Leaders Are Not Their Countries

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán attends a debate in the European Parliament in Brussels, May 19, 2015
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán attends a debate in the European Parliament in Brussels, May 19, 2015 (European Parliament)

It’s a tried-and-tested strongman tactic: conflate yourself with the nation to silence your critics. Read more

Trump’s Drug Policy Is Destroying Lives

American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

Politico reports that President Donald Trump’s crackdown on opioids is backfiring.

Hundreds of patients told the political news website they have been suddenly refused prescriptions for medications they relied on for years — sometimes just to get out of bed in the morning — and have been left to suffer untreated pain on top of withdrawal symptoms.

Many … described being tapered off narcotics too quickly or, worse, turned away by doctors and left to navigate on their own. Some said they coped by using medical marijuana or CBD oil, an extract from marijuana or hemp plants; others turned to illicit street drugs despite the fear of buying fentanyl-laced heroin linked to soaring overdose death numbers. A few … contemplated suicide.

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This Is What They Voted For

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

With four of Donald Trump’s former campaign officials pleading guilty to various crimes, and one of his former campaign chairmen convicted of financial crimes, can we take a moment to acknowledge that we could see this coming from a mile away?

  • Paul Manafort’s history of working for dictators, including Ukraine’s pro-Russian stooge, Viktor Yanukovich, was well known by the time Trump hired him to lead his presidential campaign.
  • Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, was known to be an unscrupulous “fixer”.
  • Michael Flynn had been fired from the Defense Intelligence Agency for his outlandish beliefs and was known to have lobbied for Russian companies as well as the Turkish government.

Yet Trump hired all three as well as Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, and useful idiot George Papadopoulos. Read more

“Only the Best People.” Two More Trump Campaign Officials Guilty

American president Donald Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, arrive for a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12
American president Donald Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, arrive for a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12 (NATO)

Remember Donald Trump’s promise to hire “only the best people”? Now at least five of his top campaign workers turn out to be criminals.

  • Paul Manafort, Trump’s second campaign chairman, has been found guilty of filing false tax returns, failing to report a foreign bank account and bank fraud. All the charges were related to his political work for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. A jury in Virginia did not reach a verdict on allegations of bank fraud conspiracy.
  • Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal attorney, has pleaded guilty to tax evasion, making false financial statements and breaking campaign finance laws to pay off a Playboy model and a porn actress. Axios reports that, during his guilty plea, Cohen said he was directed to do so by an “unnamed candidate”. Guess who? Read more

How Should Europe Deal with the Putin Apologist in the White House?

American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12
American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12 (NATO)

I’m glad Donald Trump’s shameful behavior in Helsinki, coming on the heels of his ally-bashing in Brussels and the United Kingdom, is finally waking up even conservatives to the fact that we have a Putin apologist in the White House.

When former intelligence chiefs start to call the president a traitor for accepting Vladimir Putin’s denials of waging information warfare on the United States, we should perhaps ask ourselves if Jonathan Chait didn’t have a point when he argued in New York magazine that the Trump-Russia scandal could be worse than we thought?

For us in Europe, the why matters less than the what. Whatever Trump’s motives, we must deal with an American president who is determined to sabotage the Atlantic alliance and establish an accord with Putin.

The question is, how? Read more

Trump Believes Summit with Putin Has Reset Relations. He’s Wrong

Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia meet in Helsinki, Finland, July 16
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia meet in Helsinki, Finland, July 16 (Presidential Press and Information Office)

Two years on the job, Donald Trump still doesn’t understand foreign policy.

After meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, the American said relations between their two countries had “never been worse.”

“However,” he added, “that changed as of about four hours ago.”

As if a single meeting of two leaders could change the fate of nations. Read more

Removing American Troops from Germany Would Be a Mistake

A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft lands at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 7, 2011
A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft lands at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 7, 2011 (Timm Ziegenthaler)

President Donald Trump, apparently surprised to learn (two years on the job) that the United States have around 35,000 troops in Germany, is considering pulling his soldiers out. He has ordered the Defense Department to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of their presence.

Such a study would no doubt find the benefits outweigh the costs. Those 35,000 troops — down from a Cold War peak of 400,000 — serve American, not German, interests. Read more