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A Second Trump Stay In The White House Will Jeopardize The Entire World, Not Just The U.S.

Republicans Cover Up For Him Out Of Personal Cowardice

This morning, Noah Smith wrote that “2022 was a disastrous year for the New Axis. Putin’s attempted conquest of Ukraine was unexpectedly repulsed, revealing a number of weaknesses in the Russian military machine and making Western weaponry look good in comparison… In 2023, the empires struck back. Russia mobilized its whole society for the war, even as the Germans and the British dithered. Western weaponry proved insufficient to allow the Ukrainians to advance in the face of a determined Russian defense. Opposition to Ukraine aid became the dominant position on the Right in America, thanks to tireless anti-Ukraine advocacy by Tucker Carlson and the conversion of Elon Musk. And in October, the New Axis got a huge windfall— a war in Gaza that drew U.S. attention and resources away from Asia and Europe, even as it divided the progressive movement… So here we are in 2024. All signs point to this being a pivotal year in the global contest. On one hand, China’s weakening economy is making the New Axis a less menacing opponent, but this transition is very slow and marginal. On the other hand, U.S. domestic political turmoil threatens to remove it from the equation, thus leaving China a free hand in Asia.”

Yeah, “domestic political turmoil”— the Putin-backed MAGA takeover of the GOP levers of power. Years of Tucker Carlson’s fascism project has worked miracles for what Smith calls the New Axis. Yesterday, Jens Stotlenberg, the general secretary of NATO since 2014, warned that Trump is putting US and European troops at greater risk. In light of Trump’s deranged statement about NATO members not paying up, it’d worth noting that Poland, Finland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all spend above the NATO defense spending target at 2% of GDP. In a statement yesterday, Stoltenberg said NATO is “ready and able” to defend its members and, despite Trump’s demented campaign rhetoric, any attack “will be met with a united and forceful response” and noted that any suggestion that “allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security.” GOP cowards, who should know better, like Marco Rubio, who detests Trump but is petrified of crossing him, make excuses for his insane ravings.

Early this morning, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan reported that after Señor T threatened to encourage Russia to attack NATO allies “the response among many Republican officials has struck three themes— expressions of support, gaze aversion or even cheerful indifference. Republican Party elites have become so practiced at deflecting even Trump’s most outrageous statements that they quickly batted this one away.” Trump sycophants like Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio just rolled their eyes.

Trump’s comments from the rally stage were not part of his teleprompter remarks… But the remark— a new version of a story he has been telling for years— quickly inflamed in Europe what were already severe doubts about Trump’s commitment to NATO’s collective-defense provision. That provision, known as Article 5, states that an armed attack on any member “shall be considered an attack against them all.”
Trump has been using his power over the GOP to try to kill recent bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to send Ukraine more weapons and vital resources for its fight against Russia. Ukraine is not a NATO member, but helping Ukraine preserve its independence has become the alliance’s defining mission since [Putin] began his military invasion in February 2022. And where Trump might land on a commitment to Ukraine has, for the international community and foreign-policy experts, become something of a stand-in for how he will approach NATO, America’s most important military alliance, in any potential second term.
… The defense of Trump by several Republican officials such as Graham reflected the trajectory of a party that the former president has largely bent to his will.
Eight years ago, when Trump was in the thick of his first campaign for president, Graham would have given a very different response. In that campaign, Graham— initially one of Trump’s competitors in the primary, whom Trump quickly vanquished— saw himself as a defender of the Republican Party’s internationalist values against what he perceived as the acute threat of Trump’s isolationism.
As a wingman of the late Republican hawk and war hero Senator John McCain of Arizona, Mr. Graham traveled the country warning anyone who would listen about the dangers of Trump. But after Trump won the presidency, Graham set about becoming a friend and close adviser and was welcomed into Trump’s inner circle. Many others followed a similar path.
In 2016, Rubio, another foreign policy hawk who competed against Trump for the party’s nomination, called Trump a “con man” and warned how dangerous he would be if entrusted with the nation’s nuclear codes. But after Trump won, he put those feelings aside, became friendly with Trump and is now among a handful of Republicans in contention to be his running mate.
…Several former national security and foreign policy officials in the Trump administration declined to speak about the anecdote that Trump told about threatening a NATO member nation’s head of state with encouraging Russian aggression. But they said they recalled no such meeting actually taking place.
Trump is fond of outright falsehoods in relaying stories to make himself look like a tough negotiator. His former national security adviser John Bolton, who has warned that Trump would withdraw the U.S. from NATO in a second term, said he had never heard Trump threaten another country’s leader that he would encourage a Russian invasion.
Another former official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid inflaming Trump, delicately described the tale as “hyperbole.” Still another former official— H.R. McMaster, Trump’s second national security adviser and a retired Army lieutenant general— gave a one-word assessment of Trump’s comments: “Irresponsible.”
Trump often praises Putin— he has described the invasion of Ukraine as the work of a “genius”— and has long admired him as a “strong” leader.
During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump called on Russia to “find” emails that Hillary Clinton, then the Democratic nominee for president and a target of Mr. Putin, had deleted from her private email server. He has suggested Mr. Putin is no different, morally, from American leaders. When Bill O’Reilly, a former Fox News host, pressed Mr. Trump shortly after he took office on his admiration for Mr. Putin, saying that the Russian leader “is a killer,” Mr. Trump replied, “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

