian bellicosity. The security of her own people is something she’s charged with maintaining by her own campaign and election.

    What makes me nervous is not just the notion of Germany increasing its military power, though history suggests that at least some degree of concern about that might be a rational response. I’m also made nervous by the possibility of forcing the Japanese, the Russians, the French, the British, and all the industrial societies of the world that have grown and prospered since World War II to do much the same thing: arm themselves more thoroughly and expensively. Increasing the militarization of the industrial nations of the world is not a recipe for a peaceful future for my children and grandchildren.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/01/2017 - 07:19 am.

      History and politics

      “For the sake of argument, I’ll just suggest that we might all be better off, Germans, Americans, Chinese, Russians, French, British, Japanese, etc. if NO country was spending 2% of its GDP on its military, especially the United States.” Sure, and we would be better off if all countries give up ALL their weapons and stop fighting; we would be even better off if ALL people give up violence and start helping poor and sick… But since we can’t expect ISIS, Russia, China, Iran, etc. to give up their weapons, shouldn’t we try to be much stronger so they don’t have even an inclination to attack? And yes, ISIS attacks anyway but isn’t it because it was considered JV at some time by some people?

      “If Mr. Trump knew anything about history, and of course, he does not, he’d be aware that much of world and/or international stability relies and depends upon trust.” So Britain and France relied once on trust that Hitler would not attack them if they give him Czechoslovakia… Clinton relied on trust that North Korea would stop its nuclear program… And Obama relied on trust that Russia would not go to Ukraine and Syria, that Syria would give up its chemical weapons, and that Iran would become a good citizen of the world after allowing to proceed with its business of building nukes… I have many more examples of relying on trust but I think it’s enough…

      “Nothing he did as a candidate, and nothing he’s done since taking office, suggests that Donald Trump is trustworthy.” I would say that practically all Middle East countries figured out that Obama was not trustworthy so they are happy now to have Trump… I would also guess that Ukraine didn’t find Obama particularly trustworthy either… On the other hand, Europe got Obama’s help in making Libya a failed state…

      “Ms. Merkel, in saying that Europe may have to look after itself, is simply making a reasoned and somewhat self-protective statement in response to Trumpian bellicosity.” I thought it was bad that America spends so much on military and gets involved everywhere… maybe now we won’t need to do it….

      “I’m also made nervous by the possibility of forcing the Japanese, the Russians, the French, the British, and all the industrial societies of the world that have grown and prospered since World War II to do much the same thing: arm themselves more thoroughly and expensively.” It seems to me that the Russians (and the Chinese) have been doing it for quite a while now and that Japanese are forced to do it by North Korea, not Trump… And the French and the British, by spending more on their military, may save us some money to help the elderly and the sick…

  4. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 05/31/2017 - 04:44 pm.

    Continuing to dig

    Many people have a hard time seeing the US as an “imperial power” or as being “imperialistic.” To me, it’s been pretty hard to deny after the Iraq War. And it seems to explain a lot of what didn’t happen after the dissolving of the USSR in 1990. The US could have declared victory and a huge “peace dividend” finally beating the swords into plowshares after a half of a century of Cold War.

    The US did not declare any peace dividend. Instead, “we” kept on doing exactly what we had before only more so, looking for new enemies or creating new bogeymen to justify our war expenditures. “Our”leaders (often covertly) took steps to project “our” power around the globe, including through NATO where it invited the new former Soviet satellites (and former Warsaw Pact countries) like Poland, the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, etc. into NATO extending a military alliance right next to Russia’s borders. We undertook several military actions, like the First Gulf War, or like our military action in Panama to remove Panama Dictator Noriega, to project “our” global superiority. That pretty much defines the self-expression of a great power.

    Pretty much everything bad that has happened in the last 27 years can be seen as “blowback” from “our” actions aimed at projecting “us” as a global power. To name a few: the rise of ISIS, the failed states and civil wars in the Middle East with the resulting flow of refugees into Europe, the rise of militant Islam, and having a dictator like Putin in power in Russia. We missed our chance to declare victory and go home 27 years ago. Is it too late to ask: at what point do we stop digging ourselves further into a hole?

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/02/2017 - 07:32 am.

      America’s fault?

      “”Our”leaders (often covertly) took steps to project “our” power around the globe, including through NATO where it invited the new former Soviet satellites (and former Warsaw Pact countries) like Poland, the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, etc. into NATO extending a military alliance right next to Russia’s borders.” I think it was the other way around – those countries asked to join NATO…

      “We undertook several military actions, like the First Gulf War, or like our military action in Panama to remove Panama Dictator Noriega, to project “our” global superiority.” So we should have let Saddam have his Kuwait? Interesting… And a short action in Panama can hardly be a sign of “global superiority.”

      “Pretty much everything bad that has happened in the last 27 years can be seen as “blowback” from “our” actions aimed at projecting “us” as a global power.” Here we go again – everything bad in the world is the result of American actions… Seriously?

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/31/2017 - 05:18 pm.

