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Richard Stengel on how Trump has repositioned key U.S. values

Richard Stengel
REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine
Richard Stengel, former Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2014 to 2016, was in Minneapolis on Tuesday to give talks about his latest book.

Donald Trump has fundamentally repositioned the United States on a number of principles that have been fundamentals of U.S. policies, ranging from the importance of the spread of democracy and freedom in the world to the structure and priority of U.S. key U.S. alliances like NATO, to even the idea of principles themselves, or at least whether any of them are worth preserving if they conflict with short-term Trumpian goals, a former high-ranking State Department official and former top editor of Time magazine told me in an interview yesterday.

Richard (Rick) Stengel, former Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2014 to 2016, was in Minneapolis to give talks about his latest book, “Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It,” just published last month, and gave a talk last night at the Minneapolis Central Library downtown.

But because of his State Department experience, specifically in the field of public diplomacy, I wanted to ask him about how dramatically Trump has repositioned the public diplomacy of the United States in fundamental areas from the kind of values that the United States has promoted internationally ever since its rise as a world power.


In an interview before his public presentation, he was blunt and very critical. For example, he said:

“The Trump administration has been a disaster for the traditional values of American public diplomacy that have had America standing for things like freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. These have been tenets of American public diplomacy since before the Cold War.”

I asked him for examples. He went straight to the new normal, which is also the heart of the impeachment matter. He said:

”One of the things that’s kind of soul-destroying about [Trump’s] call with [Ukraine’s President Volodymyr] Zelenskiy, is that once upon a time we were asking Ukraine to do more about corruption, be more democratic, to lean west rather than toward Russia. But he wasn’t asking for any of those things. That phone call itself showed the president of the United States being completely transactional.”

Stengel referred to the call, in which Trump was asking for a favor that would help him politically in exchange for the release of military aid that Ukraine needed desperately to defend itself from Russia.

“Look, it wasn’t like we were always angelic” or didn’t understand that not all politics is about doing the right thing for the right reason. But Stengel recalled an African diplomat saying to him: “You come and talk to me about transparency and human rights. The Chinese come and build me a highway.” But, Stengel said, “Our foreign policy has never been transactional in that way, the way that the Trump administration seems to be about.”

For example, he said, it was a fundamental principle within the NATO alliance that if any NATO member is attacked, all members do everything to defend it. This is made clear in Article 5 of the alliance. But the power of that guarantee is so respected that, in the decades-long history of the alliance, with one exception, no NATO country has been attacked, because any attacker understands that they will face the unified might of all members.

The one exception was after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. And, he said, “We received all requested help from all NATO countries.”

That’s why Stengel called it “mindboggling” to have a president, like Trump, who not only criticizes other NATO partners but talks about the NATO alliance as useless and/or defunct.

Trump has disparaged several NATO members, which undermines the cohesion and power of NATO, and invites potential adversaries to wonder whether the guarantee that an attack on any member will be treated as an attack against all members, as they have previously believed.


Ukraine is not a NATO member, although there has been talk of adding it to the list. The small Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — like Ukraine, former Soviet Republics — were added as NATO members, and Russia hasn’t dared invade them, although Russian propaganda sometimes suggests that the West would not defend them if Russia attacked. There has been talk of adding Ukraine to the alliance, which would surely be a warning to Russia.

For decades, the number of democracies in the world has grown, and the United States has encouraged that growth. But, Stengel said, Trump has “accelerated this idea that the United States is no longer in the democracy-promotion business. It is in the business of ‘America First.’” Stengel called that a “false choice,” adding:

“Whatever Trump means by ‘America First,’ I would argue that promoting democracy, the rule of law, modernism and a globalized world is in the interest of the United States. We benefit from free trade, the universal rule of law, from countries [democratically] choosing their leaders. … Among the reasons that the U.S. economy remains buoyant is that we benefit from the multilateral world that we helped create” in which the number of democracies has grown fairly steadily for decades, and, as the leader the world’s democracies, the spread of democracy adds to what is called the “soft power” of the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who believes the growth of democracy is bad for him, has “started a rear-guard action to combat that trend,” Stengel said, which isn’t that surprising. But it is very surprising that “we now have a president of the United States who seems to think that democracy isn’t necessarily the best system.

