The first and foremost job of any US president is to keep our country safe and protect it from enemies. At the Helsinki summit press conference with President Putin, President Trump announced his belief in Putin’s “strong and powerful” defense that Russia did not meddle in our 2016 presidential election over the US Intelligence Community’s unanimous declaration that Russia did, indeed, meddle — complete with incontrovertible forensic evidence. The following day, Trump attempted to walk back his comments by declaring he said would when he meant wouldn’t at the Helsinki press conference when referring to Russian election meddling.
Anyone who heard the context of everything else Trump said would immediately realize the absurdity of his so-called correction. But, more importantly, what was discussed in the private Trump-Putin meeting with only translators present? What was said about Ukraine, Crimea, and Syria? What about Putin’s plans for the Baltic states, about his designs on Hungary and Poland which are moving politically rightward, about his continuing relationship with Assad in Syria and his overall involvement in the Middle East? What about Trump’s proclivity to admire autocrats such as Duterte in the Philippines, Erdogan in Turkey, and, of course, Putin in Russia, all the while bashing traditional allies and their leaders in the United Kingdom and Germany?
It is clear that Trump is ignorant of international issues, of the world around him, and of history. That is one reason he has so little regard for NATO; the other is his tendency to put every issue in financial terms. He has lied about how much our NATO friends contribute to mutual defense and what they agreed to do at the recent NATO summit. He calls the European Union a foe. While he is imposing tariffs on friend and adversary alike, Japan and the European Union just signed an agreement to abandon tariffs among member states. Our allies are planning to go-it-alone because they believe they can no longer count on the US as a partner. All of this adds up to Trump’s un-American actions.
Let me conclude with a bit of local encouragement. On Tuesday evening, my wife, Lynne, and I attended a Hilton Head Island Town Council meeting at which numerous proclamations were read and awards given. Among those honored were local and neighboring security officers who helped in the rescue of an older citizen who became lost in a dense wooded area on the island. Mayor David Bennett also presented Honored Islander awards to three individuals who distinguished themselves through service to others and to our community. This meeting was a reminder that despite the national and international woes we face, good things are happening in our own neighborhoods.
Blaine Lotz served for 39 years in the US Intelligence Community, both in uniform and as a career civilian. Since retiring to Hilton Head in 2005 he has been a community activist and served as the Beaufort County Democratic Party chair for eight years.