House Republicans are claiming that America’s President is grossly misunderstood.
What we have here is a failure to communicate. All Donald Trump was trying to do was root out corruption with his thuggish demand for a personal political favor from a foreign head of state.
In fact, former Vice President Joe Biden was providing Trump serious competition with his Democratic bid for the Presidency. The incumbent needed a quick public humiliation to bring down Biden’s alarming poll numbers.
Biden’s son Hunter had been on the governing board of Ukrainian natural gas producer Burisma Holdings while Daddy was running U.S.-Ukraine policy as former President Barack Obama’s vice president.
One of his lackeys probably suggested floating a rumor that Hunter was crooked. It was a BIG LIE, the kind skeptical people examine.
Not so fast, the Republicans now say.
“The President did it, but he had completely innocent reasons,” Trump’s warders reportedly explained to The New York Times.
Trump’s motives at best are suspect. At worst his behavior is indicative of a bald-faced attempt at political extortion. Still awaiting investigation is what impact his behavior will have on European politics.
The Republicans’ game plan for defending Trump must therefore be brilliant. So far it is coming up short.
“Our leader is a well-meaning nincompoop.” is neither exculpatory or inspiring.
Before the Biden imbroglio became a hot-button issue, Trump was indifferent to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s machinations against the democratically-inclined Ukrainians.
Trump merely saw an opening to attack a political opponent, so he took it. He has no boundaries.
The Republicans’ memorandum of November 12 argues that Trump’s infamous July call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was just a nice talk, a friendly chat about missiles, the Biden problem and the disappointing business of doing favors for Ukraine without reciprocity.
Trump told the former comedian turned head of state he heard that Joe Biden and his son were making a mockery of Ukraine’s justice system and needed to be investigated in a very public way. If Zelensky would do that for him, he could release almost $400 million in military hardware to defend eastern Ukraine against rebels supported by Russia.
In Belgium, the NATO generals are thinking how a friendly Ukraine would be great addition to western European defenses. Having 800-mile wide Ukraine between Russia and Western Europe is much better than the Red Army camping out on the German border.
The Republicans’ defense manifesto claims Trump’s “deep-seated skepticism of Ukraine” forced him to confront Zelensky.
Trump’s insipid reasoning doesn’t provide for a clear distinction between seeking a personal political favor and upsetting the teetering balance of power in eastern Europe.
Trump claims the pinstripes-and-canapes crowd in Foggy Bottom didn’t understand what he wanted. He relied on his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani instead.
Ukraine is an unfamiliar ally of the United States and Western Europe. It was a misbegotten possession of the Soviet Union for its 73-year history, and before that a possession of Russian czars.
After independence in 1991, the country’s 42 million people remained under the thumb of several reborn Communists who embraced democracy with profane enthusiasm until Zelensky’s people-powered campaign won control.
Whether Zelensky’s democratic experiment will survive depends on how the United States and Europe respond to its pleas for help. Contrary to the soft-soap being peddled around the entire conversation of why Ukraine matters, people there who share common ideals with Americans are dying.
Dispatches posted at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv (formerly Kiev), Ukraine, on October 28, 2019, tell the story:
“Over the last week in the combat zone in eastern Ukraine Russia-backed militants fired upon the Joint Forces’ positions from Minsk-proscribed 82-mm and 120-mm mortars, grenade launchers, heavy machine guns, weapons mounted on infantry fighting vehicles and small arms… etc., etc., etc.”
Four Ukraine soldiers were killed and 15 wounded between October 10 and October 28. Add that to more than 13,000 who have already died.
To protect Trump, his enablers have completely ignored the strategic implications of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They are too in love with their “deep-rooted skepticism” defense to realize they are fueling future intrigues.
The new democracy already has an image problem. Corruption was institutionalized in reluctantly Communist Ukraine for almost a century. Long before it became an independent nation it had a unsavory reputation.
A very proper Danish colonel commanding a segment of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Zagreb, Croatia, in the spring of 1992 observed that “none of the Slavs will be civilized enough to join proper (European) society for many more generations.”
He was policing the barbaric Yugoslavian civil war. Rampaging Slavs killed each other with wild abandon, sawing off heads, belly poleing, the way they have always done it. Many Europeans view Slavs of any stripe with a jaundiced eye. Elderly Czechs, Hungarians and Germans still see them as a volatile collection of reprehensible brutes who learned their trade finishing the Nazis.
The Western European governments’ willingness to offer Ukrainians a chance to redeem themselves in “Western” ways is a huge political concession anywhere Ukrainian soldiers in the Communist Red Army once served.
The Republicans’ decision to key on Ukraine’s long history of corruption, instead of defending Trump’s equally foul behavior, really is a brilliant tactic.
As long as Ukraine’s sordid history remains in the forefront, Dufus Don’s unlawful decisions to withhold military aid, send his personal attorney to make backroom deals, and lie like a rug seem unimportant.
Although Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it is closely allied because its current military role in any unlikely conflagration in Europe between the Western democracies and the Russian Federation is being a useful speed bump. If Trump hasn’t screwed things up one day the Russian Federation will have to get through 800 miles of well-armed Ukrainians to reach the European Union and NATO.