If you’ve been paying attention at all the title was a rhetorical question.
The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington.
Throughout the campaign, Trump has been dismissive of calls for supporting the Ukraine government as it fights an ongoing Russian-led intervention. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade.
Still, Republican delegates at last week’s national security committee platform meeting in Cleveland were surprised when the Trump campaign orchestrated a set of events to make sure that the GOP would not pledge to give Ukraine the weapons it has been asking for from the United States.
Inside the meeting, Diana Denman, a platform committee member from Texas who was a Ted Cruz supporter, proposed a platform amendment that would call for maintaining or increasing sanctions against Russia, increasing aid for Ukraine and “providing lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian military.
“Today, the post-Cold War ideal of a ‘Europe whole and free’ is being severely tested by Russia’s ongoing military aggression in Ukraine,” the amendment read. “The Ukrainian people deserve our admiration and support in their struggle.”
Trump staffers in the room, who are not delegates but are there to oversee the process, intervened. By working with pro-Trump delegates, they were able to get the issue tabled while they devised a method to roll back the language.
That amendment was voted on and passed. When the Republican Party releases its platform Monday, the official Republican party position on arms for Ukraine will be at odds with almost all the party’s national security leaders.
“This is another example of Trump being out of step with GOP leadership and the mainstream in a way that shows he would be dangerous for America and the world,” said Rachel Hoff, another platform committee member who was in the room.
For any decent person, this should have been a no-brainer on every possible level. Russia is an international troublemaker with no foreign policy larger than instigating crises in the hopes that one of them might present a opportunity that Russia can capitalize on. Russia has harassed US diplomatic staff inside of Russia. It runs a rapacious intelligence service that seems like it resorts to violence out of nothing more than a desire to stay in practice.
Paul Manafort, the alleged Russian mob fixer and Donald Trump campaign chairman, has been a lobbyist for people connected to Putin for a decade. While Donald Trump is a fanboi of totalitarians, Manafort has made his living by making genocidal lackwits and their like seem respectable. Whether or not Manafort financially benefits from this decision is unknown. What is very well known is that supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not in the best interests of the United States, of the EU, or of NATO.
This, folks, is what you have to look forward to in a Donald Trump presidency: foreign policy devoid of pragmatism or principle but perhaps with a nice, tidy profit involved.