Trump-Putin Summit and Europe Visit has Collapsed the Global Order

Trump-Putin Summit and Europe Visit has Collapsed the Global Order

Trump has just committed geopolitical suicide

Zach Beauchamp, 7-16, 18, Vox.com, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and America’s “geopolitical suicide”, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/7/16/17577096/trump-putin-meeting-nato

The Trump-Putin summit was, by all accounts, a disgrace for the United States. President Trump kowtowed to Vladimir Putin, praising the Russian leader as a potential partner and casting doubt on accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. But the thing that made it not just disgraceful but actively terrifying was the timing. Last week, Trump attended a NATO summit, where he met with America’s top allies in Western Europe to discuss (among other things) the threat from Putin’s Russia. Trump spent the meeting bashing American allies for not spending enough on their own defense, labeling the Western alliance “delinquent.” Shortly afterward, he gave interviews slamming the UK prime minister and labeling the European Union a ”foe.” The contrast with the Putin press conference, in which Trump vowed to build an “extraordinary relationship” with Russia, couldn’t be clearer. In fact, the same day as the fawning Putin presser, the Trump administration brought a World Trade Organization suit alleging that the bulk of NATO allies are engaging in unfair trade practices against the United States. We all kind of knew this is how Trump felt, since at least the campaign. But Monday’s Trump-Putin summit, and the NATO summit before it, showed that he was serious about turning those feelings into action. Trump has, in the past week, said and done several things that concretely undermine the US’s relationship with Western Europe while at the same time ingratiating himself with Putin. We must confront the reality that the world’s worst fears about a Trump presidency are starting to come true: that America under Trump is committing what Georgetown University professor Dan Nexon calls “geopolitical suicide.” The Trump administration is ending “America” as we know it — a country that basically works to maintain a relatively peaceful status quo — and replacing it with a kind of rogue superpower, one that is willing to advance what Donald Trump sees as its interests at any cost. The world is now going to come to terms with the Trump threat Within half an hour of arriving at the NATO summit last week, Trump insulted German Chancellor Angela Merkel and forced NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to publicly sing his praises. Trump later derailed meetings with his complaints about allies not spending enough on defense, forcing Stoltenberg to call an emergency session to mediate between Trump and the rest of the alliance. Afterward, Trump claimed that NATO allies had capitulated to him and agreed to spend more on defense — a claim disputed by, among others, French President Emmanuel Macron. That’s an extremely contentious approach to allies, one that indicates Trump’s willingness to pursue his disagreements with them. The tariffs brought earlier this year, and the WTO case brought on Monday, shows that he’s willing, perhaps even eager, to back up these complaints with concrete action. The ultimate goal appears to be to change the way America’s relationship with its allies works, both militarily and economically. Yet during his press conference with Putin, Trump gave no indication that he was willing to pursue US grievances with Russia in a similar fashion. He didn’t mention the recent revelation that Russia had poisoned two UK civilians during a chemical weapons attack on Britain. He didn’t bring up the war in Ukraine, nor did he mention the hundreds of times NATO forces have had to scramble to meet Russian warplanes in Europe over the past several years. At times, it felt like Trump was actively running interference for the Russian president. When a reporter asked who was responsible for poor US-Russian relations of late, Trump suggested that both sides bore some blame and that it was time to let bygones be bygones: I hold both countries