Democrats continue to howl about Russian interference in our elections, and rightly so. But will they be quite so worked up if Putin chooses to oppose Trump in 2020, and backs their candidate instead?
For many reasons, Russia’s president is likely to want a Democrat in the Oval Office. Here are ten:
1. A strong U.S. economy undermines Russia’s long-standing efforts to destabilize the U.S. The GOP tax cuts and reduced regulation have led to record-low unemployment and rising wages, not exactly fertile ground in which to sow discord. Democrats can argue otherwise, but it is a fact that President Trump’s election ushered in a significant surge in business and consumer confidence, which has led to increased spending as well as higher corporate investment and a welcome rise in productivity. Under President Obama, business executives held back, concerned at the onslaught of regulations and the White House’s overall hostility to the private sector.
2. The Trump administration has made it a priority to increase defense spending, which Russia views with alarm. The 2018 budget included a 15.5 percent hike in defense outlays, the biggest since 2003; in 2019 another increase was pushed through. Not only is the U.S. spending on military refurbishment, but the government is also allocating money towards a build-up of our activities in space. Bernie Sanders, a leading Democratic contender, wants to cut military spending. Nothing would please Russia more.
3. President Trump has riled our NATO allies by demanding they increase their military budgets, the first line of defense against Russian mischief in Europe. Though much has been made of the deterioration in our relations with Germany and various other EU countries, in reality this hard line by Trump has stiffened spines and drawn attention to the shocking deterioration in EU military preparedness. Russia cannot be happy.
4. Trump has openly criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her commitment to the Nord Stream pipeline project, which guarantees that Europe will remain uncomfortably dependent on Russian gas. After an agreement reached last year between Trump and EU President Juncker, U.S. LNG shipments to Europe rose 181 percent and the EU agreed to invest heavily in new LNG terminals. This pact allows the U.S. to provide Europe with an alternative source for natural gas.
What we already know is that the liberal media will be available to help destroy President Trump.
5. More importantly, President Trump is 100 percent committed to expanding U.S. energy resources. While Beto O’Rourke and other Democrats have vowed to halt oil and gas leases on federal lands and want to tax and restrict our fossil fuel producers, the White House rightly views our strengthening energy position as a geopolitical and strategic advantage and will legislate accordingly.
6. In the same vein, Democrats are of one mind about the Paris Climate Accord: they want back in. The agreement would severely hobble the U.S. economy but barely restrict China, the world’s largest polluter. It would reduce America’s competitiveness on the world stage, a win for Russia and our other enemies.
7. President Trump increased our aggression in Syria, ending the days of U.S. planes coming back with cargo bays full of bombs. As a result, ISIS was driven out of its caliphate, greatly diminishing its reign of terror. The Trump military also shipped, at the request of the government, anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, which Obama would not do despite the urging of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
8. President Trump has taken a strong stance in support of the European Deterrence Initiative, for which his administration has requested in two years more than $17 billion, compared to only $5 billion during Obama’s last three years in office. The consequence? Thousands of GIs deployed in conjunction with NATO troops, to the Baltics, Poland, and Norway with the express mission of containing potential Russian aggression.
9. President Trump joined with EU allies in expelling scores of diplomats in response to the nerve-gas attack on a former Russian spy in the U.K. In addition, he has levied some of the toughest sanctions ever placed on Russia, including on seven wealthy oligarchs in Putin’s inner circle and 17 top Russian officials, all in response to the 2016 election meddling, adding to the penalties applied by the Obama White House. Further, the closure of consulates in Seattle and San Francisco were unprecedented punitive measures.
10. The Trump White House has taken a hard line on Moscow’s interference in Venezuela. Putin has apparently hoped for a deal, in which Russia withdraws its support for Maduro and in exchange, the U.S. severs its alliance with Ukraine. No such arrangement has been forthcoming. Instead, the U.S. has invoked the Monroe Doctrine, and demanded that Russia “get out.”
The left-leaning media has made much of President Trump’s supposed “bromance” with Vladimir Putin, because it fits with the narrative that Moscow conspired to fix the outcome of the 2016 election. The president has sometimes prompted such speculation, by making injudicious remarks about his conversations with the Russian leader.
More important is that the U.S. is booming, wages are rising, our energy production is soaring and we are likely to enter the next several years with better and more beneficial trade deals. None of this is to Putin’s advantage.
Putin has choices as we approach the 2020 election: work to undermine the campaigns of President Trump or of his opponent, or possibly both.
What we already know is that the liberal media will be available to help destroy President Trump. So my guess is this: that this will be the easier and most productive road for Moscow’s strong man to travel.