Senior White House advisors say the media is missing the big picture of what President Trump is trying to do with regard to his foreign policy, because it’s not the haphazard approach it appears to be. Instead, everything is tied to the idea that the United States leads best when it leads from Putin’s behind.
“If you want to give it a name, you can call it ‘Leading from Putin’s Behind,” says National Security Advisor John Bolton. “Are we leading? Absolutely. We’re leading in Europe. We’re leading in the Middle East. But we want to be subtle about it. We don’t want to be perceived as throwing our weight around. Thus, we’re leading from behind. It’s not a new concept. But we’re not just leading from behind. It’s more strategic than that. We’re leading from Putin’s behind.”
Bolton said Putin’s behind is the best place from which to lead because the Russian president has been aggressive in disrupting the Western alliance after so many decades of stability. “When you have someone like Putin interfering in Britain’s Brexit vote and in our own vote here in the United States, you have major disruption,” Bolton said. “We’re leveraging that.”
Bolton said that that is the reasoning behind Trump’s seeming capitulation to Putin in Helsinki, when Trump appeared to side with Putin over his government’s own intelligence agencies on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. “What the media is wrongly calling a botched summit is really a major victory from the standpoint of our new Leading from Putin’s Behind strategy,” he said. “I’m not surprised the media misses it, because it’s subtle. That’s why it’s working.”
The idea of leading from behind was first associated with President Barack Obama’s approach to ousting Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Republicans were critical of Obama for saying the U.S. was leading from behind on that effort by letting France and other countries appear to take the lead.
Bolton said criticism of Obama was justified, because he was simply using the concept to avoid being a leader on the issue, whereas Trump is doing it the right way, because he’s not just leading from behind but leading from Putin’s behind. “It’s very different,” he said. “When you lead from behind, you want to do it from behind a hard ass. And Putin is nothing if not a hard ass. Just ask the President.”
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President Donald Trump defended his call to Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his reelection to the Russian presidency earlier this week by saying he’s no different than any other leader who picks the candidates he runs against, controls the voting system in his country, and dictates any policy he wants as long as he doesn’t trigger opposition from his opponents who are lying in wait to depose him. “Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau—are they all so much different than President Putin?” Trump said in remarks to reporters this morning. Trump said that Theresa May, who is prime minister of Great Britain, wouldn’t be much different than Vladimir Putin if she had her political enemies assassinated and knew Parliament would rubber stamp any policy she handed it. More.
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