responsible. I think the United States has been foolish. I think we have all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward along with Russia. We’re getting together and we have a chance to do some great things. So Trump is willing to publicly confront US allies on defense spending, humiliating the assembled heads of state at a NATO summit. He’s willing to hit the EU with tariffs and WTO suits over (allegedly) unfair trade practices. Yet when given a massive platform to confront Vladimir Putin over a series of very real attacks on the United States and its allies, Trump actually defended the Russian leader. There is, at least for now, no mismatch between Trump’s rhetoric and actions. The Trump administration’s policy is being brought in line with candidate Trump’s rhetoric. RELATED It’s time to take Trump both seriously and literally on Russia Trump the revisionist When scholars of international relations analyze the strategies of great powers like the United States, they typically describe these countries’ objectives as falling into one of two buckets. Either they are “status quo” powers, nations that largely want to keep the world working the way it already does, or they are “revisionist” powers that want to upend the balance of power. Nazi Germany is the classic revisionist power, as it sought to conquer all of Western Europe. Prewar Britain was a classic status quo power, trying to maintain its own empire and keep Hitler from gobbling up everyone else. For the past several decades, the United States has largely behaved like a status quo power. The US has long been the world’s richest, most militarily powerful, and most diplomatically influential country on Earth; the centerpiece of its global strategy has been to maintain this position of strength. That’s why the US didn’t tear up the NATO alliance after its original reason for existing, the threat from the Soviet Union, ended; being in a tight military alliance with a number of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful countries helped the US cement its dominance and deter potential rivals from challenging American power. Russia under Putin is perhaps the world’s most ambitious revisionist power. Putin’s goal is to make Russia the kind of world power it was during the Soviet era; he’s been willing to aggressively deploy the Russian military (in Ukraine and Syria) and intelligence services (in Western Europe and the United States) in service of this aim. This fundamental tension, between Moscow’s revisionism and Washington’s defense of the status quo, led to a collapse in US-Russia relations during the late Obama administration. But Trump thinks like a revisionist. When he looks at the NATO alliance, he doesn’t see a network of American allies; he sees a group of freeloaders exploiting American might to slack off on defending themselves. When he looks at the global economy, he doesn’t see America’s privileged position as the world’s largest economy; he sees a once-great country laid low by foreigners exploiting its generous trade practices. Trump doesn’t want to preserve the global status quo; he wants to revise it. This worldview puts him in objective alignment with Putin, who has similar — albeit more radical — feelings about the Western alliance. This is likely one reason Putin interfered in the US election to back Trump in the first place; it was plausible, even back in early 2016, to predict that a Trump presidency could destabilize the US-led global order in exactly the ways Putin hoped for. This notion, that the world’s most powerful country might actually try to shake up the global order that sustains its power, is deeply stupid, which is why Georgetown’s Nexon labeled it “geopolitical suicide” in the first place. It’s so stupid, in fact, that many observers predicted that Trump couldn’t possibly act on his anti-ally and pro-Russia rhetoric once in office. Yet the past week has shown that Trump is, in fact, serious about trying to commit superpower seppuku. The world must come to terms with the fact that for the next several years, the America they’ve come to depend on is gone — replaced with something that wants to attack everything it once stood for.

