Trump Would Encourage Russia to Attack NATO Members Who Don’t Pay Up

Yet more evidence the man is unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief.

NYT (“Trump Says He Gave NATO Allies Warning: Pay In or He’d Urge Russian Aggression“):

Former President Donald J. Trump said on Saturday that, while president, he told the leaders of NATO countries that he would “encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to countries that had not paid the money they owed to the military alliance.

Mr. Trump did not make clear whether he ever intended to follow through on such a threat or what that would mean for the alliance, but his comment at a campaign event in South Carolina — a variation of one he has made before to highlight his negotiation skills — is likely to cause concern among NATO member states, which are already very nervous about the prospect of a Trump return.

Mr. Trump’s suggestion that he would encourage Russian aggression against allies of the United States — for any reason — comes as Republicans in Congress have pushed back against more aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia, and as European officials have expressed concerns over possible Russian aggression on NATO’s Eastern side.

Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, dismissed those warnings as “threat mongering” in an interview with Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host, that aired on Thursday. “We have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else,” Mr. Putin said.

But he has also called on the United States to “make an agreement” to end the war in Ukraine by ceding Ukrainian territory to Russia, comments that were seen by some as an appeal to American conservatives to block further involvement in the war.

Some European officials and foreign policy experts have said they are concerned that Russia could invade a NATO nation after its war with Ukraine concludes, fears that they say are heightened by the possibility of Mr. Trump returning to the presidency.

In a statement, a White House spokesman, Andrew Bates, called Mr. Trump’s comments “appalling and unhinged,” adding, “Rather than calling for wars and promoting deranged chaos, President Biden will continue to bolster American leadership and stand up for our national security interests — not against them.”

Retired Navy War College professor Tom Nichols responds at The Atlantic (“Trump Encourages Putin to Attack NATO Members“):

Not so long ago, many Americans—and especially most Republicans—would have considered anyone supporting such a view to be little more than a deranged and hateful anti-American fanatic.

Trump issued this unhinged threat while telling one of his “sir” stories, a rhetorical device in which some unnamed interlocutor shows Trump great deference while humbly seeking his advice. He described a meeting, ostensibly when he was in office, in which he responded to an ally about NATO funding.

One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, “Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?” I said, “You didn’t pay, you’re delinquent?” He said, “Yes, let’s say that happened.” “No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.”

Before we consider the sheer recklessness and immorality of this statement, let us first accept that this exchange almost certainly never happened.

Trump’s feelings about NATO are well-known. He is gripped by the stubbornly ignorant belief, even after four years in office, that NATO is some sort of protection racket, in which our European allies come to Washington like quivering shopkeepers and make an offering to the local mob boss from their weekly receipts. NATO funding doesn’t work that way, of course, and while European leaders no doubt had their arguments in private with Trump while he was president, it is highly unlikely that the leader of a major power “stood up”—as if in some sort of audience with Trump—to ask him if he’d stop a Russian invasion of a country “delinquent” in its accounts.

The fact that Trump apparently thinks all of this actually took place is bad enough, and it is evidence that his  detachment from reality is getting worse by the day. (As the New Yorker writer Susan Glasser noted this evening, Trump is “getting even more brazen,” and his comments today, even by the usual standards of his incendiary speeches, were “breathtaking.”) In a country tangling itself in knots over questions of age and mental competence in the White House, Trump somehow keeps getting a pass for saying things that are orders of magnitude more worrisome than forgetting a name or a date.

But leave aside (if we must) Trump’s record as a serial liar who lives in a world of his own fantasies. Trump’s comments today are a lot more dangerous than most of his unsettling puffery, and Americans should refuse to let this statement pass as if it were just another distasteful lump in the rancid stew Trump regularly serves up to his faithful.

Instead, we should concentrate on the more terrifying problem, a reality that exists independent of Trump’s imaginary “sir” conversations: The leader of one of America’s two major political parties has just signaled to the Kremlin that if elected, he would not only refuse to defend Europe, but he would gladly support Vladimir Putin during World War III and even encourage him to do as he pleases to America’s allies.

