Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Great Negotiator, Fresh From His Catastrophic North Korea Tomfoolery, Is About To Uproot 7 Decades Of U.S. Policy In Europe


Estonia is a tiny little country on the Baltic Sea. It covers 17,462 square miles, slightly larger than Massachusetts-- about the size of New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware combined. The population is 1,319,133, about the same as Maine. It's a digitally advanced country with universal healthcare, very high education levels and, for that matter, free education. It has a high income economy. And it ranks very high on the UN's Human Development index. Historically, the country has been ruled by Germany, Danmark, Sweden and, with a few brief periods of independence, from 1710 until 1990 by Russia. If it was permitted, you could stand with one foot in Estonia and one foot in Russia. Estonia's NATO membership (starting in 2004) has seen-- and still is-- as a provocation by the Russians-- and by Trump. They are also a member of the EU. They have sent troops to back the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last week, Foreign Policy reported that James Melville, a career diplomat, currently the U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, resigned in disgust after Trump's latest anti-European rant.
Melville, who has served as a diplomat for 33 years and as ambassador to Estonia since 2015, was due to retire soon but said in a private Facebook post announcing his retirement that Trump’s behavior and comments accelerated his decision.

“A Foreign Service Officer’s DNA is programmed to support policy and we’re schooled right from the start, that if there ever comes a point where one can no longer do so, particularly if one is in a position of leadership, the honorable course is to resign. Having served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state, I never really thought it would reach that point for me,” he wrote in the post, which was obtained by Foreign Policy.

“For the President to say the EU was ‘set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank,’ or that ‘NATO is as bad as NAFTA’ is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it’s time to go,” he wrote, citing Trump’s reported comments in recent weeks that have unnerved U.S. allies.

The post surprised several State Department officials who worked with Melville, describing him as a consummate professional who never let domestic politics impact his job.

The resignation comes ahead of a pivotal NATO summit, where the United States’ closest historic allies fear that Trump will lambast them and further isolate Washington from its allies after heated disputes over trade, defense spending issues, and the U.S. exit from the Iran nuclear deal. Allies fear that the optics of Trump trashing allies in Brussels, followed by a meeting in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin, will undercut an already anemic trans-Atlantic partnership.

Melville said he believed in the U.S. support for the European Union and NATO to his “marrow.”
Trump has been undermining both-- to the point where observers are wondering whether Trump is "an ignorant and destructive fool or operates as some sort of agent" for the Kremlin. Josh Marshall posted that "the upshot appears to be the same."

One of Putin's top priorities-- certainly what he insisted Trump do in return for Russian help in handing him the White House-- was to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany, something Trump is working on now. The Washington Post gave the excuse conceited by Putin and repeated by Trump's regime: "Trump was said to have been taken aback by the size of the U.S. presence, which includes about 35,000 active-duty troops, and complained that other countries were not contributing fairly to joint security or paying enough to NATO."
This is in advance of the NATO summit next month which will be followed shortly after by a summit with Vladimir Putin. The German troop presence news comes after we learned that in April Trump tried to persuade President Macron of France to leave the European Union. Days ago Trump told a crowd in North Dakota that “the European Union, of course, was set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank.” Trump apparently ‘joked’ about pulling the US out of NATO with the Prime Minister of Sweden. More strikingly, he told G-7 members in Canada earlier this month that “NATO is as bad as NAFTA.”

What theTimes of London calls a “senior EU diplomat” says of these comments and gambits, “we are more and more concerned they are not just incidents. It starts to look like a very worrying pattern” and refers to “an American doctrine in which there are no friends, only enemies” with no “rules-based order.” “It is very dangerous,” the source told the paper.

...[T]he role of Russia, the efforts to liquidate NATO and the continuing and aggressive courtship of Putin show it is part of some broader agenda. Someone, eventually, will have to place some check on Trump’s power. For the moment, the entire cadre of political appointees in the administration and the leadership of Congress appears entirely inert and passive, if not outright supportive. It is important to remember that the President has zero constitutional authority over trade policy. That is 100% on loan from Congress. It’s remarkable that this is all happening before our eyes and no one.

We’re in a lot of danger.
It's expected that at their meeting on July 16, Trump and Putin will discuss the U.S. recognizing Russia's dismemberment of Ukraine and Trump may well start a process of ending U.S. sanctions involved with the annexation of the Crimea. One of Trump's excuses is that the Russians have "spent a lot of money on rebuilding it" adding, like an imbecile, gratuitously, that "President Obama allowed that to happen which is very unfortunate... It was during President Obama’s term in office." I bet that scares the bejesus out of Estonia, and every other NATO member anywhere near Russia.

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At 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And still no sign whatsoever that the Congress will step up and stop him.

At 5:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should congress stop him? His party *IS* him. And the democraps are pussies... and they are irrelevant numerically. And the democraps are doing their all to take a dive in November.

When, not if, the united shitholes of America become the Nazi dictatorship 62 million of us actually want, we'll eschew our 240 years of associating with other democracies (and dictatorships we installed for the sake of us corporations) and form a new AXIS of evil with putin, duterte and kim.

And 62 million will still support him... because he's their jesus reincarnate.


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