What Countries Could Gain From Interfering In U.S. Presidential Campaign
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
One of Hillary Clinton's chief criticisms of Donald Trump has been that he's an amateur when it comes to foreign policy. Yesterday, Trump talked about Ukraine on ABC's "This Week." He appeared to say Russian President Vladimir Putin would not send his forces into Ukraine. Host George Stephanopoulos said Putin already had.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THIS WEEK")
DONALD TRUMP: He's not going into Ukraine, OK? Just so you understand. He's not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it any way you want.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he's already there, isn't he?
TRUMP: OK. Well, he's there in a certain way, but I'm not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama.
GREENE: Now Donald Trump got heat for this interview. The New York Times ran the headline "Donald Trump Gives Questionable Explanation Of Events In Ukraine." But let's dig into the substance here because Trump appeared to be taking a position that has been heard before in the foreign policy establishment. Ian Bremmer is on the line. He's with the Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting firm based in New York City. Mr. Bremmer, good morning.
IAN BREMMER: Morning to you.
GREENE: So many critics said yesterday that based on his comments, Trump seemed to not understand or know much about Russia, know much about Ukraine. What was your take here?
BREMMER: Well, I mean, he has gotten advice directly from Kissinger. And this position is aligned with Kissinger's.
GREENE: Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state and well-known, (laughter) maybe better than anyone, in the foreign policy world.
BREMMER: Indeed. And, I mean, you know, look, I read the David Sanger interview in The New York Times last week where, I mean, a lot of what he was saying, when you actually parsed through it, was sort of aligned with some of what Kissinger has been saying as well. He was - he's been a noted - Kissinger - opponent of Obama's policy on Russia and specifically in terms of the fact that Ukraine should not have been something we were sanctioning. We should have made it a buffer state between Russia and the Europeans. Donald Trump now, clearly the most well-known person out there who's making this argument, albeit not that articulately.
GREENE: Not that articulately has been one of the other criticisms. But if he is, indeed, making an argument that Henry Kissinger has made, I mean, it sounds like, perhaps, people are too quick to dismiss his point of view. I mean, this - these are sort of legitimate arguments that pillars in the foreign policy world have made in the past.
BREMMER: Look, there's no question that when it comes to you Crimea, there are people out there that think that, effectively, the Americans should have let it go. The majority of Crimeans are Russian speakers. Frankly, they didn't want the Soviet Union to collapse. It was an autonomous republic. The Russian - a version of the Russian flag (inaudible) used to fly above it (ph), even when Ukraine was - before all the annexation. But let's be clear.
What's interesting about this is not only that Trump misspeaks a lot, it's also that the only leader in the world that Trump seems to speak well of is Putin. And he's - and Trump has made very clear that values don't really matter in terms of American relations with other countries. And so, you know, whether you're an ally or not, if you're not giving us a good deal - it's incredibly transactional. I mean, Trump's foreign policy and worldview is more Chinese in orientation than anything else.
GREENE: Well, let me ask you exactly how - what he might mean here. I mean, you know, you say he talks about Vladimir Putin, he praises him. So Trump makes the point that when Russia took Crimea, you know, sure, it broke international law. But as, you know, as you said, many Crimeans feel this emotional tie to Russia. Many Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia. I mean, given that, but given that it was such a violation of international law, what do you think Donald Trump would do in his relationship with Putin that would be different than what we've seen from, say, President Obama?
BREMMER: It'd be radically different. I mean, you'd look at NATO countries that were much, much more concerned about the willingness of the Americans to defend them. And therefore, do I think the Russians would send troops into the Baltics? No. But I think they'd be much more willing to be aggressive in this gray zone. I mean, you know, in Ukraine, did they ever officially send troops into southeast Ukraine? No, but they had these little green men that turned out actually were Russian soldiers that were, quote, unquote, "on vacation," according to the Russian defense minister.
Would see more of that kind of behavior both in Ukraine and in the Baltics that, you know, Trump would say, why are we responding to? What do we care? Yeah, I think you probably would. And I think that the transatlantic relationship, which is the most important - has been the most important alliance in the world since World War II and is presently at its weakest for reasons, both because of the United States and because of Europe, would continue to deteriorate.
So, I mean, you're really looking at a much more fragmented world, a world where America clearly is not anything close to the global policeman or the global architect of trade or the global cheerleader for values. And as a consequence, it's kind of an every-nation-for-itself environment.
GREENE: All right. Ian Bremmer, thanks so much for talking to us. We really appreciate it.
BREMMER: David, my pleasure.
GREENE: Ian Bremmer is with the political risk consulting firm that's based in New York, the Eurasia Group. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.