Americans outside of Trump’s personality cult—at least those who have retained any ability to be shocked—should be stunned at his kind of betrayal of American principles and America’s allies. Here in the United States, we have become accustomed to treating Trump like an angry child, ignoring his outbursts the way parents ignore a toddler who shouts threats and claims to hate mommy and daddy during tantrums.

But other nations do not see an overaged juvenile; they see a man who once held the keys to the U.S. nuclear arsenal and could once again become the commander in chief of the American military. They are watching him because they believe—as they should—that he is telling them exactly what he’ll do if he returns to office.

I don’t have much to add to Nichols’ comments, which I endorse completely.

One of the biggest problems of the Trump era is that he says and does stupid and outrageous things with such stunning regularity that commenting on them quickly gets tiresome. While the fear early on was that the press and punditry were “normalizing” this behavior by refusing to treat each outrage in the way we would anyone else, the opposite has happened: everyone simply accepts that Trump isn’t normal and that it’s pointless to treat him as though he were.

Regardless, Trump’s craziness only makes front-page news when he says something so outrageous that it’s bizarre even by his standards. And, certainly, saying that he would encourage Russia to “do whatever they want” to American allies fits the bill.

But, as Nichols alludes, even if we dismiss this surely-made-up story as some weird puffery and not a true threat, it highlights that, nine years after announcing his first Presidential run and four years with control of the nuclear “button,” Trump still doesn’t understand the basics of how NATO works. Not only isn’t it a protection racket, it’s not a club into which people pay dues. Allies don’t pledge to pay 2 percent of their GDP to NATO in exchange for Article 5 protection. Rather, they pledge to spend that much on their own national defense, in order to have a capable force to contribute to mutual self-defense if the need should arise.

I guarantee you that Jim Mattis, the former CENTCOM chief who served as his first Secretary of Defense, John Kelly, the former SOUTHCOM chief who served as Trump’s first Secretary of Homeland Security and later as his Chief of Staff, and others explained this to him on more than one occasion. And yet he’s apparently incapable of understanding something so basic.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, National Security, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DK says:

    Just when I thought Trump couldn’t disqualify himself more than he already has. The Putin-puppet is a raving lunatic and a national security threat.

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  2. Kathy says:

    You can lead a moron to knowledge, but you cannot make him learn.

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  3. al Ameda says:

    Do you think the Supreme Court Justices pay any attention at all to this ‘extraneous’ stuff?

    With Trump there is no floor, he cann and does go lower, it always gets worse.

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  4. Lounsbury says:

    Really incredible. An absolute illustration of staggeringly bad judgment in discourse, positively encouraging a hostile power. As well as another clear indication that he is fundamentally a mentally impoverished person – I will say without hesitation that if Biden had outright early dementia (he does not of course) he’d still be more competent and qualified than this serial bungler, Trump.

    @DK: The perhaps lesson is that Trump can easily be baited into saying things that will damage him outside of his core MAGA audience. There is some hope that these impacts on the margins – every small percent to help.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    One of the biggest problems of the Trump era is that he says and does stupid and outrageous things with such stunning regularity that commenting on them quickly gets tiresome. While the fear early on was that the press and punditry were “normalizing” this behavior by refusing to treat each outrage in the way we would anyone else, the opposite has happened: everyone simply accepts that Trump isn’t normal and that it’s pointless to treat him as though he were.

    “Butbutbut Biden is oooooolllllddd.”

    In 2016 it was “Butter emails,” today it’s “Biden is old”, as yesterday’s NYT felt the need to tell anybody who would read their rag 7 times. I don’t allow the press any excuses for the idiotic jihads they took against Hillary and now take against Biden while ignoring trump’s manifest insanity and incomprehensible incompetence. You shouldn’t either.

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  6. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’m really talking about what catches my interest enough to blog about it. Whatever else one might say about the NYT and Trump, they’re surely not ignoring him. There are seemingly dozens of stories a day about him. It’s Maggie Haberman’s life. It just ceases to resonate after awhile because it’s repetitive.

