Bob Hren: Who is the traitor?
Hysteria by the media and Democrats over Trump’s supposed “treason” in his Helsinki meeting with Putin has been a shameful exercise in misinformation and hyperbole.
It has never been proper diplomacy or wise to call your counterpart at a heads-of-state meeting a liar. Think of the meetings of World War II leaders Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. It would have been completely out of line for reporters to ask if the Western leaders, during their discussions, challenged Stalin on the millions of deaths under his dictatorship.
Today, many important strategic issues exist between the USA and Russia that require delicate diplomacy and the building of trust and respect. Pushing back on Russian meddling in our elections is not appropriate at a joint press conference. The question should not have been asked, and Trump should have demurred when it was. He did correct his statement the next day, throwing his support behind our intelligence services. The judgment and ethics of questions from the press has degraded drastically since World War II and is truly deplorable.
The reality is that Trump has stood up to Putin more in the past 18 months than did Obama in his eight years in office.
Obama defined a “red line” in Syria, then meekly did nothing when Bashar al-Assad crossed it and invited Russia into Syria to fight on his side. Same lack of leadership by Obama after the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the failure to assist Ukraine when they asked us for weapons to repel Russia. Obama repeatedly backed down and failed to meet his commitments, severely weakening U.S. leadership on the world stage.
Obama famously told Russian President Medvedev on a live microphone that he would have more flexibility to work with Russia after his last election in 2012 (check it on Snopes — it is “true”).
The Obama Administration inflicted perhaps the most long-lasting damage to our country by approving the sale of 20 percent of our strategic uranium reserves to Russia. The payoff was an enormous speaking fee to Bill Clinton for making one speech in Russia.
The media continues to discredit Trump with misleading hype that is repeated over and over on social media. However, if you diligently search for less-hyped news, you will see that Trump has been successful in almost completely reversing the failed legacy of the Obama years regarding Russia. Trump has:
Deployed U.S. military forces in the Baltic states in response to Putin’s threats and to reassure our NATO allies (WSJ, Jan. 30, 2017).
Deployed defensive Patriot missiles in Poland to counter the build-up of Russian forces aimed at Europe (Newsweek, July 6, 2017).
Kicked 60 Russian diplomats/spies out of the U.S. in response to chemical poisoning of a former Russian spy living in Britain (AP, March 26, 2018).
Signed an executive order for a major upgrade of U.S. government cyber defenses against pilfering of our sensitive data by Russia (Reuters, May 11, 2017).
Repelled an assault by Russian mercenaries in Syria on a U.S. position (NBC News, March 15, 2018).
Implemented a comprehensive modernization of the U.S. military to deter Russia and China after years of neglect by Obama (CNBC, February 12, 2018).
Provided anti-tank weapons that Ukraine has sought for years to defend against Russian aggression (Chicago Tribune, March 1, 2018).
Imposed additional sanctions on Russian companies and oligarchs who are Putin allies in retaliation for his digital assault on U.S. energy firms (Roll Call, March 26, 2018).
Pushed NATO member nations to double their defense spending from less than 2 percent to 4 percent of GDP, in line with U.S. spending (CNN, July 11, 2018).
Challenged Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas, encouraging Europe to buy instead from the U.S. This would reduce Russia’s export revenues and ability to extract strategic concessions from Europe by restricting essential gas deliveries in winter months, which Russia already did to Ukraine (PBS, July 11, 2018).
These are just some of the publicly reported examples of Trump standing up to and confronting Putin. A welcome change from Obama’s weak leadership that encouraged Russia to act aggressively against our strategic interests.
With Trump standing up to Russia, the new direction of any Russian meddling in our elections will be to favor Democrat candidates in 2018 and 2020. Putin longs for the compliant Democrat leadership of the recent past.
So, in my opinion, the real traitors against the U.S. and its strategic interests are those in the media and in Washington who attack Trump’s every move rather than support the important and proper advancement of U.S. interests around the world.
Bob Hren lives in Nevada City.
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