Trump has conceded to the Russians

Douglas E. Schoen is a Fox News contributor. He has more than 30 years experience as a pollster and political consultant, 7-16, 18, Fox News, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/07/16/putin-eats-trumps-lunch-in-helsinki-this-is-no-way-to-win-against-russia.html Putin eats Trump’s lunch in Helsinki — This is no way to win against Russia

At their joint press conference, President Putin was calculated and in control. Conversely, President Trump seemed to lack authority, praising Putin when he should have been condemning him, and ceding opportunities to confront Putin on his most egregious actions of the past decade – including meddling in the 2016 election and the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. During Putin and Trump’s prepared remarks, it was rather obvious who had led the discussion. While President Putin laid out a clear framework for advancing Russian interests within the context of U.S.-Russia relations, Trump appeared to have had little plan, alternating between vague promises of improving our relationship with Russia and spending too much time on U.S. domestic affairs, notably the 2016 presidential election. Instead of holding Putin accountable for his election interference, he referenced his defeat of Hillary Clinton. For a sitting U.S. president to say publicly that he believes a foreign leader over his own intelligence team is shocking and admonishable. At a time when our democracy faces grave threats, it is deeply troubling that the president would side with the very country who attacked us. When Trump said, “It’s a shame that there could even be a little bit of a cloud over it. People know that, people understand it,” it was a clear example of him circumventing the question. At one point, President Trump even cited, incorrectly, the Electoral College tallies from over two years ago. This was all in an attempt to deflect questions that he was apparently unable to answer. Crucially, there were no concessions from Russia on any of the issues that needed to be addressed. Even more concerning, Trump was unwilling to even make the United States’ case on these issues, and the failure to hear concessions from Putin mirrors the lack of follow-through on the grand promises of the recent North Korean summit with another murderous authoritarian, Kim Jong Un. Despite each nation backing different sides in the Syrian conflict, Trump suggested he and Putin would begin working in conjunction to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Syria, regardless of the fact that the need for humanitarian aid largely stems from Putin’s unabashed support for Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. Additionally, Trump also failed to address the concerns of our NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in the Baltics regarding the territorial threats they persistently face. Trump, throughout the entire press conference, failed to condemn or even acknowledge the illegality of Putin’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine. When asked if he would hold Russia accountable for any of its past actions, Trump deflected and deferred. President Trump’s unwillingness to stand up to Russia on this issue only serves to weaken the Western alliance and encourage further Russian incursions into the territory of sovereign nations now that Putin knows Trump will give him a pass. Most importantly, on election meddling, Trump refused to stand with U.S. intelligence and charge Putin with interference, saying he doesn’t “see any reason why it would be” the Russians carrying out the illegal meddling. For a sitting U.S. president to say publicly that he believes a foreign leader over his own intelligence team is shocking and admonishable. At a time when our democracy faces grave threats, it is deeply troubling that the president would side with the very country who attacked us. Additionally, Trump’s failure to distinguish between campaign collusion and Russia’s blatant attack on our democracy allowed Putin to sow more discord during the press conference. “Could you name a single fact that would definitely prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense, just like the president recently mentioned,” Putin told a reporter. Trump, and our country for that matter, can only win against Putin if we are assertive about American goals and our values. President Trump failed to accomplish that on Monday. Instead of standing up to Putin, Trump offered to cooperate with Russia on some of the very issues that Russia is causing. As some very wise analysts have noted, this strategy is like allowing a criminal to investigate his own crimes. It is foolish and naive and President Trump must simply do better going forward.

Trump has eviscerated US credibility on the South China Sea

Justin Crabtree, 7-16, 18, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/16/china-watches-as-donald-trump-meets-vladimir-putin.html , China will be watching and learning as Trump meets Putin, China will be watching and learning as Trump meets Putin