“Finding common cause with Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia even after the assassination of [Washington Post journalist] Jamal Khashoggi is clearly not democracy promotion. Siding with [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s designs in that part of Syria [until recently controlled by Kurds who were working with the United States] is not either. …

“Certainly appearances suggest that there’s some affinity and connection there,” Stengel added. “I have a chapter in my book about times that candidate Donald Trump seemed to eerily mirror what Putin and other [undemocratic figures] were saying. …”

We ended our discussion on the subject of past and possible future interference by Russia in U.S. elections. Said Stengel:

“My book is partially about how Russia interfered in our last election, an act of cyber warfare. I tell people: Don’t call it ‘meddling.’ That sounds too minor. Call it ‘a hostile attack.’ Any other administration would have spent billions of dollars to prepare itself, to fortify itself to prevent the in-flow of disinformation, to prevent acts of cyber warfare against our election infrastructure. Again, part of the evidence of this administration’s attitude about our democracy is that it has ignored it all, particularly what Russia is doing in terms of disinformation in preparation for 2020. That’s also a terrible mistake and could be tragic for the country. The first priority of any president is to defend the United States from foreign attack. Donald Trump seems to have abdicated that most basic responsibility of his office.”

Comments (45)

  1. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/13/2019 - 09:37 am.

    Mr Stengel does not seem to care as much about “freedom and democracy” as much as he desires another cold or maybe a hot war against nuclear Russia.

    When Mr Stengel talks about freedom and democracy, what is he refering to really? The right of our corporations, banks and billionaires to not only operate in every country, but to write the rules by which they operate. That has nothing at all to do with freedom and democracy for the people living in these countries, any more than we American citizens control our government compared to how corporations, banks and billionaires dictate the rules we live by.

    • Submitted by George Kimball on 11/13/2019 - 10:52 am.

      You mislead by blatantly injecting your own alleged ulterior or suspect “motivations” for Mr Stengel’s positions. His call for Trump and the U.S. to protect itself against illegal cyber intervention into our election system is, to most, a good and important warning. It seems to be a simple and straightforward appeal, with the motivation of only protecting our democracy and freedom.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/13/2019 - 11:25 am.

        Most of what Mr Stengel is talking about is not protecting our elections. He is repeating a narrative that is fundamentally about protecting the Washington Consensus, not freedom and democracy. Even that last paragraph is about ratcheting up hostilities, not as much about protecting elections, or even getting serious about what actually happened in 2016.

        I just heard Mr Kent in the impeachment hearing say he had never heard of Crowdstrike until recently. Crowdstrike is a private security company that operates regularly with American gov, the first entity to declare Russia as the perpetrator in hacking the DNC and Hillary campaign, the foundation of these allegations. He said Crowdstrike is Russian owned. It is Ukranian owned. These statements I can assure you are outright and deliberate lies. Which pretty much typifies official Washington.

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/13/2019 - 11:09 am.

      Mr Stengel in fact sounds exactly like Mr Taylor and Mr Kent. Russia is the great evil, America is the manifestation of good. Never mind that the narrative they are repeating has only the most tenuous connection to any truth.

      The Narrative: Russia invaded Ukraine.

      More like the truth: America orchestrated a covert regime change color revolution, removing a democratically elected government and effectively appointing a gov favorable to America and Europe. Neo-nazi elements in this new gov started talking about and acting out violence against ethnic Russians in east Ukraine. Russia stepped in to prevent the killing of ethnic Russians.

