As the House opens public impeachment hearings into the Ukraine scandal, the bottom-line question is dead simple: Did President Trump, for political reasons, manipulate military aid to an ally in a war that has cost 13,000 lives?
When you think about the Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines of this nasty proxy battle against Russia, the debate becomes more visceral and perhaps less confusing. As Ukrainians were struggling with near-daily shellfire, Trump appeared to treat military aid appropriated by Congress as a personal political tool.
What’s outrageous about the Ukraine story isn’t that it’s a unique example of Trump’s fecklessness in foreign policy, but that it’s so typical. In dealing with Ukraine, Trump has behaved the same erratic, unreliable way he has with the Syrian Kurds, and the South Koreans, and America’s NATO partners in Europe.
Trump’s Ukraine machinations have yielded something like what we’ve seen in these other theaters: the diminution of U.S. power and a corresponding increase in Russia’s military and diplomatic leverage. [Continue reading…]