Tags: James Stavridis | Trump | Russia | Controversy

Ex-NATO Chief Stavridis: Ongoing Trump-Russia Controversy 'Encourages Putin'

Image: Ex-NATO Chief Stavridis: Ongoing Trump-Russia Controversy 'Encourages Putin'
(AP)

By    |   Friday, 24 Mar 2017 07:45 AM

The ongoing investigation and controversy concerning alleged links between President Donald Trump's campaign associates and Russian agents is hurting the United States overseas and playing into Russian President Vladimir Putin's hands, former NATO Commander James Stavridis said Friday.

"It encourages Putin because this is part of his plan," the retired admiral, now the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and chief international security and diplomacy analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. 

Even worse, the ongoing controversy "discourages our allies," said Stavridis, explaining that when the matter is coupled with the "awkward moments" between the White House and global leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the perception outside the United States is that "our credibility is being shredded."

"Deterrence is made up of two things," said Stavridis. "Capability, and we've got that, a great military, but it's also made up of credibility and that is where we are hurting right now."

Stavridis said there is "no question" about whether Trump's statements about NATO, the accusation and retraction about Great Britain's intelligence service being involved in spying on the president's campaign, and other behaviors from the administration are harming the United States' reputation among its allies.

"We see that in polling in Europe already," said Stavridis. Also, U.S. allies are "shocked" by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's plans to skip a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in April. 

Instead, Tillerson plans to be present at Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and then to travel to Russia later in the month.

"That, believe me, is read and noticed . . . that weakens our security," said Stavridis Friday.

Tillerson, continued Stavridis, also shocked him by refusing to take the press with him his first trip to Asia, and claming not to need the press there, "as though somehow the press is there to puff up a secretary" rather than inform the country of Tillerson's activities.

"I think there has been a series of missteps, which to some degree, are understandable," said Stavridis. "He is new on the job and he is a CEO. But he has no team behind him. He doesn't seem to be making progress on it, and we are making the wrong decisions, so we need the State Department to get in the game."

Stavridis also discussed comments reported by NBC from current U.S. NATO Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday that he has seen Russia's influence on the Taliban in Afghanistan, including possibly helping to supply the insurgents.

"I think what we are seeing in Afghanistan is the Russians playing kind of a double game," Stavridis told the "Morning Joe" program. "Ostensibly, they are sporting the government of Karzai, but when Gen. Scaparrotti, who is 'Cool Hand Luke,' he is very methodical how he thinks and speaks, when he says he sees the Russians working on the Taliban side, [this is] very disturbing."

This, said Stavridis, is why it is important to have high-level U.S. representation, such as Tillerson, at the upcoming NATO ministerial meeting, as "Afghanistan is going to be very high on that agenda. It should be. Things are not going well there."

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Politics
The ongoing investigation and controversy concerning alleged links between President Donald Trump's campaign associates and Russian agents is hurting the United States overseas and playing into Russian President Vladimir Putin's hands, former NATO Commander James Stavridis.
James Stavridis, Trump, Russia, Controversy
542
2017-45-24
Friday, 24 Mar 2017 07:45 AM
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