Trump’s weakness against Putin is on display again


trump putin 2BY Michael McFaul

I’m trying hard to keep an open mind about President Trump, but it closed just a little further after his flippant comments about expulsion of employees at U.S. diplomatic missions in Russia. In response to a question about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s outrageous demand to reduce U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 people, Trump said, “I want to thank him [Putin] because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll.”

That response made me wonder whether our president thinks seriously about defending and advancing American national interests before he speaks. It most certainly is not in our interest to reduce our staff at our embassy and consulates in Russia by 755 people.

First and foremost, our ability to obtain information about Russia will be drastically constrained by this reduction. There are representatives of dozens of U.S. government agencies and departments, not just the State Department, in Russia. All of them now will be less able to inform their agencies back home about Russia.

 We will have fewer people gathering data about Russia’s military modernization programs — both nuclear and conventional. We will have fewer people acquiring information about Russian foreign policy decision-making. We will have fewer people writing cables about economic trends in Russia. Our national security team in Washington, including Trump, will be less informed about Russia as a result of this staff reduction. That may be good for Putin. That’s bad for the United States.

Second, we also will have less capacity to conduct diplomacy, either the formal kind between the State Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or those informal relationships that develop between American and Russian soldiers, economists or astronauts that help to nurture ties between our two governments. Trump claims he wants better ties with Russia, but that’s harder to do with a skeletal team in Moscow.

The embassy also supports the verification of treaties, such as the New START Treaty and other Russian international obligations. How can it be in the national interest to have less capacity for these activities? That’s good for Putin. That’s not good for the United States.

Finally, we will have fewer resources to engage Russian society. The embassy staff that runs exchange programs will be cut. Those working in our public diplomacy shop will have fewer people. Diplomats will have fewer meetings with civil society leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, religious leaders and human rights activists. That’s good for Putin. That’s not good for the United States.

The loss of our Russian employees will be especially devastating. Some of our Russian national experts in nuclear physics, economics, politics and military affairs have worked for decades at our embassy. They have invaluable experience, expertise and contacts. Reducing their number serves Putin’s interests, not ours. (It will also be nearly impossible for them to find new jobs in Russia.)

So when Trump praises Putin for these reductions, what country’s interests is he advancing?

Trump also sounds weak when making such conciliatory statements toward Putin. The Russian president — whom Trump admires as a “strong leader” — did not praise President Barack Obama for kicking out 35 Russian diplomats in response to Russia’s interference in our 2016 presidential elections. Russian leaders, including even Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Twitter, now openly mock Trump’s incompetence regarding foreign policy, yet he does nothing to push back. That’s bad for our Russia policy and damaging to the United States’ international reputation more generally.

Trump can correct his mistake. He can respond to Putin by negotiating a smaller reduction. He can respond by some act of retaliation such as closing down a Russian consulate (save Putin some money!). Or at a minimum, he can make a statement in solidarity with those serving him and our country in Russia. In such a statement, he could correct the shocking factual error he made today when he said that Putin “let go” our employees. (Our diplomats don’t work for Putin, and they won’t be fired, just reassigned.) Or if a statement is too onerous, how about a tweet? Here’s an example for you, Mr. President, from John A. Heffern, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe:

“The State and inter-agency community is thinking about our colleagues in Moscow and Consulates as they prepare for difficult weeks ahead.”

What was most upsetting about Trump’s comments was his complete lack of empathy, support or respect for his fellow American public servants. Every American working at our embassy and consulates took an oath to serve our great country. They endure harassment – tires slashed, apartments broken into, helicopters swooping down on their cars, and even sometimes beatings and guns to their head – to serve our country. Many serve away from their families. That’s life in the Foreign Service, life in the Marines, life in the Commerce Department. They are dedicated American patriots who deserve to be defended by their leader, the president of the United States. On Thursday, they were not.

The Washington Post



14 responses to “Trump’s weakness against Putin is on display again”

  1. Hannibal Avatar

    If that bull would stop. There is no reason whatsoever for Trump and Putin to be on the opposite sides. US and Russia share the same values. Alas zionists are pissed about it because Putin has thrown the zionist thugs and oligarchs outside his country and Trump is trying to do the same. tol3it rii7etkon ya wleed sahyoun.

    1. Scradje Avatar

      Trumpkov is a putin admirer, but he’s not as far up the chekist rodent’s a$$ as you are. US and putler’s fourth reich have no common values whatsoever. Oligarchs and mafia are free to operate in pootlerstan provided they a) want to stay alive, b) support his criminal regime and c) cut him and his scuzzy friends in on their profits.

      1. Hannibal Avatar

        Scradje Scradje… Games people play. Tsk Tsk
        I have no idea why you are pissed since the same a$$holes I am referring to are the same people doing YOU harm. Go revisit your pathetic nobody’s life and you’ll understand. Until then, you and I are the rodent’s a$$e$.

      2. Niemals Avatar

        FACING PUTIN, told by those who know him best, this is the story of Vladimir Putin – one of the world’s most notorious leaders. Alexander Litvinenko was fatally poisoned by radioactive polonium-210. He became the first known victim of lethal polonium-210 induced acute radiation syndrome.
        Marina accused Moscow of orchestrating her husband’s murder and although she believes the order did not come from Putin himself, she does believe it was done at the demand of the authorities.
        The Litvinenko Inquiry concluded in January 2016 that a Russian FSB operation killed Alexander Litvinenko and was probably approved by Vladimir Putin.
        SURVIVING A RUSSIAN WOMEN’S PRISON, Pussy Riot co-founder, Nadya Tolokonnikova, talks about her time spent in a Russian women’s prison.

        1. Scradje Avatar

          The women in these videos are eloquent reminders that there are decent Russians, sadly in a minority, who actually want Russia to treat its neighbours with respect and kindness instead of murdering them, stealing their land and using a pernicious media network to spread poisonous lies and hate about them. I can’t see this happening any time soon unfortunately.

          1. Scradje Avatar

            Kremtrolls always turn out to be naцis. They represent the throwbacks and degenerates they troll for very accurately.

      3. Arab Nazis differ from “Aryan” Nazis by hair color and nose shape only.

        1. Hannibal Avatar

          Zionazi trolls are payed by Israhell to sell their own conscience and defend the fascist apartheid state they live in.
          One more thing… That nose of Arabs you refer to was inherited from Abe your father. They are your cousin lookalikes. Why don’t you kiss and make up.

          1. “Payed”, you dumb moron, “payed”. Like in “payed out the cable”.

            “Omega” is truly an intellectual compared to you.

          2. Hannibal Avatar

            The truth hurts?

          3. Sure, moron, sure. I’m hurting all over. 🙂

          4. Hannibal Avatar

            What is it with you israhell kids over-bending to call people names? moron here and stupid there etc. etc. are Israhell parents always call their kids names and never teach them critical thinking? No wonder why your nation is totally f’d up and morally bankrupt. Good luck surviving the next 100 years.

        2. Niemals Avatar

 Arab Nazis “Aryan” Nazis According to a study, extreme right thought is more widespread in East Germany than in West Germany. (18.05.2017) Nazi Party propaganda poster

          There is no differ between “Aryan” Nazis and Arab Nazis, it the same ideology despite the dark hair and nose shape.

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