It has become increasingly clear that the “self-funded” candidate in the Republican presidential primary, Donald J. Trump, will destroy the GOP’s chances to win in November if he is not the nominee. Leftist groups are ecstatic over Trump’s “Bush lied, people died,” mantra over the Iraq war. Internet trolls for Vladimir Putin are firmly behind Trump, saying he has the right recipe for accommodating Russia. That is, Trump is preparing to let Europe and the Middle East deal with Russian aggression in the absence of American leadership. That means Russian gains in Ukraine and Syria will be preserved, opening the door to more Russian aggression.
I warned last December that Trump was the new Armand Hammer, with dealings in the old Soviet Union and Russia that compromised his view of the Russian regime. Perhaps Trump is not an old-fashioned agent of influence in the sense of Armand Hammer. However, something happened over the last decade or so that forced Trump into the Russian camp. It is worthwhile for the media to begin investigating Trump’s change of mind regarding Russia. A good place to start would be Trump’s mission to Moscow in 2013 to hold his “Miss Universe” beauty pageant. At that time he started negotiating real estate deals with Putin’s friends.
Things were different in 2000, when his book The America We Deserve came out. Trump then called Russia “the world’s nuclear Wal-Mart” and “the world’s leading exporter of weapons of mass destruction to America’s enemies.” The entire quote from Trump’s book was, “Even as the U.S. has tried to save Russia from collapse with loans and IMF bailouts and political support, Russia has become the world’s leading exporter of weapons of mass destruction to America’s enemies.”
By 2013, however, Trump was in Moscow negotiating with one of Putin’s cronies, Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov.
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Who were those enemies? Trump named them: Iraq, Iran, North Korea and China. He said “they’ve been importing crucial parts and technical assistance from Russia—today the world’s nuclear Wal-Mart.”
Today, despite Russian military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, Trump insists that the U.S. should cooperate with Russia. The approach is much like Obama’s. Obama cooperates with Putin without saying so directly. Trump openly brags about being Putin’s favorite American politician.
In 2000, three years before George W. Bush invaded Iraq, Trump wrote that Saddam Hussein was “developing a nuclear arsenal” and already had missiles “capable of flying nine hundred kilometers—more than enough to reach Tel Aviv.” Trump said that Iraq under Saddam Hussein “posed a direct threat to American interests.”
However, at last week’s Republican debate in South Carolina, Trump attacked the George W. Bush administration on its claims justifying the Iraq invasion. He said, “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”
It appears that Bush operated on some of the same information that guided Trump’s assessment of Iraq. In any case, Trump’s book referred to “our last aerial assault on Iraq in 1999,” as a result of Saddam Hussein not permitting U.N. weapons inspectors to “examine certain sites where that [nuclear] material might be stored.” Trump added, “The result when our bombing was over? We still don’t know what Iraq is up to or whether it has the material to build nuclear weapons.”
That was the dilemma facing the Bush administration. It decided in 2003 to invade, not taking the chance that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction that it had used previously.
“I’m no warmonger,” Trump wrote. “But the fact is, if we decide a strike against Iraq is necessary, it is madness not to carry the mission to its conclusion. When we don’t, we have the worst of all worlds: Iraq remains a threat, and now has more incentive than ever to attack us.”
He added, “Am I being contradictory here, by presenting myself as a deal-maker and then recommending preemptive strikes? I don’t think so. There’s nothing really comparable to unleashing a squadron of bombers, but in the world of business sometimes you have to make quick, secret, decisive moves in order to gain a negotiating advantage.”
Today, Trump insists the invasion was a deliberate lie. The conclusion has to be that Trump was for the Iraq War before he was against it.
The controversy goes far beyond flip-flopping or Trump exchanging allegations with another Republican. As Professor Paul Kengor notes, Trump’s rhetoric is “Code Pink/International A.N.S.W.E.R.-type stuff.” Those are Marxist groups. In short, Trump ought to be running in the Democratic presidential primary, perhaps to the left of Hillary Clinton.
Trump has fooled a lot of people, at least a quarter of those voting in the Republican primaries. Too many conservatives have waited too long to face the truth about Putin’s favorite presidential candidate.
How did this happen? Conservatives who should know better went beyond praising his attacks on political correctness to welcoming him as a legitimate conservative candidate for president. Last year, Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU) and co-founder of Cove Strategies, a lobbying firm, went on MSNBC and was asked by Chris Matthews if Trump is a “plausible president.” He said “Yeah. Definitely. Definitely.” He also said, “I actually know Donald Trump,” in regard to some of the businessman’s other controversial comments. Such remarks sent the message to conservatives nationwide that Trump was one of them.
Ironically, Schlapp is the former political director for President George W. Bush, now accused by Trump of lying to get the U.S. into the Iraq War. How well does Schlapp really know Trump?
It seemed to start when the ACU declared Trump “an American patriot” and announced he was addressing the 2013 conference of the ACU-sponsored Conservative Political Action Conference. That same year, his Donald J. Trump Foundation gave $50,000 to the ACU Foundation. The Donald J. Trump Foundation also gave $25,000 to The American Spectator Foundation, the organization responsible for publishing The American Spectator magazine.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the battle is contentious but there is little doubt that Bernie Sanders will endorse Hillary Clinton for president in the end and rally his young supporters to her side. It will make Clinton stronger, not weaker.
The Clinton-Sanders show has all the earmarks of a carefully staged demonstration of the Marxist dialectic, an exercise designed to create the appearance of conflict in order to force even more radical change on the American people through Democratic Party rule.
Now, with Trump sounding like a member of Code Pink or International A.N.S.W.E.R, the far-left must be amazed at how the political conflict is turning out in their favor, even on the Republican side. The GOP is in turmoil, partly as a result of Trump’s carefully cultivated but phony image as a conservative, with the groundwork having been laid through financial contributions to the ACU and appearances at CPAC.
The contributions may have been an exercise in “the art of the deal,” as Trump calls it. The payoff has been to trumpet the news that Trump was a conservative. The website for CPAC features Trump’s speech at last year’s event, and the expectation is that he will attend this year as well. True conservatives may have something to say about that.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.