Skip to comments.The Trump-Putin Summit and Reliving the Cold War
Posted on 07/20/2018 1:32:47 PM PDT by Yo-Yo
President Trump blundered in his appearance with Putin, but his intuitions are nevertheless correct: a new Cold War with Russia would not end as happily as the real Cold War did.
Donald Trump has the magic touch. After eighteen months in office, and eighteen more before that as the pre-eminent figure in American politics, Trumps shock value might have worn off. The political establishment might have become inured to his heresies about cherished policies and sacred institutions, even to the point of learning to control its own response to his provocations. But hell no!Trump can still do it. He can goad his enemies into saying even crazier things than he does, with the difference that what Trump says speaks to the national psyche, or at least the Republican subconscious. What the defenders of politics past have to say speaks only to a consensus that evaporated when no one was looking.
President Trump does not care what the U.S. intelligence community thinks about Russia. He advertised that fact in his Monday press conference with Vladimir Putin. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, says one thing about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Putin says another. Trump shrugsmetaphorically, if not in factand asks himself aloud: why would the Russians do it? A day later, in the face of the fury, Trump amends his statement in the most brazenly casual way possible: oh, did he say would? He meant wouldnt. Why wouldnt the Russians interfere?
The correction, if you can call it that, like the original statement, flags up exactly how Trump feels about his critics, the intelligence world, and investigations into Russian interference, including the possibility of collusion between Trump associates and the Kremlin. He left nothing equivocal on that last pointTrump forcefully denied any collusion with Russia and instead asked what ever became of the server on which the hacked DNC information resided. All of thisfrom the press remarks to his retroactive reversal to his subsequent assertion, once back in the United States, that Russia is not interfering in the 2018 midtermsmay not have been premeditated to provoke his critics (and fair-weather allies) to apoplexy, but could not have been better chosen to do so if it had been planned. John Brennan, director of the CIA under Obama, took to Twitter to proclaim Trumps words not only impeachable but nothing short of treasonous. Others piled on, with the grand prize in histrionics going to former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, whose hyperbole took bad taste and ahistorical fatuity to hitherto unimagined extremes: Its just as serious to me as the Cuban missile crisis in terms of an attack or the 9/11 attack, she told MSNBC, I would say that his performance today will live in infamy as much as the Pearl Harbor attack or Kristallnacht.
Treason and traitor became buzzwords. Charles Blow titled his New York Times column on the Trump-Putin meeting Trump, Treasonous Traitor, and concluded it by writing, America is under attack and its president absolutely refuses to defend it. Simply put, Trump is a traitor and may well be treasonous. So many things of this sort appeared that a counterliterature popped up, with Slate and the Daily Beast running stories whose headlines warned, Accusing Trump of treason makes him stronger and Stop Saying Trump Committed Treason. Youre Playing Into His Hands. By federal statute, treason is a capital crime, punishable by death, Fred Kaplan reminded his readers in Slate. It is also the only crime that the founders chose to define in the Constitution, and they did so very carefully and very narrowly, such that outside of aiding an enemy with whom the U.S. is in armed conflict, hardly anything qualifies.
President Trumps extemporaneous, untutored, and highly personal style of speaking is less suitable for international relations than domestic politics, and least suited of all for appearances alongside as dangerous and supremely self-controlled a figure as the leader of Russia. But once again Americas former leadership class is excessively invested in appearances and ritual and oblivious to the substance of a changing world, one in which neither domestic politics nor international affairs remains within the margins established by the postCold War liberal consensus.
Public opinion polls in all but a handful of NATO member countries show that Europeans do not want their own countries to fight in the event of a conflict with Russiaoutside of Poland and Holland, most Europeans believe that only the Americans, if anyone, should be responsible for an armed confrontation with Russia. Some 49 percent of Americans, meanwhile, believe that the United States should not fight for NATO allies if they do not increase their defense spending. These numbers point to a profound lack of legitimacy on the part of NATO and the posture toward Russia that the alliance automatically assumes. But even as NATO loses legitimacy in the eyes of Europeans and Americans, it expands inexorably, now taking in the country formerly known as the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Vladimir Putin has an interest in seeing NATO weakened or destroyed, and this alone is enough to reinforce the old Western leaderships commitment to the almost seven-decade-old anti-Soviet alliance. But neither in the United States nor in Europe, where the public is concerned, is Putins desire what matters most. If American voters were as Russophobic as American elites, Mitt Romney would have been elected president in 2012, when he all but promised a new Cold War.
The original Cold War NATO had obvious, limited aims within the context of an ideological struggle. It was an alliance aimed at holding the line against Soviet expansionnot continually expanding itself. After NATOs founding in 1949, only four additional countries joined the alliance before the end of the Cold War some forty years later. But in the mere two decades between 1999 and now, a further thirteen countries have joined, with Macedonias membership pending. This is a very different alliance, one that has never renewed its wellsprings of legitimacy among the peoples of its founding members.
The Soviet Union, which provided NATO its raison detre, has been gone for almost thirty years. Putins Russia is still a menace to its immediate neighbors and a source of mischiefup to and including murder, but most often taking the form of support for disruptive political movementsto all Western countries. But whatever ideological or subversive reach Putins Kremlin may have, it is paltry compared to the often religious zeal of twentieth-century Communism, which infected every Western country and revolutionized much of the developing world. Putins strength is exaggerated in the eyes of Western liberals, however, because they identify it with their own weaknessa weakness that has more to do with their own alienation from their fellow citizens than with Russias tampering with other nations politics. By misidentifying an internal lack of legitimacy with an external threat, the liberal West makes itself doubly vulnerable: to further erosion of norms within its own sphere, arising from a failure to address its real causes, and to unnecessary conflict with Russia, including the ultimate risk of nuclear war. That North Koreas nuclear program causes such consternation among the Western political class, while the infinitely greater danger posed by Russias nuclear arsenal is overlooked in the frenzy to castigate Putin, is an index of how unserious the Wests leadership class has become. Needless to say, a Western leadership class distracted by re-enacting the Cold War of thirty years ago is also a leadership that is unfit to address the much different challenge of Chinas rise toward pre-eminence in the 21st century.