      Russia wants a new empire, ie Russian Aggression:

      More like the truth: Russia wants stable countries on it’s border, it does not want America and NATO to ring-fence Russia. We have been expanding NATO to Russia’s border though we said we wouldn’t. We have invaded countries and perpetrated regime change all over the world, Russia has not. Russia is the crown jewel in regime changge doctrine of the Washington Consensus. Russia is defending itself from America more than it is being aggressive.

      Starting here, most of what flows out of official Washington sounds like propaganda (calculated and deliberate lies) for the benefit of American Empire, with all the talk about democracy and freedom sounding hollow and empty.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/14/2019 - 09:27 am.

        Pro-Russia positioning now huh? While your timeline is slower than most, the end game is the same. It’s good to show the strategies evolving in real (albeit slow motion in your case) time.

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/14/2019 - 11:35 am.

          I am not pro-Russia anywhere near as much as I am anti-war profiteering and anti-imperialism.

          While I would not like to live under the rule of Russian Oligarchs/Mafia, or the Chinese Authoritarian Communist Gov, I chafe too at the Oligarch/Plutocratic State of America, our favouring Banks, corporations and billionaires over regular people, our polluting the land and waters, our eternal war machine and our unaccountable “Deep State”.

      • Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 11/14/2019 - 02:26 pm.

        Labeling an opinions as “facts” does not make them so.

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/14/2019 - 03:59 pm.

          And sometimes Jim, inconvenient facts get labeled as opinion just because someone doesn’t care to hear it.

      • Submitted by David Blair on 11/27/2019 - 09:19 am.

        Look at the NGO’s that have been meddling with these nations. And who is funding them?

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 11/13/2019 - 09:25 pm.

      William, the ONLY legislation of any significance that the Trump-publicans have passed in 3 years was a massive tax cut that primarily benefits the “corporations, banks, and billionaires” that you rail against in pretty much every post.

      And the tax cuts they received are written into the legislation as permanent tax cuts, while the crumbs given to ordinary middle class folks in terms of tax breaks, are temporary, and are set to expire in 2025!

      If you were actually at all concerned about “corporations, banks, and billionaires” having too much influence. as you constantly claim, you would not oppose as you do over and over in your posts those who are trying to oppose Trump and the Trump-publican party

      (I say ‘Trump-publican’ because the party has abandoned many of it’s own core values in an abject and shameless surrender to a narcissistic reality TV show host).

      And news flash for you – Trump himself claims to be a billionaire, as is his commerce secretary Ross, and in fact 17 members of his cabinet and his children are multi-millionaires, 2 being worth more than a 100 million – it’s very much a one-percenters club.

      So if you’re truly telling us the rich are ruining this country, you can stop attacking those trying to oppose Trump and the Trump-publican cause any day now.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/14/2019 - 09:23 am.

        What good does it do to get on the side of people who are trying to remove Trump if those same people support policies that give corporations, banks and billionaires priority over regular citizens?

        Trump won because he listened to the concerns of the working class. Whether or not he has done anything to help them, I myself have said he hasn’t.

        By contrast, Dem policies have favored banks, billionaires and corporations, while many a Dem snears at the working class as backwards deplorables, racist, xenophobic; lecturing them about dealing with changing economics by changing careers from high pay manufacturing to low pay gig and service; and otherwise shrugging their shoulders and condescending about worsening prospects for the working class – that’s just the way it is.

        Republicans too have a thing about hating on the poor. I’m not defending either party, I’m calling a spade a spade.

        And about this impeachment, I consider it a sham built on false pretenses, reactionary emotion, less logic or sense and even less connected to the law. It is Dems getting in bed with the totally unaccountable Intelligence Community, the Eternal War Machine and the rogue “policy community” aka deep state, and corporate media, orchestrating an attempted coup/regime change of a sitting, elected US President.

        • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/14/2019 - 11:13 am.

