OPINION – This is my second piece on why Trump is best for U.S. national security. While some bemoan President Trump’s Tweets or behavior, I prefer to focus on policy. Specifically, national security policy.
And in that regard President Trump should be the clear choice for any U.S. citizen truly concerned about protecting America and keeping it strong in an increasingly dangerous and unstable world.
Earlier I explained how Trump is effectively countering the greatest existential threat to the United States today and for the next coming decades – China. The first and only president to do so in decades. That alone should make Trump the national security choice for President in 2020.
However, while China is the most significant threat to the U.S. today – and increasingly so in the next decades – it is not the only threat. Russia is a serious secondary threat.
Despite its shrinking population and diminished economy ($400 billion smaller than Texas), Russia under Vladimir Putin has rebuilt and modernized its armed forces dramatically in the past ten years and still remains a threat to America’s NATO allies in Europe as well as U.S. interests in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.
Russia also still has a substantial espionage and disinformation apparatus, and of course the only nuclear capability able to destroy the United States. Putin’s willingness to flirt with a China military alliance is also a serious concern. While clearly a second-order threat to the U.S., Russia still poses major challenges.
And here, President Trump, despite four years of “Russia collusion” hoax, constant barrages of media attacks implying Trump was somehow beholden to, or soft on Putin, in fact, U.S. policy toward Russia under Trump has been far stronger than under the Obama-Biden administration.
While critics deceptively focus on Trump’s withdrawal of 10,000 military personnel from delinquent Germany, or Trump’s lack of statements condemning still questionable intelligence on alleged Russian bounties against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, to point to his allegedly soft-on-Russia approach, these issues are all diversions from the ground truth.
In all practical policy terms, President Trump has been far tougher against Russia than his predecessor.
Recall it was Obama who in 2008 mocked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for calling Russia a major nuclear threat to America. In 2009 it was Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who offered the Russians the infamous mistranslated ‘reset’ button.
And in 2012 Obama was the one caught whispering to Russia’s leader that he would have “more flexibility” in dealing with Putin after the election.
It was also the Obama-Biden White House who allowed the Russians to invade Ukraine and the Crimea, allowed Russian election hacking in 2016, withheld anti-aircraft missiles from frontline U.S. NATO ally, Poland, and blocked U.S. weapons to Ukraine.
In contrast, in January 2018, under Trump, the Pentagon released its National Defense Strategy, identifying both Russia and China as the two major strategic competitors to the United States. President Trump has redeployed thousands of U.S. troops from Germany, which is no longer a frontline NATO state, to Poland on Russia’s borders.
The U.S. is also rotating U.S. forces and building new U.S. bases in vulnerable Russia-bordering Baltic states and other frontline NATO member countries, such as Romania and Bulgaria. Trump has provided Poland with the air defense missiles blocked by Obama-Biden, as well as offensive Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine also blocked by Obama-Biden.
The Trump administration has also sanctioned numerous Russian officials, oligarchs, and entities for cybercrimes, attacks on dissidents overseas, human rights abuses, illicit links to Venezuela, aggression against Ukraine, and for attempted election interference in 2018.
In 2018 Trump expelled 60 Russian spies from their embassies and consulates in Washington, DC, New York City, and Seattle. The liberal-leaning Brooking Institution listed 52 hardline policy actions taken by Trump against Russia from 2017 through 2019 alone.
In addition to all these actions, the president has also focused on rebuilding and strengthening U.S. military capabilities across the board, and modernizing America’s aging and neglected nuclear arsenal to keep pace with if not maintain superiority against both the China and Russian nuclear threats.
Trump has deployed new low yield warheads and hypersonic missiles and is investing in significant improvements to the nuclear TRIAD. Much of this was possible because Trump withdrew from the Cold War-era Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty – due, in part, to Russian cheating.
Finally, Trump also created the nation’s sixth military service – the U.S. Space Force to ensure the U.S. focus on, and dominance of, the critical space domain – a domain both Russia and China have been aggressively striving to take over.
It is extremely doubtful any of this would have occurred under a “Russia Reset” Hillary Clinton administration. Even less likely would it happen under a Joe Biden continuation of the extremely weak-on-Russia Obama-Biden policies seen during their eight years in office.
Any national security-minded American concerned about the threat to the U.S. from Putin’s Russia should see that President Trump is the clear choice to face that menace as well.