Trump Repudiates a Century of U.S. Policy

Over the past several weeks, we have observed an American President repudiate a fundamental element of our national security policy that has been in effect since the early 20th century. During that period, the United States has consistently held that it was in our national security interest to ensure that only peaceful means were used to alter political boundaries in Europe. During this period, tens of millions of US service members have served in Europe in order to either repulse German aggression or to forestall Soviet/Russian aggression. Nearly 350,000 Americans from all segments of society paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave their life in Europe during World Wars I and II.

Even today, most Americans have a connection to someone who sacrificed and served in order to further our national interest in ensuring that never again is violence used to alter the borders of Europe. This principle has been a mainstay of American foreign policy for decades. To this day, it has been a remarkably bipartisan position, supported by Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses alike.

What is being overlooked in the back and forth over “quid pro quos” and the overall impeachment inquiry is how the current president has made a mockery of the sacrifices made by so many ordinary Americans and has repudiated the century-old policy of multiple prior administrations. With its annexation of Crimea and its military aggression in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s Putin has upended the stability in Europe that was facilitated by the Helsinki Accords of 1975, which defined borders and which represented a broad international agreement for Europe to the effect that no country’s territory should be violated and that disputes should be peacefully settled.

During the first day of public sessions of the current impeachment inquiry, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff asked former Ambassador William Taylor whether Ambassador Gordon Sondland was saying that Trump cared more about the investigations of former Vice President Joseph Biden “than he does about Ukraine,” Taylor replied, “Yes, sir.” Thus, it became abundantly clear to all that an American president would so cavalierly defile a consistent foreign policy objective that has been consistently maintained for decades at the expense of so much American blood and treasure. That it should come about not because of a well-reasoned policy change in the national interest but solely to advance one man’s personal gain will prove to be an indelible stain on our nation’s history and on the individual legacy of any politician who turns a blind eye to such conduct. History foretells that such a repudiation will inevitably lead to the shedding of more blood on the fields of Europe, to include the inevitable shedding of American blood.

 

IMAGE: Antique map of Europe 

 

About the Author(s)

J. William Leonard

Bill Leonard is former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Security & Information Operations) (2000-2002), former Director, Information Security Oversight Office (2002-2008), and former Chief Operating Officer, National Endowment for Democracy (2010-2019).