          Mr. Duncan needs to realize that, as of a couple of weeks ago, Trump’s administration has spent more in subsidies to farmers whose income has tanked due to his tariffs, than Obama’s administration spent on rescuing all the big banks and financial insitutions to save us all from the Great Recession.

          So Trump gets away with solving a problem that he himself caused. No one else.(Trump does this kind of con job a lot, only noticed by those of us who are actually watching.)

          Oh, he’s a great president, ain’t he?

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/14/2019 - 03:57 pm.

            “Trump’s administration has spent more in subsidies to farmers whose income has tanked due to his tariffs, than Obama’s administration spent on rescuing all the big banks and financial insitutions to save us all from the Great Recession.”

            Trump spent about 20 billion or so helping out farmers this year. Not just because of the trade wars, but because of record flooding in the breadbasket.

            TARP, the initial payment to save the financial industry was more than 700 billion. Add in QE by the Fed, another 4.5 TRILLION. Some experts have suggested the total is much higher.

            Like Mr Bernstein suggested, opinions are not facts. And sometimes, a fact offered just turns out to be opinion.

            • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/15/2019 - 09:54 am.

              Seems folks have a different set of facts: $15.3 B. PROFIT from TARP. Ironically TARP was a program that was shared by the republicans and the democrats. And more ironic, it was profitable. More ironic yet, seems this is what happens when folks decide to work together instead of against each other over idealistic BS.
              https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=US+Governemnt+cost+or+profit+from+TARP+

              • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/15/2019 - 04:04 pm.

                Mr. Wagner’s clarification is important: TARP made money for the U.S. Treasury–directly! The money to farmers is down the drain.

                • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/16/2019 - 05:34 pm.

                  Curious that neither of you mentioned the 4.5 trillion given to the big banks and institutions by the Fed. How do you think the TARP money was paid back to the Treasury?

                  • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/16/2019 - 06:50 pm.

                    WHD, the loans to the banks were paid back with interest, end result a profit. Perhaps you should research it a little deeper (you were provided the link), How does the Fed say we made a profit if the banks never paid the principle back? More of that deep state stuff? Guess that would mean Trumps $1T/Year deficits are really positive cash flow and the National debt has shrunk so far that we are actually putting money in the bank? The question then becomes why/how is there still a market for T bills and why is Trump banging on the fed? Looks like great right wing conspiracy math to me.

                    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/18/2019 - 01:06 pm.

                      Dennis,

                      I worked at Wells Fargo in 2012 in the bowels of the Home Mortgage Dept. Guess what we did? Packaged hundreds of thousands of mortgages in foreclosure to sell to the Fed, Fanny and Freddy for 100 cents on the dollar. That was part of the QE $4.5 TRILLION handed out by the Fed. What did Wells Fargo do with that money? Besides paying fat bonuses to execs, they paid off their TARP loans.

                      You can call that a “profit” or a “right wing conspiracy” if you like, and accuse me of not doing my homework, but in reality that is just socialism for corporations and banks and austerity/you-don’t-matter, for you and me and every other regular citizen. Oh, and I would say your argument is about saying Obama’s economics were great while Trump’s are evil, which to me is like saying Trump’s economics are great while Obama’s were evil, aka partisanship cherry-picking facts.

            • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/19/2019 - 11:53 am.

              WHD, the topic was not, Was TARP good or bad, nor was the topic, who benefited from TARP. It was did the FED make a profit on TARP? That answer is yes. I will be the first to say, I don’t think TARP worked well for lots of folks that got in over their head, or sideways etc. just like the stock market and tax policy doesn’t work well for them either, and I didn’t claim the program was fair. In fact it was extremely unfair, folks took excessive risk and got burned horribly, and bankers did what bankers do capitalize on someone else’s missteps. Either or, not sure which side of the coin you are arguing from, more left leaning socialism, or more right leaning capitalism?

              • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/19/2019 - 12:01 pm.