China is likely to be most interested in President Donald Trump’s negotiating style during his upcoming head-to-head with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, an expert told CNBC. Trump’s potential to cede to Putin’s geopolitical ambitions could serve as a bellweather for China’s own, such as its presence in the South China Sea or the sovereignty of Taiwan. Trump told reporters prior to the summit with Putin that China and “our mutual friend President Xi” would be discussed. Russia plays only a peripheral role in the ongoing global trade war. Justina Crabtree | @jlacrabtree Published 13 Hours Ago Updated 9 Hours Ago CNBC.com President Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, July 16, 2018. Mikhail Metzel | TASS | Getty Images President Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, July 16, 2018. As President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin prepare for a head-to-head on Monday, nearby superpower China will be paying the most attention to the relationship dynamic between the two leaders, analysts told CNBC. The Trump-Putin summit taking place in Helsinki, Finland, this week “could present China with important strategic opportunities as well as offering valuable lessons for its own relationship with the U.S. president,” John Ferguson, director of global forecasting at analysis firm Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC via e-mail. The U.S. president’s hot-and-cold relationship with traditional allies, combined with his willingness to open bilateral dialogues with countries known historically for their rockier relationship with the White House, is an ongoing narrative of his presidency. Trump’s potential to cede to Putin on issues such as Russia’s presence in Crimea or NATO’s exercises in the Baltic region could, therefore, set a precedent for Beijing’s furthering of its own geopolitical ambitions, Ferguson said. This includes control over the South China Sea and the sovereignty of Taiwan. Though China doesn’t have a seat at the table this time around, it will be front and center of the Trump-Putin bilateral. “We’ll be talking a little bit about China (and) our mutual friend President Xi,” said Trump as he faced reporters with Putin on Monday. Any indication of U.S.-Russian collaboration over denuclearizing North Korea, a country with which both China and Russia share a border, could diminish Beijing’s influence in the ongoing saga. “China is a central player in the Korean Peninsula, but if Mr Trump can increase Russian leverage over North Korea, it will lessen his need to rely too heavily on China’s support,” Ferguson suggested. China ultimately unfazed by Trump-Putin summit But while Beijing could be paying attention to Trump’s diplomatic style, it is unlikely to be worried by any developments in U.S. economic and foreign policy, according to two other experts. For Kent Kedl, a senior partner at consultancy Control Risks specializing in Asia, Monday’s summit will have little impact on the U.S.-China trade war that is currently roiling markets. Kedl told CNBC via telephone that he did not see the U.S. president trying to rally a coalition against trade adversary China, as “Trump’s way is to divide and conquer.” “You do not want to give Jeff Bezos a seven-year head start.” Hear what else Buffett has to say China views Russia as a useful decoy while it serves its own interests, according to Kerry Brown, associate fellow of the Asia-Pacific Programme at think tank Chatham House. “China doesn’t see Russia as a geopolitical threat,” he told CNBC via telephone, but instead views the country as a “useful idiot” whose service is “distracting the West.” Though geographically huge, Russia’s economy is dwarfed by the U.S.’ and China’s, which are the world’s largest and second largest respectively. This contributes to Brown’s argument that ultimately, Russia is a “marginal player in U.S.-China relations.” But for Ferguson, despite Russia’s only “peripheral” involvement in the ongoing global trade war, American openness to strike deals with Russia could inform China’s own approach. Beijing’s own hosting of Trump last November was domestically lauded as a success, indicating that despite trade war worries, it considers itself capable of dealing with the volatile president.

Trump undermined US allies and demonstrated global weakness vis-à-vis Russia

Dan Balz, 7-16, 18, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/after-a-jaw-dropping-news-conference-what-does-america-first-really-mean/2018/07/16/2b728b12-892e-11e8-a345-a1bf7847b375_story.html?utm_term=.3a4663b7ed1a The moment called for Trump to stand up for America. He chose to bow.

