Will Trump Turn Hawk On Ukraine?
Thoughts on the dynamics, and an interview with Fred Fleitz
I have been thinking since seeing his CPAC speech that one of the most consistent aspects of Donald Trump is he always looks to the find the Alpha in the room. He loves the look of a winner - the newest, shiniest, strongest horse.
President Zelenskyy of Ukraine is the latest example of this. In the same way that Trump respects the person who would walk into “The Apprentice” boardroom and pull an Ehrlich Bachmann by putting his balls on the boardroom table, he respects anyone who comes across as being courageous or strong, in public but especially on TV.
It's one of the reasons that he cited Zelenskyy in that speech for bravery and respect.
Along of course with the fact that the Ukrainian President "supported" him during his first impeachment.
Schiff “made up a story about my phone call with the president of Ukraine, who, by the way is a brave man, he’s hanging in, he’s a brave man. And I like him because during that ridiculous impeachment because … he said [I] did absolutely nothing wrong.”
There's an underrated aspect of this as it relates to predicting where Trump will go on the issue of Ukraine. There seems to be a default assumption among most of MAGA country that Trump will maintain his anti-war positioning that he held on Afghanistan and Iraq. But those positions were held as a candidate, and they came long after those wars became debacles that were unpopular at the time of their initial launching. Trump held the opposite position, along with most Americans and Republicans, when those wars started. But he, like they did, came around after years of meandering mismanagement. Today everyone pretends that they never supported the wars, even though they all did.
In poll data released yesterday from Quinnipiac we see the movement among Republicans already toward a war-like posture regardless of their specific policy preferences. They clearly believe that the problem with the Biden administration is that their response has been weak. In this, they echo Trump's penchant for criticizing Biden as weak and frail and out of touch.
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that 80 percent of Republicans say Biden has not been tough enough on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, while only 2 percent of Republicans say Biden has been “too tough.” When Quinnipiac takes the words “Biden” and “toughness” out of the poll question, the results are still lopsided in support of Ukraine: Only 6 percent of Republicans say the United States is doing “too much” to help Ukraine, while 61 percent of Republicans say the United States is doing “too little.”
Carry this forward, and you can see the likelihood increase that rather than adopt an anti war position, along the lines of some of his most dedicated supporters, President Trump will instead shift to a hawkish posture when it comes to Ukraine.
You can see the rationale already. Increased images of war crimes against civilians, atrocities against women and children. This is not the type of thing that Trump will want to applaud. It is the type of thing that he will say would never have happened under his watch. And he will turn his sights, as he has already in his CPAC remarks, on Putin as being the murderous invader who is flailing under pressure, sitting at that long table because he's scared of Covid.
It is not tough or strong to murder women and children, especially when done in an act of desperation after a failed initial invasion. A loser does that, not a winner. A loser like Biden shares all our info with the Chinese and doesn't stop atrocities. A winner would bomb the hell out of that slow moving gasless convoy Trump keeps seeing on TV — why not drop the Mother of All Bombs on them? They're just sitting right there.
The likelihood that Trump shifts in this direction is being dramatically underrated in part because it fits with his own natural posture and perspective as a baby boomer with who remembers the Soviet Union as the natural evil aggressor, because it will come across as Reaganesque nostalgia, and meet with applause even from some of his critics. He loves that, in part because it gets ahead of other potential Republican candidates, such as Ron DeSantis, who have shown a reluctance to weigh in on a thorny foreign policy issue.
If this happens, it will likely result in Trump allowing Senate Republicans and others on Capitol Hill to adopt a more aggressive anti Russian posture as they are already considering in the wake of intelligence briefings, and insights being offered to them by those on the ground in Ukraine.
The natural argument for Trump is not a dovish one or an anti-war one. It is to say that he could have prevented this were the 2020 election not stolen from him, that he had prevented it with a tough posture toward Putin during his tenure as president, and that were he in office right now, he would bomb the hell out of murderous Russians who are sick thugs killing women and children.
Perhaps none of this will happen, and Trump will maintain a position at odds with any serious American intervention. But something like sanctions, and globalist judgment lectures at the UN and wrong side of history talk from Jen Psaki is something that Trump will almost certainly criticize from a more interventionist position than a less interventionist one. It is far more conducive to a message like this.
In doing so, it may result in another whiplash experience such as the one that came after Trump endorsed vaccines, boosters and the pharma agenda in a way that shocked some of his most dedicated defenders. And it will be another indication, to add to a lengthy list, that they never understood his motivations at all. When Trump zigs instead of zagging, there's always a reason behind it.