For a while now, we’ve known that Trump spends most of his day on what his aides euphemistically call “executive time,” which means watching Fox News and tweeting. But on June 1st, he actually had a pretty busy day.
Trump spent a lot of time that Monday planning the most shameful stunt of his presidency—using force against peaceful protesters to clear the way for a ridiculous photo-op in front of a church. But what may have gotten lost in the reaction to those events is that he also talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone. It was reported that the two leaders talked about Trump’s desire to reinstate Russia as a member of the G-7 as well as oil markets. But a few days later we learned this.
President Trump has signed off on a plan to permanently withdraw up to one-third of about 34,500 U.S. troops currently based in Germany, bringing the total down to no more than 25,000, according to U.S. officials.
It’s possible that the timing of Trump’s announcement was a coincidence and didn’t have anything to do with his phone call with Putin. But it is also possible that the military leaders who denounced the president were reacting to more than his threat to use the military against American citizens. For example, retired General Barry McCaffrey made his opinion clear when he called Trump’s decision to remove U.S. forces from Germany “a gift to Russia, a finger in the eye to NATO, and a threat to national security.”
Not only did the president fail to inform Germany of the decision to pull U.S. troops out of the country, the next day Russia announced “the deployment of more personnel to its western region, signaling a new challenge to the increasingly active U.S.-led NATO military alliance forces operating there.”
I realize that we are no longer supposed to talk about the Steele dossier, but no one should ever doubt the truth of this statement.
[The Trump operation’s] aim was to sow discord and disunity within the U.S. itself, but more especially within the Transatlantic alliance which was viewed as inimical to Russia’s interests. Source C, a senior Russian financial official, said the Trump operation should be seen in terms of Putin’s desire to return to Nineteenth Century “Great Power” politics anchored upon country’s interests rather than the ideals-based international order established after World War II.
Nothing represents the “ideals-based international order” more than NATO, which is why Putin’s objective has always been to sow discord among its members. More than the actual troop withdrawal, that is the effect of the latest moves by Trump and Putin.
We’ll probably never really know all of what Trump and Putin discussed during their phone call on June 1st. As I suggested, it could be a coincidence that, after the phone call, Trump decided to pull U.S. troops out of Germany at the exact same moment that Putin was strengthening his forces in a way that signaled a challenge to NATO. But as the saying goes, “Momma didn’t raise no fool.” We continue to see signs that the President of the United States is doing Putin’s bidding.