During a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16, 2018, then-President Donald Trump was asked whether he believed the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russians had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help him win.
“I don’t see any reason why it would be. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump replied, according to Reuters.
The backlash was quick and severe. The media reported that Trump had thrown U.S. intelligence agencies under the bus. He was Putin’s puppet. He was weak.
The president was attacked mercilessly even by members of the Republican Party.
Well, video from a NATO summit a few days earlier in Brussels shows, in spite of the massive condemnation that came his way following the news conference, it wasn’t Trump who was soft on Russia.
Rather, it was NATO’s European leaders.
In the clip, Trump addressed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a breakfast meeting on July 11, 2018. Although both had several aides present, the conversation took place between Trump and Stoltenberg.
Without notes or a teleprompter, Trump forcefully and articulately called out European Union leaders for allowing their countries to become so utterly dependent upon Russian energy. The worst offender, he said, was Germany.
Moreover, the president plainly stated that none of the European nations was contributing its fair share to NATO.
Trump pointed out the hypocrisy that the European countries who look to the United States for protection from Putin are the same ones who enrich him by importing Russian energy.
Had anyone actually listened and acted upon Trump’s warning, EU countries wouldn’t be so reliant on Russian energy today.
Trump began, “Well, I have to say, I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where you’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.
“So, we’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries, and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia.”
“And the former chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that’s supplying the gas,” he said. “Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas.
“So, you tell me, is that appropriate? I mean, I’ve been complaining about this since the time I got in. It should never have been allowed to happen. But Germany is totally controlled by Russia.”
Trump went on to say, “On top of that, Germany is just paying a little bit over 1 percent, whereas the United States in actual numbers is paying 4.2 percent of a much larger GDP. So, I think that’s inappropriate also. …
“Now this has been going on for decades. This has been brought up by other presidents. But other presidents never did anything about it. … I think it’s very unfair to our country, it’s very unfair to our taxpayers. And I think that these countries have to step it up. Not over a 10-year period — they have to step it up immediately. Germany is a rich country.”
“We’re not going to put up with it,” he said. “We can’t put up with it. And it’s inappropriate.”
“Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia, because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia. … Explain that, and it can’t be explained. You know that,” Trump said.
He was widely criticized for his directness at the time. Would his critics have preferred that the president mind his manners and lie?
When Trump demanded Germany stop funding Russia and start paying dues to NATO, the press spun this was “weakening the NATO alliance.”
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) February 24, 2022
Trump’s message was blunt, powerful and truthful. He acted as a leader should.
He understood that reliance on other nations for energy, the lifeblood of every modern economy, can leave the dependent nation vulnerable, especially during periods of political upheaval.
He saw that Germany was putting itself into a very precarious situation with Russia. Considering the fact that the U.S. would be called upon in the event of a conflict between Germany and Russia, he spoke up — which is what Americans should want their president to do.
Had they listened, the loss of revenue from Germany would have hurt Russia’s economy. Why would Trump have recommended — forcefully — that Germany look for a different source of energy if he were in Putin’s pocket, as so many on the left claim?
Trump worked to make the U.S. energy independent. His successor squandered that status in the name of climate change.
If Biden really wanted to hurt Russia, he would max out U.S. energy production. He would reissue the license for the Keystone XL Pipeline and reduce government regulations, which would boost domestic oil and gas production. He could then sell energy to the EU to wean those countries off Russian energy.
These moves would boost U.S. national security and add to our gross domestic product.
They also would strengthen the national security of our NATO allies and hurt the Russian economy at the same time.
But just last week, Biden deferred approval for “new oil and gas drilling on federal land and other energy-related actions after a federal court blocked the way officials were calculating the real-world costs of climate change,” according to The Associated Press.
The geniuses who are running NATO don’t quite know what to do because Europe is so dependent on Russian oil, most notably Germany. How did the “best and the brightest” so greatly underestimate Putin?
More than a decade ago, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin famously said, “We do not have a scarcity of resources in America. We have a scarcity of common sense in Washington, D.C.”
The slogan “Drill, baby, drill” from her 2008 vice presidential debate with Joe Biden applies even more today than it did then.
Putin did not invade Ukraine under Trump. The reason is no mystery. The Russian president both feared and respected his U.S. counterpart.
Would Putin have tried this if Trump were president? He didn’t. And I think that tells us all we need to know.