Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He projected his Russia scandal onto Germany.

The headline from Trump's meeting in Brussels with other NATO leaders today was his attack on Germany and its chancellor, Angela Merkel. He said that because of a planned natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia, Germany was "a captive of Russia" and "totally controlled by Russia."

The remarks didn't go over well in the room--even Trump's own chief of staff, John Kelly, looked visibly upset at the remark--and American politicians from both parties immediately chastised Trump. Merkel, who grew up in Soviet-dominated East Germany, later reminded Trump of her own life experience under the government that Vladimir Putin was part of.

But the real audience, at least in Trump's mind, appears to have been Trump's political base at home. Trump will leave Belgium tomorrow, and, after a golf vacation in Scotland, will travel to Finland for a meeting with Putin that he has wanted for a long time. Trump is a vociferous defender of Putin--even to the point of openly criticizing the United States while in office--and has consistently refused to admit that Putin's regime actively tried to influence the 2016 election to put him in power.

Weakening the United States' relationships with its allies, and in particular the NATO alliance, is a top priority for Putin.

What's so bad about this?

  • Past a certain point it doesn't matter whether a president is doing the bidding of a hostile nation knowingly or by accident.
  • The United States' continued security and standing in the world is more important than a president's poll numbers.