When the history of Donald Trump’s presidency is ultimately written, July 16, 2018, will have a special entry. On a day when the setting called for a show of strength and resolve from an American president, Trump instead offered deference, defensiveness, equivocation and weakness. If anyone can recall a performance by a U.S. president that rivaled the one seen around the world Monday, let them come forward. In the meantime, Trump’s extraordinary joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin will stand on its own, for sheer shock value and for the reality of an opportunity lost. Here was a president turning his back on the collective work of U.S. intelligence agencies, looking the other way at indictments returned last week by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III against 12 Russian military intelligence officers who sought to undermine American democracy during the 2016 election, and falling back as he so often has on attacks against Hillary Clinton, criticism of Democrats and boasts about the size of his electoral college victory. ADVERTISING In reality, he did more than turn his back on the evidence of Russian attacks on the U.S. electoral process. He all but rejected it. In an attempt to say both sides have their views of what happened during the last presidential election, he proffered that his own view is that he can’t bring himself to accept that the Russians did it. “I don’t see any reason why [Russia would interfere],” he said. [Pelosi, Schumer: Trump’s news conference suggests Putin has something on him] It is a fiction to which he has reverted from the very beginning of his presidency, in the face of repeated and escalating evidence to the contrary. In Helsinki, he said that the Russian leader had offered “an extremely strong and powerful denial” of interference and so he would not forcefully offer evidence to the contrary. What he may have said in the private meeting with Putin is lost to history, given the absence of notetakers or advisers present. 46:20 Watch Donald Trump’s full news conference with Vladimir Putin Here are the full remarks and responses to questions from President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference on July 16 in Helsinki. (The Washington Post) One can only imagine Putin’s satisfaction at the way things have turned out. His country’s attacks on U.S. democracy have sown internal discord and distrust, setting Americans against Americans. He has watched the U.S.-European alliance come under enormous strain, with the president now branding the European Union a foe. On Monday, he watched Trump bow to what the president must assume are the demands of diplomacy — offering public praise and compliments to the Russian, rather than blunt talk when called for — and rather than standing up, as Putin did when he was questioned about the interference. [Putin denies interference; Trump declines to assert the opposite] Monday’s news conference was the capstone to an international trip in which, at every opportunity, the president undercut U.S. allies in Europe while playing nice with Putin. He did this through repeated derogatory tweets, backroom hectoring of European leaders (especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel), interviews with the British media (in which he attacked British Prime Minister Theresa May) and the U.S. press and in public settings with other world heads of government. Together they added up to a moment that will leave a mark on Trump’s presidency. That’s not to say it will fundamentally change the course of his presidency, given the fluidity of events, the reality that attention spans are short and the probability of more shocks from various directions that will put the focus elsewhere. Nothing much changes minds about the president, and this trip and Monday news conference might not, either. 2:13 Asked if he believes FBI or Russia, Trump says he has ‘confidence in both’ President Trump was asked about the investigation into Russian election interference at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16. (The Washington Post) But as a reportable moment, as a measure of character and leadership, what the world witnessed will help to shape ultimate judgments about Trump. Time and again, in the face of strong and direct questions by two American reporters, Jeff Mason of Reuters and Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press, the president refused to stand up for the country he was elected to represent and protect. [Trump’s defense of Russia prompts outrage from some Republicans] One glaring question that comes out of the moment is whether, in any way, this will affect or alter the posture of Republicans toward the president, especially GOP elected officials beyond the small cast of characters — Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Ben Sasse of Nebraska among them — who have regularly stood in opposition to many aspects of Trump’s policies and comments. Others have been selective in their critiques, still others largely silent. That’s because Trump has so dominated the party that he successfully hijacked in 2016 that Republicans have bent almost completely to his will. That the GOP is a party increasingly in Trump’s image is one sign of the strength he has exhibited. But this is also a Republican Party for whom anti-communism was once an essential ingredient in the glue that bound together an otherwise disparate coalition, and for which skepticism of Russia and particularly of Putin has remained extremely strong. At least until now. After Monday’s performance by the president, this will become another test of the leaders of a party that once prided itself on being called the party of Ronald Reagan, who was willing to call the Soviet Union the “evil empire” and whose presidency helped bring about the demise of that empire. Will they do any better than the president did in Helsinki? Will they stand up in ways they haven’t previously? Daniel Coats, director of national intelligence, lost little time in responding to the president he serves. “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security,” he said in a statement. Others with less direct roles weighed in as well, to reaffirm their belief that Russia in fact was the agent that meddled in the campaign. One was House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who said in a statement that “there is no question that Russia interfered” in the election. Yet members of Ryan’s conference continue to attack the Justice Department, the FBI and Mueller’s team for attempting to carry out a thorough and complete investigation into exactly what happened. [Not even Paul D. Ryan can defend Trump’s news conference with Putin] That investigation includes the question of whether there was any collusion with Russians by officials associated with the Trump campaign. The president has said repeatedly, as he did Monday, that there was no collusion. Perhaps Mueller and his team will reach the same conclusion, if they are allowed to carry on through the end. But Trump’s conflation of the issue of collusion with the question of Russian attacks on the U.S. democratic process continues to undermine the entire investigation, turning what should be a nonpartisan examination of what happened and how the country can be protected from any repeat efforts into a partisan brawl. On Monday, Trump called the investigation “a disaster” for the United States. All of which raises the obvious question: If the president’s comments in Helsinki reflect his true thinking, if he sees the United States as being as responsible for poor relations with Russia as the Russians are, if he is not willing to stand behind the intelligence agencies sworn to protect this country, what exactly does “America First” really mean?