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  7. Bill Jempty says:

    John Bolton in his book ‘The Room where it happened” more than a few times made mention of Trump complaining about allies/NATO not paying enough.

    What Trump said foreign policy wise is idiotic but its not something he never voiced before.

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  8. gVOR10 says:

    Maybe the NATO countries should interfere in our election. Everyone else seems to be doing it.

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  9. CSK says:

    The irony of Trump complaining about people who don’t pay their bills is staggering.

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  10. Kingdaddy says:

    I suspect that the “NATO members don’t pay their bills” refrain is not the locus of what Trump is saying, but more a pretext for his embrace of Putin and Putinism (“blood and soil” nihilism combined with a desire to upend the current world order, which is also the Steve Bannon worldview).

    WaPo silliness update: on the electronic front page, only one article about Trump declaring and end to US support of NATO, and siding with Putin. Two articles about the special counsel report, and one about memory and age (with a picture of Trump and Biden). Nothing about what Trump’s desire to return us to the world was like in 1933 would portend. But lot’s of Super Bowl stories, and even one that gives tips 0n the best and worst activities on the new cruise ship leviathan, Icon of the Seas.

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  11. Kylopod says:

    The conventional wisdom is that foreign policy doesn’t impact American elections very much unless we’ve got our own service members in harm’s way. Honestly I’m not sure how many Americans even know what NATO is, let alone give a damn about it.

    But we’ve been seeing story after story about the impact the Gaza situation may be having on Arab-American voters in places like Dearborn. Why no discussion about how the Ukrainian-American vote–and other communities with family in places within the orbit of Russian aggression–might be affected by Trump’s Putin apologia and anti-NATO remarks?

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  12. wr says:

    I amuse myself by trying to imagine a leader of a NATO country starting a question for Trump with “But, sir.”

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  13. CSK says:

    This isn’t the only outrageous thing Trump said yesterday. He also taunted Nikki Haley because of her husband’s absence from the campaign. Michael Haley is on a year-long National Guard deployment to Africa.

    For that matter, where’s Melania?

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  14. senyordave says:

    There simply is no bottom with Trump. I live in Florida. I do not say this facetiously, but I firmly believe in you went to any state prison in Florida and randomly selected 100 inmates, I believe at least 50% of them would be a better president than Trump.

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  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kylopod:

    …how the Ukrainian-American vote…

    Ohio has a large population block of Ukrainian heritage, in the run up to the 2022 elections there was chatter as to how that vote could doom JD Vance, it didn’t happen. With regard to the Arab-American voters that support Palestine, there is a significant portion of that block that is made up of first and second generation immigrants, the Ukrainian diaspora arrived here in the pre and post WWII years and lack the personal relationships, siblings, cousins etc, that engender strong feelings.

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  16. Scott says:

    @Sleeping Dog: There is always the assumption that immigrants have a fondness for their country of origin. I wonder if that is true (or even partially true). My grandfather emigrated from Scotland after WWI (he was gassed and injured in that war) and was leaving poverty. After that he was an isolationist and didn’t believe in getting involved in European affairs. That is just one anecdote but I wonder if that view is, if not the majority view, a substantial one amongst the immigrant communities.

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  17. mattbernius says:

    I, for one, look forward to our local Trump whisperers explaining how we are getting this all wrong, how he didn’t mean this, how we would stay in NATO under Trump, and telling us what he really meant.

    @Jack, @Jkb any help here? @TheRyguy I know you are hate-reading thing right now…

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  18. CSK says:

    @mattbernius:

    While you’re at it, please ask them for an explanation/excuse for Trump’s remark about Michael Haley.

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  19. Kylopod says:

    @Scott:

    There is always the assumption that immigrants have a fondness for their country of origin. I wonder if that is true (or even partially true).