                PS: Talk about Trump policy and making the rich richer, here you go! Can’t make this stuff up.

                https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/26/business/michael-milken-trump-opportunity-zones.html

              • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/20/2019 - 08:16 am.

                Again, TARP was “profitable” because the Fed made up $4.5 Trillion dollars out of nothing, handed it to the big banks and financial institutions, which then paid back the $700 million in TARP to the Treasury. Banks made whole while regular people got the shaft. Then these wealthy folk leading these institutions used that made up money to buy the wreckage of the bubble for pennies on the dollar. While Obama yawned and looked the other way. The rich get richer indeed, but apparently that only ever happens when Trump is president? The partisan hypocrisy in this modern age is breathtaking.

                • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/20/2019 - 11:55 am.

                  Please show where Obama yawned? I showed you were Trump made the rich richer, not to mention the $1.5T credit card give away. TARP was signed into law by Bush.
                  https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=TARP+program
                  TARP made a ROI.
                  So your argument is really with the FED? That is different than TARP, still don’t get your point, Trump took $1.5T in a similar fashion and gave it to the folks you are complaining about! The FED at least bought $4.5T in mortgages/loans, that have to be repaid. Trump just gave the $1.5 away, and is complaining that the FED should give more free money to the ultra rich with lower interest rates.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/13/2019 - 10:42 am.

    Based on what’s already out there in the public arena, it seems evident that the only interests Mr. Trump deems worth defending are his own. Saying he has “abdicated that most basic responsibility of his office” is too gentle.

    Treason is defined in Article 3, Section 3 thusly: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” While there’s no suggestion that Mr. Trump has made any attempt to raise an army against the United States, there seems plenty of evidence that he has provided plenty of “aid and comfort” to “enemies,” the chief beneficiary being Russia.

    We long ago abandoned George Washington’s direction to avoid entangling alliances, and have, for a century and more, been involved in a web of international agreements – one that forms the basis for not only our foreign policy, but to a substantial extent, our national security. Abandoning and / or humiliating long-standing American allies in the name of “America First,” as Mr. Trump has done, goes a long way toward providing “aid and comfort” to the enemies of the United States, which are, nowadays, often not nation-states at all, but “non-state actors” in the form of terrorist organizations. We make heavy use of intelligence from numerous allies to keep track of and weaken terrorist efforts to damage our country physically and diplomatically.

    Meanwhile, a truckload of evidence readily available to the public shows that Mr. Trump has abused the powers of his office for personal gain in violation of quite clear federal law, as well as in obstructing the constitutional duty of the Congress by insisting that employees of the Executive not respond to legal subpoenas from relevant committees of the House of Representatives.

    We’ve had some inept, even terrible, Presidents, but Trump is the first one, at least in my memory, who has actively worked AGAINST the interests of the country of which he’s the titular head. He has richly earned removal from office.

  3. Submitted by cory johnson on 11/13/2019 - 11:45 am.

    Why is criticizing NATO allies who don’t contribute enough money to NATO such a terrible thing? And with telling Germany they shouldn’t be getting their energy from Russia?

    • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 11/13/2019 - 03:16 pm.

      And telling Turkey they should not be buying Russian anti-aircraft missiles.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/13/2019 - 09:55 pm.

      Why is criticizing the endless instances where Trump aligns with Putin’s point of view over historic US positions and the established intelligence generated by our own intelligence resources such a terrible thing?

      First and foremost, enabling Putin’s prime goal of destabilizing NATO.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/13/2019 - 10:05 pm.

      CJ, ask yourself a simple question what would be the cost of WW III? How does that compare to the cost for NATO? Why is NATO there? Personally I don’t know what the Europeans pay, but if all H breaks loose I suspect it will be in their back yard not ours. Kind of like protecting your neighbors house from burning down, do you stop at 100 Gallons of water? yours could be next. The other part to that is even if you have a quibble over the lot line, better to work things out on the side than to make a public spectacle out of it, at least that is the way my parents/mentors/neighbors/teachers/military/college/business/experiences etc, taught me. How do we create a win/win, not a win/lose. Is it really a big deal to make a $1m fuss over nickles and dimes?

