Berliners, and Germans and then Czechs, Poles and those even living in the then-oppressive Soviet Union, yearned for and died for the opportunities to be free.
Our own grandparents and parents risked their own lives and some of them even paid that ultimate sacrifice to ensure that Germany and most of Europe would be safe from tyranny, Russian hegemony and control. We honor some of them today on Memorial Day for their sacrifices not only to this country, but, to coming to the aid of our friends in the world.
For decades, we sacrificed so we, and our friends, would never be enslaved, again. We built our armaments, invested in our stockpiles, did whatever we could do to ensure to our friends abroad that they could depend upon our words.
Yesterday, German Chancellor, Merkel, who has been the face and voice of Europe spoke out after spending some exasperating few days with our President. Donald Trump is a man with no experience in foreign affairs. He can build buildings like no other, but appears to lack the vision and wisdom to build strong trusted government alliances. He is known to speak his mind but is known to do so lacking the diplomatic nuances needed to engage in today’s global affairs.
Chancellor Merkel spoke the obvious. Europe should come to the realization that it will have to go it alone, will need to defend itself, not depend upon the help of others.
The same President who criticized his predecessor for not being strong enough for standing up to Russia in Ukraine, either intentionally or not, is doing Russia’s bidding. It shows. Russia’s Putin could never have envisioned that when he decided to defeat Hillary Clinton, therefore aiding Donald Trump, that he would be so successful. He has helped split our nation into two camps who are throwing emotional Molotov cocktails at one another. He has begun to splinter the strongest of alliances, that of Europe and the United States which has over 70 years of history.
Due to actions and comments on the campaign and now while he presides in the White House, Trump’s credibility is increasingly becoming more questioned, not just by the media or his detractors, but by his party allies. After he and his activist supporters have scorned any suggestion of Russian collusion and wrongdoing, laughingly insisting “there is nothing there, there”, what’s now there is--a serious federal probe
Does Trump have reason to complain about our partner’s own commitments? Indeed. If the European nations (or any nation) are not making the investments needed, then, our country should let our voices be heard. Demanding that they make their own sacrifices, said in a respectful yet serious way can be done, successfully. However, Trump went beyond showing his lack of respect. He refused to acknowledge the basic commitment of foreign relations marriage—that we would be there for each other when the moment comes and the chips fall. He failed to embrace Article 5 when all eyes were watching.
The problem for Americans and for much of Europe is very basic and now obvious—we are wondering why Trump is willing to openly create a rift among friends. Could it be that he simply wants Europe to pay its fair share, as agreed upon? Or, could there be a more sinister reason that could tear our shared values, asunder.
On the same weekend that Trump ended his European foray, his son-in-law was exposed in the worst controversy of the Russian-Trump inquires. According to reports, which have not been denied, he was urging a back channel, which is acceptable, but one that would use Russian communications, blocked from American government knowledge. While one President, who had the burdens of the world on his shoulders implemented policy, another man and his team, one who would in the future share the country’s burden, was secretively undercutting the current leader who owned the constitutional obligations and authorities.
Jared Kushner, the man who failed to report his contacts with Russians, along with our Attorney General, our former head of national security Michael Flynn, and others, has walked upon the world stage, looking either as a buffoon or a Russian stooge.
Again, not one Trump official, attorney or even the President himself has questioned or denied the claims being made against Kushner. Instead, and most shockingly, our generals, our heads of national and homeland security, those who are employed to protect all of us, amazingly engaged in word soup to defend their master. This weekend, two generals actually defended back channels but didn’t denounce or show any concern about the impact that those secret communications would have. Neither mentioned the impact of only letting the Russians have access to the transition’s team’s secrets, while keeping our own intelligence blinded from the truth.
Worse, instead of providing facts to the contrary, what did President Trump do in defending himself and his troubled administration already embroiled with a special counsel and a number of republican-led Congressional investigations? He engaged in his Goebbels speak: Scapegoating. He didn’t deny the substance. That would be way to difficult and perhaps too revealing. Instead, he assaulted the media. He blamed it on others. He spoke those “BIG Lies” he has cultivated so well, as he taps into the base instincts of his loyal and angry base.
This weekend’s tweetstorm was unusual at best and perhaps most-revealing at worst.
We have seen that for two years, whenever Trump has been challenged with facts, he lashes out at the media. It is most predictable.
For months, as President, his target has been the “leaks”, some classified, some not. Instead of denying the facts on their faces, instead of presenting factual truths, he has attacked the leaks, therefore presenting them as unlawful and accordingly, therefore most unreliable.
In Sunday’s tweet barrage, he went further. He claimed the news reports when predicated upon leaks are mostly fabricated.
Logic and fairness tells us that anonymous sources, notwithstanding their motivations, should be punished for revealing classified information. But the President can’t have it both ways in his trying to deflect honest reporting that might reveal his administration’s alleged secret Russian influences.
Either the facts from anonymous sources as alleged in the news reports are true, but leaked information, therefore illegal or they are not true and wholly fabricated. They can’t be both.
The President and his loyal minion and even those acting in good faith, cannot slander an important American institution such as the media or the intelligence community because he does not like the facts of individual reports. This type of propaganda is heresy and quite frankly very dangerous.
He should be forced to admit the details of his claims: Are the reports true but a breach of classified information? Or, are the articles fabricated, therefore no laws protecting American secrets, broken. Let us not forget, the alleged true facts are mainly under his won control. Not ours.
Our American institutions are too sacred for his vicious, broad and poorly-articulated assaults which, due to the way they are done, appear to be conducted solely for self-protection.
Instead of providing us clear and coherent details that can pinprick and destroy those media allegations, he, his staff and his surrogates lob scud missiles of misinformation designed to confuse, scare and destroy.
Instead of openly and freely cooperating with those who are probing, he denounces claims as being bogus, fake and witch hunts.
Instead of showing us why he has nothing to hide, he establishes war rooms ready to condemn and spin.
So, today, we honor the young President who put his own life on the line on a PT boat in the Pacific. We are led by another who once claimed that his Vietnam was his conquering women.
That young President of the past, when sworn into office told us and the world, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
This much we pledge--and more.”
Our current leader has a different message: You don’t pay your twenty percent, you are not worthy of our protection.
Today, we honor those very men and women who did put their hearts and their souls on the line for all of us. They were protecting those who needed our burdens, our hardships. They were defending our friends threatened by our foes. They did so to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Today, we have legitimate concerns that others are not meeting their burdens. However, our leader has expressed our concerns, so clumsily that some of our most important friends now continue to doubt American commitments, whether of military alliance or of trade. They know that a handshake is no longer a handshake. They know saying, I do, now means, “I won’t since it’s all about me”.
Today some of us extol “Make America Great” at the risk of “Making Europe divided”, “Making Russia strong” or “Making our word, worthless”.
Today, we wonder and are quite afraid that the man who risked nothing, who met no burden or hardships, has been colluding with our enemies who have interfered with our democracy. Today we wonder just why are there so many coincidences, changed stories, links to Russia, defensive postures?
Today, above all, on this day, we learn that our President will not, and cannot say, “Ich bin Eine Berliner”
That message is heard around the world, loudly and clearly.