Two weeks ago, the New York Times reported that Russian military intelligence paid secret bounties to Taliban militants to target American troops in Afghanistan. Since then, Donald Trump has not only brushed off accusations that he was duly briefed on this disturbing development, but he has shown zero interest in addressing this urgent national security issue, even belatedly. Now the whole thing has gotten worse.
Just Security has shined the light on a dark back story detailing a perversely weak and enemy-comforting excuse for a President of the United States. This story explains how Trump paved the way for Russia to feel confident enough to encourage the murder of U.S. soldiers for cash. In other words, not only did Trump fail to respond to intelligence briefings about the bounties, but his upside-down leadership is exactly what enabled it to happen in the first place.
From the middle of 2017 through 2018, the United States learned that Russia was arming the Taliban, an act that threatened American troops stationed in Afghanistan. Based on interviews with several former Trump administration officials, Just Security identified “three dimensions” of Trump’s dangerously tepid response to Putin’s aggression.
First, Trump stubbornly refused to confront Putin about arming the Taliban, and second, Trump repeatedly muzzled U.S. military officials who tried to sound the alarm. As if these first two dimensions are not scary enough, the third dimension is the cherry on the treason cake. According to former intelligence officials speaking on the record, Trump pressed the CIA to share counterintelligence information with Russia merely as a gift—for no plausible reason and without even the promise of getting something in return.
While Trump may be an affectionate pen pal of Kim Jong Un, he has always had a special place in his heart for Vladimir Putin, whose unchecked power he envies. One day, hopefully, we will learn the extent of Trump’s shady business interests in Russia and the existence of any kompromat contributing to his fawning behavior toward Putin.
In the meantime, we know Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” according to the Special Counsel report, and we have witnessed Trump excusing and praising Putin countless times, even when it runs counter to American interests. Whatever “America First” was supposed to mean, it cannot be this.