Tag Archives: Russia

Trump didn’t read what he’s criticizing?

This is amazing, even for Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump.

The president has acknowledged that he didn’t read the intelligence report that challenges his assertions about ISIS, North Korea, Russian election interference and Iranian nukes.

And then he criticizes the reporting on it, saying that the media reportedly mischaracterized the intelligence chiefs’ analysis of what they have concluded. He called the reporting “fake news” and then declined to support the work of the people he appointed to lead our nation’s intelligence apparatus.

So, he didn’t read the report. He doesn’t know what it contains. He is jumping to conclusions about the most sensitive of national security matters.

Oh, wait! He went to the best schools, hired the best people, he knows the best words.

Donald Trump doesn’t need to read these reports. He gets his national security advice from “the TV shows.”

Yep. That’s how you make America great again.

I am scared.

Intel chiefs providing ‘fake news’? Are you serious, Mr. POTUS?

Donald J. Trump’s penchant for prevarication has taken a stunning new turn. Yes, it’s stunning even for this president of the United States.

He now says that his intelligence brain trust — three individuals he appointed to their posts — are providing “fake news” while challenging his own (false) assertions about the U.S. effort at combating terrorism around the world.

Trump’s handpicked appointees — Gina Haspel at CIA, Christopher Wray at FBI and Dan Coats as director of national intelligence — all say that North Korea still poses a nuclear threat, that ISIS is not defeated, that Russia interfered in our 2016 election and is planning to do the same thing in 2020.

Trump now says they were quoted “out of context” and that the media twisted their comments.

Huh? What the . . . ? Is this clown for real?

Good, ever-lovin’ grief! I’ve heard their complete comments given this week during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. They weren’t taken out of context. There was nothing to dispute.

They have spoken, as the saying goes, “truth to power.” They are challenging Trump’s assertion that “ISIS is defeated,” that North Korea is “no longer a threat” and that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has “denied” Russian interference in our election.

Simply astonishing!

NATO pullout back on the top shelf

In 2018, when Donald J. Trump decided to scold the leaders of our most trustworthy military alliance, he sounded like someone who wanted to pull the United States out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Those leaders need to pay more of their share of the defense of Europe, Trump said, or else face the consequences, which might involve a U.S. pullout.

Now, against that backdrop we have The New York Times report about an alleged investigation by the FBI into whether Trump was an “agent” of Russia.

The connection? Well, Russia wants NATO weakened badly. He would prefer that NATO be destroyed. Why is that? Because NATO came into being after World War II as a military alliance to defend Europe against the Soviet Union’s bloc of satellite nations. Russia, you’ll remember, was known as the Soviet Union from 1917 until 1991, when it collapsed under its own weight.

But NATO remains as a bulwark against Russian aggression. Therefore, Russia wants NATO to go away.

So, what connection is there between Donald Trump’s implied threat and Russia’s stated aim of ensuring that NATO withers away and dies?┬áIs there a connection? Trump says “no!” I do not believe Trump’s declaration on its face. I want to know the truth.

If only I could find where the truth is hiding.

‘I have never worked for Russia’

I suppose I’d never thought I would hear the president of the United States have to answer such a question.

“Have you ever worked for Russia?” came the question from a reporter.

Donald J. Trump — who had fielded that question from Jeannine Pirro on Fox News — didn’t exactly say “no” to Pirro. Then he had to say it to the reporter on the White House grounds.

I find it astonishing in the extreme that the president of the United States would ever ask the question. It has become necessary because of The New York Times story that disclosed that the FBI launched an investigation into whether Trump had become an “agent” of Russia. I just will not believe the FBI launched this probe because someone inside the J. Edgar Hoover Building wanted to “get” the president.

Do you recall the time Richard Nixon felt compelled to tell the nation that “I am not a crook”? He wasn’t very convincing at the time he said it in 1973. It turned out that while he wasn’t a “crook” in the classic definition of the term, he was corrupt enough to have to quit just ahead of a certain impeachment and trial by Congress.

This is the backdrop we might be facing yet again with the presidency of Donald J. Trump. He has called the NY Times report an “insult” and says the questions about whether he worked for Russia are “insulting.”

Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller is finishing — reportedly — his report we hope will get to the truth about Trump’s relationship with Russia, if any exist. The president keeps telling us there is no relationship. He keeps yapping about the “hoax” and that Mueller is in the middle of a “witch hunt.”

