Let me first say this: I’m neither shocked nor angry that a Russian military intelligence unit was offering/paying a bounty to Taliban-linked militants for attacking and killing coalition forces — including U.S. and British troops — in Afghanistan. After all, the US did essentially the same thing during the 1980s when Russia invaded Afghanistan. It’s ugly business, to be sure, but war is never nice; paying proxy troops fight the enemy has been a common facet of warfare since…well, since war was invented.
Don’t get me wrong. It may be a common practice, but it’s loathsome. Governments should still object to it. Back in March, when Comrade Trump was first briefed by US intelligence officials about these bounties, it was his sworn duty to confront Comrade Putin — to raise holy hell and demand that it stop. According to sources reported in both the Washington Post and the New York Times, a number of responses were discussed at that briefing, “includ[ing] sending a diplomatic communication to relay disapproval and authorizing new sanctions.”
Instead, there’s been no response. None.
Well, that’s not entirely accurate. There’s been no official US response. There have been several unofficial Trump responses. Since March — since he learned about the bounties — Trump has 1) invited Putin to visit the US and stay at a Trump-owned property, 2) decided, after a call with Putin, to pull US troops out of NATO partner Germany, 3) suggested Russia should be reinstated in the G7 summit (a suggestion which other G7 nations soundly rejected), 4) refused to implement measures to combat Russian interference in the coming presidential election, 5) worked with Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman (who, let’s not forget, had a Washington Post reporter kidnapped, killed, and dismembered) to raise oil prices (which benefitted US oil companies while raising prices of gasoline for consumers), 6) had his Department of Justice drop criminal charges against the Russian citizens and firms that criminally interfered with the 2016 election, and 7) had his DOJ drop charges against his former National Security Advisor who’d twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his interaction with Russian intelligence services.
But about the Russians paying bounties to kill US troops? Nothing. Worse still, Comrade Trump stood on a stage in front of graduating cadets at West Point and said this:
“You became brothers and sisters pledging allegiance to the same timeless principles, joined together in a common mission to protect our country, to defend our people, and to carry on the traditions of freedom, equality, and liberty that so many gave their lives to secure. You exemplify the power of shared national purpose to transcend all differences and achieve true unity. Today, you graduate as one class, and you embody one noble creed: Duty, Honor, Country.”
He went on to promise this: “[L]et our enemies be on notice; if our people are threatened, we will never, ever hesitate to act.”
Our enemies ARE on notice. If the enemy is Russia, we will absolutely hesitate. We will protect our country…except from Russia. We will defend our people…except from Russia. Our military will embody a noble creed of duty, honor, country…except when Russia is involved.
Trump was right about one thing in his West Point speech. He mentioned “the power of shared national purpose” and “the traditions of freedom, equality, and liberty.” To our everlasting shame, the President of the United States doesn’t share that national purpose or honor those traditions.
Comrade Trump has betrayed his oath of office, he’s betrayed the US military, and he’s betrayed the people of the United States. He’s done it knowingly, he’s done it willfully, and he’s done it with the tacit acceptance of a complicit Republican Party.
They all need to feel the consequences in November. They all deserve to bear the consequences after the election.