Trump is right: He's slammed the Russians, hard

Stating the obvious, President Trump nailed it on what his foreign policy stance toward Russia really has amounted to:

So far from being the Russia-colluding, Russia-coddling, Russia-excusing figure of the left's suddenly national security-conscious imagination, Trump's record shows he's dropped the hammer on the Russians – and the Russians know it.  The people I know in Russia think so, and these are Russians with ties to their government, who often tell me how unexpected this has been for them, given Trump's Russia-friendly statements, something that befuddles them.  "What do we need to do to please him?" they ask.

The reality is, Trump has taken unprecedented actions against the Russians.  He shut down a whole Russian consulate in San Francisco and two trade annexes in Washington and New York in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's retaliatory expulsion of about 100 U.S. diplomatic personnel, most of whom were local hires.  That consular presence in San Francisco has been in Russian hands for decades, dating back to the pre-Soviet tsarist regime, and certainly through the Cold War.  The shutdown followed Putin's delayed response to President Obama's Dec. 16 expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over the issue of meddling in the U.S. election (read: Hillary Clinton's loss).  That move was Obama's fit of pique against the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton and very much in contrast to the soggy, appeasing character of Obama's relations with the Russians, described by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line here.  Putin's delay at the first countermeasures was the result of mistaken high hopes relations would get better, not worse, under Trump.  They didn't.  U.S. relations with Russia are now described in the press as "in the deep freeze," worse than during the Cold War, yet that hasn't stopped the left's fanciful Russian collusion "narrative."

Besides this, sanctions have been tightened in a ham-fisted way, isolating Russia further. The latest round was an indiscriminate list of those sanctioned, pretty much copied from the Forbes billionaire's list for Russia.  Although the left claimed the sanctions had no teeth, the sentiment in Moscow was that it stung.  Doing it from the Forbes list presumes everyone with money in Russia is a Putin pawn, and that isn't the case, so it's obvious that this was just a bid to put another squeeze on Russia.

On the non-spy side, it's worth noting that the visa of TASS News Agency's 30-year Washington bureau chief was not renewed this year, forcing him to return to Moscow, which suggests that the Trump administration is cracking down not only on the diplomatic and oligarch front, but even on Russia's access to overt information.  Yes, there have been cases of TASS correspondents being involved in espionage, but surely someone here for 30 years, who had been the Russian ambassador's top source of news for understanding America, would be unlikely to have been used for that and, having worked for 30 years in the states, would have been caught at some point if that were what was going on.  No, it was just a visa non-renewal, which shuts off an important source of open information to the Russians, too.

If you like conspiracy theories, there are also some policy observers here (not Russians) who think the mysterious string of dead Russian ambassadors could be the work of the Central Intelligence Agency.  If it's true, it amounts to an even harsher reprise of the old Cold War's spy-versus-spy retaliatory doings.  Something like this is hard to believe, and I would want more proof before believing it, yet if it's true, it fits with the pattern of other harsh measures, suggesting that a hard game is going on under the surface.  The Russians wouldn't take this lying down, so one wonders what they're doing under the surface, too.  Are they the ones behind the sonic injuries to U.S. diplomats in Havana?  One wonders if this is something the intelligence communities would know.

There's also the choices of personnel.  Whom has Trump hired to advise him on Russia matters?  Not the Russia-friendly Carter Page, his former adviser, who had been trapped in the mesh of Fusion GPS's smear dossier and then the subject of ill gotten FBI surveillance for his views.  People with business or cultural experience with Russia tend to be Russia-friendly, as is Trump.  But Trump did hire, presumably at the request of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, the utterly hard-line Fiona Hill, author of the most extensive and critical book on Vladimir Putin ever written, Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.  Hill, it should be noted, is no conservative; she's just anti-Putin.  Prior to entering the Trump White House, she was the director of the Center on the USA and Europe at the left-wing Brookings Institution, the same place that employed the far-left Obama national security adviser, Susan Rice, in her pre-Obama days.  Hill is now Trump's top Russia adviser, and she has many neo-con types in her midst who are also anti-Putin and anti-Russia – and based on the harsh measures taken against Russia on her watch, it's obvious she's throwing her weight around.