    It depends. Some of the most conservative immigrant communities in the US are those from Communist countries, including the Soviet Union. Ethnicity also plays a role. By some definitions I’d be classified as Ukrainian-American, as my father’s father’s father was from there, and I still have a Ukrainian surname. But that was during the time when Jewishness usually trumped national origin. Historically, Jews from Eastern Europe typically had very negative views of their home country. (That’s in contrast with German Jews, who were as a rule very proud of their German-ness–this even remained true, incredibly, after the Holocaust.)

    Now, with regard to the present, I’d say that generational distance is probably more important than religion or ethnicity in determining how much connection a person feels toward their ancestral land. Modern-day Ukrainian Jewish immigrants–particularly given who the president is–probably feel just as affected by the present situation as do Ukrainian-American Christians and Muslims.

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  20. Bill Jempty says:

    @Kingdaddy: KD,

    Like I said above, John Bolton in his book wrote that Trump regularly complained about allies, Both in Asia and Europe, not paying enough.

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  21. EddieInCA says:

    @mattbernius:

    @CSK:

    Marco Rubio did all that already today. It’s stunning in it’s brazeness. This will all become GOP dogma within a few days…

    Marco Rubio Completely Bends the Knee to Trump On Border Deal, Supporting Russia and Even Attacking Haley’s Husband in Stunning CNN Interview

    It’s a fucking disease.

    But on the upside, I can’t see this sort of rhetoric getting him any more votes. If anything, it’s going to drive some military people, on the margins, to either sit it out, or vote Biden or third party.

    Keep talking, Donald. Keep talking.

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  22. @mattbernius: I had a similar thought.

    I guess if in Trump’s fantasy, he had used the wrong name for the “President” in question, the they would be up in arms.

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  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kingdaddy: Additionally, there’s al Ameda’s point:

    With Trump there is no floor, he can and does go lower, it always gets worse.

    What I’m disturbed by is that there seems to be ~45% of the electorate who either agree with Trump on this blood and soil stuff or DGAF as long as their taxes stay low/their businesses remain weakly regulated. Which one of the two wolves fighting in our national soul are we going to feed? So far, we’ve been alternating–to generally deleterious results.

    @CSK: On a one-year deployment to Saks, looking for Mr. Goodbar, working on her tan at Mag a Lardo? Good question, he said she’d be taking a big role in the campaign.

    @senyordave: I’ve seen any random inmate from state prison up close and personal; I can’t go there. But I will agree that 50% of them would be no worse than Trump would be in a second term.

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  24. @Bill Jempty: This is a known gripe of his, yes (they they don’t pay their fair share, which he always says in a way that does not comport with the way it works). This is first time he has, to my knowledge, blatantly asserted that he would not protect a NATO ally from invasion by Russia, and that, moreover, he would encourage Putin to do whatever he wants.

    You do see how this is a problem, yes?

    And how it has even more salience than past utterances along these lines given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

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  25. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I guess if in Trump’s fantasy, he had used the wrong name for the “President” in question, the they would be up in arms.

    There is, of course, the issue of the anecdote too. You either have to treat it as a lie he tells to set up a point or the truth.

    Or perhaps they just think that Trump, like Jesus, teaches by parable.

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  26. gVOR10 says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s Maggie Haberman’s life.

    No, it’s her career. And she’s not going to risk her access over a little thing like democracy.

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  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA:

    either sit it out, or vote Biden or third party.

    Given that “sit it out/vote third party” =/= “Biden Wins!!!!!” (see 2016), I’m not sure how much Democrats should stake on Trump gaffes. The nation probably needs a concerted effort at putting Republicans out of office at all levels to undo the damage Trump-flavored-conservatism has caused. I don’t foresee that happening.

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  28. gVOR10 says:

    @senyordave: I also live in FL. I expect you’re right that half the prison population here would be a better prez than Trump. Even a lot of them who are Florida Man.

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  29. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Yes, it’s the daily round of what stupid thing did Trump say in the last hour or so, but something should be of even more concern. For years he’s talked as if NATO countries pay some kind of annual fee to belong to a huge international country club or golf course.

