Ig­nor­ing Rus­sian moves doesn’t put ‘Amer­ica first’

The Republican Herald - - OPINION - (Lam­bro is a writer for United Fea­ture Syn­di­cate)

Pres­i­dent Trump men­tioned the word “sovereignty” 21 times in his ad­dress to the United Na­tions last week, but he said lit­tle about Rus­sia’s ef­forts to seize parts of Ukraine, piece by piece, and threaten other neigh­bor­ing states.

In­stead, Trump re­served his most de­fi­ant rhetoric for North Korea and its rapid nu­clear weapons buildup, which in­cludes a nu­clear-tipped in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal mis­sile that has the po­ten­tial ca­pa­bil­ity of reach­ing U.S. ter­ri­to­ries and the United States main­land it­self.

If a na­tion’s sovereignty is as im­por­tant to a peace­ful world as Trump rightly main­tains, how can he give a pass to Vladimir Putin’s seizure and an­nex­a­tion of the Ukraine’s Crimean Penin­sula?

And, more re­cently, the Krem­lin’s provoca­tive ac­tions near the Baltic states and else­where in Eastern Europe un­der the guise of “mil­i­tary train­ing ex­er­cises.”

To be sure, North Korea poses a se­ri­ous threat to the U.S. and our al­lies, but Trump has al­ready sent a mes­sage that even a me­ga­lo­ma­niac like Kim Jong Un un­der­stands.

Just in case he doesn’t, Trump upped the ante in his U.N. speech, declar­ing that if Kim dared to strike the U.S. or its al­lies, “we will have no choice but to to­tally de­stroy North Korea.”

It was the kind of pugilis­tic, tough guy lan­guage that his po­lit­i­cal base loves, but re­peat­ing it over and over risks los­ing its im­pact on our North Korean ad­ver­saries.

Trump was also in­tent on sell­ing his “Amer­ica first” agenda — the para­mount po­lit­i­cal war cry in his cam­paign — although his ex­pla­na­tion of what that meant got a lit­tle mud­dled in his pre­pared re­marks.

The Amer­i­can First Com­mit­tee in the run-up to World War II was a move­ment of peo­ple who wanted us to stay out of the war and let our al­lies fight it out on their own.

Decades later, Pat Buchanan res­ur­rected the “Amer­i­can first” slo­gan in his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign which fo­cused on keep­ing the U.S. out of other coun­tries’ wars, na­tion-build­ing and as­sorted for­eign en­tan­gle­ments.

For Trump, how­ever, “Amer­ica first” means some­thing else, as he vaguely said in his speech: “prin­ci­pled re­al­ism” that was driven by Amer­ica’s in­ter­ests.

Iran, which he called a “mur­der­ous regime,” is on his list of bad ac­tors. But other coun­tries he sin­gled out for our in­volve­ment left many scratch­ing their heads.

Like Venezuela, whose op­pres­sive, dic­ta­to­rial, cor­rupt, so­cial­ist regime is de­stroy­ing a once thriv­ing na­tion. The U.S., he said, must help Venezue­lans “re­gain their free­dom, re­cover their coun­try and re­store their democ­racy.”

Huh? You mean, the kind of “na­tion-build­ing” that he ridiculed in his cam­paign? Well, yes, as he pledged that’s where he would “take fur­ther ac­tion” if Venezuela “per­sists on its path.”

Mean­time, Trump is ig­nor­ing Vladimir Putin’s in­creas­ing mil­i­tary “ex­er­cises” in Eastern Europe, par­tic­u­larly along its bor­der with Ukraine and dan­ger­ously close to the Baltic states.

It’s not get­ting the me­dia at­ten­tion it de­serves, but Putin is send­ing sig­nals that he may be plot­ting to send forces at some fu­ture time into neigh­bor­ing coun­tries that were once part of the former Soviet Union.

Re­cently, United Press In­ter­na­tional sent this lead over its news wires:

“A NATO mil­i­tary leader said this past week­end that Rus­sia is con­duct­ing mil­i­tary ex­er­cises near its bor­ders with Eastern Euro­pean NATO coun­tries that ap­pear to be ‘se­ri­ous prepa­ra­tion for a big war.’ ...

“The ex­er­cise Rus­sia is con­duct­ing is part of a week-long pro­gram dubbed Za­pad 2017 and is tak­ing place along the bor­ders of NATO na­tions Es­to­nia, Latvia, Lithua­nia and Poland, as well as Fin­land, a non-NATO coun­try,” UPI re­ported.

The so-called “train­ing” ex­er­cises in­clude more than 12,000 Rus­sian troops, fighter jets, mis­siles, he­li­copters and tanks.

The last Za­pad, which means “west” in Rus­sian, was con­ducted in 2014, “shortly be­fore Rus­sia in­vaded Ukraine,” the news ser­vice noted.

NATO is now tak­ing this very se­ri­ously, send­ing 4,000 troops into Poland and the Baltic na­tions along the bor­der with Rus­sia, the Guardian re­ported.

Last year, Trump in­sisted in an in­ter­view with Ge­orge Stephanopou­los, the host of “This Week” on ABC News, that there were no Rus­sian troops in Ukraine when, in fact, there were.

Cov­er­ing up for Putin’s skull­dug­gery is not a for­eign pol­icy that best serves Amer­ica’s in­ter­ests or those of our al­lies.

In 2014, Putin re­port­edly told his Ukrainian coun­ter­part and other of­fi­cials of his de­sire to send com­bat troops into Rus­sia’s neigh­bor­ing states.

“If I want to, I can take Kiev in two weeks,” he al­legedly told Jose Manuel Bar­roso, then pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, UPI re­ported.

The ques­tion that many ob­servers are ask­ing is why isn’t Trump tak­ing this se­ri­ously?

Don­ald Lam­bro

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