Judge it as you will – there is no way that with this kind of staff, and this kind of decisions, the Trump administration can be called soft on Russia.  It's been hard, noticeably hard, just as the president has tweeted.  Yet there are oodles of foreign policy mushes, their biases against Trump showing, who claim that Obama was the hard one and Trump is soft.  Get a load of Politifact's cherry-picked list of them here.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has the same view as Trump and points out that not only has Trump been hard, but his harsh stance stands in stark contrast to the softness of the previous president, Barack Obama.  He found this jewel from Jonah Goldberg:

Jonah Goldberg, neither a friend nor an enemy of Trump, thinks so too.  Having looked at the facts, he writes:

Barack Obama sold out our Eastern European allies on missile defense. He slow-walked aid to Ukraine and did little more than shrug when Crimea was annexed.

He said "never mind" on his own "red line" in Syria and turned a blind eye to Putin's intervention there, in large part because of his obsessions with getting the Iran deal.

The Russian meddling in our elections started on Obama's watch – and not just our elections but those of many of our allies. When Mitt Romney famously said Russia was our No. 1 geopolitical foe, Obama mocked him for it as did countless liberal journalists who are now converts to anti-Russia hawkery.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has made life harder for Russia diplomatically and economically thanks to revving up our oil and gas production. It hasn't been as tough as some – including me – would like, but it's been tougher than the Obama administration. Or at least it's not unreasonable [to argue so].

Whether this is a good thing to be in constant opposition to Russia is a question for another day.  But it's incontrovertible that Trump, far from colluding with Moscow, has slammed Russia with one blow after another.  It's not for nothing that polls supporting President Trump and the U.S. over there have plummeted.  The Russians know the real story in a way the left would never admit.

Stating the obvious, President Trump nailed it on what his foreign policy stance toward Russia really has amounted to:

So far from being the Russia-colluding, Russia-coddling, Russia-excusing figure of the left's suddenly national security-conscious imagination, Trump's record shows he's dropped the hammer on the Russians – and the Russians know it.  The people I know in Russia think so, and these are Russians with ties to their government, who often tell me how unexpected this has been for them, given Trump's Russia-friendly statements, something that befuddles them.  "What do we need to do to please him?" they ask.

The reality is, Trump has taken unprecedented actions against the Russians.  He shut down a whole Russian consulate in San Francisco and two trade annexes in Washington and New York in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's retaliatory expulsion of about 100 U.S. diplomatic personnel, most of whom were local hires.  That consular presence in San Francisco has been in Russian hands for decades, dating back to the pre-Soviet tsarist regime, and certainly through the Cold War.  The shutdown followed Putin's delayed response to President Obama's Dec. 16 expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over the issue of meddling in the U.S. election (read: Hillary Clinton's loss).  That move was Obama's fit of pique against the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton and very much in contrast to the soggy, appeasing character of Obama's relations with the Russians, described by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line here.  Putin's delay at the first countermeasures was the result of mistaken high hopes relations would get better, not worse, under Trump.  They didn't.  U.S. relations with Russia are now described in the press as "in the deep freeze," worse than during the Cold War, yet that hasn't stopped the left's fanciful Russian collusion "narrative."

Besides this, sanctions have been tightened in a ham-fisted way, isolating Russia further. The latest round was an indiscriminate list of those sanctioned, pretty much copied from the Forbes billionaire's list for Russia.  Although the left claimed the sanctions had no teeth, the sentiment in Moscow was that it stung.  Doing it from the Forbes list presumes everyone with money in Russia is a Putin pawn, and that isn't the case, so it's obvious that this was just a bid to put another squeeze on Russia.

