Made you think, right? Not as outrageous or unlikely as it sounds. The meeting was just announced and there is already much speculation and trepidation about what to expect when President Trump and President Putin meet next month. I continue to believe dialogue is good and our foreign policy should include meetings with both allies and adversaries. The U.S. and Russia should work to improve relations for the good of the entire world. That is a good thing. However, the U.S. must go into the sessions in a position of strength and prepared to assert U.S. interests. Is President Trump up for the task? Time will tell.
President Trump’s multiple failures on the diplomatic stage lead many people to question the utility of this meeting. Our NATO allies and European friends are extremely worried. They fear what they see as inevitable, dangerous, concessions Trump will make to Putin. Recent history supports their concerns. Trump’s performance at the recent G7 Summit was abysmal and hurt the U.S. Before even arriving at the Summit, he unilaterally and wrongly advocated to add Russia, making it the G8, evoking once again images of the strange affection Trump has for Putin and Russia. Russia was soundly expelled from the G8 based on aggression against its neighbors, invading Ukraine without justification, and annexing the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump continually criticized President Obama for not being strong enough against Russia, specifically referencing Ukraine and Syria. As President, Trump has completely ignored Ukraine and conceded Syria. Trump refuses to challenge Russia on its meddling in U.S. elections as well as in our allies’ elections as part of Putin’s plan to undermine democracy and the NATO alliance. It is unfathomable that a U.S. President would completely roll over on such an existential threat to our future and security or such hostile acts from an adversary. Forget the ongoing issue of Trump connections to Russia, which he will obviously not admit. This is about the overwhelming evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election in the many forms outlined by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies including cyber-attacks.
When Trump previously met with Putin, as an ad-on to his NATO meetings, Trump failed to assert U.S. interests. He was forced to at least ask Putin about Russia’s election meddling. Putin simply denied it and Trump quickly accepted the denial without any consideration. When Trump met with Kim Jing Un, Trump almost immediately offered major concessions to Kim while getting nothing in return. During meetings with Chinese Premiere Xi, again President Trump failed to garner any concessions on critical economic and geopolitical issues with dire consequences to our future. Therefore, there is great cause for concern over the upcoming summit. Will Trump again show weakness and ineptitude to our adversaries, immediately offering significant concessions such as relief from sanctions, membership in the G8 or reducing NATO? These issues are critical and the U.S., NATO, and the free world all need President Trump to succeed at this summit.
This summit can be successful if President Trump properly and thoroughly prepares. Thus far he has shown a strong dislike for preparation, refusing to read or learn. Putting aside concerns about whether Trump lacks the intellect to understand policy and the U.S. government, he must work diligently to enter the summit in the strongest possible position. The entire U.S. intelligence community (then and now), U.S. Congress, and his own administration all accept the overwhelming evidence of Russian meddling. In fact, Congress passed by overwhelming majorities of both Houses a Russia sanctions bill based on Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This was on top of sanctions passed addressing their aggression against Ukrainian. The President must accept the truth and act accordingly. He must study like he has never been willing to do before. The future of democracy depends on it.