Saturday, July 1, 2017

Trump-Putin Meeting Poses Serious Risks

The G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany next week is promising to be one that stands out from recent gatherings of the world's economic powers. For one thing, this is the first meeting that the U.S. will be represented by neo-fascist Putin toady Donald "Rump" Trump, and the first one after a U.S. president symbolically transferred the leadership of the free world to another leader: Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. Withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, showing lukewarm support for NATO, and pushing a nationalistic, "America First" trade agenda -- not to mention Rump's corrosive character and arrogant, bullying personality -- sealed the transfer in the minds of many.

What's also different about this meeting is that it will be Rump's first official meeting with Russian autocrat and election manipulator Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin. Apparently, that has not only our allies worried, but also our national security establishment, who want to avoid at all costs a private meeting between the two without senior aides present. Already, there are indications that Rump wants to make nice with Putin, whom he has flattered effusively and whose meddling helped Rump in the 2016 elections. Rump has asked his national security staff to come up with concessions to Putin, who has yet to cease his military actions in Ukraine or return Crimea to Ukraine. Reportedly under consideration is the return of the two Russian "diplomatic" compounds in Maryland and New York that served as espionage centers, which were closed by President Obama following Moscow's interference in the elections. Our European allies are concerned that the experienced and well-prepared Putin will easily outmaneuver the ignorant, unprepared and reckless Rump, and extract concessions without giving anything in return. Says Brookings Institution's Thomas Wright:
“There’s definitely some anxiety overseas. They are worried about a deal that may be struck in the meeting on the fly. Putin is very good at these first meetings. He has an agenda and knows how to maneuver people. If Trump isn’t prepared, the longer he stays in the room, the more dangerous it is.”
This is why Congress needs to move the Russia sanctions legislation to Rump's desk, and after he vetoes it, pass it over his veto into law.

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