Brunswick Beacon Guest Column, Putin vs. Democracy, by Eric Terashima, March 10, 2022


Putin versus democracy

By Eric Terashima, Guest Columnist Brunswick Beacon, 03.10.22


In my 30 years of commissioned service as a Marine, the GOP went from fighting Russia’s “evil empire” to helping Putin rebuild it.


Putin’s strategy was “divide and conquer.” He tried to weaken NATO, divide Americans, and destroy our faith in democracy. Trump obliged by ridiculing NATO, stoking fear between Americans, and trying to overthrow a democratic election.


But Putin no longer has an ally as President. He invaded Ukraine now to take advantage of America’s polarization and prevent us from rebuilding NATO. Americans must come together to stop him.


NO TEAM AMERICA FOR TRUMP

Fiona Hill was Trump’s senior Russia advisor. She says Trump envies Putin because “he has no checks and balances.” Hill says Trump emboldened Putin to invade Ukraine. Trump praised Putin, threatened to leave NATO, and tried to blackmail Ukraine into smearing Biden by withholding military aid. She said Trump was never driven by America’s national interest, but by his personal interest instead. "There's no Team America for Trump. Not once did I see him do anything to put America first. Not once. Not for a single second."


GRAVE COUNTERINTELLIGENCE THREAT

During the 2016 campaign, Trump defended Putin for murdering journalists, saying “at least he’s a leader” and “our country does plenty of killing, too.” A Republican-led committee headed by North Carolina’s Sen. Burr issued a 1,000-page report describing numerous contacts between Trump’s campaign and Putin’s operatives. Sen. Marco Rubio said, “We found irrefutable evidence of Russian meddling.” The report concluded that the Trump campaign’s dealings with Putin’s intelligence services posed “a grave counterintelligence threat.”


TRUMP GAVE RUSSIA CLASSIFIED INTELLIGENCE

President Trump tried to kill the FBI’s investigation of his campaign’s Russian dealings. When Director Comey resisted, Trump fired him. The next day, Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. U.S. Intelligence says Trump gave Lavrov classified code-word intelligence and “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”


U.S. Intelligence concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump. At the 2018 Helsinki summit Putin denied it. Shockingly, Trump took Putin’s side against American Intelligence.


TRUMP V. UKRAINE

In his 2016 campaign, Trump excused Putin’s first invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. “The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.” Trump also dropped a promise from the 2016 GOP platform to arm Ukraine against Russia.


Putin blamed Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 election, and Trump repeated Putin’s false charges. In 2019, while Ukrainian soldiers were fighting Russian forces, Trump froze $391 million in military aid to coerce Ukraine into manufacturing dirt on Biden. Hill said: "All this did was say to Russia that Ukraine was a playground."

Before Putin’s current invasion of Ukraine, Bill O’Reilly asked Trump, “Is Putin ready to start a war?” Trump replied, “I think he has a great way; he’s tough and smart and funny.” After Putin hurled his tanks and missiles at peaceful Ukrainians, Trump called it “wonderful,” and “pretty savvy," exclaiming “This is genius!”


BIDEN UNITES NATO

Trump has eagerly promoted Putin’s agenda. That continues to hurt America’s effort to keep Putin from gobbling up Ukraine, the largest country in Europe not named Russia. NATO was created to contain Russia. It’s vital to America’s security. After Trump told his Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, that he would withdraw from NATO if he won a second term, Esper told colleagues he hoped Biden would win.


Biden is rapidly rebuilding NATO. The Wall Street Journal reports: “The Biden administration is getting high marks in Europe for its strong stand” against Putin. George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said, “He's managed to unite NATO in ways I didn't think I would ever see again."


Biden’s leadership convinced Germany to shut down Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline and all of NATO to impose sweeping sanctions. Sweden and Finland are now more eager to jo