    Power — economic and military

    To follow up on Ray’s post–
    Right now Germany is concentrating on building its economic power, and doing quite well at it. It is helped by not siphoning off part of its GDP on ‘beautiful’ weapons which are failures in proportion to their cost (hitting a softball target with a known trajectory is not proof of the effectiveness of an antimissile system, and the failures of the F-35 and littoral combat ship are well known).

    Our war history is winning by overwhelming numbers of men and weapons, not excellence of performance, in which the Germans excel (the Russians are the same). If the Germans were compelled to build up a more powerful military, I’m sure that they would do as good a job as they have in the past. Since Trump’s friends the Russians operate a much smaller nation than the old USSR, they would have trouble matching a militarized Germany, which would dominate the Eurasian continent.
    Fortunately, the Germans have learned the hazards of this path, and having read their history, are not likely to repeat its mistakes.

  6. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/01/2017 - 07:21 am.

    What should we be afraid of

    I, like Mr. Black, had lived through the times of threats of a nuclear mushroom and was trained, with all others, in civil defense… I just don’t remember many people taking it seriously. Anyway, my first question would be why we need to worry about “Vladimir Putin and his Russian revanchism” if he leads “a small, weak Russia that is freer and more democratic” than the USSR? Is it Trump who made things worse because I remember that Obama made fun of Romney’s warning about Russia and then, along with Clinton, tried to “reset” things with Putin?

    Apparently, Merkel now thinks that Europe must pay more attention to its own security from now on. Isn’t it great considering that Europe couldn’t deal with Libya without America so shouldn’t they do it even if American guarantee is ironclad? First, it shows that Trump is fulfilling his campaign promise that Europe will not be able to mooch off the US anymore. And second, if she follows her words, it may help us save some money in the future that we can use somewhere else. At the moment, Trump seems not to believe that Merkel’s promise much (and neither do I since it will take reducing their living standards and welfare – defense costs a lot of money which doesn’t grow on trees) but I am willing to wait.

    Now about creating “doubt in the mind of any adversary, most likely Russia.” I am afraid that this doubt has long been created by our previous president – in Ukraine, Syria, and Iran… and before that in Egypt, Israel, and Iraq… By not helping the allies and letting enemies reign supreme. Not cool at all…

    And finally, about Germany. Even though I have some doubts about Merkel’s sanity (letting unlimited number of refugees in was pretty insane), I agree that she is not going to be the next Hitler (and neither will be Mr. Trump, by the way). As for German power, I really hope that it will not be only Germany that would spend more on the defense, but also France, Italy, Spain, and all other countries out there that used to live happily under American nuclear umbrella while still demonstrating against Pershing missiles intended to protect them from the Soviet Union when it was much stronger…

    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 06/01/2017 - 12:30 pm.

      I’ve been confused by this conservative argument: “Is it Trump who made things worse because I remember that Obama made fun of Romney’s warning about Russia and then, along with Clinton, tried to “reset” things with Putin?”

      I fully agree that that Obama miscalculated regarding Putin. I don’t see how one makes the leap from that to the Trump position that we should cater even more to Putin. It seems to me the more rational response to what occurred under Obama would be sustained pushback against Russian interference in elections here and in France, aggression in Ukraine, their meddling in Syria, and their threatening activities in the Baltics.

      Yet, here we sit. President Trump is going to roll back some of the sanctions Obama placed on Russia for their hacking, he hasn’t deviated notably from Obama positions on Ukraine or Syria (and the only signs of movement there have been in the direction of the Russian position), and he’s continued to hint that the U.S. may not honor NATO Article 5.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/02/2017 - 07:32 am.

        I never said that we need to cater to Putin’s position and I don’t think Trump does. If anything, he is saying that we have to deal and negotiate with Putin, which is practically the same as Obama was saying about Iran… I was actually trying to show that liberals should not be upset with Trump’s position because they supported Obama’s position which was totally wrong.

        “It seems to me the more rational response to what occurred under Obama would be sustained pushback against Russian interference in elections here and in France, aggression in Ukraine, their meddling in Syria, and their threatening activities in the Baltics.” Trump at least fired at Syrian forces, the thing Obama was afraid to do. And how is interference in election worse than aggression in Ukraine and Syria?

  7. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/01/2017 - 08:48 am.

    While there is little apparent gag-reflex with respect to Russia/Trump connections among the GOP membership, the rest of the world has not been so well trained to swallow whatever is served up by Trump.

    If there are multiple reports of multiple members of the Trump troupe that have actively sought out public and secret connections with Putin’s Russia without any sort of equivalent outreach effort to European allies, why wouldn’t would a rational European think Trump’s interests are more aligned with Russia?

    Add in the active dissing of NATO. When you remember that NATOs primary purpose is to oppose Russian expansionism, which Germany has experienced directly in the post WW2 era, the signs of a stacked deck in Russia’s favor are pretty clear.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/01/2017 - 09:48 am.

      Remember that all of our European allies have well-developed independent intelligence services with their own sources around the world that are not hobbled by the Trump troupe. Their leaders have a much clearer view of what the Trump troupe is up to than what we have via our politicized Justice Department services and media.

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