President Trump in 2018 called out the factors that led Putin to invade Ukraine
A few years back in 2018 (which seems like the age of innocence considering what the world has devolved into currently), President Donald Trump had a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
Unlike most meetings where polite banter occurs before TV cameras, and core dealings occur behind closed doors, the cameras were allowed to remain for the entire duration of the meeting.
After the customary pleasantries, Stoltenberg emphasized the importance of NATO for the EU, he thanked Trump for compelling others to contribute more to NATO, and said he looked forward to Trump’s meeting with President Putin.
It was at this moment President Trump launched into a powerful three-minute oration that explains why Putin felt empowered to invade Ukraine.
The following is a gist of Trump’s remarks and the inferences that can be drawn from them.
Trump observed that decades of cowardice in challenging the status quo and probably self-interest have prevented past US Presidents from addressing and dealing with the stark disparity in contributions to NATO.
Trump noted that wealthy nations such as Germany pay merely over 1 percent of their GDP to NATO, while the US, pays 4.2 percent of a much larger GDP.
He said this is greatly unfair to US taxpayers. This is probably the first time any leader referred to his country's taxpayers at NATO. Usually, during their high-level meets, all personnel involved conveniently forget the citizens who pay for their pomposity.
Trump said it was time that nations such as Germany and France pay their fair share to NATO.
Then Trump pointed out that Germany shut down their coal plants and then struck multi-billion-dollar pipeline deals with Russia, making it dependent for its energy on Russia. Hence Germany has become captive and subservient to Russia.
This explains why most leaders claim to be fanatical about issues such as climate change and the Environment. It enables them to cause major changes that are not beneficial to citizens without public outrage. Via their education systems and the dominant media, they have managed to indoctrinate and scare the public, especially the young, into believing that the world will be destroyed in a matter of years because of climate change. Hence the only way to avert the ‘inferno’ is to shut down coal plants. Similar thinking is behind Covid-19 restrictions.
Trump said that Germany, France, and other NATO countries are enriching Russia due to the gas pipeline deals yet the US is compelled to protect these countries via NATO from Russia. Trump called the situation of countries enriching and empowering their 'tormentor' unacceptable.
Trump pointed out that the former Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schröder, is the chairman of the board of Russia’s state-owned energy company supplying the gas to Germany. Trump called this a major conflict of interest.
We see proof of that yesterday, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Schröder insists that the EU must not cut all ties with Russia.
Perhaps other EU Leaders and NATO leaders profit personally from these deals. Quite often the conflict of interest isn’t always apparent. A leader may receive a generous book deal or speaking fees or perhaps relatives receive gifts or employment for acting against their country's interests.
Stoltenberg had no answers; he just said that dealing with Russia makes NATO stronger, and even during the Cold War, NATO had trade relations with Russia.
Following Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he begged NATO leaders and other EU leaders for assistance but to no avail.
Recently, a dismayed Zelensky said, "Today I asked the 27 leaders of Europe whether Ukraine will be in NATO. I asked directly. Everyone is afraid, does not answer."
The fact is they are probably guarding their personal interests which are perhaps not always national interests. Some may have struck deals with Putin that enable them to earn millions. Their respective nations are dependent on Russia for energy. Russia is almost their master; how can they be expected to challenge their master? Among Putin's enablers is Biden, who shut down the Keystone Pipeline and lifted sanctions from Nord Stream 2 in May 2021.
Back to NATO: it was founded following World War II in 1949 with 12 members from North America and Europe. Currently, NATO is a 30-member military alliance. The purpose of NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union hasn’t been entirely clear.
Over the decades, the likes of NATO (and even UN and EU) officials have mastered the diplomat ways of talking a great deal but saying very little and doing a lot but achieving almost nothing. The content of their utterances and deals are purposefully complicated to make them incomprehensible to regular people who are paying for all of this via their taxes. Quite often people mistake the abstruse for the profound.
President Trump’s words showed how clearly he understood the functioning of global organizations such as NATO and the EU. Despite their relentless virtue signaling, upon digging deeper, it is about the personal enrichment and power grab of a few while getting very little accomplished.
The powerful in Ukraine are no saints either. Ukraine is where shady business dealings were struck that enriched Joe and Hunter Biden. Ukraine's record on democracy isn't exactly stellar either.
The end of the Cold War saw Ukraine emerge as the third-largest nuclear power owing to the huge stockpile it inherited from the Soviet Union. However, in 1994, Ukraine signed the Budapest Memorandum which caused them to totally denuclearize; in exchange, the U.S., the U.K., and Russia would guarantee Ukraine's security. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the treaty enriched those who signed it personally.
Sadly, despite all treaties and pledges of the past, it is regular Ukrainians who are in inexplicable peril and have lost lives, loved ones, and their homes. Today they have to fend for themselves while living through extreme hardships and the peril of losing near and dear ones. President Zelensky has risen to the occasion and is leading the fight, even rejecting a US offer of a safe haven.
For the likes of NATO and EU ‘elites’, they have harsh words for Putin and sanctions on Russia. The US has also slapped sanctions on Russia and even Putin personally. The impact of these sanctions on the ground is questionable. So far, the sanctions have not targeted Russia’s energy sector and Russia is still part of SWIFT the global interbank payments system.
George Orwell observed that in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
It was these revolutionary acts that greatly offended global ‘elites’. President Trump was the only one who understood the façade of these pompous but pointless global organizations who had the guts to plainly state the obvious that the Emperor had no clothes on.
Photo credit: YouTube screengrab