    But what does it say about us that so many Americans apparently think the same way? Trump is just one mortal man (whose end-date is fast approaching) but where are these citizen-idiots going after he’s off the stage? Remember when Trump imposed tariffs on imports and a lot of people thought it was the exporting countries that paid it, not American consumers or businesses?

    I caught a clip of some kind of House hearings of tech executives and Tom Cotton kept asking an Asian executive if he was a member of the Chinese Communist Party and he kept repeating he was from Singapore. You could see it dawning on him that Cotton actually thought Singapore was a city in China and not a separate entity.

    I’m thinking we’re doomed as a nation.

    A republic, if you can keep it. – Benjamin Franklin.

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  30. Kingdaddy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: But this is the shortest of short term thinking. Major disruptions to trade, restricted access to critical commodities, an explosion of risk, etc. etc. would not be good for the bottom line.

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  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: It just ceases to resonate after awhile because it’s repetitive.

    So is “Biden is ooooolllldd.”

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  32. Kylopod says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    But what does it say about us that so many Americans apparently think the same way?

    The myth of the outsider businessman-president goes back a long way. It was part of Perot’s pitch. Of course Trump isn’t really a businessman. He’s a scam artist with direct ties to mobsters, and his proposal sounds in some ways more like a protection racket than a golf club.

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  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @senyordave: I believe at least 50% of them would be a better president than Trump.

    I think you are being too generous to trump. I think 85% would be a far more accurate #.

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  34. Bill Jempty says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You do see how this is a problem, yes?

    Yes I do. I just said he has been saying these things for a while. Probably thinking we’d do nothing too if our allies was invaded.

    And how it has even more salience than past utterances along these lines given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

    When Trump was President, North Korea was always stirring things up while he was expressing unhappiness with the ROK paying its fair share.

    I’d go back and check Bolton’s book if I could, but it not available for Kindle Unlimited subscribers any more.

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  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: My grandfather left Slovenia in 1900, grandma in 1904. Every one of their children felt a strong attachment to the old country so I suspect Gramps and Grams did too. Other than my mother**, all the male children married women of proud Hungarian* descent, and all the girls married proud Poles.*

    Anecdotal, not data.

    *I’ve always wondered about that sorting.

    **Ma was pure Southern Belle WASP. Her mother threatened to disown her if she married that papist Polock! Grams was a very sweet women who came to love the old man but she was not too strong on eastern Europe geography.

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  36. Stormy Dragon says:

    I think one big thing I think needs to be pointed out here is that when Trump talks about NATO countries “not paying up”, he’s not talking about them meeting NATO defense spending targets either. He wants to turn US foreign policy into a protection racket where the US protects countries that pay tribute directly to us for that protection.

    And in Trump’s system, the US military is basically reduced to a bunch of mercenaries, available for-hire to any regime willing to pay for them.

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  37. Bill Jempty says:

    In 1970-71, during the Cold War, prominent Democratic Senator* Mike Mansfield. proposed legislation that would have cut US forces in Europe by 50% and citing how it would reduce this country’s defense burden as a reason for doing ao.

    History repeating itself as the saying goes.

    *- I believe Mansfield was Senate Majority leader at the time. After retiring from the Senate in 1976, he went on to be ambassador to Japan.

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  38. Kylopod says:

    Backing up part of what I suggested earlier, but focusing on immigrants from actual NATO countries:

    Aside from the obvious national security implications, there are potential political implications to Trump’s comment. It’s worth noting that the NATO member countries most concerned about future Russian aggression — Poland, Finland, and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — also happen to be well represented in the three pivotal swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

    Just for fun, we dug into the numbers this morning:

    Michigan

    2020 margin of victory for Biden: 2.78 percentage points, 154,181 votes
    Polish, Finnish or Baltic population: Approximately 900,000

    Pennsylvania

    2020 margin of victory for Biden: 1.18 percentage points, 82,166 votes
    Polish, Finnish or Baltic population: Approximately 800,000

    Wisconsin

    2020 margin of victory for Biden: 0.63 percentage points, 20,682 votes
    Polish, Finnish or Baltic population: Approximately 500,000

    I cringed at the phrase “just for fun,” but the info is still worth pondering.