On the non-spy side, it's worth noting that the visa of TASS News Agency's 30-year Washington bureau chief was not renewed this year, forcing him to return to Moscow, which suggests that the Trump administration is cracking down not only on the diplomatic and oligarch front, but even on Russia's access to overt information.  Yes, there have been cases of TASS correspondents being involved in espionage, but surely someone here for 30 years, who had been the Russian ambassador's top source of news for understanding America, would be unlikely to have been used for that and, having worked for 30 years in the states, would have been caught at some point if that were what was going on.  No, it was just a visa non-renewal, which shuts off an important source of open information to the Russians, too.

If you like conspiracy theories, there are also some policy observers here (not Russians) who think the mysterious string of dead Russian ambassadors could be the work of the Central Intelligence Agency.  If it's true, it amounts to an even harsher reprise of the old Cold War's spy-versus-spy retaliatory doings.  Something like this is hard to believe, and I would want more proof before believing it, yet if it's true, it fits with the pattern of other harsh measures, suggesting that a hard game is going on under the surface.  The Russians wouldn't take this lying down, so one wonders what they're doing under the surface, too.  Are they the ones behind the sonic injuries to U.S. diplomats in Havana?  One wonders if this is something the intelligence communities would know.

There's also the choices of personnel.  Whom has Trump hired to advise him on Russia matters?  Not the Russia-friendly Carter Page, his former adviser, who had been trapped in the mesh of Fusion GPS's smear dossier and then the subject of ill gotten FBI surveillance for his views.  People with business or cultural experience with Russia tend to be Russia-friendly, as is Trump.  But Trump did hire, presumably at the request of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, the utterly hard-line Fiona Hill, author of the most extensive and critical book on Vladimir Putin ever written, Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.  Hill, it should be noted, is no conservative; she's just anti-Putin.  Prior to entering the Trump White House, she was the director of the Center on the USA and Europe at the left-wing Brookings Institution, the same place that employed the far-left Obama national security adviser, Susan Rice, in her pre-Obama days.  Hill is now Trump's top Russia adviser, and she has many neo-con types in her midst who are also anti-Putin and anti-Russia – and based on the harsh measures taken against Russia on her watch, it's obvious she's throwing her weight around.

Judge it as you will – there is no way that with this kind of staff, and this kind of decisions, the Trump administration can be called soft on Russia.  It's been hard, noticeably hard, just as the president has tweeted.  Yet there are oodles of foreign policy mushes, their biases against Trump showing, who claim that Obama was the hard one and Trump is soft.  Get a load of Politifact's cherry-picked list of them here.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has the same view as Trump and points out that not only has Trump been hard, but his harsh stance stands in stark contrast to the softness of the previous president, Barack Obama.  He found this jewel from Jonah Goldberg:

Jonah Goldberg, neither a friend nor an enemy of Trump, thinks so too.  Having looked at the facts, he writes:

Barack Obama sold out our Eastern European allies on missile defense. He slow-walked aid to Ukraine and did little more than shrug when Crimea was annexed.

He said "never mind" on his own "red line" in Syria and turned a blind eye to Putin's intervention there, in large part because of his obsessions with getting the Iran deal.

The Russian meddling in our elections started on Obama's watch – and not just our elections but those of many of our allies. When Mitt Romney famously said Russia was our No. 1 geopolitical foe, Obama mocked him for it as did countless liberal journalists who are now converts to anti-Russia hawkery.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has made life harder for Russia diplomatically and economically thanks to revving up our oil and gas production. It hasn't been as tough as some – including me – would like, but it's been tougher than the Obama administration. Or at least it's not unreasonable [to argue so].

Whether this is a good thing to be in constant opposition to Russia is a question for another day.  But it's incontrovertible that Trump, far from colluding with Moscow, has slammed Russia with one blow after another.  It's not for nothing that polls supporting President Trump and the U.S. over there have plummeted.  The Russians know the real story in a way the left would never admit.