President Trump blundered in his appearance with Putin. His intuitions are nevertheless correct: a new Cold War with Russia would not end as happily as the real Cold War did, for reasons that have nothing to do with Romney-esque hype about Russian power. Trump was even correct in substance, if not in the occasion he chose to raise it, to defy the unconstitutional belief that the president has a duty to act as public advocate for the executive agencies that are, in fact, subordinate to him. To speak of treason is silly, but if anything is against the Constitution, it is the belief of Trumps critics that the president cannot gainsay the intelligence community. On the contrary, whatever it may report to him, he is free to speak and act as he deems bestthe presidents orders are binding upon the intelligence community, not the other way around. If Trump decides that Russia will not be our enemy, the intelligence community has no standing to challenge him. To do so would be a coup detat. Congress can impeach him, and the voters can choose not to re-elect him. But the intelligence communitys role is only to advise and serve, not to command or constrain.
Daniel McCarthy is the editor of He is also the editor at large of The American Conservative. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, The Spectator, Reason and many other publications.
The brilliance of Trump is in not being beholden to political correctness. He says what we are all thinking.
But I believe he would be more effective if he paused before speaking.
Typical National Review blather.
Since we pay for this cold-war relic no one has more of an interest in weakening NATO than the US, which is a mostly a jobs program for high-falutin deep state international has-been bureaucrats, and great jobs they are.
‘Pause before speaking’?
You mean like Obama?
With POTUS, there are no “blunders”, per se, just streams of thought, some of which cause apoplexy among the media and their RINO allies. But as usual it’s what he DOES that matters and not what he says. This is the new paradigm, and I for one think it makes more sense than the old paradigm of bluster and dueling prepared statements.
We are already in a war. But not Cold War and no nukes necessary!
It is a *hybrid* war and not just against Russia, but China on cyber fronts, economics and trade, spheres of cultural influence, space race, tech and innovation, etc...
That is just another way of saying that you want him to parse his words. To speak only things that soothe, to become PC like Obammy.
He speaks his mind, that is called honesty and I love it.
POTUS sure has you snowed.
Let Trump be Trump.
I also hope that even as America puts ourselves first again to MAGA (Make America Great Again) — we do not completely discount our prior role in the world as a mistake! Even as troops pull out of places like S. Korea or even Germany...it was for the better that we did what we did. And much of the world should appreciate America for how it’s helped sustain freedom and prosperity for so many. The historical narrative matters.
We need to learn from our mistakes in places like the Middle East, but not completely place doubt in everything that we have accomplished and built up to this point! America-Israel alliance for example is one of the most consequential in the annals of history.
Trump said what he said because he doesn’t trust the deep state intel and doj agencies. And for good reason. They’ve been politicized and weaponized, not only against him, but against constitutional government, ie, against America. I think he had to back off a tad, because the congress and the people are not yet ready to handle the truth. He doesn’t have enough support in the congress right now to withstand a constitutional crisis. But it’s boiling to a head. I suspect the fireworks will start in 2019 after the new congress is seated.
Thank you very much, Yo-Yo!! And kitty thanks you too.
No, just think strategically before speaking, the way Reagan did.
Now that's just silly.
Let Chandler be Chandler.
But I believe he would be more effective if he paused before speaking.
suggests you do not understand POTUS operating style.
There is no off the cuff going on. The statements which seem a little over the top are meant to, for many reasons: to get people talking about the topic, to get people thinking and to break up the frozen, socially acceptable consensus so that problems can be defined and solutions found. In short President Trump is using spelling mistakes, exaggerations for effect, and shock value to get the public dialog going and going where he wants it to go.
President Trump is in many ways a practitioner of the Art of the Deal. He has no reluctance to look a little stupid if that puts the other side off guard and gets him leverage. He is using the whole schtik to get the deep state & MSM tied up & exposed, to educate the public, to distract so that he can get legislation & judges in place. Don't be fooled into thinking that he is brash and slapdash. He has been planning how to win this battle against a crowded field of America's enemies (internal & external) for 30 years.
There are some really popular paints available for many years that you can spray right on rusty metal and make it look real pretty for a while. Most come in red or blue.
Problem is that your most valued asset continues to rot from the inside no matter how much it shines on the outside.
The real fix starts when the grinder hits it, sparks fly, the worst gets cut out and replaced and it can get real ugly. Paint people scream and whine, but people who understand what hard work and sweat can accomplish just look forward to the strong, beautiful product its builders produced.
Trump is a grinder!
“Don’t be fooled into thinking that he is brash and slapdash. He has been planning how to win this battle against a crowded field of America’s enemies (internal & external) for 30 years.”
President Trump reminds me of General George Patton.
While most men were training to be officers Patton was training to be a warrior. He would often offer thoughts that others thought flippant or brash. Truth was Patton has studied war all his life. The books in his home library, all about war, battles and leaders, were liberally sprinkled with handwritten notes on the margins.
He didn’t have to think or study once battle was joined, he knew the answers from his study of the history of war.
Donald Trump didn’t just study business, he learned the ins and outs of business. The macro and micro and what effects policies have downstream.
He also knows how to handle people, how to get them off their game.
He has been around enough politicians to know what venal and shallow people most of them are.
His entire life has led him to this point.
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