Trump has eviscerated US relations with Europe

Zakheim 7-16, 18, The Hill, Dov S. Zakheim is a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and vice chairman of the board for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He was under secretary of Defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Department of Defense from 2001 to 2004 and a deputy under secretary of Defense from 1985 to 1987, http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/397292-trump-pulls-off-trifecta-of-disruption-on-European-trip, Trump pulls off trifecta of disruption on European trip

Donald Trump did not disappoint. The erstwhile “Leader of the Free World” managed to accomplish the ultimate disruptive trifecta on his European tour. He blasted NATO and the EU — labelling the latter an American foeand Germany in particular. He undermined British Prime Minister Theresa May even as he dined with her at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill, the embodiment of the Anglo-American “special relationship.” And he whitewashed Russian President Vladimir Putin of all complicity in Moscow’s attempts to distort the 2016 presidential election, its predations in Crimea and Ukraine, its support for Bashar al-Assad’s brutal repression in Syria. Not bad for a long weekend’s work. There was nothing wrong with Trump’s seeking to improve relations with Russia. As the president rightly asserted, “It is better to take risks for peace.” But that need not have involved the bullying that took place in Brussels and London, and the offensive tweets that he issued throughout his trip. Trump’s attacks on Germany were not without foundation. Europe’s richest country has been notoriously reluctant to spend money on defense, ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Moreover, Germany has been complicit in permitting the Iranians to move funds out of German banks prior to the imposition of America’s latest round of financial sanctions on Tehran. Finally, Germany has opted to support the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the face of American opposition and has, to all intents and purposes, forced its neighbors to support it as well. If Trump’s treatment of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was offensive, his disparagement of Theresa May in an interview to Britain’s Sun newspaper, which appeared on the street as he dined with the British prime minister, was even worse. In rejecting her approach to Brexit and in complimenting Boris Johnson, her recently departed foreign minister, Trump weakened Britain’s position in negotiating with a tough, virtually implacable European Union. And, in the case of both Merkel and May, his subsequent kind words were nothing less than those that schoolyard bullies use when, having beaten some poor unfortunate, they put their arms around the victim’s shoulder and tell the teacher that they really are good friends. Trump’s belated praise of both leaders is likely to ring hollow with the publics of the countries they lead. Whatever they may think of May and Merkel, British and German citizens will nevertheless resent Trump’s insulting their elected leaders. The now-famous Trump blimp over London is but a symptom of the widespread hostility to the American president that reigns in Europe today. Trump’s attacks on the EU are of a piece with his haranguing of Prime Minister May and Chancellor Merkel. They reflect his basic misunderstanding of what the organization is all about. Lacking any knowledge of post-war European history, the American president does not realize that the primary purpose for the creation of the EU’s predecessors, the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community, was to prevent France and Germany from again going to war. However remote that possibility appears to be today, it remains the foundational cornerstone of what has become a Europe-wide organization of peaceful democratic states. A similar rationale underlay the creation of NATO, together with the need to prevent Soviet domination of Europe. Yet, Trump’s manifest antagonism toward the alliance was hardly different from that he displayed toward the EU. His demand that NATO members fulfill their 2 percent pledge was perfectly legitimate. This pledge already marked a major step down from an earlier pledge to devote 3 percent of their respective gross domestic products (GDP) to defense. It was a pledge that most NATO members never met and that prompted American remonstrations dating as far back as the Mansfield amendments of the late 1960s and early 1970s (which sought to reduce American presence in Europe) through President Obama’s characterization of America’s allies as “free riders.” Trump went beyond that otherwise reasonable demand, insisting that NATO members up their defense expenditures to 4 percent of GDP. America meets that criterion only if its Veterans Affairs budget is taken into account. Moreover, perhaps as much as half of U.S. military spending addresses threats outside Europe, in East Asia and the greater Middle East. Indeed, analysts for years have insisted the direct American contribution to NATO is most difficult to measure since certain forces — for example, aircraft carriers — may or may not operate in Europe if they are regularly deployed elsewhere in the world. In any event, for most European NATO allies to double or, in some cases, nearly triple defense spending would wreck their economies and create a level of unrest Europe has not seen in decades. Was Mr. Trump serious? Or was he really trying to undermine the alliance? And does he understand that the alliance has ensured that, should deterrence collapse, a war would be fought in Europe rather than on American soil? All of the foregoing behavior contrasted sharply with what could only be called a “love fest” with Vladimir Putin. The president had only kind words for his Russian counterpart; he directed his harshest statements in their joint press conference at his domestic opponents, both real and perceived. Putin, meanwhile, displayed a most benign countenance, looking like the KGB cat that swallowed the Western canary. Trump barely mentioned Crimea, had nary a word otherwise about Ukraine, and hinted broadly at an arrangement with Moscow that would involve both countries protecting Israel’s interests while America withdraws from Syria. Whether Trump agreed privately to cut back on, or terminate, American participation in NATO’s Baltic exercises — a key Russian objective — remains to be seen. It may be premature to assert that Donald Trump, America’s wrecker in chief, is determined to undermine the Western alliance. Yet his behavior throughout his European visit points in that direction. Should he succeed, he will have accomplished what Putin and his Soviet predecessors could only have hoped for in the wildest of their dreams.

