This piece has run in several newspapers in my very red congressional district (VA-06).
Perhaps there is no “tipping point.” But if there is one, the most likely one is “betrayal of the United States” to its main adversary in the world.
An astonishing number of Americans have seemed indifferent to a long parade of presidential defects and misdeeds.
But when it comes to this –weakening the power and influence of the United States and strengthening our nation’s most dangerous enemy — can there be any appreciable number of Americans who would accept that?
Certainly, one would think the kind of people who go for chants of “USA! USA!” could never approve of such a betrayal of the nation. Since the time of Benedict Arnold, Americans have despised traitors.
And by now, the picture of this President’s aiding and abetting America’s enemy in the Kremlin, though it is not yet complete, is clear enough for anyone –not committed to being blind — to see.
There’s no escaping it: the policies of President Trump have seriously weakened the United States’ position in the world. And it does not look like mere incompetence: the ways that Trump has weakened America corresponds too closely to Russian President Putin’s wish list for that.
Putin’s fondest desire is to bring America down to a level where Russia can challenge us on the world stage, as it did during the Cold War.
With that goal in mind, if Putin could design American policy, at the top of his wish list would be for the U.S. to alienate our friends and allies around the world.
Trump has done that, going out of his way to antagonize the Germans, the British, the French, the Canadians…
Putin would love to destroy NATO, which has been the bulwark of American power – and against Russian empire-building – for 70 years.
We now know from White House sources that Trump has repeatedly expressed a desire to withdraw from NATO. Retired Adm. James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, says that “Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO – let alone actually doing so – would be the gift of the century for Putin.”
Putin has shown himself single-minded in his quest for power, and adept in that pursuit. First, this former Colonel in the Soviet KGB worked his way up to becoming President of Russia, and then he magnified his role from President to dictator. In the years he’s been in power, Putin has advanced Russia from being a minor power (that happened to have a big nuclear arsenal) to an expanding imperial power. He has seized parts of neighboring nations (Georgia and the Ukraine), and re-established Russian influence in the Middle East.
And then there’s Putin’s greatest coup: Putin and his gang helped make the man they wanted President of the United States. And since then we’ve witness this President the Russians chose to help – Donald Trump — repeatedly making choices that strengthen Russia at the expense of the national security of the United States.
Consider the sanctions—imposed, before Trump’s election, by the U.S. and its allies to punish Putin and his thieving oligarchs for their naked aggression in seizing the Crimea from another nation-state.
The evidence already public suggests quite strongly one major part of a quid pro quo between Putin’s gang and Trump’s campaign: Putin would use the Russian intelligence service to help Trump become President; Trump would try to lift those sanctions, which were hurting Putin and his fellow kleptocrats in the Kremlin. As President, Trump has worked to deliver his part.
But it’s not just with the sanctions that we can see Trump helping Putin at the expense of U.S. interests and national security. Trump has also
• withdrawn from the nuclear INF Treaty, which restrained the Russians from subjecting our European allies to nuclear blackmail;
• proposed a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Middle East, opening the field for the Russians and their Iranian allies; and, as mentioned before
• degraded America’s standing as “leader of the free world.”
(Our allies are reported to have determined that they must find their way on their own—at least for now. A former German foreign minister has summed up their predicament, “We cannot live with Trump. And we cannot live without the United States.”)
And then there’s perhaps the most obvious betrayal by the American commander-in-chief: Trump’s enabling of the Russian attack on American democracy, with his:
• continual denial of what all U.S. intelligence agencies say about that attack (remember the shameful scene in Helsinki),
• refusal to pressure Russia to stop that attack, and
• otherwise inexplicable failure to act to protect the U.S. from the Russians’ continuing cyber-assault on our democracy.
If Putin were giving Trump orders on what to do and say, Trump’s conduct as President could hardly have been better designed to raise Russian power at the expense of the United States.
Can there be many Americans who can support such a terrible betrayal of the United States to its enemy?