After what I considered a pretty good appearance with the NATO member leaders, in which in his own inimitable way he publicly scolded them, with primary focus on Germany, for their failure to meet their agreed funding commitments and their intimidation by Russia, both of which are demonstrably true, President Trump then proceeded to have what for me was his worst week so far in his public messages from the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And this was particularly glaring in his tangling of words in the assignment of equivalency between Putin’s denials and the confirmed reports of U. S. intelligence agencies of Russian meddling in American elections in 2016. True, he was in a no-win situation, because to publicly confront Putin on Russian meddling in American elections would have opened a new barrage of “gotcha” attacks by the political left in the U. S., while not doing so has invited charges of weakness and even a certain confirmation of alleged “coziness” with Putin. As Byron York has correctly identified, Trump simply has a problem compartmentalizing the two completely separate aspects of this issue and the proper articulation is missing, as it is with many other subjects and, unfortunately, this weakness plays into the hands of his opponents.
But, as in all else with him, what you see is what you get, and who knows what might really come from this so-called summit once it is known what was said in their private meeting and what transpires if another such summit is held later this year or early next. Personally, I don’t expect much, and I particularly don’t think that Russia will take any leadership role in reducing the tensions in Syria or scaling back the influence of Iran in Syria and Iraq. For that kind of help, we will need a restored sense of political will, sense of urgency, and preparedness from our European allies, particularly Germany. At the end of the day, Russia is not our friend, it is an adversary, and Putin is a liar and a former KGB thug. Not our enemy, because we are not at war, and talking is better than war, but Putin will be no help in looking out for our interests or, for that matter, those of our allies. He has been described as being “from another world”, that of “might makes right”, and I think Trump understands that. After all, in policy terms, he has been much tougher on Putin by quantum leaps than either Bush or Obama, and remember, he was not the one who created the leadership vacuum that allowed Russia back into influence in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, it is well in evidence that Trump intends to restructure world order into his version of it, even if the means for doing so begin with a dose of “creative destruction”. And we should recognize that the people who have the biggest problem with him in foreign policy (without including the completely unhinged and irresponsible left led by former CIA Director John Brennan and his alleged treason charges) are the very crowd that has taken us down the road to second class status in world leadership, along with the intelligence community that provided support for the missteps. Why should Donald Trump defer to this crowd which has worked to undermine him since he announced his candidacy? Look at the Obama record—in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, North Korea, Russia, etc. This so-called “world order” he is supposedly out to destroy in fact needs some creative destruction. The UN, NATO, and related entities and relationships are post-World War II relics that often served us well, but are of a world long gone in many ways and in need of major new thinking and overhaul, and he is willing to say that even if he doesn’t know exactly what the new model will look like. Yes, he is impulsive, egocentric, often crude, and prone to act out of pure instinct, but where have the established and well-groomed global internationalists taken us lately?