Presidents approach to foreign policy, from defending his Russian counterpart to supporting Bolsonaro after he rejected aid, has experts voicing alarms
Days after Donald Trump returned from another contentious encounter with his fellow G7 global leader, a Kremlin-backed TV channel painted a derisive picture of his overtures to Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.
Likening the US president's staunch defense of his Russian counterpart to a tortuous love affair, the channel aired a mashup in which Trump's speeches were pieced together to form the lyrics of Senorita– a summertime ballad performed by the US pop starrings Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello.
” I love it when you call me Senorita, I wish I could feign I didn't need ya, ” Trump appeared to say.” Ooh, I should be running, ooh, you maintain me coming for ya. ”
The segment included images of Putin playing the piano, the pair in sync, much to the chagrin of the EU and members of the US Congress.
Trump's affinity for Putin and other tyrants has long drawn criticism, for upending the norms of US foreign policy and alienating traditional friends. But his pro-Russia posture in Biarritz left former envoys and national security experts astonished and sounding fresh alarms.
” Trump represents an American foreign policy tradition that we haven't seen empowered in the presidency since before World War II, ” said Daniel Fried, deputy secretary of state for Europe from 2005 to 2009.
” The last hour this kind of thinking was powerful in the United State, it was in the content of the isolationist motion … the faith that our getting involved in European security was not in America's interests.
” It's a cynical view that power is the only measure for success, and I happen to think it's a dangerous position because it undervalues the free world. ”
Trump signaled his intent to advocate on Putin's behalf prior to departing for the G7 summit, publicly reiterating his view that Russia should be reinstated to the gathering of the world's leading industrialized economies.
It was expelled in 2014, as punishment for the annexation of Crimea. Trump insisted the Kremlin should have a seat at the table and attributed Russian aggression in eastern Europe to the failures of his own predecessor, Barack Obama.
Other leaders, with the exception of Italy's prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, vehemently objected to Trump's demands.
Within days of his return to Washington, Trump made another move that seemed likely to please Putin: officials said the White House was considering obstruct $250 m in military assistance to Ukraine. That would put Trump at odds with the Pentagon, which designated the funds to help counter pro-Russian separatists backed by the Kremlin.
” Trump's deference to Putin remains one of Washington's greatest mysteries, ” said Julianne Smith, a former deputy national security consultant to former vice-president Joe Biden.” No one knows for sure whether it's just Trump's admiration for Putin's authoritarian rule or it's the facts of the case that Trump owes Putin something.
” Either route, Trump's refusal to speak ill of Putin or Russia's aggressivenes in its neighborhood and beyond is eroding US leadership and the transatlantic alliance. ”
‘Allies are growing tired'
A two-year investigation led by the special counseling Robert Mueller examined Trump's ties to Russia but found insufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy. Mueller did, however, find numerous instances of coordination and disclosed that Trump pursued a business deal in Moscow that could have earned him hundreds of millions of dollars.
Trump's fixation with Russia was not the only source of consternation among foreign policy experts this week. He also skipped a discussion in Biarritz dedicated to addressing the climate crisis and fires burning across the southern Amazon.
After Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, “says hes” would refute $20 m in aid agreed to by the G7 nations and meant to combat the flames, Trump sided with Brazil.
” I have gotten to know[ Bolsonaro] well in our dealings with Brazil, ” he tweeted.” He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil- Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA! ”
Bolsonaro has drawn comparisons to Trump, touting far-right nationalist views and attaining incendiary remarks about girls, indigenous groups and other minorities.
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