Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

Few missed Trump’s invitation to Putin to attack a NATO ally. Unfortunately, too many considered it to be inconsequential political demagoguery and pandering rhetoric for an isolationist base. Some national security experts have sounded alarms warning of a seemingly distant threat of the collapse of the NATO alliance, but these predictions are framed as being contingent on Trump winning a second presidential election ten months from now. The reality is far more grave. Trump’s pronouncement, inviting Russia to attack NATO, poses an immediate threat to NATO, the U.S., and American troops. And the damage cannot easily be undone.

The domestic political turmoil in the U.S. and the paralysis in the Euro-Atlantic alliance in conceiving and implementing a strategy for the Russia-Ukraine war resembles some of the key conditions that propelled Putin to launch the 2022 war. Prior to the invasion, Putin perceived American society and the United States’ political decision-making structure to be in disarray. The January 6th insurrection reflected the depth of American political division and throughout 2021 Trump hammered away at his personal narratives that Putin wasn’t a menace, Russia was a potential ally, and Ukraine was the culprit behind tension in Eastern Europe and an enemy. Trump was a former president but remained the leader of a Republican party that was increasingly pliant to whatever extreme position he wished to pursue. For Putin, this capture of the Republican establishment signaled that a swift and successful Russian victory would result in no significant western backlash.

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