Something ultimately beneficial may result from the unprecedented week of hysteria, including repeated charges of treason from Democrats and liberal media types, sparked by President Donald Trump’s Helsinki summit meeting with Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia.
That “something” is a sharper public understanding of the numerous ways in which Trump has reversed the accommodation, wavering and vacillation that marked former President Barack Obama’s approach during his eight years in the Oval Office to dealing with Putin.
Obama’s weakness was epitomized by the “red line” he drew in Syria against chemical weapons. Obama did nothing when Syria’s Russian-backed dictator, President Bashar al-Assad, killed hundreds of civilians with chlorine gas.
Putin subsequently annexed Crimea and openly backed insurgents trying to return Ukraine to Russian control.
While U.S. intelligence and military assets have undertaken multiple unpublicized measures since Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017, the following dozen initiatives on the public record amount to a near-complete reversal of the Obama years:
1.) Deployed U.S. Patriot missiles in Poland to counter Russian nuclear-capable intermediate-range weapons, including aircraft and cruise missiles in a “hot war” aimed at Europe. “In a move set to counter Russia’s reinforcement on NATO’s borders, Poland and the U.S. have agreed that Warsaw will purchase the American-made Patriot air defense missile,” as Newsweek described it July 6, 2017.
2.) Repelled an assault by Russian mercenaries on a U.S. position in Syria, killing between 200-300 of them. The mercenaries were “employed by a Russian contracting firm, according to three U.S military officials with direct knowledge of the incident,” NBC News reported March 15.
3.) Deployed U.S. military forces to the Baltic states on Russia’s border, seriously compromising Putin’s ability to threaten NATO’s northern flank. On Jan. 30, 2017, The Wall Street Journal called it “the largest such deployment since the Cold War, a step aimed at reassuring America’s European allies that Washington remains committed to their defense.”
4.) Trump is targeting Europe’s dependence on Russia for an estimated one-third of its natural gas supplies, encouraging it instead to buy U.S. energy, thus denying Putin critically needed export revenues. “Trump complained Germany is ‘making Russia richer.’ When the NATO secretary general told Trump trade was a separate matter, Trump fired back. ‘How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection against,’” PBS reported July 11 from the Brussels European Union meeting.
5.) Trump is pushing NATO member nations to double their defense spending to 4 percent of their Gross Domestic Products. The increase will greatly strengthen the military forces confronting any Russian attack on Western Europe. “President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, according to a July 11 CNN report.
6.) Trump is implementing a comprehensive modernization of the U.S. military to deter Russia and China. The president’s 2019 Department of Defense (DOD) budget request for $716 billion seeks to upgrade the U.S. nuclear triad (inter-continental missiles, bombers and submarines), add 26,000 troops, buy 10 new ships and boost “research on research in cyber, electronic warfare, space, artificial intelligence and hypersonics,” according to a February 12 CNBC report.
7.) Trump kicked 60 Russian diplomats, including 12 involved in spying activities, out of the U.S. in response to the chemical poisoning of a former Russian spy living in Britain. “Senior Trump administration officials said all 60 Russians were spies working in the U.S. under diplomatic cover, including a dozen at Russia’s mission to the United Nations. The officials said the administration was taking the action to send a message to Russia’s leaders about the ‘unacceptably high’ number of Russian intelligence operatives in the U.S.,” the AP reported on March 26.
8.) Trump imposed additional sanctions on Russian companies and oligarchs who are Putin allies in retaliation for his digital assaults on American energy firms. “The Trump administration also recently slapped new sanctions on Russian entities and individuals, including two of its top intelligence services, because of 2016 U.S. election meddling and what senior officials described Friday as an ‘ongoing Russian cyberattack on the American energy sector,'” Roll Call reported March 26.
9.) In a move his predecessor conspicuously refused to make, Trump agreed to provide anti-tank weapons Ukraine has sought for years. Ukraine needs the U.S. Javelin missiles to destroy Russian tanks aiding separatists in the eastern sector of that nation. The “Trump administration told Congress on Thursday that it plans to sell Ukraine 210 anti-tank missiles to help it defend its territory from Russia, in a major escalation of U.S. lethal assistance to Ukraine’s military,” the Chicago Tribune said March 1.
10.) Trump signed an executive order launching a major upgrading of U.S, cyber defenses of its digital and other critical infrastructures. “The order seeks to improve the often-maligned network security of U.S. government agencies, from which foreign governments and other hackers have pilfered millions of personal records and other forms of sensitive data in recent years,” Reuters reported May 11, 2017.
“The White House said the order also aimed to enhance protection of infrastructure such as the energy grid and financial sector from sophisticated attacks that officials have warned could pose a national security threat or cripple parts of the economy.”