Russia,  Turkey,  Vote 2016

Putin’s candidate for president

Moving on to more substantive and critical matters…

Donald Trump gave an interview on foreign policy to The New York Times which ought to disturb anyone who cares about preserving NATO, defending democracy at home and abroad, and upholding human rights.

Jeffrey Goldberg writes at The Atlantic:

Fulfilling what might be [Vladimir] Putin’s dearest wish, Trump, in this interview, openly questioned whether the U.S., under his leadership, would keep its commitments to the alliance. According to [the interviewers], Trump “even called into question, whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.” Trump told the Times that, should Russia attack a NATO ally, he would first assess whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.” If they have, he said, he would then come to their defense.

As far as I know, there is nothing in the NATO treaty making mutual defense optional. But Trump is prepared to undercut the very basis of the Atlantic alliance.

These sorts of equivocating, mercenary statements—unprecedented in the history of Republican foreign policymaking—represent an invitation to Putin to intervene more destructively in non-NATO countries such as Ukraine and Moldova, and also represent an invitation to intervene directly in NATO countries—the Baltic states, first and foremost. This is why the Estonian president tweeted in a cold panic immediately after Trump’s interview appeared online: “Estonia is 1 of 5 NATO allies in Europe to meet its 2% def[ense] expenditures commitment.” The president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, also noted that Estonia fought “with no caveats” with NATO in Afghanistan.

Unlike Trump, leaders of such countries as Estonia believe that the United States still represents the best hope for freedom.

Franklin Foer at Slate recently wrote about the intricate web of connections that Trump and the people close to him have with Putin and his thugocracy. No surprise, then, when Trump’s people forced a change in the Republican platform. Paul Roderick Gregory of Forbes (a Trump supporter!) reported:

[T]he Trump campaign has successfully worked behind the scenes to make sure the new Republican platform would not pledge the lethal defensive weapons Ukraine has been pleading for from the United States. Trump’s forces have tabled a platform amendment that would call for maintaining or increasing sanctions against Russia, and have substituted “appropriate assistance” for “providing lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine’s military. Removing sanctions and blocking lethal military assistance to Ukraine are the two primary goals of Putin’s foreign policy. The Republican platform is handing those goals to Putin on a golden platter.

And is anyone surprised that in the wake of Turkish President Erdogan’s purge of tens of thousands of real or imagined opponents after the recent failed coup, Trump has nothing but praise for him?

I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country. We have tremendous problems when you have policemen being shot in the streets, when you have riots, when you have Ferguson. When you have Baltimore. When you have all of the things that are happening in this country — we have other problems, and I think we have to focus on those problems. When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.

How bad the United States is? I remember when it was only anti-interventionist anti-American leftists who talked like that. You know, like the Revolutionary Communist Party members who burned an American flag in Cleveland.

Update: I haven’t seen this sort of thing yet, but I’m not surprised it’s out there among elements of the Left.

Alec adds: Meanwhile, latter day Brahan Seer, Paul Monaghan MP has found a Russian media arm worse than RT:

Serious Russia Watchers are not impressed:

Just as he does not appear to have got the memo that SNP members are not to actively seek interviews with such not-so-crypto-fascist outlets, nor has he got any one about Newt “be very afraid, NATO” Gingrich’s not being ideal selfie material.

Deleted. Shame that means it is gone forever.