Trump’s trips to Europe and Russia have collapsed the global order

Christopher Cadelago, 7-16, 18 Politico, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/16/trump-putin-russia-world-order-724616 Trump’s wet kiss to Putin seals a new world order

President Donald Trump cast his meeting Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a step “towards a brighter future.” But the global community had a different assessment: the summit in Helsinki signaled the manifestation of a new world order. As Trump decamped from his weeklong trip to Europe, he was holding up America’s friends as its “foes,” and presenting Russia, the former superpower scorned by his predecessor as a fading regional player, as significant enough to be in competition with the U.S. Trump, during a surreal joint news conference following the meeting, showed deference to Putin by repeatedly refusing to criticize the Russian president, noting that his description of him as a “competitor” was meant purely as a compliment. At another point, Trump stepped in to answer a pointed question directed at Putin, only days after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted a dozen Russian intelligence agents for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee and his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign to help Trump win the contest. Trump told reporters that while he has “great confidence” in U.S. intelligence officials, “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” Mueller’s spokesman declined comment. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are pictured. | Getty Images Full text: Trump and Putin’s press conference, transcribed By POLITICO STAFF The president’s regard for Putin — who on Monday affirmed his preference for Trump in the 2016 election — contrasted sharply with his increasingly tough talk toward Europe, language that chips away at international order, to still unclear effect. A similar dynamic played out last month in Singapore, when Trump left flustered allies, including Canada, behind after departing the G-7 summit to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he called “tough” and “very smart.” ADVERTISING “It’s just really striking,” said Thomas Wright, director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. “I think it shows he’s much more comfortable with strong-man adversaries than he is with democratic allies.” For Trump, who often expresses his views on trade and economics as a zero-sum game, his friendliness toward a country or region can be measured by the degree to which they are seen as an economic threat to the U.S., experts noted. By that measure, Europe and Canada are far scarier than Russia — despite it being at the center of years of Republican attacks on Democrats over security issues. Though Trump has long expressed affection for authoritarian rulers, it’s the degree to which Trump is eroding U.S. relationships with others around the world that is leading some to call for the resignation of his top officials and commanding the focus of spurned foreign leaders. Trump over the last week lashed out at European leaders, suggesting that NATO nations double the amount of their gross domestic product that they spend on defense; ripped German officials for approving a natural gas pipeline link from Russia; falsely denied criticizing British Prime Minister Theresa May behind her back, and answered a CBS interviewer’s question about who he considers to be his biggest foe by naming the European Union. Trump specifically cited “what they do to us on trade.” “Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe,” he added. “Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly a foe.” Trump declares Mueller probe a ‘disaster for our country’ during press conference with Putin With Putin by his side, Trump calls Mueller probe a ‘disaster for our country’ By LOUIS NELSON In Germany, Trump’s rebuke left such a lashing that the country’s foreign minister said he has no choice but to believe that Europe can no longer count on the president and must begin further turning inward for support. “We can no longer completely rely on the White House,” Heiko Maas told the Funke newspaper group. “To maintain our partnership with the U.S.A we must readjust it. The first clear consequence can only be that we need to align ourselves even more closely in Europe.”

