Thursday, June 28, 2018

And Now It's On To Finland

In an article published on June 5 in The American Interest, foreign policy hands Jeffrey Gedman and Joshua Muravchik quote a former German government official:

The ideological battle has been abandoned by the U.S., by Trump, the battle for human rights, freedom, the UN Charter, liberal democratic values. . . The Brits, the French, the Germans are alone; the U.S. is not there anymore. Trump is leaving this battlefield when he gives the impression that actually he admires these autocrats more than the mediocrity of democracy. . . In this ideological battle against autocrats, and [those] seduced by autocrats, we have the impression sometimes that Trump is on the other side.

Sometimes? How things change in the space of less than four weeks, in this instance for the worse. It is not only an "impression" anymore.  Axios' Jonathan Swan reports

In one extraordinary riff during his meeting with the G7 heads of state earlier this month in Quebec, Trump told the other leaders: "NATO is as bad as NAFTA." An official read this quote to me from notes transcribed from the private meeting...

Trump made the comment after telling the G7 leaders that Crimea probably should belong to Russia because everyone there speaks Russian, the source added. Trump then went on his usual riff about Germany not paying its fair share of defense spending, said the Europeans weren't paying enough and that the U.S. is being ripped off.

Then Trump said of the NATO Summit on July 11-12 in Brussels: "It will be an interesting summit. NATO is as bad as NAFTA. It's much too costly for the U.S."

Trump has proven he must be taken seriously.  While campaigning in June of 2016, he stated "I'm the king of debt" and set out to prove it with a tax cut which is bringing an unprecedented level of debt.  He called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," a campaign pledge he's determined to make good on even as the Supreme Court (including the newly canonized Anthony Kennedy) refuses to believe him.  Best of all was his "Russia, if you're listening" moment.

And now that the President is due to meet with Vladimir Putin in July in Helsinki, a senior German government official has told Swan that he is

worried that Trump would repeat what he did at the G7 in Canada: provoke a fight with his closest allies and then lavish praise on a dictator as he did on Kim Jong-un in Singapore following the G7.

Other sources told me they're fretting about what other concessions Trump might make. They're hoping he doesn't make any spontaneous promises to Putin over Syria or sanctions.

European officials aren't sure about the exact timing of the Trump-Putin summit — or whether it will happen just before or after the NATO summit. Either way, they're worried about the contrast between a warm meeting with Putin and clashes with NATO allies over issues like defense spending.

Even before announcement of the Trump-Putin summit, and before Trump's most recent shot at NATO, Paul Hockenos observed the support of Putin and Trump loyalists for the authoritarian movements threatening democratic governments in Europe and recognized they 

are plotting the EU's demise, which serves their own political purposes.

For one, the stronger the national populist movements elsewhere in the world, the less their own campaigns look out of step, unreasonable, or radical. They shift the mainstream to the right.
But perhaps even more importantly, Putin and Trump wish these like-minded nativist forces in Europe well so that they'll paralyze the EU. They want their defiant, jingoistic arch-conservatism to sow discontent and confusion on the continent. They want them to weaken the EU, which Putin and Trump, in their zero-sum worldviews, see benefiting them. By breaking the EU, they are undermining the Europeans -- their opponents.

Indeed, by undercutting stability and multilateralism they can change the face of the postwar world order, sending it back to the years before and between the world wars, when Europe was a theater of constantly shifting alliances where might made right. The products were the most destructive wars of the 20th century.

And through it all, President Trump will be nominating another Supreme Court Justice, one culled from the names given by him by the Heritage Foundation and/or the Federalist society, and who may have the opportunity to decide whether Trump can be subpoenaed, indicted, or pardoned by himself. Good times- as long as you're the guy in charge in Moscow.

Share |

No comments:

Racism and Sexism Unnecessary

Jen Psaki, perhaps a living embodiment of the Peter Principle, once was a very good press secretary for President Joe Biden and now is a ve...