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HomeIllinois NewsThorner/Ingold: Was Trump Wrong about the Ukraine?

Thorner/Ingold: Was Trump Wrong about the Ukraine?

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By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold - 

Donald Trump’s somewhat disjointed reference to the Ukraine and Russia’s intentions, and his swift denunciation by the Left merit a further examination. Of course the liberal press is firmly behind Hillary and Obama, and will seize on any opportunity to deprecate Trump without allowing any amplification of the issues. Let’s look back a couple of years.

In 2014, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych put off efforts to commit to joining NATO in favor of strengthening ties with Russia.  Besides Ukraine’s long association with Russia, and as one of the former Soviet States, nearly 20% of its residents are ethnic Russians, even more in the strategically important Crimean peninsula. Ukrainians opposed to Yanukovych staged a number of increasingly violent demonstrations, which provoked equally violent reaction by the police.

President Obama threw his support behind the demonstrators, and when the elected President, Yanukovych was forced to flee the country, quickly recognized the rebel government as the legitimate representative of the country. Yanukovych fled to Russia, mounted a public relations campaign against the rebellion, and gained the support of Putin and the Russian people. Russia shares an 800 mile border with the Ukraine, and the Crimea has been a strategic warm-water port for Russia for centuries.

While it is easy to sympathize with pro-western sentiments among the Ukrainian majority, this situation is yet another example where Obama has thrown his support against a legitimate government in the name of “human rights.” He did this in Libya, Egypt and Syria, with little thought of the consequences, and no viable plan to follow through in rebuilding those nations. Thirty years ago, President Carter did the same with Iran, deposing the legitimate government of the Shaw and replacing it with the theocratic rule of the Ayatolas. Carter pressured the Shah to make what he termed human rights concessions by releasing political prisoners and relaxing press censorship. Khomeini could never have succeeded without Carter. The Islamic Revolution would have been stillborn. 

To some extent President Bush made the same mistake with Iraq, when attempting nation building, but the situation was made worse when Obama pulled out, leaving the Shiites at the mercy of militant Sunnis with no chance of mediation or reconciliation.

From Carter to Obama this nation has received little support from our European allies, but through it all American has earned the lasting distrust of secular Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, Turkey and Israel.  Russia, on the other hand, has an economy smaller than that of California, yet it holds a strong influence over European countries. Nearly all of the petroleum and natural gas for Europe flows through Russia at the pleasure of President Putin.

What was Obama’s reaction to strengthen our position?  Rather than establish a strategic backup plan, Obama has systematically dismantled our petroleum and gas industries by EPA fiat, has refused to approve the Keystone Pipeline, has halted all exploitation on federal land, and has allowing Saudi Arabia to dump oil into the U.S. at a price below production costs with the intent to economically cripple our domestic producers.

In summary, enemies do not fear us and our friends do not trust us.  Our largest deficit is national will.  In 2004, we destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in order to root out Islamist terrorists. Then in 2011, we pulled our troops out of Iraq, despite predictions that Iraq would fall apart. In 2009, we demanded Assad leave power in Syria,    but we did not use military force to accomplish our demand. In the resulting civil war, Islamist terrorists seized half of Syria and Iraq.

In November 2015, the Islamists—now called ISIS rather than al-Qaeda—massacred 130 civilians in Paris. But the American political system was unable to unite behind committing forces, as we did in Fallujah a decade ago. Why? Our commander in chief has rejected deploying Americans in ground combat because he believes eternal war is the nature of the Muslim Middle East. He refuses to utter the words “Islamic terrorist.” The same is true of Hillary Clinton. Our Congress will not even debate a resolution to authorize the use of ground forces for fear of how the vote would affect reelection.

Lastly, as reported by the "Wall Street Journal" on August 3, 2016, the Obama administrations secretly funneled 400 million dollars in cash to the Iranians back in January. The revelation was particularly notable in that it coincided with the release of four American prisoners being held by the Iranians, leading to speculation that the payment was, indeed, a ransom payment.  The Iranians certainly celebrated the U.S. payment as 'ransom money."  U.S. Iranian hostage, Abedini, tells of Iran holding the plane on the tarmac until the ransom plane arrived. It is a policy for the U.S. never to pay ransom, as this only encourages more kidnappings. It is significant that the transaction was in cash. Obama’s excuse is that since we do not have diplomatic relations with Iran, we couldn’t simply write a check. This is as implausible as Hillary’s excuse that she couldn’t have two email accounts on her Blackberry. If so, was the $1.5 billion for the Iran Nuclear Deal delivered in a tanker, riding low in the water with a load of bullion? 

Sensible steps can turn things around, but that depends upon the next commander in chief. So far in the twenty-first century, due to our vast wealth and technologies, we have not been sorely tested. Our beloved nation does not have a martial spirit, and perhaps does not need one. It does need a military inculcated with a warrior spirit. 

Obama is using the Saul Alinsky rules of rebellion to continually divert attention from the real issues facing this country, conducting a piecemeal attack on Trump’s real or imagined transgressions. And the country keeps falling for it.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Nancy, it is not “the Ukraine,” it is “Ukraine.” (I have Ukrainian relatives.) How Ukrainians feel about Russia depends on what part of Ukraine they come from. My relatives come from the western part and don’t think much of Putin. They were appalled when he invaded Crimea. I have met Russian-speaking Ukrainians from the east, however, who have an entirely different perspective. It is a tricky international situation. But the West may at some point need Putin to defeat Islamic terrorism, since Europe seems helpless and unwilling to do so.

  2. Ukraine was a big victim of Soviet Communist purges, starving and executing hundreds of thousands of peasants who did not want to give up their land.
    The Soviet answer was to move families of ethnic Russians into Ukraine to “colonize” it as replacements. This is the same trick they did in the three Baltic nations they over-ran in 1940.
    From Peter the Great in 1720, to Catherine the Great in 1790, Russia has fought wars to gain entrance to the Black sea. The port of Sevastopol was gained by war with the Ottoman Empire by 1790, and it provided one of those much desired “warm water ports.” Russia fought Britain and France in 1854 to hold on to those Crimean ports, and again battled Germany in WWII to hold on to them. Because of this, Russia will NEVER willingly give up the Crimean part of Ukraine.
    The goal of both the Russian Empire of the Czars, and of the Soviet Union, has been to gain entrance to either the Mediterranean, by capturing Istanbul, or to gain entrance to the Persian Gulf through Iran or Afghanistan. I believe this will ALWAYS be Russia’s goal, to be gained one way or another.

  3. My apologies for referring to Ukraine as “The Ukraine” as though it was a province of the Soviet Union.
    Yes, it is complicated, but the situation was exacerbated by the Administration’s desire to side with “human rights” over realpolitik. In some cases, the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt for example, the question was not so much about the abuse of human rights, but who was privileged to do the abusing. There are obvious parallels in Syria between Assad and ISIS.
    It is not always clear, in a bar fight or road rage, who is the aggressor and who is the victim. Sometimes both. The same is true in international affairs. To cite a proverb, “It is sometimes better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”