With the exception of an infinitesimal number of individuals and media outlets, the hate filled, asymmetrical political warfare against President Trump is continuing with unwavering vehemence. The latest fuel on the seemingly eternal fire of the anti-Trump resistance was supplied by his trip to Europe and, in particular by his meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
As a prelude to President Trump’s visit to Brussels, London, and Helsinki, the usual pack of anti-Trump Democrats, Obama appointees and their allies in the highly politicized media started a full throated campaign against the Putin meeting. The narrative was as primitive as idiotic. Accordingly, President Putin was declared a superman, the embodiment of the most perfect statesman in human history, while President Trump was depicted as a bumbling amateur who will be consumed by Putin the master spy within minutes. Indeed, they demanded in unison that President Trump cancel the meeting all together or, at least, be surrounded by an army of advisors. Clearly, all of sudden there were millions of little presidents who felt empowered to render their authoritative opinions on the most complex foreign policy matters.
Of course, President Trump ignored their advice. Conversely, the irrational politics of hatred continued unabated. Since Helsinki, this has centers around President Trump’s answers to Jeff Mason’s and Jonathan Levine’s questions, in which the President appeared to side with President Putin and not with the assessment of the US intelligence agencies concerning the so-called “Russian Interference” in the 2016 elections. The Reuters correspondent’s question originally was directed at President Putin. In essence Mason challenged the Russian President by asking why should the Americans and President Trump believe his statement that Russia did not interfere in the election, given the evidence the US intelligence agencies provided. President Trump’s answer was more complex than reported in the media. “….the concept of that (namely interference) came up perhaps a little before, but it came out as a reason why the Democrats lost an election….” He continued by saying: “….there was no collusion with the campaign….” Jonathan Levine of AP followed up with a more direct and clearly provocative question: “Just now President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency concluded that Putin did. My first question for you, sir, who do you believe? My second question is would you now with the whole world watching tell President Putin – would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?”
In his reply President Trump first addressed the issue of the Democratic National Committee’s server. Rightly, he pointed out that the Committee’s refusal to hand over the server to the FBI for inspection is inexplicable. Most probably, the examination of the server would have supplied important documentary evidence as to who was responsible for the hacking. Moreover, it would have provided the FBI with a true record about what really happened. Barring excess for the FBI clearly meant that the Committee had something to hide or, in the alternative, the results of its examination of the server failed to conform to the narrative of the rigged elections. Then President Trump continued thus: “I have Mr. Putin. He just said it is not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really want to see the server.”
As usual, President Trump’s answers were immediately taken out of context and presented as proofs that he is not an American patriot, but a Russian stooge. Never mind that during the 2008 presidential campaign Barack Hussein Obama regaled the attendees and the world in his Berlin speech as being “a citizen of the world”, while his better half opined about being proud of America only because her husband was elected president.
But more importantly, President Trump’s answers must be viewed within the framework of his opening remarks at the press conference. There he said: “As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia forwards the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. As president, I always put what is best for America and what is best for the American people.” Then he went on to say that he thought the best way to discuss interference and related issues is in person with Mr. Putin, which he did.
Placing his answers to the correspondents’ questions in the context of his opening remarks make it abundantly clear that President Trump behaved as a statesman, while his critics took a very narrow tactical approach to US-Russia relations. As president, he had to focus on the big picture, which is the overall strategic relationship with Russia, and leave the other related matters to future negotiations. Once agreement is reached on the nature of the strategic relationship and a measure of trust has been established between the two states, most, if not all, the outstanding matters can be discussed and hopefully solved within the framework of such a strategic understanding.
To place the entire anti-Trump mania into an even broader context, the United States of America has been since November 2016, in a rapidly worsening democratic anarchy. For this reason alone, the American citizenry cannot remain indifferent to what is happening to the constitutional Republic. Moreover, it would be a grave misconception to suppose that if this democratic anarchy is allowed to fester unchecked, the already chaotic situation abroad would not be affected. On the contrary. The vicissitudes that the world has suffered since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the emergence of the People’s Republic of China as a formidable military, economic, and financial power, and the unrelenting invasion of the developed world by the army of desperate migrants, compel the United States of America to assume once again the leadership role for the rest of the world.
Leadership, in turn, means that the president and the congressional leaders must not dwell exclusively on the past but deal in a bipartisan manner with the challenges of the present and their repercussions for the future, unless those challenges will remain unresolved. More importantly, no one should search for artificial causes to seize and maintain power. Rather, policymakers must look for solutions to remedy as many problems as they possible can across the globe. Clearly, this is not the time for hesitation, vacillation, oscillation, and sanctimonious speeches that are not followed by decisive actions. Indeed, every responsible politician in Washington, D.C. must defend the interests of the United States of America and that of its allies throughout the world.
Presently, President Trump appears to be the only adult in the playground sandbox. Sitting down with his Russian counterpart is not treason. Neither is it collusion, nor is it interference. It is diplomacy that allows two heads of states to explore common interests. Common interests, in turn, will enable them to communicate and hopefully reach compromises peacefully on major and lesser challenges too. Among those challenges the overall situation in the greater Middle East is the most explosive. Within the Middle East, the Syrian problem has the most potential to trigger a regional war. Information available of the two hour private meeting and the follow-up lunch in Helsinki indicate that a broad agreement on the principles of de escalating the conflict has been reached. Accordingly, both presidents have agreed that the security of Israel is paramount. Secondly, they have been in agreement concerning the destructive role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Syria, in Lebanon, in the Gaza Strip, in Yemen, in Libya, and beyond. To counter the Mullahcracy’s appetite for steady expansion, the two presidents have resolved to limit Iranian military presence and political influence in Syria. Thirdly, the fate of the Assad family remains on the table. Finally, if provoked, Israel will have a free hand militarily to retaliate in a proportional manner.
As far as Islamic terrorism is concerned, Russia is exposed to it more closely than the United States of America or Europe. Clearly, President Putin is not averse to reach an agreement on this topic.
The Ukraine is not just a political and strategic question for Russia, but also a historical and emotional one. After all, the cradle of today’s Russia was the Kiev Russ in the 9th and 10th centuries. For the United States of America, the Ukraine has been a sovereign country since the late 1990, the boundaries of which have been violated by Russia continuously since the overthrow of the late President Viktor Yanukovych. On this issue, an agreement that would satisfy all the parties involved will need more time and negotiations. For now, the objective should be to arrest the conflict that will provide for the restoration of domestic tranquility. As a first step in this direction, the United States of America should push for the quick conclusion of a permanent armistice between the opposing forces.
Russia’s relations with the rest of Europe, in particular the European Union are multifaceted and thus are more complex. Again, it is important not to rash to premature judgments, and allow time for all the parties involved to find a modus vivendi among the conflicting political positions and interests. The principle of non-intervention in the affairs of all parties must be made sufficiently plain. The continent needs a new equilibrium through additional treaties to show that the Russian Federation will adhere to its responsibilities, in order to provide neither reason nor pretext for military conflicts in the future.
In closing, President Trump is absolutely right to pursue good relations with President Putin. Only through continuous dialogue between these two preeminent nuclear powers could the maintenance of universal peace guaranteed.