- - Thursday, July 21, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Much has been written about Donald Trump’s foreign policy — or what the media wants to say is Mr. Trump’s foreign policy. The truth is, no one really knows exactly what Mr. Trump will do in the geopolitical arena as president of the United States, except to say that he will put America first.

This is on purpose. While the Republican nominee has given vague responses when asked, such as, “Our allies need to pay their share and uphold their obligations to us,” the reality is he is being unpredictable for a reason. Anyone who has followed the man for any length of time or has read his books would realize this.

The sad fact of the matter is that most of our allies have not done their part. It is common knowledge that our NATO allies have not shouldered as much of a burden for their own defense as the United States has. This goes for our Asian allies as well. In Europe they have lived high on the deficit-spending hog while neglecting their military budgets.

For example, Germany recently said that only a few dozen of its combat aircraft are operational. Mr. Trump is right to inject some worry into their side of this equation. How else will we get Europe to step up while we are promising them the security moon? Mr. Trump understands the importance of NATO. This is all a negotiation tactic. Judging by the reaction of the liberal press in Europe and the United States, it is working.

But let’s talk about Ukraine. The United States and Europe have bent over backwards to help Ukraine pull itself out of its Soviet past and move on from its history of corruption. It hasn’t worked. OK, it has worked in some areas. The new Kiev police force seems to be making progress. Ukraine has done a remarkable job of stabilizing its economy in the face of the conflict with Russia in the east and Moscow’s efforts to keep the country off-balance.


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However, the corruption remains. Members of parliament are bought and sold. The oligarchs are still in charge. They are calling the shots and the cycle of corruption continues.

So the question must be asked, has Ukraine done its fair share to reform the country and be deserving of continued Western aid and support? Recent efforts to water down the historic anti-corruption laws do not bear out this reality. I’ve spent a lot of time in Kiev. I’ve been to Donbass. I’ve met with the anti-corruption task force. These people deserve a chance at freedom, but the Ukrainian elites have to do their part.

Mr. Trump is nothing if not a truth-teller. He will force the world to look at the truth about Ukraine as well. If they do not step up to the plate and further open up their economy and deal with the rampant favoritism and outright theft, then he will cut off aid from the West. Yes, Russia would rejoice, but the simple fact is we cannot waste money and resources any longer on failed battles.

Much has been made of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The leftist media seems to trot this relationship out on a daily basis to show how Mr. Trump will be against freedom around the world. Freedom is indeed an agenda that needs to be out front and center for the United States.

But freedom is something that has to be earned as well. I think Mr. Trump’s views on foreign policy are much more about individual responsibility of other countries rather than an adviser’s ties to rogue regimes. Mr. Trump realizes that America has to take care of itself for a while. We’re broke, in terms of willpower and treasure. We have to rebuild, restore our values, money, infrastructure and credibility. Those overseas who are not holding up their end of the bargain should be worried, Ukraine included.

How’s that for unpredictability?

L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.

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