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/14/2019 - 11:18 am.

      We could talk to Donald Trump about this, Mr. Johnson, except that Trump doesn’t know the details of any public policy He’s uninformed and lazy about getting any detail or solid information.

      The guy spends all day watching TV and tweeting, except for his three-day weekends playing golf and bolstering the revenues of his failing resorts and clubs by having all those Secret Service folks spend federal tax dollars to be there with him.

    • Submitted by cory johnson on 11/14/2019 - 12:36 pm.

      I really got a chuckle out of every person who responded ignoring my second question. Trump is apparently in league with Putin but is against European reliance on Russia for energy.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 11/14/2019 - 03:28 pm.

        Hmmmm, since you pose the question, suggestion is that it is an effort for them to purchase more from the US. So now we answer the question, should Americans be sacrificing their environment and health to provide fossil fuel to foreign countries, along with blood and treasure to protect oil in foreign countries? So, who is Trump working for, America, or the fossil fuel industry? Me thinks it is the later and not the prior. ,

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/14/2019 - 08:20 pm.

        Might have something to do with Trump being in the pocket of American fossil fuel companies and Saudi Arabia.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/15/2019 - 08:55 am.

        My pleasure, let’s use Germany as our example:

        We all have to get our energy needs from somewhere. Germany has the worlds #5 economy and sits #63 on petro reserves.

        What to do?

        Invest in renewables at a rate much faster than the US (#1 economy, top 10 reserves) and go buy oil somewhere to make up the difference.

        And where is the nearest gas station?

        Where would you suggest they go to fill up?

        And on renewables:

        1. Solar:

        “The main point here: Germany doesn’t get an enormous amount of sunlight, relatively speaking. Its annual solar resources are roughly comparable to Alaska’s. Just about every single region in the continental United States has greater solar potential, on average, than Germany.

        Yet despite those limitations, Germany has still managed to be the world leader in solar power. At the end of 2012, the country had installed about 30 gigawatts of solar capacity, providing between 3 percent and 10 percent of its electricity. The United States, by contrast, has somewhere around 6.4 gigawatts of solar capacity.”

        2. Wind:

        “Onshore wind power is a central pillar of Germany’s transition to low-carbon electricity generation and projected to become the country’s number one power source. This factsheet takes a look at German wind power industry’s most important actors, financial support for the technology, and its future in a world that increasingly embraces renewables but poses unprecedented challenges at home.”

    • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 11/14/2019 - 03:41 pm.

      We’re not talking about NATO contributions. We are talking about Trump’s corruption.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 11/20/2019 - 12:01 pm.

      America’s allies, with the exception of Britain, which still spends as if it thinks it has an empire to maintain, spend money on military matters almost in exact proportion to their populations.

      The U.S. is the real outlier here, spending money way out of proportion to its share of the world’s population, more than the next ten countries (including Russia and China) combined.

      For all its money spent on sci fi weaponry, it couldn’t maintain decent conditions for the soldiers it sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, and more importantly, it couldn’t protect the nation against a bunch of young criminals who used 1950s (jet planes) and 1920s (box cutters) technology to attack on 9/11.

      The U.S. military has become the biggest corporate welfare program the world has ever known. Just the billions in no-bid contracts for friends of Bush and Cheney for supplying the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan should have been grounds for the impeachment the president and vice-president.

  4. Submitted by Misty Martin on 11/13/2019 - 11:53 am.

    Eric:

    Thank you again for another educational piece. How I wish that my pro-Trump “friends” would read it instead of relying entirely on “biased” FOX news. Knowledge is power.

