The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.
Following up on my February 28th post regarding the Russia-Ukraine War, occasionally the question is sardonically asked why Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t invade Ukraine while Donald Trump was President. The progressives who, to this day, believe Trump was a Russian stooge struggle for an answer. If they were correct, surely Trump would have done nothing more than harrumphed, gone off to play a round of golf, and told Ukraine good luck. Some on the right side of the aisle believe Putin held off out of fear as to how a loose cannon like Trump would respond, one option being loosing the American military’s cannons directly on Russia. Doubtful at best, but still within possibility’s realm. That said, a third reason suggests itself, one surprisingly centered not in foreign policy but domestic.
Trump’s central theme when President was nationalism. Nationalism puts into action the belief that one’s country warrants top priority over others. It believes competition sparks the best in people seeking to reap a reward available strictly through being earned, not doled out to all regardless of merit courtesy of a fuzzy, fatally flawed belief in mandated fairness that works solely within lollipop dreams under cotton candy skies realm. Nationalism prescribes taking care of one’s own first, suggesting to others that while no one objects to lending a hand where needed, the other hand will be holding mandatory reading on how to become more self-sufficient.
One of nationalism’s benefits, something its evil pale cousin isolationism cannot claim, is in addition to promoting self-interest, it also promotes the concept of leaving other people alone. This very much ties into the theme of Washington’s farewell address. That said, avoiding entanglement in foreign affairs is not an open license to ignore the world around you. America’s interaction with other nations through economics, i.e., trade, and shared goals of confronting enemy powers plus other areas of mutual concern, is inexorable. Taking care of yourself first never precludes caring for others.
Taking this from the philosophical to putting it into practice, one of Trump’s greatest strengths was his willingness to work with potential adversaries respectfully, thus defusing their baseless yet believed fears of the evil American empire seeking their destruction. Remember how North Korean leader Kim Jong Un considerably calmed down after Trump treated him as his nation’s leader instead of a madman? Biden takes over the White House, and the missiles resume flying. Not a coincidence.
Putin could and did respect Trump because Trump made it clear America had no aggressive interests toward Russia, instead preferring peaceful and mutually beneficial economic measures. This is something the Biden administration cannot claim. Those who think they are best qualified to run the lives of American citizens seldom, if ever, stop at that point. Remember the idiotic comments the Afghanistan charge d’affaires recently made regarding Afghani women?
Ironically, Putin’s invasion, along with Biden’s ineptitude — pardon the redundancy — has scuttled what would have been a logical next step in Trump’s foreign policy: eliminating altogether, if not solely America’s participation in, NATO. With the Russian-perceived threat of NATO aggression removed, an economically engaged Russia loses much of its Ukrainian invasion rationale. This does not eliminate religious reasons; it is impossible to overstate their importance. However, it does at least sufficiently temper them to rationally believe Russia would have held off. Also, had other nations who have become dependent on Russian oil and natural gas developed legitimate energy source alternatives so if need be they could switch from Russian-supplied fuel to other providers, the economic havoc wreaked on Russia by cutting off its primary income source would give even the most hawkish Kremlin denizen pause for thought. A side note: The only effective method of combating increased Chinese-Russian cooperation is increased manufacturing here at home, thus enabling the United States to tell China, “Oh, you’re going there? Have fun with that, because you’re no longer coming here with your slave labor-built stuff.”
Nationalism’s unexpected — to the uninformed — side benefit is its natural enhancement of the peaceful way being the best way. Save for the genuinely despotic, a citizenry with food on the table and pay in the pocket is every government’s primary goal. Economic freedom is the great liberator. While not eliminating evil, it helps mitigate its appeal. If anything worthwhile comes out of the Russia-Ukraine War, it will be the realization that the Trump ways of doing things abroad and at home were, and are, the best way.