President Obama and Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley teamed up to attack Donald Trump on Tuesday night, even though Haley was supposed to offer the “Republican response” to Obama’s State of the Union address. Together they have probably only succeeded in making Trump more popular. They missed the Achilles heel of the New York billionaire—his soft views on Russia and his reckless undermining of U.S. allies like South Korea.
John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., has identified the major threats to the United States as Russia, China, ISIS, Iran and North Korea. What does Trump think about this?
Obama’s address included a line referring to politicians who “insult Muslims,” clearly a reference to Trump’s vocal attacks on radical Muslim terrorists. Americans like the fact that Trump has identified the terrorists by name, but he only goes so far in describing the nature of the problem. He attacks the Iran nuclear deal without highlighting Iran’s sponsor, Russia. Indeed, he seems to welcome Russian military involvement in Syria, on the grounds (as claimed by Putin) that the Russians are attacking ISIS.
Trump speaks in broad-brush terms that seem to depict global Islam as the enemy. The fact is that some Muslims are America’s natural allies in the global conflict. Steve Chambers has written an excellent analysis in the American Thinker about fears of a Russian-Iranian invasion of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oil-producing states. Of course, Saudi Arabia has not been a reliable U.S. ally in the past, and it has bankrolled radical Islamist theology and terrorism around the world. But if the U.S. avoids supporting Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim Gulf states, under those circumstances we would be left with even fewer friends in the Middle East. It is significant that the Moscow propaganda channel Russia Today (RT) has been relentlessly attacking Saudi Arabia. RT helps identify Russian targets of opportunity.
In Turkey, we have just witnessed an ISIS terrorist attack which killed 10 people, and has resulted in the arrests of several Russian terrorists. We are now able to see the Russian connection to terrorism that President Vladimir Putin has been so desperate to hide. It is significant that these terrorists are not going back to Russia to wage terrorism against Putin. Instead, they are targeting such countries as France, the United States, and now Turkey.
RT immediately confirmed that the detained terrorists in Turkey were Russians linked to ISIS. The Reuters news agency followed with a confirmation on their Russian nationality. We can anticipate that Russia will claim that these terrorists left Russian territory without the knowledge or approval of Russian authorities. This is called “plausible deniability.”
The ISIS bombing in Turkey proves that the country is not on the side of ISIS, as the Russians have repeatedly claimed. Instead, Turkey is a target of ISIS.
This may seem strange on the surface, since ISIS is supposed to be Sunni, and Turkey is a Sunni Muslim country. But Turkey has stayed true to its roots in NATO, originally an anti-Soviet alliance. The Sunni Muslims running Turkey have traditionally been anti-communist. Indeed, they continue their battle with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group created with the help of Putin’s old comrades in the Soviet KGB.
Trump adamantly refuses to see Putin as an evil actor in the region. Obama won’t attack Trump over that issue, since Obama’s soft-on-Russia policy is equally embarrassing. In his State of the Union address, Obama briefly mentioned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a way that actually disguised what the Russians have done. Obama said, “Even as their [the Russian] economy contracts, Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria—states they see slipping away from their orbit.”
A former Soviet republic, Ukraine was supposed to have been given independence after the collapse of the USSR. The country gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994 in exchange for Russian respect for its territorial integrity. Putin isn’t propping up Ukraine. He has invaded it. He invaded because a popular rebellion had forced a corrupt, pro-Russian president to flee. The “resources” that Russia is pouring into Ukraine are troops and pro-Russian terrorists. Obama sees Ukraine as still being in the Russian “orbit,” an admission that Obama hasn’t done anything to enable Ukraine to be a free nation.
Tragically, Trump seems to see Ukraine in much the same way. He talks about it as a European problem.
In the case of North Korea, which Trump considers to be China’s problem, we have another important region of the world threatened with war.
South Korea is a free country with a democratic form of government that functions under constant danger. North Korea is developing a major nuclear arsenal. Although backed by Communist China, it also has a security treaty with Russia (the agreement, signed by Putin, is posted on the official North Korean website).
Yet Trump attacks South Korea. He says, “We get paid nothing, we get paid peanuts” for deploying U.S. troops to South Korea. In fact, the South Koreans have a “burden sharing agreement” with the U.S. under which they paid $861 million last year. At a New Hampshire forum, a Harvard student tried to correct Trump on his claims, and was immediately attacked by the candidate. But the student was correct. Trump was wrong again.
During a presidential debate, Trump appeared ignorant about the nuclear triad, which constitutes America’s deterrent against Russian, Chinese, North Korean, and (potentially) Iranian nuclear weapons.
But rather than talk about Trump’s ignorance or pro-Russian pandering on foreign policy, the media and many of the GOP candidates have been drawn into Trump’s esoteric debates on the meaning of “natural-born citizen.” It’s a diversion.
But the Republican establishment also plays into Trump’s hands. In her speech on Tuesday night, which was supposed to be a rebuttal to Obama’s State of the Union address, Governor Haley criticized the “angriest voices” and the “loudest voice in the room.”
The media immediately branded those remarks as an attack on Trump.
Trump’s anger or loud voice isn’t the issue. It’s his ignorance on foreign policy and apparent willingness to undermine U.S. foreign policy alliances that have kept the peace and many nations free.
Trump’s view of Russia is probably colored by his several attempts to do business deals in the old Soviet Union and Russia. Perhaps he wants to maintain good relations with Russia if his presidential campaign falls to pieces and he has to return to the “art of the deal.”
That will never happen, however, as long as the Republican establishment takes cheap shots at Trump and abandons a serious discussion and debate of the issues.