Former President Donald Trump told the “Road to Majority” conference in Nashville on June 17:
Now we have the nastiest inflation that we’ve ever seen, we have a war in Ukraine with perhaps millions and millions of people dying in the end…you’re talking about tens of thousands of people dying…and perhaps it’s going to lead to World War III because of the way we’re handling it… We just gave $40 billion on top of another $16 billion, so we’re in for $56 billion…we want to help those people—we have to also save our country, by the way—and it’s horrible, horrible what happened. But when you look at Europe, and Germany and France and all these other countries – they’ve given a tiny fraction of what we’ve given…It should have never happened. If I were president that would have never happened. One hundred percent, that would never have happened.
He’s absolutely, magnificently right, and he’s right in direct proportion to the hysteria his Nashville remarks brought forth from the Global Liberals. Hillary Clinton told the London Financial Times the same day that Trump’s possible re-election was Vladimir Putin’s only possible path to victory. Clinton bears the lion’s share of the blame for the horrific bloodshed now underway in Ukraine: As Secretary of State, Clinton and her chief Europe aide Victoria Nuland helped stage-manage the Maidan Coup in Ukraine that set the present war in motion.
It is revolting, but not surprising, to see the leaders of the Republican Establishment try to out-shout the Democrats over Ukraine. The consensus echo chamber generates a stream of chatter so deafening that it takes a big voice to boom over it, and Donald Trump is the only American politician with a voice that big. Thank God we have him.
I’m no Trump apologist. His obsession with the highly-improbable notion that vote fraud decided the 2020 election is self-destructive. His encouragement of the Jan 6 Capitol Hill protests — to whatever extent it occurred — was ill-considered in the extreme. His China tariffs are a dismal failure, as I predicted they would be. His corporate tax cut encouraged stock buybacks by Big Tech but hurt capital investment by manufacturers. He mishandled the COVID-19 epidemic for months. He was wrong about many things but right about one overriding big thing: The United States has no business starting wars to make the world safe for democracy.
That’s why the Deep State went after Trump with a vengeance, claiming that he was in cahoots with Putin to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. Andrew McCarthy, Lee Smith, and others have published book-length exposés of this egregious fraud.
There are a dozen small reasons to oppose Trump and one big reason to support him: The existence of civilization just might be at stake as a result of the fanaticism and incompetence of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. I would favor Ron DeSantis as the 2024 Republican candidate, but if the estimable Florida governor wants a shot at the top slot, he has to take a stand on the Ukraine disaster.
Russia has been the White Whale of the Global Liberal/Neoconservative cabal since the Fall of Communism. We expected Russia to turn into a liberal democracy after 1990. But the “free market” policies we pushed onto Russia (I was part of the first wave of neo-con economists to visit Russia in the early 1990s) allowed oligarchs to loot the corpse of the Soviet economy and plunge Russia into chaos and bankruptcy. Putin emerged as the capo di capi, the boss of bosses who rationalized and limited the looting and allowed Russia to get back on its feet. He’s the Lucky Luciano of Russia. There’s nothing to like about him.
But Russia remains a state with interests, and Russia will no more tolerate the expansion of NATO up to its Ukrainian border than we would tolerate Russian missiles in Mexico. I explained the causes of Putin’s Ukraine invasion in March in an essay for The American Conservative. That is substantially what Pope Francis told the Italian daily La Stampa on June 14:
“The danger,” said Francis, “is that we only see [the violence], which is monstrous, and we do not see the whole drama that is unfolding behind this war, which was perhaps in some way either provoked or not prevented. And I register an interest in testing and selling weapons. It is very sad, but basically this is what is at stake.” The Pope warned against “reducing complexity to the distinction between good and bad, without thinking about roots and interests, which are very complex.”
Trump would not have pushed Putin into a corner. He’s a deal-maker, and he would have found a formula to avoid war. Russia, after all, proposed the Minsk II framework in which Ukraine would remain neutral, and the Russian-speaking areas of Eastern Ukraine would have autonomous rule within a sovereign Ukraine. Washington and London encouraged Ukraine to junk the Minsk framework and helped it to re-arm.
Now the U.S. establishment is backed into a corner. Russia’s economy isn’t collapsing; it will shrink by about 8% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, not the 50% that Biden predicted. Russia is making more money from energy exports than ever. Rather than collapsing, Russia’s military is running a reasonably efficient war of attrition in Eastern Ukraine, which Ukraine — with far smaller resources — cannot win. Sanctions on Russia turned into an “own goal” as our inflation rate jumped with the oil price.
Trump is right about the risk of nuclear war. For example, a losing, desperate Ukraine might use Western weapons to attack targets well inside Russia, provoking Russian attacks on arms depots in NATO countries bordering Ukraine.
Of course, letting Putin get away with an illegal and reprehensible invasion of Ukraine would be a black eye for the West. That’s humiliating. But a negotiated settlement of the kind Henry Kissinger proposed earlier this month in Davos would be better than two black eyes, and maybe getting our head blown off.