In the Trump years, these two formerly disparate issues were linked.

Donald Trump actively worked to undermine the country and our relationship with our allies, especially Ukraine. John Bolton knew itGordon Sondland knew it. And Republicans were OK with it. And it cost Ukrainians their lives, even before Russia’s most recent invasion.

Let’s clarify: Most Republicans were OK with it. One major exception was eloquent in explaining his vote to remove the president:

“The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The President’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.” — Mitt Romney

At National Review, the bastion of old-school conservatism, Mona Charen was similarly alarmed and cast Trump’s Ukraine actions in a broader geopolitical light:

“Desperate Republicans have offered strained arguments. They say, with straight faces, that this shakedown was part of Trump’s overall anti-corruption campaign. Really? Like his efforts with Turkey, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Russia? And if Trump were truly concerned about corruption in Ukraine, why did he show no interest in the matter before 2019? Why did his own ambassador to the European Union say, ‘Trump doesn’t give a s*** about Ukraine. He cares only about the big stuff like the Biden investigation?’”

The irony of Trump declaring his interest an “anti-corruption” campaign is that Trump is one of the most corrupt politicians ever to file for US office. This is someone who went to great lengths to hide his tax returns, paid a $25m settlement on Trump Universitypaid $2m in damages after it was found that he redirected Trump Foundation money for his own needs, and set up his own hotel as a lucrative meeting spot for influence-peddlers while he was in office.

And while the GOP is obsessed with Hunter Biden, they’re overlooking actual White House employees Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who made shady deals with QatarChina and Saudi Arabia. The latter in particular has a disturbingly strong correlation with a change of heart by the 45th president.

Oh, and remember Russia? National Review also eviscerated the Trump campaign on its Russia ties. No wonder — for all the talk of “exoneration,” the Mueller investigation took down a lot of people in Trump’s orbit.

International prestige and soft power

“(A)mong all of Trump’s foreign-policy legacies, none may be more consequential than the damage he has done to America’s standing, influence, and power in the world by weakening the system of partnerships and alliances the country has created and relied on for decades.” — Pete Buttigieg and Philip H. Gordon, Foreign Policy. Yes, Buttigieg, but again, the links are all there.

Germans were more scared of Trump than they were of Putin or Kim Jong-un.

And Trump abandoned the Kurds, to the horror of US troops.

And made a peace deal with the Taliban.

How’d that turn out?


OLDER READING (some overlap with above)

OLDER READING (foreign policy-specific)