Yesterday Twitter erupted briefly with news that the Trump administration was allegedly defying the will of the people by refusing to impose sanctions that both houses of Congress passed overwhelmingly last July. The reason? The administration informed Congress Monday that it was waiving sanctions for now on buyers of Russian arms. The context, however, matters, and the administration’s actions were, I believe, entirely prudent. Here’s what happened and why.
The law at issue (you can read the text here) gave the president 180 days to impose sanctions on a person who knowingly, on or after the date of the law, “engage[d] in a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.” Trump, however, had the statutory discretion to waive imposition of the sanctions if, among other things, he determined that a waiver “is in the vital national security interests of the United States” or if a person is “substantially reducing” the number of significant relevant transactions with Russia.
Moreover, it’s important to understand that there are a number of U.S. allies, like India, who’ve purchased Russian arms or are considering future defense deals. For example, India has long considered a substantial purchase of Russia’s still-in-development fifth-generation fighter, the Su-57. If, in fact, the new sanctions regime is deterring these deals (we don’t yet have details), then the United States has an incentive not to sanction friends who may well be in the process of voluntary compliance.
Indeed, a state department spokesperson said as much yesterday:
Given the long time frames generally associated with major defense deals, the results of this effort are only beginning to become apparent. From that perspective, if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent.”
It’s also important to note that at the same time that the administration waived sanctions on arms buyers, it complied with a separate requirement to identify “Senior foreign political figures and oligarchs in the Russian Federation” — an action that angered Vladimir Putin:
We hear a lot of criticism of this as if unless Trump destroys relationships with other nations, he is a toady but if he does something, out of necessity, that does degrade relations, he’s an idiot.
Obama laid down and allowed Putin (among others) to roll all over him and make him like it. Trump, indeed, needs to do a 180 from Obama foreign policy but he can’t just kick misbehaving leaders in the teeth until they get the message. Diplomacy, something the Democrats seem to believe Trump is incapable of but don’t realize it when he is doing it, must be employed.
For instance, Trump has taken a strong stance against N. Korea, so much so that liberals take Un’s side against the US and pretend to worry that Trump is going to start a global conflagration. Trump’s firm stance has caused China and Russia to reconsider their treatment of Un as a spoiled little kid they allow to get his way and consider that when the US has had enough, the results might be really bad for THEM. So, the UN has taken a strong and unanimous stance against N. Korea. BUT, if Trump does not launch an all-out nuclear response to Un’s missile tests, he’s getting rolled.
Why, it’s almost as if all the Democrats want to do is bitch. Could I be wrong about this?
@Bill… Deplorable Me: check this giggle out https://thepoliticalinsider.com/chuck-schumer-ancestry/
@kitt: Well, they nailed that one.