Yesterday, Peter Baker wrote that “Trump has never believed in the fundamental one-for-all-and-all-for-one concept of the Atlantic alliance. Indeed, he spent much of his four-year presidency undermining it while strong-arming members into keeping their commitments to spend more on their own militaries with the threat that he would not come to their aid otherwise... Trump’s rhetoric foreshadows potentially far-reaching changes in the international order if he wins the White House again in November with unpredictable consequences… Long averse to alliances of any kind, Trump in a second term could effectively end the security umbrella that has guarded friends in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East for much of the nearly eight decades since the end of World War II. Just the suggestion that the United States could not be depended on would negate the value of such alliances, prompt longtime friends to hedge and perhaps align with other powers, and embolden the likes of Putin and Xi Jinping of China… Undeterred by criticism of his latest comment, Trump doubled down on Sunday. ‘No money in the form of foreign aid should be given to any country unless it is done as a loan, not just a giveaway,’ he wrote on social media in all capital letters. ‘We should never give money anymore,’ he added, ‘without the hope of a payback, or without strings attached.’ Trump has long threatened to withdraw the United States from NATO and would no longer be surrounded by the kind of advisers who stopped him from doing so last time. He tried to pull American troops out of Germany at the end of his presidency in anger at Angela Merkel, then the chancellor, a withdrawal that was prevented only because President Biden came to office in time to rescind the decision.”

At other points, Trump contemplated pulling American troops out of South Korea as well, only to be talked out of it, but has said since leaving office that such a move would be a priority in a second term unless South Korea paid more in compensation. Trump would also probably cut off military aid to Ukraine as it seeks to fend off Russian invaders, and he has offered no support for more aid to Israel in its war with Hamas.
Foreseeing the possibility of an American retreat from the world if Trump returns to office, Congress recently passed legislation barring any president from withdrawing from the NATO treaty without Senate approval. But Trump would not even need to formally quit the alliance to render it pointless.
And if the United States could not be counted on to come to the aid of partners in Europe, where it has the strongest historic ties, then other countries with mutual security agreements with Washington like Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama could hardly be sure of American help, either.
Peter Feaver, a Duke University professor and former national security aide to Bush and President Bill Clinton, said Trump could reduce American troops in Europe to a level that “would render any military defense plans hollow” and “regularly poor-mouth the U.S. commitment” in a way that would convince Putin that he had free rein.
“Just doing those two things could wound and perhaps kill NATO,” Feaver said. “And few allies or partners in other parts of the world would trust any U.S. commitment after seeing us break NATO.”
History suggests this could result in more war, not less. When Dean Acheson, the secretary of state, described an American “defensive perimeter” in Asia in 1950 that did not include South Korea, North Korea invaded five months later, starting a bloody war that nonetheless pulled in the United States.
The signal from Trump to NATO allies like Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and, yes, Lithuania is that they could be on their own by next January. Coming just days after Putin told Tucker Carlson that Poland was at fault for Adolf Hitler invading it in 1939, the mood in Warsaw could hardly be more unsettled.
“Article 5 has so far been invoked once— to help the U.S. in Afghanistan after 9/11,” Radek Sikorski, the foreign minister of Poland, noted in an email exchange on Sunday. “Poland sent a brigade for a decade. We did not send a bill to Washington.”
… The scorn for NATO that Trump expresses is based on a false premise that he has repeated for years even after being corrected, a sign that he is either incapable of processing information that conflicts with an idée fixe in his head or willing to distort facts to suit his preferred narrative.
As he has many times, Trump on Saturday castigated NATO partners that he called “delinquent” in paying for American protection. “You’ve got to pay,” he said. “You got to pay your bills.”
What Trump is referring to misleadingly is a nonbinding goal set by NATO defense ministers in 2006 that each member spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on its own military, a standard ratified by NATO leaders in 2014 with the aspiration of achieving it by 2024. As of last year, just 11 of the 31 members, including Poland and Lithuania, had achieved that level, one more than under Trump. Last summer, NATO leaders pledged an “enduring commitment” to finally reaching the target. But even those who have not followed through do not actually owe money to the United States as a result.
…National security veterans of both parties said that kind of thinking misunderstood the value of the alliances for the United States. It is a benefit to Americans, they say, to have overseas bases in places like Germany and South Korea that enable quick responses to crises around the world. It also deters adventurism by outcast states like North Korea.
“America’s commitment to its allies is not altruism or charity, but serves a vital national interest,” [former U.S.  NATO ambassador Douglas] Lute said.
The uncertainty that would result from Trump’s lack of commitment, according to national security specialists, would lead to volatility unseen in years.
“The only saving grace,” [former Swedish prime minister Carl] Bildt said, “is that he will probably be so unreliable and unpredictable that even the Kremlin would be somewhat uncertain. But they would know that they have a fair chance of playing him politically in any crisis.”


1 Comment

Feb 14

hissy fits continue. even more pathetic.

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