Trump, Russia and the betrayal of American heroes


The worst case scenario, we wrote after the election on November 8, 2016, would be if Trump acted during the transition and his presidency like the Donald Trump we saw in the campaign, and in his earlier life.

The transition is over and he has been in office now for 14 days.

During the transition and since he assumed office, we can now conclude, the worst case scenario has been realized.

There is absolutely no reason to think that Trump will be any different going forward.

A small minority but an electoral majority have elected as president a profoundly ignorant man of authoritarian tendencies who has shown little respect for American political traditions, anti-nepotism statutes or principles of conflict of interest.

He has been acting as if he were an elected dictator, with absolute authority to shove through whatever conservative or alt-right proposal occurs to him, with absolutely no regard for the policies and achievements of the administrations that have preceded him.

Now, as he assumes control of the foreign policy of the United States, he is poised to undo policies, principles and positions earlier generations of Americans fought hard to establish, often with blood, sweat and tears.

He has not uttered a serious criticism of Vladimir Putin.

He has not criticized Putin or Russia for the war crimes Russia has committed in Syria, either directly or by complicity in the monstrous atrocities of the Bashar al-Assad regime.

He has not articulated any criticism of Russia for its invasion and annexation of the Crimea in February and March, 2014, or its invasion of the eastern Ukraine through irregular forces in the spring and early summer of 2014, and then the direct intervention of Russian troops in August, 2014.

Trump has been highly ambiguous about maintaining the economic sanctions against Russia established by the EU and the U.S.

Those sanctions were adopted in defense of the international principle prohibiting the threat or use of force across international frontiers, embodied in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter.

That principle and the United Nations Charter were achieved through the sacrifices of millions of U.S. soldiers in World War II (1941-1945), Korea, the Gulf War, and Afghanistan.

Nor has Trump made any statements about U.S. leadership in the struggle to promote and defend human rights in the U.S. and also throughout the world.

He may soon undercut the EU and U.S. sanctions against Russia by cutting a scandalous “deal” with Vladimir Putin.

He may soon undercut NATO by withdrawing U.S. support for robust measures by the alliance to station troops and equipment in member nations along the border with Russia.

He could soon share intelligence with Russia that would undermine the resources, methods and assets of the U.S. and its allies.


“Is there a Russian mole in the U.S. government? What fait accompli are Bannon and Trump plannng on Russia?” The Trenchant Observer, January 31, 2017.

He may soon become an even stronger conduit for the dissemination of Russian lies and propaganda than he was during the campaign.


Anne Applebaum. “Why is Trump suddenly talking about World War III?” Washington Post, October 28, 2016.

Applebaum writes

(W)e have a Republican presidential nominee who regularly repeats propaganda lines lifted directly from Russian state media. Donald Trump has declared that Hillary Clinton and Obama “founded ISIS,” a statement that comes directly from Russia’s Sputnik news agency. He spouted another debunked conspiracy theory — “the Google search engine is suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton” — soon after Sputnik resurrected it.

Now Trump is repeating Kiselyov’s threat, too. “You’re going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton,” he said this week. Just like Kiselyov, he has also noted that Russia has nukes and — perhaps if Clinton is elected — will use them: “Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk.”

See also,

Jonathan Freedland, “Don’t treat Donald Trump as if he’s a normal president. He’s not,” The Guardian, December 14, 2017 (7:00 a.m.).

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.