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  39. Bill Jempty says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Grams was a very sweet women who came to love the old man but she was not too strong on eastern Europe geography.

    She must not have followed chess. That’s how I learned lots of Soviet Union and Yugoslavia geography. In the latter cases, places like Sombor, Skopje, Bled, to name a few. Bled is in present day Slovenia.

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  40. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kingdaddy: No, it’s a pretext for him to shake them down for lucrative contracts, favors, and exclusive business with his properties.

    The angle with Trump is ALWAYS— HIS BOTTOM LINE. His is establishing a tension that he will later use to extort for favorable policy and rhetoric should he become President.

    The rest is simply a means to this ends. Trump could just as easily be running his schtick from the LW side if there were a lane there to have become as powerful as he’s become on the RW.

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  41. Not the IT Dept. says:

    @Kylopod:

    What does this statement have to do with what I said?

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  42. Bill Jempty says:

    Another trip or three down memory lane

    In 1975, Democratic Senators with the help of some Republicans, moved to end all military assistance to South Vietnam while that country was still fighting to remain free.

    There is the Cooper Church amendment in regards to Cambodia

    FDR didn’t want the United States to have a permanent presence in Europe either.

    History again repeating itself. Facing danger, politicians think short term or no term at all. Lots of idiocy with fatal consequences for millions some averted, some not.

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  43. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @CSK: Which shows how wooden Haley is and ill prepared for this type of Brawl.

    She could have easily parroted Trumps dig at her Husband by saying, “Where’s Melania?, She Knows…”. And when asked, “knows what..”. Throw in…”Donald know EXACTLY what I’m talking about…ask him”

    There is a reason Donald could only get so far with Obama before he shut up. Trump is susceptible to verbal humiliation… and any Black man over 45 today grew up in an era where you had to be quick with the wit and sharp with the tongue to survive childhood taunting.

    Obama, made easy work of Trumps obviously written material. Trump can adlib a bit—but not for long. I suspect this is the reason he won’t ever share a stage with Chris Christie. And why you watched him respond in the Biden debates with sheer volume and insults instead to the comedic monologues he handled Republicans with

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  44. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    Michael Haley is quicker witted than Nicki

    https://twitter.com/WMichaelHaley/status/1756442971908550891?s=20

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  45. James Joyner says:

    @Jim Brown 32: While Obama is infinitely smarter and quicker on his feet than Trump, I don’t think it’s because of the skills he honed playing the dozens on the mean streets of Indonesia and Hawaii.

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  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kingdaddy: I agree 100%. And yet, it still looks like ~45% of the people who vote are committed to “the shortest of short term thinking.” While I was in Korea, some of the teachers I worked with who were more progressive than I am (not really that high a bar to clear) used to opine that people who engaged in such short term thinking simply didn’t believe that they would be affected when everything came crashing down. The short-term thinkers believed that their wealth would provide avenues of escape/protection/what not. I used to reply “These people can’t possibly be that stupid.” [emphasis as in reply]

    I’m more afraid of their stupidity than I was then.

    ETA: The most radical of my teacher associates were convinced that crashing the system was part of the plan of some of the oligarchic players–that it was a feature rather than a bug. I’m more open to that idea now, too. 🙁

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  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: The myth of the outsider (though in his case, not a businessman) was a key feature in Huey Long’s schtick, too, as I’ve understood it.

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  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    The rest is simply a means to this ends. Trump could just as easily be running his schtick from the LW side if there were a lane there to have become as powerful as he’s become on the RW.

    Good point! I remember something that he said about the run up to the trip down the elevator in 2015. It was to the effect that he’d chosen to run as a Republican because it would be easier to get elected as a Republican than as a Democrat.

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I remember something that he said about the run up to the trip down the elevator in 2015.

    I believe you’re referencing a fake quote that was going around in 2015, though it was alleged to be from 1998.

