Recently President Trump tweeted, “I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts. Total Fake News!”
The tweet was greeted with incredulity in some press circles. CNN called it “simply false.” “The facts suggest the opposite,” said the Washington Post. “Mostly false,” declared Politifact, noting the president’s statement “immediately drew guffaws among media commentators.”
The reaction left some Republican national security and foreign policy hands shaking their heads. How could one add up the actions that Trump has taken on Russia, compare them to Obama, and conclude that Trump was not tougher?
In a text exchange, I asked one GOP lawmaker: If you believe Trump has been tougher on Russia, what is the best evidence? He quickly came back with a list. The U.S. is, he said:
- Bombing Syria, Russia’s main client, and generally unleashing the U.S. military in Syria, including against Russians when necessary.
- Arming Ukraine.
- Browbeating NATO allies to increase defense spending.
- Adding low-yield nukes to our arsenal.
- Starting research and development on an INF noncompliant missile.
- Shutting Russia’s San Francisco consulate.
To clarify some of the less-obvious references, on the “arming Ukraine” front, the lawmaker noted the Trump administration’s decision to supply Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank missiles. (The Washington Post called Trump’s decision “a worthy application of the ‘peace through strength’ principle'” that will help Russian President Vladimir Putin understand that “his aggressions … will be resisted.”) The “low-yield nukes” reference is to developing a new generation of (relatively) small nuclear weapons that, the New York Times noted, “advocates say are needed to match Russian advances.” The “INF non-compliant missile” refers to U.S. work on a new missile that does not comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and is “a direct response to Russia’s deployment in recent years of its own treaty-busting missile,” according to Time magazine. (Time added that, “The Obama administration worked unsuccessfully to persuade the Kremlin to stand down the program.”)
The items on the list were all solid, hard-edged measures designed specifically to push back against Russian aggression.
So why do so many believe Obama was tougher on Russia? It wasn’t that Obama took a harder line against Russian adventurism. Just the opposite. “Under President Obama, Vladimir Putin hardly had reason to fear that anyone would push back on anything,” John Bolton, the U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush, noted recently.
The rest is at the Washington Examiner
Yes, Obama was being REALLY tough on Putin, imposing some sanctions he wouldn’t be around to have to deal with. Liberals that cheered Obama’s weakness and cowardice as “brilliant” now aren’t satisfied unless Trump nukes Moscow.