One of the ludicrous MAGA talking points being parroted in right-wing media outlets is that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have invaded Ukraine were Donald Trump still president because Putin feared Trump more than he fears President Joe Biden. Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin tears that argument to pieces in a scathing March 1 column, noting some of the things that former National Security Adviser John Bolton had to say about Trump’s foreign policy during a February 28 appearance on Newsmax.
When Bolton appeared on Rob Schmitt’s show, the Newsmax host claimed that Trump, as president, had a “very tough stance against Russia.” But Bolton, as Levin notes in her column, refused to go along with that nonsense and made it painfully clear that Trump was an absolute train wreck on foreign policy.
Summarizing Bolton’s Newsmax appearance, Levin writes, “For those of you who prefer CliffsNotes, the takeaways here are that: (1) Any sanctions that were placed on Russians during Trump’s time in office were in spite of Trump, who thought they were too mean. (2) Russia didn’t not invade Ukraine while Trump was in office because it was scared of him, but because it wasn’t ready — meaning it might very well have done so in Trump’s second term. (3) Trump is a village idiot who couldn‘t find Ukraine on a map…. (4) Trump — and here, we’re just going to quote Bolton because it bears repeating — once asked if Finland were a part of Russia.’”
Levin adds, “But hey, if Trump literally not knowing that Finland is its own country doesn’t drive home the point that he would have let Putin take Ukraine no questions asked, please note that just this past weekend, he was praising Putin’s savvy and calling the U.S. a ‘stupid country.’”
Trump and his sycophants, Levin stresses, have been “rewriting history when it comes to his relationship with Russia, Ukraine and NATO.”
“Among other things,” Levin writes, “the former president has claimed that Vladimir Putin ‘never would have’ invaded Ukraine on his watch; that there ‘would be no NATO’ if it wasn‘t for him; and that he generously armed Ukraine ‘when the previous administration was sending blankets.’ These statements, of course, are lies.”
Levin adds, “When it comes to NATO, Trump had to be convinced not to destroy the organization. With regard to Ukraine, the former president conveniently leaves out the part about how he famously tried to extort the country and make U.S. aid conditional on President Volodymyr Zelensky agreeing to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. As for the idea that Trump was so tough on Russia that Putin feared him, and wouldn’t have dared to attack Ukraine if the 45th president had gotten a second term, well, please enjoy (the) exchange between former Trump Administration official John Bolton and Newsmax.”