    The quote was attributed to a People’s Magazine interview, and it went as follows:

    “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”

    When my brother first sent this to me back in 2015, I was immediately skeptical. To me, the dead giveaway was the sentence “They believe anything on Fox News.” While it’s true that Fox News began in 1996, fairly or not it was initially seen as a slightly conservative-slanted, but more or less legitimate news network. It took several years before it acquired its reputation as a full-on brainwashing factory. I don’t think anyone in 1998 would have stated that Republicans “believe anything on Fox News.”

    As it turns out, Trump never said it; it’s an urban legend.

    https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-republicans-dumbest-voters/

    That said, I have little doubt this is what he believes.

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  50. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: WRT Huey P. Long, he was a master of the carefully phrased lie. When he was running for governor of Louisiana, he often told an anecdote about hitching up a mule to a farm wagon and taking his Baptist grandparents to church, and after that, picking up his Catholic grandparents and taking them to Mass. When one of his advisers reminded him he didn’t have Catholic grandparents, he said, “Don’t be stupid. We didn’t even have a mule.”

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  51. Kylopod says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:

    When one of his advisers reminded him he didn’t have Catholic grandparents, he said, “Don’t be stupid. We didn’t even have a mule.”

    He was Cathol-ish.

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  52. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    I read that it was Jared Kushner who said that Republicans are stupid.

    ReplyReply
  53. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: I hadn’t heard about that, but I did a little Google search and came to this:

    “I told Jared that I was particularly appalled by his father-in-law’s birtherism stance, which I viewed as cynical and racist.

    “He rolled his eyes and said ‘He doesn’t really believe it, Elizabeth. He just knows Republicans are stupid and they’ll buy it’”.

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  54. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    people who engaged in such short-term thinking simply didn’t believe that they would be affected when everything came crashing down

    My BIL appears to live this mindset. He still gets enraged when I remind him that taxes are the price he pays for indoor plumbing, indoor lighting, and not being strung up by his entrails by the rioting starving peasants. I usually follow up with a reminder that my skills in knapping flint and manufacturing black powder will be useful in post-dystopian ‘Merika.

    I really shouldn’t tease him like this, but his near stroke is way too entertaining for this Luddite.

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  55. Kingdaddy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I agree, these are people being incredibly shortsighted and self-destructive. It’s just tragic that they’re being destructive to everyone else, too.

    ReplyReply
  56. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Takes one to know one 🙂

    ReplyReply
  57. Chip Daniels says:

    The real story here is the dog that isn’t barking.
    The GOP base, some 85% of whom adore Trump, are not reacting with revulsion and disdain.

    If events come to pass and Trump sides with Russia over Ukraine, Poland, Czechia or any other European nation we can expect the bulk of Republican voters to bend themselves into knots explaining why it is ok.

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    4
  58. Ken_L says:

    Look, if a customer’s check bounced at one of Trump’s casinos, they got visited by a few “hard men” with baseball bats. New valid checks with shaky signatures were issued the next day.

    He’d run NATO using similar principles. It would be very easy.

    ReplyReply
  59. Matt Bernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    I, for one, look forward to our local Trump whisperers explaining how we are getting this all wrong, how he didn’t mean this, how we would stay in NATO under Trump, and telling us what he really meant.

    @Jack, @Jkb any help here? @TheRyguy I know you are hate-reading thing right now…

    Given it’s been over 24 hours and both @JKB and @TheRyGuy have posted on other threads here, I guess we *are* interpreting this correctly. Weird how they didn’t feel motivated to defend this position.

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  60. anjin-san says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    South Vietnam while that country was still fighting to remain free

    Except, of course, South Vietnam was never really “free” – just a long series of rigged elections, coups, US puppets, and military juntas. Or do you really think that Nguyen Cao Ky was the leader of a free country?

    Something tells me that you don’t have any history books in your home…

    ReplyReply
  61. Ken_L says:

    @anjin-san:

    Except, of course, South Vietnam was never really “free” …

    It was never even a “country”.

    ReplyReply

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