Trump Plays Russia and Putin like a Fiddle

Who’s soft on Russia again?

Is it Trump, who has overseen sanction after sanction applied to Moscow? Who has responded to Putin’s tensions by thumbing his nose and quitting arms treaties?

Or is it Europe?

In Central Europe—”New Europe” as Donald Rumsfeld called it—America’s allies got a talking to from SecState and ex-CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence.

Don’t cave in to Russian and Chinese influence, Pompeo said. Don’t go soft on Iran, said Pence. Both got a chilly reception.

And Old Europe? At another big allied conclave, Germany’s Angela Merkel stood up for the new oil pipeline that would pull her country and Putin’s closer together, putting the freeze on Ukraine.

“Consciously shutting Russia out politically,” she said, was simply “wrong,” adding “Europe can’t have a geopolitical interest in halting all relations to Russia.”

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Shades of France’s Emmanuel Macron, who insisted over the summer it’s in the French national interest “for the EU to have a strategic relationship with Turkey as well as with Russia that brings stability, that will in the long term and bring more strength and coherency.”

Without Trump, it seems, Europe would be even deeper in Putin’s pocket.

It’s a reality the Beltway press can’t handle. A fact the establishment refuses to process.

The real Russia hawk was Hillary, they said.

Hillary… of the goofy “reset” button that did zero good.

Of the Obama administration that let Russia get its nose under the tent in the Middle East for the first time since the worst years of the Cold War.

Of the crew that didn’t see the Arab “Spring” coming… and treated Europe as a quaint, harmonious chunk of global village that progressive politics and compulsory niceness cordoned it off from bad guys on the geopolitical chessboard.

The crew who stood by as the Deep State got humiliated online by Russia’s top hackers.

Clinton and Obama thought they understood the world… and Russia… perfectly. Lot of good that did us.

No, the truth is that if you’re worried about Russia you’ve been much better off already with Trump than the alternatives. And as Trump’s enemies continue to flounder, he’ll keep forging ahead.

But the rhetoric against him—puppet, traitor, and worse—will ratchet on upward… reaching a fever pitch just in time for 2020.

Trump has gamely taken his lumps, but he can’t do it alone. The GOP has run out of effective messengers outside the White House on Russia… with the possible exception of Nikki Haley.

Democrats know this. They know that the more they can isolate Trump, the more calumny they can hurl, and the better the odds it’ll stick.

The White House record is clear. The Democrats’ failure is too. Who will step up to the president’s aid… as the going gets truly tough?

This is no time for what’s left of the Republican Party to go soft.