17 July 2018   Leave a comment

It will take us all more time to process the results of the meeting between US President Trump and Russian President Putin.  It is important for us to remember that Mr. Trump initiated this meeting, initially wanting Mr. Putin to come to the White House but finally settling on the neutral site offered by Finland.  We should also remember that many analysts raised serious concerns about the wisdom of the meeting, which gave great standing to Mr. Putin.

Under those circumstances, one would imagine that Mr. Trump had objectives he wished to attain.  It turns out that we actually know very little about how US national security was protected in the summit.  The 2-hour conversation between the two remains opaque aside from oblique references to Syria, North Korea, Iran, and arms control.  In many respects, our lack of information about the discussion is perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the summit.

All attention, however, is riveted on the press conference held by the two in which the main area of concern was on the Russian attack on the American election in 2016.  And President Trump humiliated himself and the country by his refusal to confront Mr. Putin when he was asked about the 2016 attack.  Richard Sokolsky and Aaron David Miller of the Carnegie Endowment for International peace have written a short essay in which they encapsulate the impact of the press conference on Mr. Trump’s stance:

“Never before has a U.S. President so willfully catered to an American adversary and so effortlessly sacrificed American values and interests as the entire world watched. His performance starkly highlighted not only a lack of impulse control and appallingly poor judgment, but also a consistent and inexplicable willingness to submit to Russian interests. This was not a display of ‘America first,’ but rather a very disturbing performance by a man who put himself and Russia above American interests and American values…..

“There were no grand betrayals on substance at Helsinki. Trump didn’t endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea, undermine NATO’s Article 5 or cancel Baltic military exercises. But with Putin beside him, and before all the world to see, Trump stood there, passive, weak, feckless and all too willing to do Putin’s bidding. Trump played the role of the fool or, as Lenin might have described him, a “’useful idiot.’”

President Trump tried to correct his statements at the Helsinki press conference today by suggesting that he had misspoke:  “In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word “would” instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ … The sentence should’ve been, and I thought it would be maybe a little but unclear on the transcript … ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative. You can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things by itself.”  Even if one gives Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt and accept that change, but then none of his other comments at the press conference are consistent with the change.  His feeble effort at a correction is an insult to our intelligence.

Which leaves us with an interesting question:  Does President Trump have the will or the capability to defend the national interest of the United States?  I think not.

Posted July 17, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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