It’s just frightening on its face that our head of state, our commander in chief is having to answer questions about whether he works for the nation’s No. 1 geopolitical foe.

Finish your work, Mr. Special Counsel Mueller.

Trump parrots Kremlin line on Afghanistan

It’s impossible to believe that Donald Trump has said anything that, by itself, would doom his presidency. He has said so much, so often and with such idiocy that he should have been shown the door long ago.

Get a load, though, of what blurted from his pie hole during a 90-minute press availability in the Cabinet Room. He said the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 because “terrorists” were entering the USSR and that the Soviets were justified in responding as they did in invading the neighboring nation.

It’s been said already by others, but I’ll reiterate it here: The only other place where that fiction has been told has been in the Kremlin, where the Russian government is headquartered. No one else on Earth has ever said out loud and in public that terrorist incursions were the reason that the USSR invaded Afghanistan and fought the Afghans for a decade.

Which begs the question: What in the name of revisionist history is the president doing here? Some have suggested he is speaking the Russian line because he actually believes it, that the Russians have penetrated his skull with propaganda that no one else actually believes. Others suggest that Donald Trump, whose astonishing ignorance takes our breath away, simply doesn’t know what he’s saying, but that he is in love with the sound of his own voice.

The Wall Street Journal, with its right-leaning editorial page, has skewered the president with an editorial today. It said, “We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American president.” Just think: The WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a friend and ally of Trump who also owns the president’s favorite cable TV network, Fox News.

I do not know what prompted Trump’s utterly ridiculous assertion. The best case is that it is the product of blind ignorance. The worst case is that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has something on the president, that Trump is now officially frightened to the point of reciting Russian propaganda regarding one of the signature episodes of the Cold War.

Whatever the case, for the president of the United States to so egregiously mischaracterize one of the world’s darkest moments is frightening on its face.

Donald Trump is unfit to occupy his high and exalted office.

Mattis quits; so goes Trump’s last ‘best’ person

I am saddened but not shocked to hear the news that rocketed out of Washington, D.C. today. Defense Secretary James Mattis has resigned.

What is astonishing is the tone of the resignation letter Mattis sent to the president of the United States. He calls out the commander in chief for his failure to be more “resolute” in his approach to Russia and China. He also tears into the president for his treatment of our geopolitical allies and then declares that Trump has the right to have a defense secretary whose views “align” more with the president.

Mattis’s views do not, as the letter makes clear.

This is a serious blow to the defense of our nation. Mattis is a serious man, a retired Marine Corps four-star general, a man who has seen combat. He is a patriot, a warrior a student of foreign policy.

That this man would resign effective Feb. 28, just after the second year of the Trump administration, is stunning enough. That he would call out the commander in chief, who makes foreign and defense policy decisions on impulse and whim, is utterly breathtaking in its scope.

Read the letter here

One more takeaway from the letter: Mattis does not express gratitude for serving the president. He does express pride in serving the men and women in uniform and for serving the nation he loves.

Will any of this register in any tangible manner with the commander in chief? I wouldn’t bet my last dollar on it.

Have we really defeated ISIS?

I am wishing for the day when we no longer have troops fighting terrorists abroad. To that end, I join with Donald Trump in saluting the young Americans who put themselves in harm’s way to defend us against the monsters who hate us.

However, the president has acted prematurely and impulsively in declaring the war against the Islamic State in Syria is over. “ISIS is defeated,” he said. But is it? Really? How does he make that determination?

We’re getting word now that Trump didn’t consult with the Pentagon brass. He didn’t visit with State Department officials. The CIA wasn’t brought in for consultation. He didn’t talk to the director of national intelligence.

He just, um, did it. He made the declaration via Twitter. He has said we’re getting out of Syria.

Who benefits? The Russians do. So do the Turks, who hate the Kurds who have been dying while fighting on our side against ISIS, but who pose a threat to Turkish sovereignty along that country’s border with Syria. Iran is happy with this seat-of-the-pants decision.

The president has gotten way ahead of himself.

He surrounded himself with advisers, key aides, top military minds, a national security adviser. Did he listen to any of them? Did he even seek their advice?

It appears he acted entirely on his own. The president who declares he knows everything about everything has shown yet again that he knows nothing about anything.

Weird.

Globalism isn’t a dirty word

Donald Trump decided this week to rough up a PBS reporter, Yamiche Alcindor, who sought to ask him whether his declaration that he is a “nationalist” was a “dog whistle” to those who are closet “white nationalists.”