Trump is collapsing the global order

Robin Wright, 7-16, 18, New Yorker, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/trumps-appeasement-summit-with-putin Trump’s Appeasement Summit with Putin

For decades, American historians have viewed the summit between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, in 1961, as the worst ever between Washington and Moscow. Kennedy described the encounter, in Vienna, as one of the low points of his life; his weakness led Khrushchev to test the United States by deploying nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba. That disastrous bit of summitry has now been topped by President Trump’s meeting on Monday with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, and his public renunciation of U.S. intelligence reports and a recent Justice Department indictment of Russian officials for meddling in the 2016 election. Senator John McCain called Trump’s remarks “one of the most disgraceful performances in memory” by a U.S. President. John Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, said Trump’s deference to Putin was “nothing short of treasonous.” In a tweet, he charged that Trump’s comments were “imbecilic” and that they indicate the President is “wholly in the pocket of Putin.” His action “rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ ” Brennan added, “Republican Patriots: Where are you???” Despite the Justice Department’s indictment, on Friday, of twelve Russian intelligence agents, for interfering in the 2016 election, Trump fully embraced Putin’s bare-faced denial. “He just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said at a joint press conference, after the meeting. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” He even heralded—as an “incredible offer”—Putin’s suggestion that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, come to Moscow to question the twelve agents, with Russian officials present, in exchange for Russia being allowed to interrogate any U.S. intelligence officials it believes have been involved in covert operations against Russia. In Helsinki, Trump may have done far more damage than Kennedy did, Robert Kagan, a former State Department policy-planning staffer who is now at the Brookings Institution, told me. “Whereas Kennedy in the end was trying to strengthen the American position, Trump is actively and deliberately weakening it,” Kagan said. “By undermining our alliances and destroying the American-led world order, he is leading us back toward the kind of dangers that we saw in the first half of the twentieth century. There may not be anything so dramatic as the Cuban missile crisis right away—Russia is not in the position the Soviet Union was in—but over time the costs and dangers are likely to be much higher.” Trump has changed the policy of every American President, Republican or Democrat, since the United States and Russia became global rivals and nuclear powers, Kagan said. “We have never before had an American President who shared Moscow’s goals,” he added. Richard Burt, the chief negotiator of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Soviet Union and a longtime adviser to Republican candidates, called Trump’s diplomacy “more P. T. Barnum than Henry Kissinger.” The President’s victories are “all hype,” he added. “In the longer run, he creates some potentially very serious problems. With our friends, he is testing the understanding and patience of our closest allies. With our adversaries, he looks like all bark and no bite,” Burt said. Trump has “adapted serious diplomacy to superficial reality TV.” The Helsinki summit follows two months of rocky performances by the President on the international stage. At the G-7 summit of the world’s most powerful economies, Trump flew out early, reneged on signing a joint communiqué outlining common goals, and insulted the host, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on Twitter. At the historic summit with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, Trump engaged in great theatre but got only a vague promise, with no specifics, that Pyongyang will denuclearize. At the nato summit last week, Trump insulted the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, as a “captive of the Russians” and demanded, unrealistically, that the twenty-eight other nations double, or more, their contributions to the world’s largest military alliance, then left the room. In Britain, he embarrassed Prime Minister Theresa May by telling a British tabloid how she should conduct Brexit negotiations, clumsily violated protocol with Queen Elizabeth, and generated headlines by sitting smugly for a photograph in Winston Churchill’s old chair. On Sunday, Trump called the European Union “a foe.” Now Helsinki. “The last three months have substantially weakened the U.S. position in the world,” Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “We are in a trade war with our most important economic partners, have created doubts in the minds of the European allies (as a result of our harangues over defense spending and our withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the J.C.P.O.A.) as to U.S. reliability and our willingness to speak truth to Russian power, and have failed to move North Korea closer to denuclearization while weakening sanctions and raising doubts in Seoul as to U.S. dependability.”

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