  5. Submitted by Bob Petersen on 11/13/2019 - 01:25 pm.

    This is rich considering everything that happened under the administration Mr. Stengel worked under. Dislike Trump as much as you want, but at least he is putting us first instead of behind the world. The last administration created the vacuum where ISIS (or called ‘B team’) was created and was at its largest size, did nothing to follow up about the ‘red line’ by the Syrian government, failed to work with Ukraine in terms of their corruption except get Hunter Biden on the board of a suspect organization, was spineless when Russia annexed Crimea away from Ukraine, Allowed Iran to recoup billions of dollars only to get an extremely weak nuclear agreement, considerable giveaways on all the other treaties signed, allowed the IRS to improperly block conservative groups in the 2012 election, and let’s not forget all of the hacks that allowed dirt to be obtained on a candidate’s election campaign where Ukraine was a large player.

  6. Submitted by joe smith on 11/14/2019 - 06:13 am.

    The USA has spent trillions on trying to spread democracy around the world, how have we done? Mr. Stengel has a right to his opinion (that is all this article is, opinion) , I totally disagree. Did Mr. Stengel feel we were standing up for democracy when we wouldn’t back the Syrian people in their rebellion against a totally corrupt dictator? That started around the time he worked for the Obama administration.
    Yesterday you had 2 diplomats that felt we should put Ukraine’s issues before America, during first day of impeachment process. That was their opinion, just like Mr. Stengel has an opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/14/2019 - 09:33 am.

      The “Syrian people in rebellion against a totally corrupt dictator” we just abandoned to genocide by the Turks? OR the “Syrian people in rebellion against a totally corrupt dictator” that made up ISIL? Considering your guy sided with the “totally corrupt dictator” and his Russian puppeteer, I fail to see where you have any standing to cast stones.

      • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 11/14/2019 - 10:56 am.

        The fact is, Trump didn’t take a side; he just got us out of that mess. Can’t help but believe lefties would be placing a laurel crown on Obama if he’d have done that.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 11/14/2019 - 02:45 pm.

        Matt, not sure you got the memo, Russia story is dead. It died the day Mueller testified. As I stated, you have an opinion piece about Ukraine and Trump. My opinion was Obama let down the Ukraine people by not arming them to fight Russian take over of Crimea, evidently you agreed. Trump put on qualifications for the Ukraine to get our tax dollars, I agree, I guess you don’t. No big deal. Definitely not impeachable, no matter how you look at it.

  7. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/14/2019 - 11:24 am.

    Those who have benefited from Trumps irrational and highly-emotional action on Syria? Russia, in the first place. Then Iran, and Assad of Syria. Not to forget Erdogan of Turkey.

    Not a thing to benefit the U.S.: Trump has now sent a couple of thousand new troops to Saudi Arabia (and, What war is that we’re fighting, again?…). And Trump has sent (or kept) troops to eastern Syria FOR THE OIL!!! We are securing the oil, our beloved leader boasts. We are commanded to believe him, lock, stock and barrel.

    That oil is not ours.

  8. Submitted by Lisa Pula on 11/17/2019 - 01:51 pm.

    Hello Eric: The article is an excellent example of what more journalism today needs to be. You have clearly written to reveal Stengel’s position factually. You have also kept an even tone in revealing the complicated NATO national political strategizing between the EU, Russia, US, Ukraine and the personal drama strategizing of one man in particular. Thanks.

    Presently, it is extremely difficult for any journalist that is attempting to report reasonably about any topic to be able to report with integrity and validity due to the destructive action to undermine the integrity of US journalists, US, and other nations’ politicians by the deliberate actions of the leadership of especially this present administration. Prior administrations are definitely no angels, but essentially did not attack to the level of criminal intent of this present administration.

    The present level of disinformation to American citizens is the direct result of criminal intent to destroy the democratic process and dynamics to allow any democratic process. The intent is not any level of deliberate action, especially initial intent, to make America great again.

    We are witnessing strategic internal destruction of our social contracted democracy by the current Federal leadership.

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