President Donald Trump’s comments and actions in Brussels and Helsinki recently have seriously weakened the most important security alliance the United States ever had.
The U. S. Senate voted 97-2 to support NATO and, in spite of that vote, he ignored the resolution, criticized NATO in Brussels and attacked Germany for being a captive of Russia.
Trump’s attack on NATO and his failure to condemn Russia for its invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, and continuing this failure in Helsinki, has resulted in the loss of American prestige and the loss of American leadership in the world.
NATO was formed during the Cold War to confront Soviet aggression and worked rather well. The core of the alliance was Article 5, which provided that an attack on one nation was an attack on all. Thus, the alliance protected the security and the freedom of all member states.
When the Soviet Union had dissolved and the Russian Federation emerged, there was the hope that Russia would become a democratic nation. But it was not to be. When Putin became Russia’s leader, he led it down an authoritarian path, and Russia became our adversary. Thus, its strategic interest was diametrically opposed to the strategic interest of the United States.
Russia, under Putin, secretly would love to take back the “near abroad” that it had under the Soviet Union. Its attack on Crimea and Eastern Ukraine reflected this interest.
President Trump should know that NATO countries responded to the 9/11 attacks against us and provided forces for the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. The United States is in their debt, and yet Trump asks them to pay their fair share. They responded with their blood and treasure, and paid more than their fair share.
Trump the next day said he supported NATO and that its nations had agreed to pay more to support the alliance, but this was not true.
When Trump met Putin in Helsinki, against the backdrop of Justice Department indictment of 12 Russian military operatives, he capitulated to Putin. He did not hold Putin accountable to the Russian meddling in our elections nor hold Putin accountable for his invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Trump later was denounced by many in Congress because there is no moral equivalence between Russia and the United States.
Trump used Hillary Clinton’s server and her missing emails to deflect questions on the Russian meddling in our election.
Putin, who was a trained KGB agent before he became the Russian leader, outmaneuvered the American president and avoided critical issues. Since this summit was private, we still don’t know the full extent of what he may have agreed to.
Trump’s capitulation with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, promising not to hold war exercises with South Korea, was duplicated again with Putin.
Trump’s action both at NATO and Helsinki have caused the loss of American prestige and leadership, which the United States, at great cost, has tried to build over the last half-century.
In 1938, Neville Chamberlain after Munich announced that he had secured peace “peace for our time” when he surrender Czechoslovakia to Hitler. This event became synonymous with appeasement.
July 16, 2018, at Helsinki will be a date to become synonymous with appeasement with Putin.
Perry J. Mitchell is a retired professor of political science living in Ocean View who has taught international relations for 35 years.
By Perry J. Mitchell
Special to the Coastal Point