By Billy Webster
William Timmons is fond of extolling the virtues of the twice-indicted former president Donald Trump. In fact, not long ago, Timmons was heard to say that “Trump was the most effective foreign policy President since Ronald Reagan.”
That is both an insult to President Reagan and laughable in the extreme.
Five years ago today, Donald Trump arrived at the Finnish Presidential Palace where he and the Russian autocrat, President Vladimir Putin, shared two intimate hours without staff or translators. Not only did Trump refuse to criticize Putin in any way, he brazenly contradicted his own intelligence establishment conclusions about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Reagan, who once called Russia “the evil empire” and (successfully) implored then-Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down that (Berlin) Wall,” would be turning over in his grave.
Since that time, Trump has embraced a moral equivalency between the US and Russia, a position that former Senator John McCain condemned as “disgraceful.”
In a recent campaign stop in Georgia (March, 2023) Trump stated that “the smart ones get to the top… Putin is smart.” Reasonable people can argue about whether Trump’s embrace of the criminal Putin emboldened his illegal invasion of Ukraine but I’d take the ‘you bet it did’ side of that debate any day.
And it’s not just Putin. Here are Trump’s quotes about the world’s other heinous autocrats:
- On North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un: (He’s) “somebody I have gotten to know very well and respect.” “He wrote me beautiful letters… we fell in love.”
- On Turkish President Recep Erdogan: (it is) “an honor to be with a friend of mine, somebody I have become close to and he’s doing a good job.”
- On Chinese President Xi Jinping: “I like President Xi a lot. I consider him a friend.” “A very, very good man.”
It simply defies credulity that an American president could utter such dangerous nonsense on the world stage.
So here we are today, just a few days ago President Biden succeeded in engineering a pan-European consensus to admit Sweden and Finland – its 31st and 32nd members – to NATO, the same NATO whose value Trump questioned and whose members he constantly belittled. Here’s Reagan on the essential value of NATO:
“The Atlantic alliance is the core of America’s foreign policy and of America’s own security. Preservation of a peaceful, free and democratic Europe is essential to the preservation of peaceful, free and democratic United States.”
Although Reagan caused his own share of problems, we must give credit where it is due. Reagan, among his other skills, was clear-eyed and resolute in the face of the Soviet Union (or Russia today). It stands to reason that Trump, who orchestrated an assault on the fundamental principles of democracy at home, would find no value in the vanguard of democracy abroad.
Timmons should be held to account on his dangerously misguided public statements on US foreign policy. Once again, he puts his career – getting elected at any cost – ahead of the good of the United States. Some things just don’t change.
Billy Webster is an educator, entrepreneur, and civic leader. He has been appointed to various positions by two presidents – George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, serving in the Agency for International Development, The Department of Education, and the White House, among other postings. A resident of Spartanburg, Webster has served on numerous boards for organizations serving the Upstate.