He called the question “racist,” an odd accusation given that Alcindor is African-American.

Setting that stuff aside, it’s fair to wonder whether the president’s nationalistic view is code as well for “isolationist.” Yes, I share the view that the nationalism espoused by Trump can be construed as an endorsement of white nationalism, but the isolationist tag is equally dangerous on another level.

Trump wants to “put America first.” His nationalist tendencies, though, ignore the reality of the present day. The world has figurately shrunk, thanks to technology and a 24/7 awareness of everything that happens on the other side of Planet Earth. Thus, we cannot recuse ourselves from the affairs in faraway lands. Nor can they from our affairs.

We build alliances because we seek to stay engaged in world affairs. The president seems intent on pulling us out of the cooperative efforts that his predecessors have forged with trading partners, military allies and geopolitical friends.

Trump imposes trade tariffs because he accuses our partners — namely Canada and Mexico — of being “unfair” in their trading practices. He goes to Europe and scolds NATO allies for failing to pay their fair share of their defense; in the most ironic tongue-lashing of all, he tears into Germany for its deal to import natural gas from Russia, suggesting that the Germans were beholden to the Russians. Shortly after taking office, Trump managed to hang up on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull because of a spat he didn’t understand over refugee migration.

This is how putting “America first” makes us stronger? This is how to build American prestige around the world?

No. It isn’t. Our retreat from a global strategy weakens this country as its standing among the world community of nations diminishes.

I don’t want the president to continue on this course. I know he won’t give a damn what I think, or what other critics think about him and his policies. If only he could enlist the wisdom of those closer to him to speak the truth to him about the folly of his nationalism.

Hey, didn’t we win the Cold War?

I always thought the United States and its allies won the Cold War, that we forced the Soviet Union to spend beyond its means on a military machine, bankrupting the country.

The USSR collapsed under its own weight. The Reagan administration sought prior to its demise to negotiate a deal to limit the production of nuclear weapons.

Four presidents came and went, the treaty was kept in place. The United States and Russia whittled their respective nuclear arsenals.

Now comes Donald Trump to assert that the Russians haven’t been faithful to the treaty. So he’s going to trash it. Then he announces a proposed buildup of nuclear weapons. The Russians counter with a threat to rebuild their own nuclear arsenal in response to the U.S. threat.

“Russia has violated the agreement,” Trump said. So he’s taking action.

It’s a dangerous course upon which the president is embarking. Instead of deploying diplomats and weapons inspectors to determine the extent to which Russia “violated” any agreement, Trump wants to flex our nation’s military muscles.

I know this seems to piddle all over the notion that the president is somehow beholden to Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. To the extent that he’s holding Russia accountable for its actions in this context, I applaud the president’s rhetorical aggressiveness; if only he would use the same approach to dealing with Russian attack on our 2016 presidential election.

But are we now going to restart the arms race that produced a policy called Mutually Assured Destruction?

It’s simply a MAD course to follow.

Toughest POTUS ever on Russia? Aww, c’mon!

Donald J. Trump has no shortage of hyperbole. The president trots it out whenever he damn well feels like it.

Such as this: “I have been the toughest president on Russia … ever!”

Really? Hmm. Let’s review that bit of bluster, shall we?

October 1962: President Kennedy gets intelligence that the Soviet Union was building offensive missile sites in Cuba. He consults with his national security team. They debate whether to attack the sites, invade Cuba, do nothing, or impose a blockade on the island nation. JFK chooses to blockade Cuba. He then speaks to the world on national TV and warns the communists that an attack on any nation in the Western Hemisphere would result in a “full retaliatory response” from the United States.

The Soviets backed off. They took down the missile sites. World War III was, thus, averted.

June 1987: President Reagan ventures to West Germany. He already has described the communist regime in Moscow as the Evil Empire. The president goes to the Brandenburg Gate separating East and West Berlin and bellows, “Mr. (Mikhail) Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

There have been other instances of U.S. presidents acting sternly in response to Russian (or Soviet) aggression. President Carter ordered a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow after the USSR invaded Afghanistan in the previous year. President Bush 41 oversaw the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama all had their instances of spine-stiffening resolve as they involve the Russians. I include the Soviet Union era in this discussion because, well, the Soviets were Russians, too.

And yet the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, keeps insisting — without any demonstrable evidence — that he’s the toughest president of all time against the Russians.

Give me a break.

Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of history knows better.